… not that I WANTED to.
In the handful of years I have lived in The Other Dakota, I have driven a particular route along HWY 12 roundtrip approximately every 6 weeks. Summer, winter, spring, and fall, during all types of weather and at all times of the day and night, for a total of something like 110+ trips along this road. I have driven this route with The Husband, but mostly without, and without the children, but mostly with, from the time there was only one of them and she was only 2 weeks old. I have bottle fed babies while driving, and I have also nursed along the side of the road. I know the best farm roads to pull of for emergency potty stops and the friendliest gas stations for changing toddlers into pajamas. I also know where the deer tend to congregate and when, during what time of year and what time of day and night. I know where the pheasants like to play (everywhere) and where the highway patrolman (yes, singular) tends to turn around for the second half of his shift. ( I also know that it is highly unlikely that you will see any law enforcement outside of weekends or holidays on this stretch of road, but don’t tell them I told you so.) In all of my time traveling this dull-as-milk-toast, mind-numbing, thought-wandering, was-that-a frog-I-just-hit stretch of road through the bible-suspenders midwest, I have never EVER been as alert and aware as I was driving last night/this morning. And again I was grateful for a) my father’s obnoxious driving lessons regarding watching for wildlife along the borrow-pits in western Montana and b) my unconventional experiences driving while, shall we say, not quite in my right mind? Had I not had several experiences before I grew up and recognized my own mortality, there is no way in hell I would have trusted myself to drive through the insanity that was the fog covering the road last night. And did I mention the deer?
It was actually laughable. At one point, going over a small hill where there are NEVER any animals, I came upon a herd of probably 12-15 deer. You know the expression “deer in the headlights”? The look of the faces of these poor little critters was way more than that. It was something closer to “Do you know where the party is? We got turned around in the fog, Bob got lost, he said he knew where the kegger was, and we ended up over here, we know this isn’t right, we’re sorry…” It was completely funny at 1:30 am.
But we made it, relatively safe and sound. The house didn’t get cleaned, the Things’ room is still covered in crackers and quick-oats, and the army of laundry has complete rule of the house until The Husband can attempt to take over when he returns to the homestead on Saturday. The dirty dishes were, however, defeated in a bloody battle late Sunday afternoon, and the children and I have retreated to safer shores for the week. Perhaps the change of altitude will induce napping in Thing 2… or maybe I’ll just spike his sippy cup with a bit of Cutty Sark….