If I did this in linear order it would be boring, so I won't. And I'm starting with the armadillo because I had hoped to have my travel diary to rely on, but I don't. Mostly because, as it turns out, you can't road trip for 12 hours a day 7 days a week and still be alive to tell about it at the end of each one. On the upside, I never slept so well as during that time, despite the questionable stains on the motel bedsheets and the train bullhorns that insisted on sounding along the tracks all night long (questionable motels are always next to train tracks, it turns out). On the downside, the sum total of handwritten experience I shall have to look back on when I am old and have taken an arrow to my knee is this:
I need to stress at this point that the armadillo was ALREADY DEAD WHEN WE GOT THERE. WE DID NOT KILL IT. I would never kill an armadillo. At least not on purpose. In fact, I find it quite hard to imagine that you COULD hit and kill an armadillo on a winding road where the speed limit is 45mph. Armadillos are quite big. I think. I mean, I've never seen a live one but this one was not particularly small. Or maybe it was just spread out. Quite a lot of it's insides were on the outside now. But still. It had a hard shell. How could this have happened? Luckily, as Sonia had sensibly signed up for free international data before we left the UK, and that particular road in Missouri was not quite devoid of all signal from the civilised world, we could Google it. This is how we discovered that Armadillos, when they are startled, freeze on the spot and then suddenly and without warning leap several feet into the air vertically. Putting them at the perfect height to get smashed by a front bumper. In fact, according to Wikipedia, they are common roadkill in the United States. According to this same source of information they are also natural reservoirs for leprosy, as they are one of only a few species to carry the disease and they can pass it on to humans. So what happened next was really a little unfortunate.
We had just taken a car selfie to celebrate the fact that the atmosphere was calm again after my 35 minutes of senseless screaming and unwavering conviction that I was about to drive us all into a ditch. Sonia and Dom were in the back, looking for signs to a town called Lebanon, which was significant because of something that might be to do with the fact that they had been on some kind of adventure in the ACTUAL Lebanon once and wanted to make comparisons. I was eating M&Ms and letting my mind wander towards the sort of pleasant blankness that you only get from driving across the middle of nowhere. And then Erica, who was in the front passenger seat, exclaimed 'I think that was an armadillo!' in regards to the dead thing at the side of the road that I had just driven past. We had been driving past dead things all day, but they were mostly birds and squirrels and other boring animals that we had seen before. This one looked different and I was pretty sure it was an armadillo too but didn't want to say so in case I was wrong. The guys in the back got very excited and after another minute of driving I hesitantly asked if they wanted me to turn the car around. This idea was immediately approved, which was a good thing, as I secretly REALLY wanted to do it, but didn't want to be the Freak who made everyone go back to check out what Dead Thing the Dead Thing was.
It was maybe another hour later, after the recounting of the dead armadillo story had been put on Facebook and people had begun leaving us comments to the effect of 'are you mad' and 'did you know you can get leprosy from armadillos' that we stopped, really stopped to think about our actions. Or at least, we stopped to get coffee and thought about our actions while we were there. It was at this point that the reality of what had happened that afternoon really hit home.