A late night trip home from Des Moines recently included a dance with Bambi’s mother on I-35. Julie and I attended a play at the Des Moines Community Playhouse after which we enjoyed pie and coffee with a group of friends. Pleasant conversation makes time fly and before we knew it the time was 11:15 p.m. We headed for Hamilton County.
The first portion of the trip went well. Then, a little before midnight about a half mile south of Mile Marker 124 I caught a glimpse of Bambi’s mother (or whoever she was) out of the corner of my left eye. In a split second I felt and heard the thump of a white tailed doe hitting the front left side of my minivan.
I did not see the deer again. If she survived, she was one sore mama mammal. A call to 911 brought a quick response from the Story City PD. Dancing with deer on the highway is a pain in the seat, but I feel fortunate to have come out of the incident with relatively light damage and no injuries.
The incident reminded me of a late spring family trip to Kansas City about 30 years ago. Our family car was a gas guzzling 1977 Dodge station wagon. Since I got free tickets to a Kansas City Royals game from a friend at the Kansas City Star and a great weekend deal at a fancy hotel in the Country Club Plaza district, I decided to continue my frugal ways and drive our Chevrolet Chevette to save on gas.
We left Sioux City on a Friday afternoon, enjoyed a picnic supper at an I-29 rest stop and refueled up at a truck stop in Rock Port, Missouri.
About a dozen miles north of St. Joseph a doe bounded in front of our loaded down Chevette. She collided with the left front of our car and continued across the northbound lanes and into the woods.
The Chevette did not do so well. There was extensive damage to the front end of the little car. It seemed to drive okay so we continued on into St. Joe, minus a headlight. We left I-29 at a busy exit and pulled into a gas station to call a state trooper.
It was Good Ol’ Boys night at the gas station and when I walked through the door I was greeted by the stares of about a half dozen long haired young men in old blue jeans, grimy t-shirts and greasy baseball caps. One of the fellows was in charge; he pleasantly asked if he could help me.
I told him I needed to call a state trooper and why. He invited me to use a phone on the wall. When I returned to my car a few minutes later the young man was inspecting the damage.
“Woo-ee,” he exclaimed, “you sure ’nough hit a deer. I had nothing to add to the obvious.
“Look at that,” he continued, pointing to a trail of deer feces along the left side of the car. “Boy, that’s deer (indecorous expression for excrement)!”
“Sure is,” I replied.
“Where ya headed?”
“When you’re done with the cop,” the young man advised, “you run your car through our car wash. You can’t be driving in Kansas City with deer (excrement) on your car.”
He was right. I have a hard enough time looking smart without driving through the ritzy Kansas City Country Club Plaza district in a damaged Chevette encrusted with deer poop.
A friendly Missouri State Trooper inspected the damage and completed a report. When I went back into the gas station to pay for a car wash, the young man in charge refused payment. “I filled the tank in Rock Port,” I said apologetically, “so I can’t even buy any gas from you.”
“It’s okay,” the young man said, “there’s no charge. Like I said, you can’t be driving in Kansas City with deer (excrement) on your car.”
I thanked him and took advantage of the free car wash. We continued into Kansas City and had a nice time. I admit to feeling some awkwardness driving through the swanky Country Club Plaza neighborhood in our beat up Chevette, sharing the streets with Jaguars, Corvettes and BMWs.
I took some comfort, however, in the knowledge that there was no deer poop on our little car.