Sunday, May 14, 2017

#4: hold a baby goat

The Big. Ticket. Item. 

I mean, it's on my business card for goodness sake. It's the list item I'm most often asked about. It also might snag the award for "most random" on the list. And, as it turns out, it was one of the hardest ones to check off.

There were a few close calls and whole LOT of sheep. But, as cute as they are, sheep are NOT, in fact, goats. 

I was on the highest of all high alerts throughout our 17 country, 5 month jaunt. If there was a baby goat within reach, I would be squeezing it.

In Norway, I thought, most likely.. but only sheep encounters ensued. 

In Vietnam our tour bus driver was almost not even close to being convinced by chanting to pull over at the site of cliff dwelling baby goats.

In Okinawa we even went to 'goat beach' but there were only grown up goats. 

In New Zealand I thought FOR SURE. But guess what? We saw maybe one goat and it was old. Foiled every time. 

So, when I came back to the U.S. I was desperate and running out of time. That's when everyone and their brother tagged me in a Facebook article that went viral.

That's right, Caromont Farm in the middle of nowhere Esmont, Virginia was looking for volunteers to feed and cuddle the sh*t out of their newborn babies...of the goat variety. AND I WAS JUST THE PERSON TO DO IT.

I had a few questions:
-Where the F is Esmont?

This was the exact opportunity to check off #4 and I fumbled in speedy and ungraceful fashion to sign up before all the slots were filled. There are more people than you'd think interested in getting their hands on a baby goat for a solid snuggle sesh.

I snagged the Last. Two. Spots. I felt like I had received the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory if Willy had goats, that is. Just a few details to figure out now. Getting there seeing as it was a solid 9-ish hour drive, lodging, and a partner in crime, of course.

I smelled a legit road trip opp here, and the randomness of it all was boiling over. Combined with my 12/10 level excitement? I was about to combust.

This list was not just about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, doing epic things in random and amazing places, and holding furry lil goats. This list had been allowing me to create memories with people in a new way, and what better way to share experiences like these with the people I love? Also, dinner conversation had became much more compelling.

That's when I texted Sharone.

Sharone, aka Mom, Ma, Sweet one who birthed me, is, in fact, my mom. 

I had yet to check off a list item with her and it could be long as being confined to a car for the better part of 18 hours over the span of 36 hours didn't cause us to pull each other's hair out. A toss of the dice.

After confirmation that Sharone was on board, literally, I started researching unique stops along our route to check out, of course. 

News flash Sharone, I was driving so.. 

Dinosaurland backstory:
Apparently, during a few family road trips due south, my sisters and I earnestly begged for a pitstop at Dinosaurland And. We. Never. Did. THE TIME WAS NOW PEOPLE.

So, on a foggy Saturday morn in March, we embarked on our goat-holding-Dino-land-visiting journey. 

And a  q u e s t  it 'twas. The thing about going anywhere with Sharone is that she has everything you'll ever need in the depths of her purse.

Hungry? No problem- here's some saltines. WHO CARRIES SALTINES IN THEIR PURSE?

Annoying loose thread? No worries, Sharone has baby scissors in her handbag. WE GOT THIS.

Things I learned about Pennsylvania:
It's boring AF to drive through.
There's so much of it.
It smells bad. Like poop.
There's a town called Shartlesville and because I have the maturity of a 12 year old boy I laughed for about 2 hours.
Everything ends in 'burgh.' 

I apologize to all the Pennsylvanians. 

After what seemed like days, we reached the exit for the promised land- aka DINOSAURLAND.

It was a run down shack donning a glorified backyard riddled with dinosaur statues circa 1980-ish...and I was in love. 

We approached the ticket counter. Yes, there was a ticket counter.

"Is it as magical as I think it is?" I asked the ticket lady.

"Well..maybe if you were ten?"


We made our way to the dino-lawn and it was, in fact, my kind of magical.

I practically skipped around, my joy uncontainable. Sharone and I posed like idiots with the various prehistoric creatures. My inner 8 year old couldn't handle it. It was more than entertaining.


Dinosaurland dominated, and I had unexpectedly checked something off of my list from when I was a youngin'. Feeling accomplished, we made our way to Charlottesville, VA. We'd have just enough time to grab some dinner and catch some Z's before GOAT O'CLOCK!

We drove to the farm which was exactly in the middle of nowhere. The morning was overcast, chilly, and wet. But nothing was going to dampen my mood- not when there were baby goats awaiting my arms. 

We were greeted by three dogs and zero humans. Cell service isn't a thing in bumfu**, so I crossed all my fingers and toes that someone, ANYONE would introduce us to my new goat friends.


First we frolicked in a pen with a bunch of kids, about 3 weeks old.

Their new leader
It was everything I had imagined. The goats were cheeky, hilarious, and if they had pants on, they'd definitely be sassy pants. They were WILD. They were abundantly comical. Bouncing off their friends as trampolines, attempting to eat everything in sight, climbing us like poles...all the classic goat things.


