Okay, so we needed a way to get to New Mexico with all of our gear. The only solution we could really come up with was that staple of band stereotypes: the van. Mark, resourceful as always, took it upon himself to locate that necessary transport, that fifth Beatle, that lifeblood, that meat and potatoes of band life: the van. How many sentences in a row can I end with: the van? Probably more than three, but let’s leave it at three for now.
Mark and Jared broke champagne bottles on it’s sweet beige backside before beginning its maiden voyage from Kansas City to Portland, Oregon. They pulled up at our doorstep two days later, having braved the winds of Wyoming. I was, to put it lightly, astounded by this machine. The first thing I noticed was that it was huge. The second thing I noticed was that it had an “I Love Baseball” keychain which lights up every two seconds. It looks like the screen of a TI-83 calculator. Mark posited that maybe Texas Instruments had a surplus of calculator screens, so they sold them to some Texas billionaire who made a fortune turning them into blinking “I Love Baseball” keychains. Oh, and it can’t be turned off.
The next day we packed up (no small feat) and headed south through a rainy Oregon afternoon. Late that night we were passing through the Redwood National Forest in total awe while listening to Grizzly Bear (I insisted that Modest Mouse didn’t fit the mood of the trees. If you disagree, fine, but keep in mind it was one of their heavier albums). Once we passed through the forest, we hit fog. Well, to call it fog would be a bit of an understatement. It was more like a cement wall, except twice as opaque. Naturally, the fog hit during my shift at the wheel. Joel stayed awake with me to help me watch the road for other cars or obstacles while Jared and Mark slept in the back seat. I was going, at most, 25 mph for an entire hour or two. The fog was that impenetrable.
About then, Joel noticed a Deer Crossing sign. Fantastic. Just wonderful. I am so happy about this fact. Now we are watching not only for the road to veer off but for huge animals to bound across said road. Not ten minutes later, Joel manages to say “deer!” about two microseconds before I see a shape lit up by the headlights in the bottom right corner of the windshield. BAM. We have just hit a deer. We have been in possession of Martin Van Buren for only three days or so and we have already hit a deer. “Thankfully” it was a baby deer. We were thankful for that fact solely because a larger deer would’ve done more damage.
I slowed the car and we got out and surveyed for damage. Unbelievably, we couldn’t find any. We looked and looked, but could see no sign of deer-impact. Shaken, I asked Joel to take over driving duties for a while, so that I could sit in the passenger’s seat and suffer my four simultaneous heart attacks in relative comfort.
A few hours later we found a rather large, baby-deer-shaped dent in the side of the van. The side! That means that the deer actually hit us. Our van was t-boned by a deer. It’s the only possible explanation for the dent being so far away from the hood. We couldn’t believe it.
A few weeks later we found a VHS copy of Cool Runnings under one of Martin Van Buren’s seats.