Driving away from Yellowknife after what had been a fantastic day and a half adventure, full of exploration and serendipity, the goal was to enjoy the ride, stop when we saw something of interest and get some great photos. All was going according to plan until well after dark.
Then it happened.
I was switching back and forth between watching for the reddish orange moon peeking through the cloudy night sky and checking the brush along to roadside for Bison. Chatting away, I went back and forth, back and forth.
Some of the conversations were deep, and others were not so much. I’m not sure at what point my eyes peered down the center lane into the darkness, and my mind registered that big hunk of darkness you see is not the night; it’s…
STOP was the only words that came out my mouth – warning the driver that their foot should rapidly move from the accelerator to the brake pedal.
Tensing my body preparing for an abrupt end to this car ride, halted by this one-ton beast now looking at us, as the driver swerved and the creature sauntered simultaneously in opposite directions. My right foot mimicking what I was hoping was happening with the driver’s foot, pressing down, down, down.
We slowed for only a moment and then continued down the road past mile marker 145. There was no need to stop. We were fine, the animal was fine, the car was fine. We hopped.
The chatter went back and forth between myself and the driver as I was kindly told that ‘Bison’ might have been a better word than stop. I kindly responded the only word in my brain was ‘Stop.’
The discussion soon changes to moments of nervous laughter at the situation, to the realization of a missing side mirror.
Around this time, I realize my foot is still firmly pushing on my imaginary brake and as the adrenaline reaches its heights, my hands shake a bite. I ask the driver multiple times if they are okay to continue- I would not have been – they have nerves of steel and keep going.
As the kilometers pass more slowly than ever, the realization sinks in of just how badly this night could have ended. We return to our intermittent chatter of the deep and meaningful to the lighthearted and silly.
Our journey ends ‘safely’ as we pull into the driveway and exit the car to examine the damage – words fail to describe the dismembered bumper, dangling mirror sans mirror, the ripped metal. It could have been much, much worse. More jokes are shared as we empty the car, but the gravity of the moment lingers thick in the air.
Our Guardian Angels had their work cut out for them this evening – and that poor Bison and his now ragged-leg left their mark on us, the car and the night.