The eye glowed yellow, caught by the blue-tinted xenon headlights. The creature was standing off the road, on a steep, deep-snow slope that dropped off into a ditch some twenty-five feet below. We had been warned about this kind of creature, told it was lurking just off the beaten path. We had seen them before, long legs seeming to move slowly while the massive creatures were actually quite fast.
I could not look away from the unblinking eye, the creature at once intense and bored with the sparse flow of traffic. I elbowed my husband, hunched over the wheel, steering us safely along the dark, slick highway, miles from anywhere. I leaned toward him, inclining my head though I never looked away.
“Moose,” I said. The creature snorted, the plumes of breath so large I thought for a moment it might be a dragon. It blinked. We passed. It ambled out into the road, those legs flickering through the headlight beams of another traveler, another contestant in the age-old battle of man versus beast.
I looked straight ahead, hoping not to hear brakes squealing, hoping not to hear the wrecked clash of flesh and machine.
* * *
We drove up to Gate Creek Cabins in Trapper Creek, AK on Friday night. It was a lovely drive until about five miles out of Wasilla, when a seizure-inducing snowstorm descended. It would have been okay, if not for the semis passing us and kicking up 1/8th mile long snow monsters (think smoke-monster from LOST). My friend ET described the experience as “butt-puckering”.
ET was married the next day on a frozen lake, a ten-minute snow machine (snow mobile, to anyone outside of AK) ride from the cabins. It was a lovely, if brief ceremony, complete with shallow snow graves, women flailing in two-foot deep snow, and an inexplicable “crotch shot” of the bridge and groom (still in snowpants). I will not go into how I lost the vows, the one thing I had been charged to bring, and spent the morning frantically trying to read them off of a borrowed cell phone and handwriting them into pages stolen from the guestbook (they were previously-blank. I did not steal anyone’s comments). All in all, fine nuptials.