No kid left behind: Oregon couple logs 60K miles in an Airstream with a goat
A southern Oregon couple was chosen to be part of a new series on the Discovery Channel called “The Bond.” It’s all about incredible relationships formed between humans and animals. One episode features Cate and Chad Battles and their barnyard bestie named Frankie, who enjoys rock climbing, salads and extended road trips.
Wanderlust. You know it if you got it. That itching desire to pull out on to the open road and go! But-- sometimes there’s the question of what to do with your pet?
“For the past six years, we’ve been traveling the country, two or three months out of the year, with our pet goat Frankie,” Cate began. “Eeehaaahh,” Frankie bleated with earnest. “We couldn’t leave our kid behind!” Cate laughed.
Last fall, Cate and her husband Chad were approached by a talent scout looking to round out a Discovery Channel series. The Bond is produced by Robert Downey Jr., his wife Susan Downey and Emily Barclay Ford of “Team Downey.” The 4-part series shares stories of people’s remarkable relationships with animals usually thought of as wild: a cheetah, a dolphin, a kangaroo, and yes, a goat.
“We did multiple conversations with producers and the director,” Cate explained, “and we thought it would be kind of a fun experience to do it.”
With a little musical intro, a cut from the episode starts, “Frankie’s probably been about 60,000 miles around the country. She’s traveled to about 25 states."
"Isn’t that the most regal sea lion you’ve ever seen, Franks?’” A sea lion barks back. Then Cate continued, “She’s been to deserts, mountains, beaches, tons of National Parks. Do you see the marmot, Franks?" Over the excited bleets, Cate said, "She’s been to the Grand Canyon. She’s been to Hollywood.”
Then Chad piped in, “Frankie has held her head out the window as we drove down Hollywood Boulevard. She’s just been a wonderful addition to the family.”
The Battles travel in a fully renovated, 50-year-old Argosy Airstream. It’s pretty cool, painted in bright hues with whimsical characters all over. They admit when they get out of their camper with a goat on a leash, they catch some stares. Folks express awe or disbelief when they hear Frankie sleeps in their bed. A constant question is about bathroom breaks. I mean, when a goat’s gotta go, a goat’s gotta go!
Cate and Chad chuckled a bunch at that statement--then he clarified, “Well, ya know. The good thing is that um, goat poop is the little, tiny pebbles. They don’t stink. They dry pretty quick, they’re easy to sweep. Um, she is pee trained. Actually, she pees on command—usually.”
Cate started a blog, Argosy Odyssey, to showcase their travel adventures with Frankie and it has quite the following. They find friends out on the road, like at a "goat convention” in Idaho.
In a snippet from The Bond episode, Cate said across a campfire, “Never trust person who doesn’t like goats.” A fellow camper replied, “Exactly.”
It’s kinda hard not to notice how much Cate’s laugh sounds like Frankie’s bleat. “Ha ha ha ha.” “Eh eh eh eh.” Ok, Ok! One more time! Here’s Cate: “Ha ha ha ha.” And here’s Frankie: “Eh eh eh eh.”
Anyway, Chad thinks he knows why the show producers picked Frankie. “I believe it had a lot to do with Cate’s photography,”” he said. “And the way that she is able to capture Frankie the goat, the landscape, the camper. It seems to resonate with a lot of people.”
Cate believes folks see their story as a light-hearted escape. “You know there’s been a lot of tumultuous years recently and I think it’s been a beacon of light in a lot of people’s lives,” she explained. “And the happiness we get from Frankie, we’re happy to share with others.”
8-year-old Frankie is a mixed breed: half-pygmy, half-Nigerian Dwarf. She’s curious, nimble, and a full-fledged family member. When Cate’s beloved dog Maggie died three years ago, their goat helped them through the grief.
When not on the open road, Cate, Chad and Frankie live on a farm in the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon. ”There is always this misconception that oh, we just travel around and live this glamorous life. But I mean, we both work our butts off. We’re not freeloaders or “trustafarians” over here!” (And there’s Cate’s laugh again!)
Cate has an art studio in downtown Grants Pass. She’s often commissioned to paint other people’s Airstreams or pets. She is also social media manager with the tourism department for the City of Grants Pass.
Chad is a draft line cleaner, meaning he maintains the lines through which craft beer flows. It's a pretty important job in beer-thirsty Oregon! He also handles the business end of Cate’s art enterprise. “I don’t know how I could do it without him,” Cate acknowledged.
The Battles aren’t yet sure what goat friendly place they’ll travel to next. Til then, they’re happy at home, tucked into their Airstream.
Chad starts their night-time regime, “It’s time to go to bed. Goodnight Franks,” he says. “Goodnight Frankie,” Cate coos. And with, “Eeheheheeah,” Frankie gets the last word.
You can catch episodes of The Bond on the Discovery Channel or using the Discovery Go app.
Audio clips used here with permission from The Bond production Team Downey via Falco Ink.