In all of the traveling I’ve done since moving to the Pacific Northwest—a journey through Glacier National Park, driving through the Rockies and Bighorn National Forest more than once, exploring Yellowstone, walking through the unbelievably tall mountains in Alaska—I have not seen a single moose. I’ve even driven up next to a lumbering bison, which by the way, didn’t smell all that good, but which was still amazing. I’ve stood 50 yards away from a brown bear lolling around on the soft carpet of moss. Black bears make my list of eyewitnessed nature, too, as I’ve taken in a newly independent cub feasting on fresh salmon in a glacier-fed river as close to the Arctic Circle as I’ve ever come. Yes, I really want to explore the Yukon now.
I have never laid eyes on a moose, despite all of this quality time in the woods, and I’ll agree that Edmonton, Alberta, isn’t a place where moose parade down major thoroughfares. Still, vacationing near Banff there were no fewer than six big horn sheep just milling about on the front lawn of our condo. So wild animals can make their way to the suburbs, I suppose.
But no moose.
Yesterday, three moose wandered over to the eastern outskirts of Walla Walla, drinking from the gushing runoff that a temporary warm front brought to the Mill Creek, which comes to us direct from the Blue Mountains. On Twitter, of all places, I learned that a mother and two calves had infiltrated city lines. Here was my chance to sight a moose, for real! And then I saw the next status update, that the fish and wildlife service were helping them back to the scrubland wilderness that surrounds our isolated town. I could have pursued them like some kind of animal version of a storm chaser, but I’m not that guy, really. I’ll chalk it up to another failed attempt to break out of my routine while living here. So far we have:
- A failed turkey shoot, in which my pal overslept his alarm
- A job with the Census that I couldn’t take because my partner gave me a rip-roaringly bad stomach virus the day of orientation
- A just-a-moment-too-late alert of moose in the city
It’s okay. I don’t hold these mini-disasters against my loved ones and friends. Come next April, I may get talked into the turkey hunt again. And we all know there will be another Census someday.