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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Natchez Trace - Day Two - The Miracle of Three

We had an easy “get-away” in the morning since we had left the trailer hooked up from pulling in the day before. So we got on the road before 9:00 a.m. That’s early for us! It was a nice drive back on the bridge over the reservoir that connects the campground to the Trace. All along the reservoir were many Great Blue Herons. I bet we saw over ten! Jim said that they were staking out their own fishing spots because they seemed to be sitting about 20 feet apart from each other! I was happy because I saw a group of pelicans (3*) floating on the water! We sped by and I couldn’t get a picture off.

We planned to backtrack a little and go south on the Trace to make up for what we missed yesterday. First we stopped for gas, and then headed directly to the Mississippi Crafts Center. Here beautiful arts and crafts were displayed and for sale, from hand woven baskets, to stained glass hangings, to handmade wooden chairs, pottery, jewelry, just to name a few. It was nice to wander down the aisles and pretend I had money, debating which items I would purchase. I love the “bottle tree”. What is a bottle tree? It is a tree filled with bottles. The bottle tree's origins can be traced back to Africa. It was believed that bottles suspended in the trees would attract evil spirits when the sun glimmered through the bottles. The evil spirits would then be trapped in the bottles.




The man working the welcome desk also repaired cane chairs. He was in the process of fixing one when we came out of the store, so he showed us how he repaired the chair. He explained that “caning” was really a lost art and that he had 12 chairs waiting for him at home to be repaired!



Continued down the road and then saw, Yuk!, a snake slithering across the road. It was about 2 feet long and a bluish color. Of course we had no choice but to hit him. Jim described it as, “Bap, bap, bap-bap-bap.” (Front tire of truck, back doolies, 3 tires on trailer!) That sucker was road kill for sure! As a matter of fact, we saw two other smooshed snakes on the road later in the day, for a total of 3*.

My all time favorite stop of the day had to be at mile marker 122 – the Cypress Swamp.



The swamp was filled with both Cypress and Tupelo trees. Did you know that Tupelo was a tree? Yep, that’s what we learned today. And yes, the city of Tupelo is named after the tree. Looking into the swamp we could see a mirrored image of the trees above. There was a small trail surrounding the swamp with little signs that talked about the trees, animals, etc. Alligators are few, but can be found in the swamp. I happened to be walking first on the trail, and Jim said to me, “Watch for a log that looks like its breathing!” Isn’t he just the greatest?

Zooming down the road to our next stop we saw 3* wild turkeys fly/run to the side of the road. Man, we almost had food for a month!

The drive has been so peaceful. The smell of pine trees is so powerful, and every once in awhile you get a whiff of something sweet that’s in bloom. Today we happened by a couple of guys who were cutting the grass on either side of the road and we smelled wild chives.

We stopped at Cole Creek, mile marker 175.6, another tupelo/bald-cypress swamp, but it wasn’t as nice as the other swamp. Again there was a little trail around the swamp that we walked (it felt good to stretch our legs.) Again my husband felt it wise to share a little of his wisdom. “If you should see a snake with what looks like cotton in his mouth, it’s not really cotton.”

I replied, “Let me guess, it’s a cottonmouth snake. But believe me, if I see a snake, I’m not going to study it to see if it has cotton in its mouth!”

“No? What would you do?”

“Well, I’d jump in your arms!”

Our last stop of the day was at the Bynum Mounds. Prehistoric people built these mounds between 2,100 and 1,800 years ago and were used as burials and for ceremonial purposes.



But what was interesting was that as soon as we pulled up, a couple of dogs welcomed us. They came up to us wagging their tails. No one was around. I think someone might have left them there. One dog looked pretty scraggy;



The other one looked ok. I immediately wanted to feed them or at least give them water. So I grabbed an old plastic bowl from the trailer and gave them some water.



The two dogs drank most of the water, and then followed us to the area by the mounds. I stopped because a third little dog came out who was just precious looking. Jim continued to walk, but I was torn, looking at these dogs. The female dog showed me her belly like she wanted a good scratching.





Her tail was wagging. I noticed that all the dogs had flea collars on them, but no tags. I went back up to the water bowl and poured in the rest of the water from my water bottle. The female dog came over, drank all the water, then proceeded to pick up the bowl and run away with it! I hated to leave the dogs, but I did the next best thing. I called the emergency line and reported the 3* dogs to the ranger. Hopefully the dogs will be turned in to the nearest shelter.

So at the end of the day, I’ve seen 3 dogs, 3 snakes, 3 pelicans, 3 wild turkeys, and several great blue herons. It was a GREAT day!

We stopped to camp right off the Trace at a campground located in Tupelo, MS.

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