I think my fear of driving in the dark started back when I was younger. We would drive two hours up north-usually in the dark-to my grandparents (literally over the river and through the woods), for Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc... I felt like we were always on the lookout for deer. One time, I was in the backseat with my sisters when my mom yelled, "DEER!" My dad slammed on the brakes, the Barbies in the back window flew forward and hit me in the head, and we may or may not have hit the deer (I can't remember...it was obviously a traumatizing moment for me).
Ever since that experience, I hate deer or anything that decides to cross the road blindly at night. Ugh, why can't they just look both ways and cross when it's safe??
Last night, I was driving home from River Falls. It was 11:00pm and absolutely no one else was on the road with me. No one. My hands were choking the steering wheel in the 10 and 2 o'clock position, and my eyes continually scanned the road and ditches for little red eyes. Then I saw something, but it wasn't a deer...maybe a coyote or a fox...it was low to the ground and it sprinted across the road. I didn't slam on my brakes, because there was no need to, but my heart was pounding a mile a minute and my lower body went numb - no joke. I hate driving at night.
I have another story too. Back in high school I was driving my friend Andrea-the one I was visiting in River Falls-back from a volleyball game. We live in a semi-farming community, so horses and cows are fenced in close to the road. So we're driving down the country road and I see a gigantic animal about 200 yards away.
"LION!!!" I yell. My common sense must disappear when I'm caught in a frightening situation, because there is no way that lions live in Wisconsin.
Andrea asks, "Where?" But now I've slammed hard on the brakes. In front of us is a ginormous Clydesdale Horse that looks like it is about to eat us and the car whole. Mr. Ed's steroid cousin starts creeping towards us.
"What do I do? WhatdoIdo?" I scream to Andrea, who is pretty calm compared to me. She tells me to back up and drive into the owner's driveway. So I do. There, we get out and walk to the owner's door. The horse follows and we watch it lounge around in the yard as we knock. Andrea explains to the owner what happened and he puts the horse back where it belongs.
Now that the adrenaline rush has subsided, Andrea and I laugh uncontrollably the rest of the way home.
So for all the deer, coyotes/foxes, and horses out there: Stay off the road, please. I don't want my last words to be "Lion!" as Bambi prances from the ditch into my headlights.