Last week while night driving through the western part of Idaho there was a range of mountains ahead of us that was covered in snow. It was later in the afternoon, closer to early evening. The sun hadn't quite set yet, so the sky had that bluish haze of dusk that makes things seem magical and surreal. While my picture doesn't do justice to the actual site I saw ahead of me, hopefully you can get a little bit of an idea. We have all heard about mountains being blanketed in snow. Indeed these appeared that way, blanketed in a shimmery layer of whitish/bluish satin.
Of course cooler weather and snow at these elevations brings creatures of all sorts down from the mountain tops. This created an up-close encounter that was slightly less exhilarating than the Bald Eagles from the other day. Rounding a curve there straddling the center line was a mule deer.
A giant female mule deer.
The top of her head must have come at least as high as the hood of our big truck. There was no where to go, and she was in no hurry to go anywhere. Thank goodness he was driving because my brain froze. The only thing I could do was put my feet on the dash (don't laugh) and say “Baby! Baby! Baby! Baby!” over and over again like a record with a scratch stuck in repeat. With his many years experience of driving his reaction was much calmer and productive. Thankfully, he was able to slow enough to give the mammoth doe time to make up her mind that yes, she did want to get out of the road. I watched as she casually trotted off to the snowy grass on the other side and he went around her.
Heart pounding, stomach churning, I spent the rest of the night curled up in the sleeper. I will never forget that deer, her eyes, her size, and the fear of hitting her or sliding off the side of the mountain. Thankfully, I will also never forget the beauty seen just a little while before of the satiny mountaintops. And I am so very thankful for his calm handling of our fully-loaded, nearly 80,000lb truck in that sticky situation.
If anyone ever thinks driving a big truck is a skill-less trade that anyone can do better think again! It takes a calm mind, quick thinking, rational though, quick and steady reflexes. And lots of road, equipment, land, and animal knowledge to successfully survive out here across America's highways.