This last week I killed not one, but two birds with my brand new Rav4. Ok, it’s not actually brand new, I bought it last year, but it didn’t have any dings in it yet so I still considered it brand new. Not even a shopping cart (trolley for you Brits) ding!
That all changed when I was driving south on highway 61 leaving Grand Marais in northern Minnesota.
A dear friend from San Francisco made the trek to Minnesota because she wanted to do some writing. We’re both working on some book ideas and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet in person and get some real writing done.
I am all in! I’d just come off my Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and was motivated to write. I just didn’t want to do it at my house where all the distractions are so we hit up a cabin on the north shore and made a pact to write.
The whole way up we talked about writing. It’s a 3-4 hour drive depending on how many times you stop to pee and eat so we talked a lot about writing. My friend even took some notes. I did not, since I was driving, but I was making all kinds of mental notes – that I have completely forgotten.
The first day of the road trip we stopped in Duluth at Grandma’s for lunch. An hour or so later we’d made our way to Beaver Bay (stop laughing you pervert) and to the cabin. The weather was perfect – mid 60s – and there was even a chance we’d get to see the northern lights – something my friend had never seen before.
Once we’d unloaded the car, decided which bedrooms we wanted – she took the upstairs lakeside bedroom, I took the downstairs lakeside bedroom – we settled into the living room with our laptops and wine.
We talked for an hour or so about the writing we were going to do, but not tonight because it was late and we both wanted to chill out. My friend asked me if I’d ever seen the show Ghosts to which I responded “no, never heard of it”, so she had to share it with me.
The cabin had wi-fi and several giant TVs that were capable of streaming millions of apps. It took us at least an hour to figure out where to watch Ghosts (Paramount +) and how to enable it on the TV.
*Just a little note that whoever rents the cabin after us will get free Paramount + because I couldn’t figure out how to log out of it.
My friend had seen the show before, but was happy to watch it again. I think we watched at least 5 episodes the first night and had gotten completely caught up by the second night.
If you haven’t watched Ghosts put it on your list. It’s hilarious, smart, goofy, dorky, sweet and clever. Shows this good don’t come along very often, so don’t miss it.
The next morning I was up to snap several shots of the sunrise – absolutely glorious with the sun rising over Lake Superior – and coffee. There is no better coffee than coffee on the deck overlooking Gitche Gumee.
My friend is from San Francisco and likes her coffee strong and espresso-ey so we had to get in the car and drive several miles to Silver Bay for her espresso. We had every intention of going back to the cabin to write, but it was a stunning day – perfect for a little shopping and even a hike or two.
Actually saw this guy on our hike.
We only hiked about half as far as we would have liked since I wore the wrong footwear and didn’t want to go up and down rocky paths after breaking my shoulder. I hate that I have become a bit of a wuss about my arm, but the last thing I want to do is trip and break it again.
I did have my sneakers in the car, but because I’d done some backyard work cleaning up leaves before we left I had to wrap them in a plastic bag because they were a little messy from the dogs – if you know what I mean.
Once we got back to the cabin we had every intention of writing, but a nap was in order first. Just a short one. And then maybe one or two episodes of Ghosts.
It was not one or two episodes, it was 7 or 8. I watched the last three in my room on my laptop.
No, no one got any writing done on day 2 either.
The next day, Saturday, for sure we were going to do some writing, but first we had to get some coffee (even though I’d already had coffee on the deck watching the sunrise while my friend slept the morning away) and then get some breakfast and both of us wanted to stop by some of the gift stores that were closed the day before.
Since we were already headed north we may as well head up to Grand Marais.
If you are not familiar with Grand Marais it is a lovely little town on the shore of Lake Superior with plenty of art galleries, gift shops and outfitter shops.
We stopped in all of them and then had a late lunch on the lake.
For sure we were going to do some writing when we returned to the cabin but first we had to swing by the little gift shop by the cabin which was only open until 5 and we would just make it if we hustled.
We’re driving down the road, admiring the lake through the trees when all of the sudden it felt and sounded as though someone threw one of those small bean bags you play Corn Hole with at my car.
Whatever it was hit the windshield right in front of me. Something bounced off and my friend was quick to turn to see it bouncing down the road behind.
“What the hell was that?!?!?” I shouted.
“I think it was bird” said my friend. “I think it’s dead, it’s just bouncing along the road”
I didn’t even slow down, just kept driving.
The windshield was not cracked, but I could see a few droplets of what must be blood. I assumed it was a sea gull, since we’d seen so many of them right before we left.
