Wild Wandering

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

The first wandering of summer.

Unexpected.

Unplanned.

Amazing views.

We had plans, but two teenagers derailed the plans. So, we jumped in the car alone and took off. I almost grabbed the camera. Seriously thought about it. And then rushed out the door without it.

It was definitely a camera day.

We wound up making the hour and a half drive to Montauk State Park in Salem, MO. I had never been to Montauk, and Chris had just been for the first time in March on his birthday when he went trout fishing with a friend. After a much needed potty break, we meandered across the road to the river to look into the water and see how many trout were in this part of clear, cool water.

muskrat

As we were looking and talking, I watched something swim across the river upstream. I assumed snake or turtle at first, but it was quickly obvious it was neither. I pointed it out to Chris as it swam back across to the side we were on.

“I want to see what it is.”

“Ok,” he replied. “Let’s walk down there.”

“Not on this side. We won’t be able to see around the brush that grows out into the water. We’ll have to cross to the other side.”

So, we crossed the bridge and quietly walked down the bank until we were straight across from the brush on the other side of the river. And then I saw it. Sitting up on it’s hind legs feeding itself.

A small brown hairy creature. At this point it could have been a small beaver or a muskrat. We still weren’t sure. I had left my phone in the car because I thought we were just using the restroom, so I borrowed Chris’s to try to take a picture.

The sun was so bright I couldn’t make out anything on the screen. I shot anyway and just hoped for the best.

muskrat-123038_1280

We stood there a long time hoping the creature would swim back out and let us get a look at it’s tail. Just as we started to walk away, it dove into the water and started swimming down river with us. As we got to the bridge we could finally see it’s round tail and knew it was a muskrat.

A few stops later we saw the second mama duck with ducklings swimming behind. I seriously wanted to try catching one of the ducklings. 😀 Unfortunately they were downstream in an area where I would have had to wade through a LOT of weeds to get to them. Mind you, I’m not afraid of weeds or wading, but I am afraid of the snakes that live in the weeds that I can’t see until my foot that is protected only by a flip flop steps on or near them!

ducks-708840_1280

So, the ducklings remained safe and unharmed by my clumsy attempts to catch them on this trip. I suppose they can thank the snakes. Yuck.

As we exited the park area and set off down the river on a one lane gravel road, we pulled off at another access point. I stopped to read the rules for fishing at this location, and carry on a highly intelligent conversation with a hyperactive squirrel hopping about overhead, while Chris headed straight to the water. I glance up from the rules sign to see him silently, yet emphatically, motioning me to hurry to the water. I quickly tiptoe down the path to see a sleek, chocolate brown animal bounding down the shoreline across the river. It’s a cute little mink. He is absolutely nimble and cute as a button.

As soon as he hops out of sight, we hop back in the Durango and head back up the unmarked gravel road for destinations unknown. Hoping it leads back to town and a bathroom.

Eventually we find asphalt, paved marked roads, and eventually city limits with a Pizza Hut and everything.

After a quick supper and restroom break, we start the long, curvy trek back home hoping to beat the storms moving in. Not long into the drive we see another batch of turkeys–we had seen several on the drive out.

As we were talking, I glance down towards a pond in a holler and see a doe standing in a pond. A second glance and I think I see a fawn. Like a newborn fawn. Teeny tiny. I’ve never seen a deer that small. I can’t make words to tell Chris, so I start flailing my arms.

Eventually I get out, “Turn around! Go back!”

And he does.

We go back and watch the mama and her probably minutes old fawn at the waters edge until the head off into the hay.

It was kind of awesome. And I left my camera at home.

Of all days to choose not to take my camera.

So, an unplanned road trip to a fishing hole without fishing poles or a camera led to a lot of opportunities to see wildlife as it is…wild.