Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 13th and 14th: Tishomingo State Park and the Natchez Trace

Tishomingo State Park and the surrounding countryside is, in my mind, all the reason you'll ever need to visit Mississippi. Located right off the Natchez Trace, and only about 45 minutes from Florence, Alabama, the park is known for its beautiful stone outcroppings and the picturesque swinging bridge over Bear Creek.

We arrived on Saturday around early afternoon and set up our pop-up, "Poppy" at the end of the camping road in the big loop to be next to our friends and further away from most other campers. After had arrived and the various forms of shelter were in place I made a quick geocache find nearby. I have to give the hider credit for the cute log book. It's nice to see some level of effort put into caches.

The log book from a geocache near our campsite

Sapling covered in pine pollen (maple?)

False garlic

Bird's foot violet

Chandler befriended a moth. **WARNING: SAD STORY** This is an Eastern tent caterpillar moth- you know all those big silk tents that appear every year that are full of worms. In their wild hedonistic youth they gorge themselves silly day and night (three meals a day, like us) until one day they form a cocoon from which will emerge the moth. In their one single day of life, the females will mate and lay eggs then die. Such was the fate of this moth that Chan named "Marcus". She stayed with it until the end and then gave it a proper moth burial. 


RIP Marcus
This was also Nia's maiden camping voyage and her chance to prove herself useful as "traveling dog". They jury is still out on that, but she's young. We have to remind ourselves that she is only about five months and still very much a puppy. Nia got to hang out with New Best Buddy Mars, the poodle. Mars is no teacup. Nia was not intimidated and they played by running and wrestling next to and in the water. This was something we also discovered this trip- Nia is very much the swimmer. She will fetch and retrieve anyting thrown into the water and is completely willing to paddle out over her head. That long tail of hers has a function- rudder.

One of the few pictures that was not a complete blur of fur

The night sky presented us with a view of Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades (cluster to the right and down of the moon) and Jupiter (bright spot above the moon). 

The next morning Esther and I drove down a bit to spot on the Trace to view and take pictures of the Spring wildflowers.

Assassin beetles mating on ragwort

Fringed phacelia

Ladybugs eating aphids

Southern green stink bug (related to the assassin beetles above)

Most everybody in our group
During a moment of great excitement, Esther pointed out what would be my First Snake of the Year. This year's award goes to this lovely cotton mouth/water moccasin. And sure, why not kick the year off with a venomous snake? We all gathered around to see and followed it (with our eyes) into its hidey-hole. The poor thing was more afraid than we were. Well, maybe.

On our way home we paused along Cypress Creek and at Rock Spring beaver pond.

Spider mite

Crossing stones near Rock Spring

The impressive beaver dam at Rock Spring
Nia took a dip in the thick black mud below the beaver dam so we encouraged her to chase after a few more sticks in the creek before loading back into the van. She was nice enough to leaf-dry after her swim.

Pictures of the trip are here for the 13th and here for the 14th.
Pictures of the trip we took to the same area in 2009 are here and here.

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