"Moose" - My Family Travels

Three hours. Three hours ago we were supposed to be at our hotel, resting in the soft, comfortable beds of the Budget Inn, watching television, regaining our strength from the long day we had.

Two hours. Two hours until we get out of the Black Hills and into town, where our hotel is waiting. Or so says my father. 

One hour. One hour ago we passed a sign saying “30 miles to Rapid City”, the location of our hotel.

Half an hour. Half an hour ago, we were stopped on the side of the mountain because of construction going on half a mile up the road. It’s 10 o’clock at night and there are construction workers up near the top of the Black Hills in Wyoming, blowing off chunks of the mountain. What!?

As my father, brother, sister and I sit in our idle rental van, rain drops start to splatter the windows. A moment later, we hear a muffled thunder boom off in the distance. My father is sitting in the driver’s seat, tapping the wheel impatiently as the construction worker talks to the line of cars in front of us, telling them something along the lines of, “Sorry for the wait, you will be able to move along shortly. No ma’am, there is no other way to get through the falls, you would have to go all the way back out and get on another highway that goes completely around The Hills. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” 

My brother joins my father in the front seat, but is asleep, with a pillow over his face and his seat reclined to its full extension. My sister is in one of the middle seats, doing a word find that my grandmother gave her before we left her house this morning. And I, being the oldest of the three siblings, chose to sit in the back, for easy rest whenever I felt inclined to do so. I look out the rear view mirror at the line of vehicles also stuck in this traffic jam. The man in the driver’s seat of the car right behind me has a look of utter disgust and impatience on his face, and continues to lift up his wrist, to check the time I’m assuming. 

Ten minutes. Ten minutes later, the line finally starts to inch forward. The sound of vehicles starting their engines again defeats the sound of the now steadily falling summer rain hitting the van. The moment we get through the construction zone, all of the vehicles pick up their speed to about ten miles per hour over the speed limit, frantically trying to make up some of the lost time. The road is full of sharp winding turns, and wet from the rain. This causes most of the drivers to slow back down to the speed limit, realizing that staying alive and safe is more important than making up time lost. 

Five minutes. Five minutes later, we can no longer see the car in front of us. It is probably long gone, speeding ahead. But the fog is so thick, and the rain is so heavy that my father slows down even more, to be cautious. Thank God he did that, for as we turned around an extremely sharp turn, I notice five large animals crossing the narrow strip of road. To inform my father, I cry out “MOOSE!” He puts his breaks on all the way, and attempts to maneuver his way around these huge animals. He was able to make it around the turn, and through the animals without hitting a single one!

Unfortunately, once we make it through, it comes to my attention that the large animals were not moose, but were rather cows. Big, dark cows. I was not the only one to notice what animals they really were, and so my father, brother and sister all made fun of the fact that I thought a bunch of cows were moose. For the rest of the trip, which ended up lasting for another week and a half, they did nothing but make fun of me saying “moose”. 

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