How Did Mac the Moose Get Shot? In Moose Jaw by Us with a Ford Explorer #GoFurther150
Aidan and I took a weekend trip to Moose Jaw. I have lived in Saskatchewan since I was seven, and I've lived in Regina since I was 28, and I've taken many trips to Moose Jaw, but I've somehow never managed to see the (in)famous Mac the Moose. At 32 feet tall, you'd think I would have noticed him by now. And that's why we decided that I should finally lay eyes on the world's largest moose, which made Ford's offer of a 2017 Ford Explorer for the weekend a perfect storm.
We wanted to do this whole thing in as posh a fashion as possible, so I snagged a night at Moose Jaw's Grant Hall Hotel. From what I understand, the building used to be a bit of a wreck, but they've managed to bring it back to an historic glory I want to move into for several months while I write the great Canadian novel. That could only feasibly last for about two weeks, though, before they would have to roll me out through the service doors, because I'd eat entirely too much in Grant Hall's dining room. We topped off our meals of lamb and steak with some magical cake that managed to be all the kinds of cake amalgamated into one — chocolate mousse, cheesecake, regular cake cake, and probably two other fancy kinds of cake — and we ended up having to follow our cake-pregnant bellies back to our room.
Dammit. Now I'm thinking about that cake again.
Just in case you thought we might take it easy on the food following our night of Grant Hall gluttony, let me clarify that, no, we did not. The very next day we asked around about good places to eat, and somebody said blah blah blah they have a ghost, and I said WHO has a ghost, because we must go to there, and that's how we ended up refilling our newly ginormous stomachs at Hopkins Dining Parlour.
I ate prime rib yorkies resting on onion rings with a side of what they call moose chips. This was a very good decision. Heart attacks are obviously my jam.
The ghost was a lady who hung out in the bathroom, as I was given to understand, so I stood around in the bathroom trying to listen very closely for whispers or dragging sounds or creepy breathing. I even tried defocusing my eyes in the mirror and asking her politely, but no go. She would not say hello. Maybe she's shy with new visitors.
After our Hopkins lunch, we sat around with our pants covertly undone until it was less embarrassing to stand up.
One thing I think people forget, or don't realize in the first place, is that Moose Jaw is honestly beautiful. If you like historic buildings and diverse building materials and styles and bright, wide skies to shoot it all against, then hie thee to Moose Jaw, because it's full of this stuff.
Even the Subway fast food restaurant is in a pretty quaint, vintage three-story. I come from Regina where old buildings are knocked down in favour of glass-paned monstrosities that thwart engagement, so Moose Jaw's main drag is like box of delicious sweetmeats for the eye.
But our true mission — beyond eating our combined weights in meat and fried food, and even beyond that discomfiting "sweetmeats for the eye" phrase I just laid back there — was to give me my first visit with Mac the Moose.
I'd heard a lot about him, and I wanted to see if he showed signs of any of the defacement he'd experienced in his previously unfenced life. Back in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s kids used to paint him blue in the middle of the night, or even give his fairly anatomically correct nethers a fresh coat of orange paint. The city finally erected a fence around Mac in July 2007 in order to protect visitors after a large chunk of his jaw fell off.
As a result of the fence, I couldn't fulfill my dream of driving the Ford Explorer right up to Mac the Moose so they could look like they were flirting with each other. I had even imagined attaching a giant set of fake moose antlers to the top of the vehicle, but I have a very poor sense of engineering and couldn't figure out how to attach papier-mâché antlers to the roof rack without scratching the paint job or cracking my papier-mâché handiwork. I considered switching the papier-mâché antlers out for shrubberies trimmed into antler shapes, but by then this was all becoming more and more difficult to explain.
Instead, the Ford Explorer and Mac the Moose ended up looking like they'd each just turned a cold shoulder after one of them made an insulting remark. Welcome to their fit of pique.
I'm so used to Saskatchewan landscapes that I forget how gigantic the space is and how very small we look in it until I notice how it looks like half the country fits into my iPhone lens. I was halfway between Mac and Aidan at the Mac-viewing picnic table, and they were both rendered tiny. It's fantastic to get lost inside the vastness of it all.
I secretly have experiences of rapture that I tuck into a pocket in my brain.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not provide photo evidence that Mac's nethers are indeed fairly anatomically correct, since I mentioned it earlier. Here you can make out Mac's parts nestled impressively betwixt his hind legs. I wish they were still orange.
And then we retired to another hotel, because I messed up our booking at the Grant Hall Hotel and accidentally booked our second night out at the Pilgrim Inn in the nearby town of Caronport.
It was lovely anyway, because all we needed to end our Mac the Moose weekend was a comfortable bed and trash tv anyway. And our health needed us to stay away from that cake of all cakes in the Grant Hall dining room. If we'd stayed, I might not be here to tell you about it.
Now I'm going to start having those cake dreams again.