After our long hike to Chapel Falls/Beach and Mosquito Beach/Falls, we drove to Munising, parked near the harbor, and toured downtown Munising on foot. Similar to many other Upper Peninsula towns, it seemed to be struggling. We saw many empty commercial buildings, many recently closed. We ordered beers (UPA’s) at the Barge Inn and hung out in their beer garden for the latter part of the afternoon. No food was served in the bar, so they directed us to a stand behind the bar that sold food. I had a burger. Julia had a taco assortment, and we topped it off with onion rings. Our appetites were on overdrive so we walked over to Dairy Queen and had some ice cream later
Around 8 pm., we boarded the boat for a two-hour cruise. The views were amazing.
Unfortunately, there was no sunset to see on this cruise. First, the sun disappeared behind a cloud bank. Then Grand Island blocked whatever sunset would have happened if there hadn’t been clouds. Nevertheless, we loved the cruise and felt it was very worthwhile. While we saw some of the same scenery while hiking, it provided a totally different perspective.
At this point, it was getting dark, and it was time to head home. The drive should have taken about an hour. Shortly after leaving Munising, we began to see deer cross in front of the car that was ahead of us. We slowed down accordingly and our eyes peeled for deer ahead so that we didn’t hit any deer.
Unfortunately, thirty minutes after leaving Munising, a deer hit us. I saw it out of my peripheral vision on the driver’s side of the road. The deer must have figured that it was safe to cross after our headlights passed. I thought we had safely passed it by also. But we didn’t. A horrible clunk sounded toward the rear of the Toyota Sienna. With my breath held, I pulled over and hoped that it had bounced off without causing any damage. Wrong.
The deer hit the plastic bumper cover just past the rear tire well on the driver’s side, partially ripping off the plastic tabs attaching that piece to the vehicle and to the rear bumper. It also bent a custom metal plate next to the rear wheelchair ramp, making it difficult but not impossible to lower the ramp when I checked to see if the ramp had been damaged. When I tried to raise the ramp back up, I realized that the bent metal plate was now preventing me from doing so. So I grabbed Justin’s metal tie down and used it as a hammer to unbend the plate so that we could get the ramp back in.
The bumper cover itself was flopping to the side of the vehicle, making it impossible to drive without doing something to prevent the wind from catching it and causing the whole thing to flop across the center line. We ended up using an assortment of bungee cords to hold it temporarily in place, attaching one end inside the hatchback and the other end on an undamaged plastic piece under the tire well. We could only drive about 30 to 35 mph without having the bumper cover flopping badly in the wind. We limped home this way and turned an hour trip into a more than two-hour drive.
In the morning, I made a trip to the hardware store, purchasing tools and gorilla tape that enabled me to remove the damaged piece altogether, and to tape closed some delicate pieces normally covered up by the bumper cover. We made it back to south central Wisconsin without incident. It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the vacation, but it could have been much worse if we had hit the deer head-on.
Parts have been ordered, and the Toyota Sienna is scheduled for a body shop repair next week.