Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Like I told the Mrs., I never drive faster than I can see. Besides, it's all in the reflexes." Jack Burton, Owner, Porkchop Express

After leaving the glacier, around dusk, the long drive home began. You may have heard of gorillas in the mist, well, above, that's a mountain in the fog that we saw on our way out. You can click on it to make it larger, if you dare.

Anyhow, as much as we saw on the way out, we really weren't prepared for what we'd see on the way back. That would be wildlife. Lots of it.

We started off with the bald eagle. This majestic bird was up in a tree as I whizzed past at 65mph. The Mrs. said, "hey, a bald eagle." You don't hear that often, so, in the best Dukes of Hazzard Rockford Files tradition, I did a bootlegger's turn at 65 mph on the narrow highway. Okay, I lied. I did an old-man style three point turn. But I pretended I was doing the bootlegger.
We tried to take pictures of the bald eagle but he or she was far from cooperative. I wondered how you could tell the difference between a male bald eagle and a female bald eagle, and I pretty much came to the conclusion that I'd have to see eggs being laid to tell, so, by definition I would never be sure I was seeing a male bald eagle. Whatever. Bald eagles are big. And, I wondered just what this one was eating. I soon found out.

So, we'd passed the moose hunters, so the next logical thing was to see the moose. First off was a bull and a cow moose just munching side-road-salad as we drove past. We stopped, backed up, and then took this picture. They kept eating. I honked the horn so they would look at us, and they obliged. Not afraid at all. The funniest part is that while I was taking these pictures, I could see moose hunters a half-mile ahead. I so wanted to shoo the moose away - run, hide from the hunters! It would hurt me deep inside for these moose to be shot by some heartless hunter. Well, any heartless hunter but me. I want them to live, grow strong, so that next year when I get them they will fill more of the freezer.

The next moose I saw was a beauty. The first bull moose was a young bull moose. This one was a giant, complete with Bullwinkle-size antlers. Not that you could tell from this picture. From this picture, it might as well be bigfoot, D.B. Cooper, or Noah's Ark. Again, a lovely, stately walk, unconcerned about our presence. Yet, we were still not done with moose.

I told you I'd been wondering what the bald eagle ate. I think I saw it. Or, rather, them. The first rabbits we saw were clustered in twos and threes next to the road. And then, on some stretches, you could see twenty eagle take-out dinners at a time, (on either side of the road) all getting ready to hop. Where?

Was there some big rabbit-orgy being prepared? Was it an American-Idol type competition to pick the next Peeps model? Were they commuting to work? None of them were suicidal, like the jack rabbits that lived where I grew up that would literally wait until your pickup was right on them and then throw themselves under your tire. Really. These had the good sense to at least go away from the road as we approached.

It was now officially nearly dark. And, we had driven back into the smoke-haze that we had fleetingly escaped.

It was then we saw the last moose. A big cow. A really big cow. Stately walking across the road. Slowly. Directly in front of our speeding 4x4. Just taking her time.

If you've never approached a cow moose at 65mph, it's hard to explain. Let me try. 65mph is roughly 95.3333 feet per second. A 1200 pound moose weighs 1200 pounds. The kinetic energy available to the moose is therefore 1/2(mass of moose)(velocity of moose)(velocity of moose). Since the moose is at rest, we can use the velocity of my car. This translates to 5,453,067 lb-ft^2/s^2. Which is pretty meaningless. I guess that I can give you an approximation based on true life: that's the energy in hitting a moose dead on at 65 mph. (for those of you who are picky about mass and weight, assume I'm using a pound mass.)

Now, from experience, I can tell you that hitting a deer at 65mph* (200 pounds) will ruin your car's day. And will, in fact, end the existence of your car as anything but a pile of spare parts. A moose is six times bigger. I can tell you from experience when you see that moose in your headlights it is as big as a Star Friggin' Destroyer. The center of the moose's body was well above the hood of the car. Not good.

Which is why we have eyes as a species, and use them. And also why we put brakes on cars. I used both of them, we stopped. The moose sauntered across the road as if she hadn't been putting her moose-life in my hands.

As we screeched to a halt, I looked at The Mrs. and calmly said, "Honey, I never drive faster than I can see."

Without missing a beat, she finished the quote, "Besides, it's all in the reflexes."

Dang, I love her.

* True story: Driving in the car:
The Mrs.: Deer.
Me: Honey.
The Mrs.: DEER!
Deer: Oh no, they're not stopping . . .

Now she says: STOP. Thankfully, "Moose" isn't a pet name she has for me. Now, "Bear" is a pet name . . .


Blogger the Witch said...

Some stuff _/\_ doesn't understand:

1. Why didn't the deer just yell "Hey - Rockford files guy - stop" rather than complain that you were not?

2. Why did the deer speak English? As an Alaskan native, shouldn't he speak... um... Alaskan?

3. If a deer yells "stop" in the woods and no one is around to hear it....

OK, I'll stop....

6:06 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

How do you tell a male bald eagle from a female? The male does the combover.

7:14 AM  
Blogger John said...

1. He might have. I was listening to some outrageous tunage. Oh, and I was listening to The Mrs.

2. I only got it from his onboard flight recorder, but it was English. But this happened in the Midwest, about a decade ago.

3. Now you're verging on physics!

*Now* I know! btw, I rented Kung-Fu Hustle and was getting ready to watch it with The Boy when I noticed it was 'R' rated. So, we watched UHF instead. I should watch it tonight. I'll report tomorrow. Beer's still cold if ya wanna come.

3:23 PM  
Blogger GoGo said...

About the Meeese on the side of the road.

If hunters would just adopt the African safari technique it would certainly be quicker and safer and faster.

Instead of standing upwind and whispering to each other and making mice noises and doing odd things with duck urine and wearing camouflage and WALKING..

Why don't they just drive along in a land rover. See prey. Hop out. Assume hunter pose. Kill prey. Toss in truck. Peel out. Go home.

At least the Moise seem to be less skittish than deer.

Are moose's less skittish then deer?

3:32 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Thanks for the invite. Cold beer sounds good, but as much as I'd like to, I don't think I'd be going to Alaska this year. Plus, I have probably missed the tourist season (the warm one).

5:55 AM  
Blogger John said...

The meeses are MUCH less skittish than deer. I think you could saddle 'em up and ride them. Actually, the cows have been known to stomp folks near their calves. Not the wall-flower type at all.

Road idea is good, but there are only about six roads up here - lots of guys use a boat (later post) to get up close and personal.

too late. beer's gone. :)

9:19 AM  
Blogger babbling brook said...

I agree with your sentiments about moose and moose hunters...I am enthralled with them but haven't honored my "once in a lifetime chance/ moose permit" yet here in the lower 48 to fill up my freezer, perhaps when I am permanently living in the deep woods year round. I love to play repo man for now (well woman) and claim their sheds and make ruckus and mark w/ pee & glee all over the BWCA and Superior National Forest to give them a heads up during moose season (same actually for bears and just this past weekend).
As for eagles and deciphering males and females....as in most birds of prey, the female is almost always larger than the male, in bald eagles it is definitely common sometimes by a great margin.
Keep up the cool blog, love the post...pics & your sentiments make for a nice read.

6:27 PM  
Blogger babbling brook said...

PS Moose can afford not to be skittish...they are the pachyderms of North America.
PPS does the misses have her own blog? She seems like quite the gem & cool chick.

7:44 PM  
Blogger rosietx1 said...

Witch / John -
We don't even have deer - do we? I've lived here for a LON G time and I have never - ever seen a deer... maybe way down south...? maybe real small ones?

1:33 AM  

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