Taking advantage of a few days before a volunteer commitment on the coast of Louisiana we decided to drive up the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. The weather turned bitter cold making it difficult for us to want to leave the warm confines of Lil’Squatch’s cab. So it seemed the a drive was a good way to pass the time anyway. Starting the trip from Natchez we took in what we could of the historic town, most noted for it’s wealth prior to the civil war.
The “Trace” is a popular drive in the spring when the magnolias are in bloom or in autumn when the leaves are adding a different kind of color to the drive. Being winter there was hardly anyone on the road for long stretches. It’s also possibly the best paved road in MS. Making this stretch the ideal drive for our little guy. Even though the speed limit is 50 we dawdled around 35. This speed was perfect for taking in the bare wooded surroundings. Several people mentioned how they enjoy woods in the winter because you can see back into what is otherwise a well vegetated stand of trees and vines. There are many stops on the Trace that highlight Native American life, plantation life and famous civil war battles. The parkway itself highlights the old dirt route used regularly from 1800-1820 but was most likely in use long before that as a Native American trading route. I kept seeing fluttering in the woods but when I looked harder nothing was there. There is a lot of residual energy in these old woods, a lot of stories to tell and histories to haunt them.
However, there is a relative new comer here too and we saw some right on the side of the road. Armadillos! I’ve only seen Armadillos on the road in another capacity and it wasn’t as cute as what I saw before me rummaging in the soils looking for bugs to eat. The one we stopped next to paid us no nevermind as we giggled and took pictures. Such silly animals grunting and shuffling along. The nine banded armadillo, the only kind in the US, has made its way up through Texas from central America only in the last 200 years and they are slowly expanding their range upwards. Roadways have actually helped them expand their range even if they do call them a “Texas Speed Bumps”. These animals breed at a healthy rate producing four identical quadruplets almost every litter and can have up to 15 litters in a lifetime. Contrary to popular belief these particular armadillos don’t roll up into a ball (only the three banded species do) but their armor does protect their soft undersides.
While some people think they are a pest because they tear up their lawns others think they are a tasty pork like meat. However, it turns out they also can carry leprosy and you’re more likely to catch it from eating them than from just touching them. Personally I just think they are cute and am glad that I finally got to see one in its element instead of just being a poor little critter in the road.