Bruce and the Moose

It has been an eventful and busy month.  As I mentioned in my previous post, my son just finished Marine boot camp.  We had expected a different graduation date, and so there was a rush to plan a trip on very short notice--plan routes, book hotels, pack--that involved seven of us heading out in two cars and eight of us returning by plane, no trains, and two automobiles, two of them by different methods than they arrived in San Diego.

Among my plans, I decided that as long as I'm driving practically right past the Grand Canyon, I'd stop with the three boys who traveled with me and we'd see it and hike it.  Despite growing up in the military and a fair amount of travel, I had never really been to the southwest of this country at all.  I spent hours researching mule rides, hiking, trails, and safety precautions, the North Rim, the South Rim, deciding between staying an hour out in Williams or right on the Rim, booking a hotel, and more, to make this happen.
Well--you know what they say about writing--or if you don't, I'm about to say it: sometimes inanimate objects become 'characters' within the story.  We have such a member of the family: BRUCE.  The GPS we love to hate.  And Bruce was not willing to be a bit player in this story.

I didn't name him after The Brus, by the way, although it just occurs to me that that would be the first guess.  No, we named him after his accent.  My kids have had fun discovering that he can in fact, speak in a multitude of accents.  After going through different voices, we seem to have settled on the Australian accent and he is therefore named Bruce.  He is also temperamental, sometimes slow to comprehend, at times downright clueless, sometimes contrary, difficult, occasionally mischievous and at times determined to take us in inexplicable circles.  Therefore, one of my sons programmed him to respond to the voice command with the prompt, You're drunk, Bruce!

I have warned my kids that perhaps his ongoing game-playing with us is retaliation for their hatred of him.  They insist it's the other way around, and so we remain at a standstill and he continues to occasionally play dirty tricks on us.  (And this one was quite literally dirty.)

Knowing this, I went to online maps and wrote down detailed directions.  But being that Murphy thinks he and I are best friends (we're not, but I digress) a water bottle leaked all over my directions on the second day of travel.  I didn't really worry, because in truth, Bruce does get us where we're going, with absolutely no problem, more than 99% of the time.  And we still all had phones with data.

But Bruce decided, on our way to the Grand Canyon, to have some fun with us.  I had checked the online maps and they showed me a rather curving route into our hotel on the South Rim.  So when Bruce took us into a campground, on a winding route, we trusted him.  We ended up some ways down the road, the car covered in dust and dirt, surrounded by a herd of moose.  (Well, not quite surrounded, but close!)  I'm glad to say they were very young moose.  Not of a size to rock our car over, which I hear moose are quite capable of. 

At the time, that dirt track wasn't so funny.  Night was coming on.  We were getting further and further from civilization, rather than suddenly coming upon the hotel Bruce kept promising us was there.

In retrospect, we simply reversed, got out of the campground, asked for directions at a local store (you know, the old fashioned way of getting places, actually talking to real people!), and found our hotel.  And in the meantime, I saw moose for the first time in my life. 

We finished this adventure with the kids trying to extract a promise from me that when I replace Bruce, they can run him over with the car and do other awful things.  In their retelling of the event, it is the story of How Bruce Tried to Kill Us!

I'm thinking maybe it's the story of how life rarely goes according to plan (Want to make God laugh--tell Him your plans!  Life is what happens while you're making other plans.) and Bruce decided to take us--quite literally--off the beaten path for a little bit and show us something beautiful and wonderful.  I wish, in fact, that we had taken just a few more minutes to get better pictures, but at the time, with dusk approaching, I was worried about getting out of what promised to be a very dark place when night fell.

In the end--I'm glad it happened.  There have been many unexpected things in my life.  This is one of the Literature and Life lessons of The Blue Bells Chronicles, I guess--lots and lots of unexpected things will happen to us in life and it's more about how we handle them.

Really, in the whole scheme of things, this was one of the good ones.  It turns out there's really no dramatic story here.  It would be a much more exciting story if told from my kids' perspective, if the moose had actually done anything other than run across the road!  But it was a reminder to me that life doesn't have to always go according to plan and sometimes what happens is better than, or at least a nice addition to, our plans.  Thank you, Bruce, for slowing me down for just a minute (nothing like a rutted, dirt forest path to slow you down!) and showing me something beautiful and majestic and wonderful.


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