The couple traveling around the US in an Airstream with a goat
They sold their home and decided to drive from the east to the west coast of the US, bringing Frankie along for the ride.
The Battles say that their travels revolve around Frankie, but they wouldn't have it any other way. (Cate Battles/Argosy Odyssey)
(CNN) — With at least 25 states and 50,000 miles under her belt, Frankie may just be the most well-traveled goat in the United States.
The domesticated animal, a pygmy/Nigerian dwarf cross, spends several months of the year traveling around the US in an Airstream with her devoted owners Cate Battles and husband Chad, who’ve been married for around a decade.
“We didn’t know how well she was going to do with traveling,” Cate tells CNN Travel. “But she took to it right away. Frankie is a great travel buddy.”
Over the years, they’ve traveled to places like the deserts of the Southwest, the Midwest, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho together, amassing over 20,000 Instagram followers in the process.
Kid on board
“She has followers on all but one continent,” adds Cate. “I’ve got to find someone in Antarctica who’d be interested in following Frankie.”
So how did this couple, who once ran a bar together, end up with a goat as their travel companion?
Cate explains that she’d been longing for a pet goat for years and was overjoyed when a friend took her to a farm in Tennessee and gifted Frankie to her.
They brought her back to their home in Asheville, North Carolina, where they lived with Chad’s children, and Frankie quickly became part of the family.
But by the following year, the Battles had sold their bar, the children had all moved out, and they were looking to the future.
“We were thinking about what the next chapter of our life looked like, since we were empty nesters,” says Cate. “So we decided that we’d pick out a new town and state and do some traveling.”
While they’d previously traveled together, they’d “never done the camper thing” and were keen to give it a try.
In 2016, they purchased a second-hand 1976 Airstream Argosy, moved out of their home and began renovating the vehicle together.
“It was basically a shell,” says Cate. “There were no walls. I think we found a mummified bird in the installation at some point.”
While Chad, who owns a draft line cleaning and maintenance, completed all of the renovation work himself, Cate, a writer and artist, “did the paint job.”
Pet goat Frankie spends several months of the year traveling around the US in an Airstream with her owners Cate and Chad Battles. (Cate Battles/Argosy Odyssey)
The colorful design is based on “This Land is Your Land” by American folk singer Woody Guthrie, and showcases spots like the Redwoods, which are referenced in the song.
As they weren’t sure how Frankie would take to life on the road, they decided to leave her with a friend during that first trip, and took off for six months with the aim of picking out a place where that would be their base.
“We narrowed it down to six states and then three towns and we ultimately decided on Grant’s Path in Southern Oregon,” adds Cate.
The following year, they sold their home and decided to drive from the east to the west coast of the US, bringing Frankie along for the ride this time.
While they’d taken her on short camping trips around Western North Carolina previously, she hadn’t ever done an extended road trip, and they weren’t sure what to expect.
However, the Battles were thrilled to find that Frankie seemed to enjoy the experience.
“She had a great time,” adds Cate. “Every day we’d go out for hikes.”
In the years since that first trip, the couple have taken Frankie on the road for as long as six months and as short as two weeks.
Their cocker spaniel Maggie, who passed away in 2019, was also with them for their earlier adventures.
The Battles particularly love visiting the desert, because it’s “very, very pet friendly” due to the amount of public land.
Frankie takes a stroll during a 2020 visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. (Cate Battles/Argosy Odyssey)
“You’re free to roam,” Cate adds. “So we do a lot of that. We really love the Pacific Northwest. We love the lush forests here and the waterfalls.”
According to Cate, Frankie is particularly fond of the Oregon Coast due to all the “fun rocks to jump on,” and is a big fan of slot canyons.
However, traveling with a pet, particularly a pet goat, comes with its difficulties, and they have to spend a lot of time researching pet-friendly places, mainly restaurants, bars and hiking trails, to ensure that Frankie is accommodated for.
“You certainly don’t have the kind of freedom you would have traveling without pets,” admits Cate, before describing how they occasionally split up and “take turns” visiting areas that do not permit goats.
