Tuesday we drove from Decatur, Georgia to Asheville, North Carolina. It was about a three and a quarter hour drive according to Google maps but unfortunately the app doesn’t have a setting to account for roadside attraction delays. About an hour into our drive, just near the North Carolina border, we spotted a huge sign off the highway that read, simply “GOATS”. As we passed it I called out more details:
“Should we stop?”
“Is that a real question?”
When my sister and I were kids my parents took us on a few vacations: Boston, Colonial Williamsburg, and Disney. We drove to all of these places but we never took a “road trip.” My dad would get home at 3am after working a day job and a night shift, my mom would have packed the bags and bundled my sister and I into blankets and as soon as he pulled in the driveway everything would get loaded into the car and he’d peel out into the night. Fueled not by coffee but by pure rage at other drivers, we’d make it to our destination without stopping for more than a piss and a pack of Marlboros.
I always loved these trips because it felt like we were a Roma family on the run in the middle of the night. It was exciting, an adrenaline rush, and then when we got to where we were going it was always a theme park and never a work camp or refugee tent city. But in our haste we never stopped at these fabled American roadside attractions, I had only known about them from Chevy Chase movies— I wasn’t even sure places like these still existed. I feel like I have a better understanding of America after this trip. It’s fascinating really, what our society can sustain.
So there we were, luring goats with food and cracking geo rocks for at least an hour. Like addicts, we wandered up to the counter repeatedly, shelling out quarter after quarter for another little cup of goat food, we couldn’t tear ourselves away. I started glancing around at the employees and wondering how many of them had started out like us, just pulling over to stretch their legs and then staying on with the hypnotizing goats forever… and was that cheesy horror music starting to play?
I snapped out of my trance and convinced Paul that it was time to leave. The Goats stop took us on a lovely detour where several more enchanted encounters occurred. First, we stopped at Piggly Wiggly where I was inexplicably thrilled because grocery stores excite me and stores that sell cake made out of orange soda excite Paul even more.
Then we made another u-turn after passing this place from the road, because who wouldn’t?
Paul posed for lots of photos, which is pretty much his favorite thing ever and then we met this older artist dude who painted animals onto old records and upon hearing I was from Brooklyn said, “there’s a lot of gentrification happening there.”
And finally, after many distractions we headed out to Earth’s house, our couchsurfing host in Asheville.
If the internet had scratch and sniff, Earth’s profile would smell like patchouli. Upon arriving Paul took a much-deserved nap and I did yoga with Earth. Not just any yoga, the kind of yoga where you’re almost crying at the end. Then we drank homemade kombucha and ate homemade gluten free cookies and then we modeled Earth’s homemade crocheted headbands because Asheville: they make shit at home there.
Staying with Earth felt like a retreat and when we mentioned we didn’t have a place to stay the next night in Richmond said she said we absolutely had to get in touch with another couchsurfer there- Scott. And she was right, we absolutely did.