Oh, deer! I’m a statistic
– Columns –
The month of June started out pretty rough for me. For the first time ever, I hit a deer. I can’t even blame poor visibility or hazardous weather conditions, as it was a beautiful, sunny day, with no fog to even contend with, as I drove along Hwy. 178 toward Eau Claire, to pick up my daughter, Hannah, from work.
I constantly scanned the ditches, knowing deer are especially active during the early morning hours along that stretch of road. I had just reached Crosby’s on the Chippewa Campground, when a plethora of deer appeared out of nowhere. I barely missed the first deer, hit the second deer square on and I have no idea what happened to the third culprit.
I’m so irritated with myself. I was completely caught off guard. I was right in front of the campground, where there wasn’t even any brush or tall grass that could conceal a small animal, let alone a herd of running deer. My only excuse is the sun was shining off the river and, because of the blinding glare, I simply failed to see them until it was too late.
I didn’t stop, since the car seemed to operate correctly and there wasn’t any steam emanating from under the hood. My concern was, if I stopped, would I be able to get the car started again? It happened so quickly, I didn’t even swear.
As I continued on my way, every couple miles, pieces of car broke loose and hit the pavement. The first several times, it made me apprehensive, then, I got the giggles. I assessed the damage once I reached my destination.
The grill and the front driver’s side took the brunt of the impact. The headlight was missing and we realized later, the front license plate was gone as well.
On the return trip home, Hannah gave a look of alarm the first time a piece of car fell off, then every time after, it was like, Ope! There goes another piece. (Han had just come off working a 10-hour overnight shift and I was in “deer collision denial,” so everything struck us as hilarious.) I was surprised driving past the scene, to see there wasn’t a carcass or any blood indicting a hit, nor any car pieces. Possibly, some thoughtful person from the campground heard, or saw, the accident and kindly cleaned up the site.
I called my insurance company right away to set the repair process in motion. I chose a local automotive repair shop, as I had previously taken my last car there two different times for repairs. My old car was rear-ended on two separate occasions when the car was parked and I wasn’t even inside it, so I was familiar with their work. The shop does quality work and offers a loaner car for use.
I had driven the loaner car a couple days, when the check engine light came on. After a hasty search, there wasn’t an owner’s manual I could reference, so I found a troubleshooting site on the Internet. It recommended turning the car off and restarting the engine to reset the factory setting. That did not work.
Then, it suggested checking to ascertain the gas cap was secure. As I hadn’t purchased fuel since getting the loaner, it seemed highly unlikely, but figured it was worth a shot. Of course, that wasn’t successful either.
We were in Chippewa Falls when this occurred. I was hesitant to drive it, but the site said unless the check engine light was flashing, (it wasn’t), it should be safe to drive. I needed a few items from the Dollar Tree. Han chose to wait in the car while I ran in to shop.
I had just gotten in the store when she called me. There was a mouse in the car. She managed to capture it, then release it in the parking lot. I wondered if the mouse had chewed the wiring, causing the malfunction.
We got our car back a day later, and stopped at a stoplight, when it sputtered and almost died, then the check engine light came on. Not again! Maybe the check engine light is a car’s version of COVID-19, as it seems every car I drive, suffers from that malady.
My car has since been repaired and all is well. I’m leery traveling now, certain there are deer lurking at every turn to add me to their Deer 1 vs. Vehicle 0 tally.
Seems like this year is the perfect time to purchase a hunting license.