Wednesday, November 14, 2007

if you think it, it will come

This past weekend, Jesse and I headed down to Blacksburg for the momentous battle between the Florida State and Virginia Tech football teams. Before we left for B-burg (as I affectionately call it), Jesse had mentioned that he wasn't sure he was in the mood to hang out and party after the game. And considering how hard those Hokies party, you really just have to be in the mood to do so. So, I offered to drive back after the game if he didn't want to stay. Jesse wanted to wait and see how he felt.

Turns out, it was me who didn't want to stay. This is because I couldn't watch the USC/Cal game anywhere in B-burg. Fine, I get that I was in the middle of SW VA and maybe the sports bars would have to pay to get coverage of a game on the West Coast. Why pay for an important game between two ranked California rivals when you can get the Kansas game for free? However, this is USC/CAL, people. To a Trojan, regardless of rankings, this is an important game. So, Jesse and I had one final option: listen to the game on the radio on the way home.

As we said goodbye to Jesse's friends at River Mill, Beth turned to me after she found out I was driving and said, "Be careful." I looked at her and immediately I thought, Oh right, deer. But she was worried about the trucks. 81 is a major truck route and a two lane highway in both directions. I appreciated her warning, but I was more afraid of deer.

Turns out there were no deer on 81, but there were plenty of trucks driven by sleepy truck drivers who had probably been driving all day and were now randomly swerving into my lane. After several narrow escapes, I was anxious to get to the half way point of our journey. However, by the time we got to Harrisonburg, I was the sleepy one. I wanted to stop and stay at a hotel so badly, but we were already at the half way point and I should just stick it out and go home. I prefer to sleep in my bed anyways.

I was scared awake when we made the transition from 81 to 66. 66 was pitch black. No one else was on the road except for the occasional car every 10-15 minutes. It was scary. And unfortunately for me, a girl who is not used to driving on anything but major roads and city streets, I was deathly afraid of driving from the West end of 66, which is mostly woodsy and/or rural.

The threat of deer was imminent. I could just feel it. I had been thinking about it during the whole drive and I just knew that something was going to happen. Driving by the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, I prayed that I wouldn't hit a deer.

I've had two encounters with deer on the road. The first was when Jesse and I went to Charlottesville for our first Thanksgiving together. While he was driving me around the neighborhood where he grew up, a deer sauntered directly in front of the car. Since we were driving at a snail's pace, the car was pretty much close to stopping anyways. And no, the deer was not injured. We waited as the deer slowly passed by the car.

My second encounter was not as pleasant. While driving through a woodsy neighborhood at night in Fairfax, the car ahead of me in the distance came to a screeching halt. As I approached the spot where the car came to a halt, I realized why the car had done so--the driver had hit a young deer and in the process had broken his hind legs. My heart broke to a million pieces as I saw the deer try desperately to get up and run away. I slowly drove around the injured deer and hoped that his death would come quickly. I wanted his suffering to end.

I thought of that night as I drove down 66 before dawn early Sunday. And then it happened. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a deer dart out of the woods and onto the highway. I swerved to miss him and started screaming. "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!" I woke up a napping Jesse with my screaming and I put my hand on my heart in a fruitless attempt to calm its rapid beating. I explained to Jesse what happened. Just then, I saw large puddles of blood on the road and finally a fresh deer carcass. I swerved again and my freak out started all over again. Jesse put his hand on my leg in a show of support. I mentally sent him a message: Please take the wheel.

But he didn't. And again, I had to stick it out. But I've decided NEVER to drive home from Blacksburg in the middle of the night again.


Anonymous said...

what an awful experience. at least you & jesse are safe. now is mating season for deer and they are very careless. I remember last year on election eve I was going to volunteer for the democrats trying to get people to go to the polls in the last few hours they were open (a thankless task as I found out after being roundly cursed by a lot of people)

Anyway, driving there the car ahead of me hit a deer, which was able to limp into the woods. but that whole night while I was on the phone being cursed out I kept thinking of that poor thing out in the woods, probably dying. ~erika

Anonymous said...

PS --congrats on the new job!~ erika

Terra said...

My mother lives way out that way down 66 in Front Royal and I know first hand how scary those roads are late at night, especially when you're tired. I've managed to get used to the creepy deserted highway feeling but the fear of deer and zombies never really went away.

I'm glad you're safe!

(and thanks for your comment!)

Madame M. said...

Where I used to live in NorCal, there were a lot of deer. Poor things --but man can they do some damage to your car! I'm sorry about your scary experience too-- I got my first ticket ever on a deserted, dark road like that. Not fun.

Daniel said...

There were an amazing amount of dead deer on the 66/81 route last weekend. I had to attend an event in Staunton and on the way down and back up my buddy and I probably counted more than a dozen.. I wonder if the drought causes them to approach the road edge for the relatively ungrazed sections right by the road.

Luckily you were able to dodge!

lizzie said...

erika--oh wow. i still get chills thinking about that deer that got hit. i wish i didn't have that image seared in my brain. that poor thing.

oh and thank you! :)

terra--zombies? great! now you've given me another thing to fear about driving around at night! :)

madame--whoa. i think getting a ticket on a deserted road like that is far scarier. i've heard that deer can do some major damage. if jesse had hit that deer in charlottesville, i don't think the car would've survived. that deer was massive!!!

daniel--there were definitely a lot of dead dear way before dawn on Sunday. yes, i'm glad i swerved, even though jesse had advised me not too (probably because he thought i was likely to swerve into a nearby vehicle but luckily there weren't any nearby vehicles that night/morning).