“National parks in the US are typically not very pet friendly when it comes to hiking trails,” she adds. “So we’ll do a short little hike and see all the highlights solo.”
Once they’ve each completed the trail separately, they’ll reunite, before making their way to a stretch of public land for an afternoon hike “together as a family.”
Cate stresses that they always “try to be good stewards of the land,” by following regulations and avoiding areas where goats are prohibited, particularly when traveling through parts of the country with bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the wild.
“It’s really important to keep them separate from domesticated goats so they don’t spread any diseases,” she explains.
“There are places that are off limits to livestock and pack animals. So we have to do a lot of research.”
Fortunately, they’ve been able to get special permission to walk some trails with Frankie by calling ahead and speaking with the park superintendent.
Having Frankie along with them also means that they tend to make more stops while driving between towns and states.
“Goats typically eat all day,” notes Cate. “So, we’ll drive for a couple of hours and then get out to use the bathroom, [she’ll] eat some blackberry bushes, hay or grass and then continue on.
“She’s really easy to travel with. Since she was a little kid, we had her pretty well potty trained. So that’s always good too.”
While Frankie tends to eat “regular goat food,” Cate admits that she’s “incredibly spoiled,” and often receives special treats.
“We cut up a banana for her for breakfast every morning,” she says. “She loves it.”
Cate admits that Frankie is "incredibly spoiled," and is treated to a sliced banana for breakfast every morning. (Cate Battles/Argosy Odyssey)
While their social media account has been active since 2006, Frankie’s popularity shot up when the Battles appeared in Discovery TV series “The Bond,” which focused on the relationship between humans and animals, last year.
“We’ve been all over the country and we’ll pass someone on a trail and they’ll be like, ‘Is that Frankie?’” Cate recalls. “So it’s really, really funny.”
She particularly enjoyed getting the chance to speak with other goat owners to “talk goats,” while appearing on the program.
“Goats are family,” says Cate. “They are incredible teachers. So we definitely bond.”
Although Frankie spends most of her time with her owners, she also has “tons of goat friends.” In fact, Cate often arranges local playdates for her.
“Even when we travel and we do extended road trips, I’ll set up goat playdates along the way,” she says.
“We want to make sure that she gets plenty of interaction with her own kind too. Even though she thinks she’s more human than goat.”
During their last trip, they traveled cross country from Oregon to California, Nevada, Arizona, following Route 66 through New Mexico to Oklahoma.
From there, they headed to Tennessee, and then on through North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming before returning to Southern Oregon.
While they’d love to take Frankie out of the US and perhaps visit Canada at some stage, they’re put off by the strict regulations for transporting animals.
“We’re not going to put her through the quarantine or anything like that,” says Cate. “So there’s definitely a few barriers [to traveling with a goat].
“But this country is so big. There’s plenty of places to explore together.”
After seven years of full-time Airstream living, the Battles are very much committed to the lifestyle and can’t imagine living in a house again.
“When you own a house, that’s your place,” says Cate. “You see the same scenery every day. You don’t really get to experience a whole lot.
“And you’ll spend most of your time indoors. I think having the Airstream kind of gives you the opportunity to see the country in an affordable way.
“Just being able to travel is a wonderful experience that’s been pretty life-changing for us.”
She says that they’ve recently been spending a lot of time completing maintenance work on the trailer, which attracts a lot of attention while they’re on the road, and haven’t been able to travel as much as usual.
However, they’ve itching to get back out there, and plan to head to Arizona and Southern California before crossing over to Baja, Mexico.
They’ve recently acquired a new companion, a canine named Corndog, and say that he and Frankie are both enjoying having some extra company.
While Frankie has adapted well to living in Airstream and the Battles love traveling with her, they realize that things could have turned out differently, stressing that they wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others goat owners.
“We had Frankie long before we knew that we were going to be living this kind of lifestyle,” says Cate, adding that they “don’t believe in rehoming animals.”
“When you have an animal, they are lifelong companions. So we knew we were just going to have to make it work. And it ended up working really, really great.
“She likes to explore the world with us. She enjoys it just as much as we do.”
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