We played, fed them, and best of all, cuddled.



The most humorous of moments involved one of the goats eating my braid:

and the fact that I can now say I've been mounted by a goat:

After chillin with the 3 week old goat gang, we wandered over to the other pen where, my dreams were to come true twofold. 

There, laying amongst the grass, hay, and poop, were two 2 DAY OLD NEWBORN BABY GOATS. JACKPOT.

I loved the goats we had just romped with, I really did. BUT NEWBORNS? This was exactly what I had had in mind.

I approached the wee furry babe, as fresh into this world as could be, and asked it's mama if I could please hold her prize via some intense eye contact. She seemed to give zero f**ks so I went for it. 


Be still my heart. 

I cradled that baby goat as if it were my own infant. Pure unadulterated joy bubbled up inside of me like celebratory champagne. Oddly enough, I also wouldn't have minded a glass of champagne. I promptly named the farm newbie Huxley. 

I adored his floppy little hooves, soft fur, oversized ears, and the fact that he was brand spankin' new to this world. 

And then he fell asleep. 

And I melted.

It took all of my willpower not to run in my wellies back to the car, Huxley in hand, frantically declaring, "STEP ON IT SHARONE!" I didn't think she'd appreciate us getting arrested for goatnapping though. 

We wrapped up our time at the farm chatting with the lovely owners until, sadly, I had to be torn away from Huxley. Would he remember me? Of course not. But he earned a permanent space in my heart.

Sharone and I had done it. I felt giddy with the stench of farm as we drove away. Not only had I checked off the ever elusive #4 list item, but it had easily been one of my favorite adventures- in Virginia no less.  I was pumped. I was on a goat high. I also really needed to wash my hands. 

Sharone and I celebrated with waffles, obviously. The most famous list item was completed, yes, but I hadn't taken a trip with my mom, just the two of us in a long time. We laughed. We were ridiculous. She fed me snacks from her huge purse. We sang at the top of our lungs wildly off key in the car. We will always be able to talk about that random road trip to hold baby goats- and that? THAT was top notch. Priceless, even.

One could only hope that the baby goat induced jubilance would go the distance...specifically 9 hours of road trip distance, in the torrential rain. 

**Hold a baby goat? Check! Travel 18 hours with my mom, detour to Dinosaurland, cuddle a slew of goats, and make an epic Mother/Daughter memory? Check, check!

Friday, May 5, 2017

#13: watch sunrise & sunset in the same day; in 3 different countries

Confusing, I know. 
Alas, this is what I was going for: 

-Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day. 
-Do that three times over but each time in a different country.

I'm a fan of sunsets: fact. But there's just something about the sunrise. Not everyone hoists their bums out of bed for the moment the sunball breaks the horizon. At times, it can feel like you're witnessing a fresh start to a new day on your own. A special moment for you, and you only. A bond between you and the sun. I wanted to embrace that exact solitude that only a sunrise can give you. (Don't worry, I'll dial down the sap.)

Alas, I set out to see the sun rise and tuck it self in, in the same day- three separate times, in three separate countries. Turns out, it's not an easy feat. Especially when one of my other fav travel activities is to drink the local beer. 

The rules surrounding #13 were pretty much that I had to view the sunrise and then the sunset that same day, I could not, do it the other way around even though it still fell within the same 24 hours.

 Lofoten Islands, Norway

I was cozy as all hell burritoed up in more flannel than I've ever laid my eyes on in the heart of a traditional fisherman's cabin in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Especially when I had been on strict Northern Lights watch the night before. But, the sun called and it was time to get up. 

I was completely alone as I staggered out to the edge of the water in every piece of clothing I'd packed, pointing myself in the direction of the sun's debut for the day. I was a true gem. My breath puffed out in the arctic air and I longed for a hot coffee. 

The sun rose as I simultaneously froze, but it was worth my fingers turning into actual popsicles. 

Sunrise, Check! Popsicle fingers crossed that the sunset would be attainable that evening.

KJ and I spent the day kayaking the fjords, NBD. On our way back, somewhere within the fourth hour of epic style kayaking; The. Fog. Rolled. In.

And stayed.

Sunset was a bust. It was happening somewhere, behind the intensely dense fog, and I wasn't going to see it. 

Attempt #1? FAIL. Sometimes sunsets get thwarted by fog. 

I awoke in the Italian darkness in an apartment skirting Piazza Navona where I knew for a fact that no one within a half mile had gone to bed until very, very late. The family had elected to sleep off their jet lag and I made my way to the ancient streets; walking in earnest to the Colosseum where I hoped to watch a successful sunrise. 

It was dark; REAL dark. And empty. And I was a little sizable bit scared. But I walked with purpose- isn't that what you're supposed to do? I was purposely striding along the streets of Rome in the pitch black to watch the sunrise so don't mess with me. That's what my stride said, I think.

