We’re driving down 1-16 toward Savannah. There’s not much on this rural stretch of Georgia highway except for trees and a few swaths of pretty pink and purple wildflowers in the median.
And a gas station that’s worth stopping for.
Soon after Macon, we start saying, “Is this it?”
“No, I think it’s in Metter,” he says.
“But Metter doesn’t have an exit, does it? I think it’s Soperton.”
“I’ve never heard of Soperton.”
“Well, for some reason that name sticks in my mind. I think it’s there.”
It’s not at the Soperton exit.
Our high school senior in the back is listening to music, reading a required book, texting friends, and sketching an idea for an art project. She’s a little busy.
“Exit 89. That sounds right,” I say, wracking my brain. “I’m positive there’s an 8 or 9 involved.” I think.
“We always have this problem,” Mart says with a laugh.
“I know. I wrote the number down last time, but I don’t remember where I put it.”
At each exit, we say some form of "this is it" and then "no, it isn't" until finally, I say: “Exit 98! I knew it! This is it! Really!”
We see the lake and then the Chevron sign in the distance. Yes!
Mart pulls into the gas station and I actually clap, I’m so excited. This is the best Chevron station in all the world—or at least this corner of it. Because this Chevron not only has clean restrooms and a vast array of soft drinks and snacks, it also has an animal farm.
It’s got all a traveler needs, plus a little family-friendly entertainment too.
We take care of those traveler needs and then buy three tickets and a quart-size baggie’s worth of animal food—all for $4. We head outside and through the entrance gate. We walk by a red shed with parrots, cockatoos, and macaws, one of which shrieks like a toddler in the throes of a temper tantrum.
We pass a couple of peacocks whose iridescent feathers look like jewels against the sand of the pen. I want them to open their fans but they don’t seem to be in the mood.
So we go straight to the fence to find the friendly goats, our favorites.
About ten years ago, Mart and I drove down to Savannah for a company retreat and stopped for gas at a random Chevron, little knowing what awaited us: Mosley’s World Famous Animal Exit Farm.
“What is that over there?” I asked. “Is that a llama?”
“A llama? Out here? No way. Okay—yes I think it is. And some goats, too. And a cow?”
“Look at that thing way over by the lake. It’s an actual buffalo!”
We had so much fun at the randomness of it all that we brought our daughter the next time we went to Savannah. Which we’ve done three times now. And our niece too. The Chevron at Exit 98/Wiregrass Junction has become a destination for us.
As we get to the fence, a white goat comes up, puts its hooves on the fence, and leans over for a snack. Other goats with interesting colors and patterns on their faces come up too. My two loved ones hold out their hands full of feed and the goats gently lick them clean. Their quickly-darting tongues make us laugh.
(In case you're wondering, I don’t offer my palm to be gently licked clean because you see, I have my phone in my hand, taking pictures. And also, gross.)
Next we head to the other fence and come eye-to-eye with an emu. It looks slightly crazed so we don’t get too close.
Geese plod along behind the emu, honking to be sure we see them in their shortness, so we scatter some food next to their orange webbed feet.
Before long, we are out of food and therefore less interesting to the animals. We walk out, telling them we will see them again soon. (Yes, I actually said it.)
I don’t know how you feel about farm animals and animal farms, but that Chevron has charmed us. It’s a fun, quirky surprise on a rural highway.
The different patterns and colors of the goats’ faces, the iridescent peacocks, the slightly intimidating but exotic emu—all of them unique. All of them beautiful. They make us laugh. And if we stop someday and they aren’t there anymore, I’ll be as sad and disappointed as any six-year-old.
When have you been surprised by unexpected beauty? Do you think animals are beautiful? Which ones?
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sign up to receive my posts weekly and receive a gift of beauty right in your inbox.