No child left behind: Oregon couple travel 60,000 miles in motorhome with pet goat

spirit of adventure. You know it if you have it. That itchy urge to hit the road and leave! But — sometimes you wonder what to do with your pet? “Eeeheheheh!”

“For the past six years we have been traveling the country, two or three months a year, with our goat Frankie,” began Cate Battles. “Eeehaaahh,” Frankie bleated seriously. “We couldn’t leave our child behind!” Cate burst out laughing.

Last fall, Cate and her husband, Chad, were approached by a talent scout looking to complete a Discovery Channel series. “The linkis produced by Robert Downey Jr., his wife Susan Downey and Emily Barclay Ford of “Team Downey.” The 4-part series shares stories about people’s remarkable relationships with animals usually considered wild: a cheetah, a dolphin, a kangaroo and, yes, a goat.

Frankie has driven 60,000 miles across the country and may have visited more states than you! Here she is, thirsty on the salt flats, with her Argosy Airstream house parked in the background.

Courtesy of Cate Battles

“We had several conversations with the producers and the director,” Cate said, “and we thought it would be kind of a fun experiment to do.”

With a little musical intro, a cut of the episode begins: “Frankie’s probably been about 60,000 miles across the country. She has traveled to approximately 25 states. “Isn’t that the most majestic sea lion you’ve ever seen, Franks?” “See the groundhog, Franks? She went to the Grand Canyon. She went to Hollywood. And Chad added, “Frankie held his head out the window as we drove down Hollywood Boulevard. She has just been a wonderful addition to the family.

Battles travel in a fully refurbished 50 year old Argosy Airstream. It’s pretty cool, painted in bright hues with whimsical characters throughout. They admit that when they get out of their motorhome with a goat on a leash, they attract attention. People express admiration or disbelief when they hear Frankie sleeping in their bed. A constant question concerns bathroom breaks. I mean, when a goat has to go, a goat has to go!

Cate and Chad laughed a lot at that – then he said, “Well, you know. The good thing is, uh, goat poop is the tiny little pebble. They don’t stink. They dry quite quickly, they are easy to sweep up. Um, she’s trained to pee. In fact, 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 on the road, like at a “goat convention” in Idaho. In a clip from the episode “The Bond,” Cate said across a campfire, “Never trust a person who doesn’t like goats.” Another camper replied, “Exactly.

It’s kind of hard not to notice how much Cate’s laugh sounds like Frankie’s bleat. “Hahahaha.” “Eh eh eh eh.” OK OK! Once again. Here’s Cate: “Ha ha ha ha.” And here’s Frankie: “Eh eh eh eh.” You know what I mean?

Either way, Chad thinks he knows why the show’s producers cast Frankie. “I think it has a lot to do with Cate’s photography,” he said. “And the way she’s able to capture Frankie the goat, the landscape, the camper. It seems to resonate with a lot of people. Cate thinks people see their story as lighthearted escapism. “You know, there’s been a lot of tumultuous years recently and I think that’s been a beacon in a lot of people’s lives,” she explained. “And the happiness that Frankie brings us, we are happy to share with others.”

In addition to the banjo, Chad Battles also plays the saw with a bow.

In addition to the banjo, Chad Battles also plays the saw with a bow.

Courtesy of Cate Battles

Eight-year-old Frankie is a mixed race: half pygmy, half dwarf Nigerian. She is curious, agile and a full member of the family. When Cate’s beloved dog, Maggie, died three years ago, their goat helped them through the grief.

When not on the road, the Battles and Frankie live on a farm in the Applegate Valley of Oregon. Cate said: “There is always this misconception that oh, we travel and live this glamorous life. But I mean we both fight. We’re not freeloaders or “trustafarians” here!” (there’s Cate’s laugh again!)

Cate has an art studio in downtown Grants Pass. She is often commissioned to paint airflow or other people’s pets. She is also the Social Media Manager for the City of Grant’s Pass Tourism Department. Chad is a draw line cleaner, meaning he maintains the lines through which craft beer flows. A pretty big job in beer-hungry Oregon! He also manages the business side of Cate’s artistic business. “I don’t know how I could have done it without him,” Cate said.

The Battles don’t yet know which goat-friendly location they’ll be heading to next. Until then, they are happy at home, back in their Airstream. Chad begins his night regimen: “It’s time to go to bed. Goodnight Franks,” he said.

“Goodnight Frankie,” Cate coos. And with “Eeheheheeah”, Frankie has the last word.

You can watch episodes of “The Bond” on the Discovery Channel or using the Discovery Go app.

Lance B. Holton