Nature Encounters by the Wayside

So, we took a big trip out west for a family wedding.

We had a few false starts, but eventually we packed up the 8 younger kids (the older ones had to fly out ahead of us--seriously, we had issues!), all of the gear we needed, and hit the road.

Our first stop on the way was in the early evening when we needed gas.  Sir Walter Scott pulled off the road at a place that was barely a cross-road--all we saw was a Motel 6 and a gas station.  The parking lots were gravel.  There was rusting machinery lying around the perimeter.  We were about half a mile off the highway, so we could just hear the trucks rushing past in the distance.  We could see dozens of electricity-generating windmills out on the far horizon, and lights from sleepy farmhouses began winking on.

We bundled our already road-weary bodies into the gas station bathroom (a single stall affair), and then we looked for a place to eat our picnic dinner.

Everything was so ugly and dead-looking, but we were hungry, and we needed a break from driving. 

We chose a sad little mowed patch of grass off to one side of the Motel 6. 

The kids hovered close to me, unsure of what to expect, but I noticed a small, huddled shape with long ears about a dozen yards away.

"Oh!  Go see the rabbit, guys!" I exclaimed.

The kids ran off enthusiastically, but halted quickly, yelling, "This is not a rabbit, Mom!  Come quick!  I think it's an armadillo!!"

I joined the ring of curious children, and sure enough, it was a small 9-banded armadillo!

(Not our photo--just a stock photo from the internet)
It hunched itself closer to the ground, but it neither ran away nor curled up (because 9 banded armadillos can't curl up, but I forgot that in the excitement of the moment).

We got within a yard of it, and we had lots of time to examine it.

We could see its long ears.
We could see its 9 bands.
We could see its eyes and claws and scales.

The kids and I had walked over from the gas station to the field, but Sir Walter Scott drove the van over, and as he arrived, the armadillo took our distraction as opportunity and bolted for the tall grasses off to the north east.

We never got a picture.

But the experience opened our senses, and suddenly the previously barren field came to life before our eyes.  We watched insects, butterflies, and moths as we ate.  We noticed the patterns of grass growth and soil colors.  We looked over the view and noticed the crops growing, and we smelled the hay and horse manure in the air.  We held our arms out to the evening breeze and whirled until we fell laughing into the spiky grass.

We ran races.
We ate our dinner.
We wished we could climb the fence to the pond just on the other side, but we chose to honor the established boundary.

We wondered what the armadillo was doing.
We wondered if it had a family nearby.
We wondered what it ate.
We wondered if it lived there in that field usually or if it was just passing through.

We wondered.
We looked.

And the wondering and looking turned that sad little mowed patch of grass behind the Motel 6 into a place of memorable beauty.


  1. What a wonderful experience - seeing the armadillo and everything that followed.

  2. I love seeing wildlife. What a fun picnic.

  3. Awesome! You never know what fantastic thinks await in this life.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. Smiling here as I read your story....inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing your link.


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