By all rights, I shouldn’t be writing this story.
2 feet in either direction and I wouldn’t be writing this story. But somehow, I am the luckiest girl alive…key word being alive.
Yesterday at 1:30pm, Russell and I were making our way through the last country stretch of northern Wisconsin, just 10 miles from the border of our destination: upper peninsula Michigan. We had about 90 minutes left en route to our RV park. As usual, I was driving the RAV4 with Hazen and Otis snuggled up with each other in the front seat and Russell was following in the RV/trailer combo. We were on a two lane, country road planning to stop for lunch in the next 10 minutes.
I had the cruise control set around 45-50mph and my legs were bent and tucked up slightly towards my seat to give my gas foot a rest. Before I even realized what was happening, I saw the face of a deer flash right outside my driver’s window and I was veering off the road toward the right shoulder which happened to be a grassy ditch. I froze for the length of one second and, normally, everything would have been okay and the car would have come to rest in the ditch. However, I was just yards away from a driveway that intersected that ditch and I hit the side of it head-on.
The force caused the car to vault completely into the air and rotate a quarter turn while flying over the driveway to the other side of the ditch. The front driver’s side of the vehicle collided with the ground which caused me to roll another quarter turn and land upside down, on the roof, in the ditch. The only thought I had during this time was that the situation was not good and was going to end very seriously.
However, the miraculous way the car landed allowed the ditch to perfectly cradle the passenger cabin and everything remained intact and un-crushed. I was hanging upside down but could tell that none of my limbs were restrained. Hazen was yelling in panic so I unbuckled my seat belt, dropped to the roof of the car and by that moment, Russell was there opening the driver door. Hazen and Otis walked right out of the car and I crawled out shortly after.
The timing could not have been better because an EMT and a nurse happened to be in the car right behind Russell and were on the scene instantaneously, making calls and checking vitals.
Russell’s brand-new Hobie kayak was tied tightly to the roof rack and likely helped absorb and distribute some of the shock. The force of the incident caused the entire roof rack to rip off of my hood with the kayak still attached and my bike was flung from the rack on the back bumper. I lost one contact and one flip flop but I walked away from the accident with nothing more than seatbelt marks and bruising.
After a precautionary trip to the ER for X-rays and the emergency vet for the pups, all three of us were diagnosed as being made of rubber and released with everyone in the county shaking their heads in wonder.
I am extremely sore now that the adrenaline has worn off but I am sitting here writing this with more than a little bit of disbelief. The sheriff said that 2 feet in either direction and this would have been an entirely different outcome. In fact, if anything had happened even slightly differently, there would likely be no blog post.
I am incredibly lucky and extremely grateful – to the medical and emergency responders in both Wisconsin and Michigan, to Toyota for making such a sturdy and safe vehicle and to Russell for reacting quickly and keeping it together despite his sheer panic. Since he was directly behind me, he had a front row seat to the horrible show and the has the dash cam footage to prove it.
I will sorely miss my beloved RAV4 but it is a small price to pay for such an astounding outcome. As I think back over the last 2,272 days that it was my constant companion, first in my entirely different life in Houston and then across all of America on this great adventure, I am filled with joy and gratitude for this amazing life I am privileged to have led….and even more privileged to continue to lead.
○ ○ ○
Melody is a full-time nomad who calls an RV home while roaming all over the western US and beyond for couple’s adventure photography in the wilds of nature. Her style is cinematic, romantic and richly colored and she believes that the beauty and chaos of nature, with its twisting paths, coarse landscapes and breath-taking wonder is a poignant analogy for relationships. The Pacific Northwest will always hold a special place in her heart but, life is short and the world is wide so check out the travel schedule to follow along with her adventures.
○ ○ ○