Every day of this trip has provided a different challenge. We've had walks in the pitch-black mountains of Georgia, the howling dogs of Oklahoma, and the questionably demilitarized zone that is the Texas-Arkansas border. Last night we faced a new challenge, one as difficult and more realistically threatening than any to date: not slamming into large cloven-hooved mammals at high speed. This sounds like a non-story, or at least an old one. We all face the challenge of avoiding an accident with deer, after all. I've even had the misfortune of taking out a fawn not three months after first obtaining my driver's license. But let me assure you that what we encountered last night was an order of magnitude more difficult. The problems started on a 200-mile long stretch of completely uninhabited backroads in the Dakotas that we had to take deep into the night. We had so many encounters with deer that I can't possibly remember the number. But the highlight of the evening is when we noticed large hulking masses of black fur gnawing on grass growing out of the shoulder of our narrow lane. Yes, our little minivan had careened through the stark, desolate night right past a small herd of buffalo. Our short glance of these American icons indicated no concern on their part for our Toyota. No, these were no "deer in the headlights," perhaps because they knew they would get the best out of any collision.
Various members of our party made a number of metaphors throughout our five-hour trip through the mammalian gauntlet: it was the battle road at Lexington and Concord where the Red Coat machine was slowly and meticulously dismantled by minute-men in the woods. The airport road in Bahgdad. But perhaps my favorite metaphor is the one that wasn't mentioned: the "Wind Done Gone" version of Frogger, that is, Frogger from the car's perspective.