Oh, Deer!

Enjoy the latest story from the blog,
“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Our drive from Northeast Ohio to a family cabin south of North Bay in Ontario, Canada, could take the better part of a day, depending on the Toronto traffic. So, we left before first light.

We lived a couple of miles off I-71, so I was in cruising gear within minutes. My morning coffee was in my hand when I saw a mound of something in my lane after the semi ran over it.  I was approaching too fast to swerve, especially one-handed, as I tried to put my coffee in the holder. With both hands on the wheel and my sister’s family in the other lane, I had no choice but to bear down and hope there was enough height under the van to clear it.

There wasn’t.

I managed to keep things steady as the carcass dragged the bottom of the vehicle. Once the shock of the moment was gone, I signaled to my brother-in-law to pull over at the next exit. I wanted to see the damage and determine if we needed to go back home.

When we stopped, I rolled down my window. My face recoiled into the vehicle as soon as the pungent smell hit me. My brother-in-law did the same. Raw deer guts, meat, fur, blood, and who knows what else painted the entire undercarriage of the minivan. The front bumper had meat with fur hanging from it. The smell was so horrid. It could turn a stomach if it were breathed in for more than a second.

I decided to turn back and go to the gas station at our exit because it was open and had a drive-through car wash. This would also allow me to determine whether I should risk the trip with this vehicle.

I ran the minivan through the car wash once, ensuring the service included the underbody. When I rolled the wet vehicle around, I saw someone get out of their car about a hundred feet away to pump gas. His second foot hadn’t even touched the pavement when he stood perfectly erect, as if he had just inhaled smelling salts. There was no need for him to get coffee; he was now fully awake. He looked around, unable to locate the cause of the worst smell you could imagine. Trying to plug his nose and punch buttons at the pump, he gave up, got in his car, and drove off.

I ran the minivan through the wash again.

This time, I was wise not to roll down my window. I just looked at the woman walking out of the gas station with her coffee and muffin. She stopped three steps outside the door as if she walked into an invisible brick wall. She looked around with an angry face, then ducked her head and made a beeline for her car.

I ran the minivan through the wash again.

Afterward, I decided the highway air and long drive would dissipate the smell. The assuring thing was we did not smell the foul odor inside the vehicle. Nothing was leaking, nothing seemed broken, and no warning lights or tones were triggered, so we bolted the scene just as a couple of workers walked our way.

On a long drive like this, we had to make stops for gas, food, and restrooms every several hours. Each time, these busy places looked like a grenade went off. We learned to be as quick as a pit crew before the offenders were pegged. It was a hit-and-run every time.

Then came customs at the border. The usual questions started, but none about the smell. One thing was clear: we never squirted through the checkpoint faster.

In Toronto, it was the usual stopped traffic on a five-lane highway. I watched people roll down their windows for a fresh breeze only to roll them back up in an instant. I think they all knew where the culprit was, so I thought the old mantra to myself – I’ll never see these people again.

When we finally arrived at our destination, the smell was as bad or worse than when we left. All across the underbody, this meat was cooking from the heat from the motor and exhaust all damn day. It was awful! But the cabin was only accessible by boat, so we parked in a mini field surrounded by trees by the dock. Even though we sat at the waterfront 50 yards from the carnage van, our lift couldn’t come fast enough.

About a week later, we boated in to go into town for more provisions. We all waited for the smell to knock us out as we neared the van, but it didn’t.

A little closer, I said to my wife, “What the heck happened to the paint!”

Half of the van was black instead of gray. As I slowed to take in the scene, thinking vandalism, she moved closer.

“Oh, my goodness, it’s coated in flies!”

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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