I arrived at the Colosseum to...CONSTRUCTION. Literally half of the iconic structure was riddled with scaffolding. I didn't try to hide my annoyance- it was still dark anyways. I'd just have to get crafty with photos.

The first glow of light slowly appeared and that's when I realized I hadn't really thought this through. I was early. Turned out it would be at least another hour before the sun was close to where I had pictured it. So, wait I would. 

I watched the city gradually wake up mere feet from a world famous icon. That alone was fairly, ridiculously, crazy awesome. 

The second half of the sunrise/sunset sandwich would be a little ton trickier to snag being that I had to get to the airport, wait 3 hours for a giant van named Pepé that they didn't have, and then drive my family hours north into the Tuscan hills. All before dusk. No biggie.

There's obviously a much larger, more involved story behind all of that; one that ended with me climbing over an iron gate circa 1800 in the middle of nowhere in the darkness and "breaking into" what may or may not have been our rented villa off the goat path that was considered a road and not nearly wide enough for Pepé the enormous white van. But that's for another time. 

In between both of those comically horrid stretches of time on a day that seemed to last 23984 hours, was my opportunity for attempt #2 of this list item to NOT be a major fail. 

The road trip from Rome to Panzano started out promising despite the debacle that was the car rental situation thanks to Auto Europe. If you can't tell I DO NOT recommend Auto Europe. Auto Europe, I'd like to punch you square in the face. 

Anyways, we were majorly behind schedule because of said debacle. The highway portion was fine, and then I was put to a true test. Driving Pepé on skinny gravelly Tuscan roads with my terrified family putting every ounce of their trust in me was a touch stressful. I should also mention that it was getting dark; both the day and my mood. 

The sun was plummeting, and I knew there was no way we'd make it to the villa before darkness fell. BUT I NEEDED TO SEE THE SUNSET. So, as we rounded one of those goat paths in pasty obese Pepé, and the expansive view of the Tuscan hills spread out before the dirty a** windshield, I was forced to make a decision. One that would prompt yelling of my full name and transport me right back to my childhood days of getting in trouble. As if pulling over swiftly on the side of a cliff last minute was scary or something. Oops.

"I HAVE TO SEE THE SUNSET FOR THE LIST! IT'LL ONLY TAKE A SECOND! ISN'T IT BEAUTIFUL THOUGH?" my voice was strained with the stress of the day and they weren't impressed.

I was not even enjoying it. 

But I saw it. 
But I didn't enjoy it. 
But it still counted. 



Spoiler alert: hands down the best sunrise I've ever experienced.

KJ and I slept in a cave and woke up middle-of-the-night early to get in a van and sign a waiver in Cappadocia, Turkey. All normal things.

Finest sunrise absorption method? From a hot air balloon, of course. 

In Cappadocia, it's the thing to do. A giant birthday party rings in the rise of the day at dawn, and although I was scared stiff, it was one of the most incomparable things I have ever seen.

Fingers crossed the weather would cooperate for sunset over this moon-like landscape that evening, and I could brand attempt #2 with the stamp of success.

And, that evening after having gotten stuck in an underground city tunnel, and still in disbelief of the morning's sunrise experience, we watched as an unbelievable day turned itself in; wine in hand.

Two down. One to go.


Thailand as a whole, is a tale involving a lot of me looking for or being in a bathroom. But, in between I managed to try to finish this list item off, island style. 

A 5 hour catamaran ride on the Andaman Sea and an ungraceful exit from a longboat with our bags, landed us in some of the bluest water I've ever seen. Literally. My shorts were wet but it was welcome on account it felt about 115 degrees. I didn't know where sweat ended and seawater began.

Now that I've painted a supremely attractive picture, it should be said that all of this took place on a tiny island, in south-est of south Thailand; Koh Lipe

I planned to rise early and head to none other than Sunrise Beach on one of our five days slumbering on the island. Preferably one that the weather would join forces with my list item for a full day, or at the very least the start and end of it. 

Clearly people liked to get up at the crack of dawn on this island seeing as it was much busier than expected. Solitude it would not be.


p o s t c a r d   w o r t h y.

Sunset was nearly foiled by a late afternoon storm, that by some small miracle cleared by sun down o'clock. KJ and I strolled along paths to the sunset side of the island. We passed eye opening local communities, unusual bars, and a stray dog that I promptly named Ralph. Ralph, come home with me. 

Goodnight Thailand.

Three down. Zero to go. BOOM.

Although my attempts at checking this list item off were several more than written here- (ain't nobody got time for that) and some were foiled, and some were freezing cold, and some were protested against by fellow travel companions, ALL were spectacular. 

**Watch a sunrise & sunset in the same day; in 3 different countries? CHECK! Almost jump out of a humongous moving white van named Pepé to make it happen? CHECK, CHECK!