I held out hope the bird was just stunned and would shake it off and be ok. I hit a bird once before, though it was so small I didn’t notice when it happened. I only noticed when I got out of the truck and saw the little bird from Are You My Mother with his little foot stuck in my grill. He looked as if he’d ridden on my grill for several days before I noticed him. I asked a co-worker who had been raised on a farm to remove him. Thankfully he did. I didn’t mean to hit him, I didn’t even see it happen, but it still made me sad and I felt responsible.
I did not feel responsible this time. All I could figure was that this bird didn’t see me and flew right into me. Not sure how that would be possible, but unless an oncoming car threw it at me nothing else made sense.
Looking at the blood on the hood and windshield all I wanted to do was run my brand new car through the car wash – but there aren’t many car washes open in the off season on highway 61 between Grand Marias and Beaver Bay.
I was going to have to drive home with blood on the hood and windshield unless I was willing to wash it off, which I really wasn’t, plus it was going to be dark soon.
We pulled into the parking lot of the little gift store we’d been trying to get to just as the proprietor was closing up. My friend, being from California, jumped out of the car and asked if we could still shop even though she was closing up.
This is something only someone who was not from Minnesota would do. I don’t even think those heathens from Wisconsin would make such a huge ask, but she’s from California and they do all kinds of weird things over there.
Of course the proprietor agreed to let use look around. Being from Minnesota she couldn’t say no. Of course I’d have to make a large purchase to make up for our breech in etiquette.
I bought a vegan purse which goes against my better judgment. I love leather, it lasts forever and it’s so much more eco friendly than vegan leather which is a petroleum product. I bitched about it, but bought it anyway because it was cute and she stayed open for us.
There wasn’t time for the long goodbye – though both the proprietor and I made motions to engage – it was getting dark out and even though we didn’t have far to drive I didn’t want to risk hitting a deer.
We waved as we walked back to the car.
It was only then that I noticed the damage the bird had done to my brand new Toyota Rav4. It was only then that I realized I’d just driven an hour with half a large bird hanging out of my headlight.
The bird – what I assume was a grouse – had smashed through the plastic that encompassed the light. Its heart was front and center and globs of feathery yuck was next to it.
There was no way the part that was bouncing along the road an hour back north was able to shake it off.
We got back into the car and drove back to the cabin. Sure enough, there was a deer just waiting for us as we turned the corner. Thankfully I was going slowly and inched up on it so as not to spook it and have it jump through the windshield.
Writing was the last thing I was thinking of, instead I had to file an insurance claim while it was still fresh in my head. I grabbed my phone and took a bunch of photos – posted them on Facebook first because I have to share this with everyone, and filed the claim.
I feel bad about the bird, I really do, but what a buzz kill. And what a hassle. I already knew that Monday was going to be a busy day and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
The next day, after absolutely no writing whatsoever, we drove home and listened to podcasts. My mind was on the bird that was still embedded in my broken headlight. The heart was getting a little shriveled at this point but I was told to leave it in case the adjuster needed to see it.
I made that up, that’s just what I told myself because there was no way I was going to pick the bits of the bird and its heart out of my headlight.
We drove home, I dropped my friend off at the airport and parked my car outside since I didn’t want that mess in my garage. I’d deal with it in the morning after my Monday meeting.
Apparently we’re still having all kinds of supply chain issues because every single auto body shop in the Twin Cities is booking out into January of 2023.
There is no way in hell I’m driving around for two months with a dead bird and its heart stuck in my headlight.
Luckily I have smart friend, several of whom suggested I stop by the dealer and see if they can fix it.
They could order the part and have it available the next day!! Score!!!
I couldn’t bring it in the next day, I had to wait for the insurance company to approve it, but knowing this was going to be resolved sooner than later left me feeling hopeful. I felt even better since another friend of mine pulled the dead bird and its heart out of my broken headlight – thanks Dave, you rock!!
I drove home feeling a little better about the whole ordeal. I’m still out my deductible, but at least I won’t have to drive around with the tale tell heart in my headlight.
I pulled off the freeway and turned onto Victoria to head home. On my right was a huge truck, coming my way, but I had plenty of time to make the turn so I took the opportunity. As I turned the corner I noticed a pigeon crossing the road.
I swerved and slowed, hoping to straddle the bird. I looked in my rearview mirror and realized if I didn’t move fast I was going to get hit by the huge truck barreling down the road behind me.
I hit the gas and immediately felt the bird under my left tire. I looked back and saw an explosion of feathers behind me.
I don’t even know how to end this. I am heartbroken that I killed not one, but two birds this past week, but I’m also appreciating the phrase Bird Brain.