A few weeks ago, I asked my four kids to write a list of the things they wanted to do this summer. It feels like our options are so slim that I wanted to see what they would come up with. My 11-year-old daughter wrote a pretty good list that included cooking, reading, and art. My nine-year-old son had about five things, including “finish my summer reading project” and “STAY ALIVE.” My three-year-old can only write the letter H and so her sheet was filled with some lovely Hs.
And my seven-year-old son’s list had one word: llamas.
He’s been going through a very llama-obsessed phase as part of what seems to be the latest animal fad. Never has it been so easy to buy shirts with llamas and alpacas (including several for my oldest that have the nearly unknown “llamacorn”). Joshua asked for a llama for his birthday in March. He has earnestly told us the llama would be fine in the backyard and can also sleep in his bedroom.
So our trip to the Llama-Stay Cottage in East Atlanta filled two goals. One, get out of town in a safe way. Two, show Joshua what llamas and alpacas are really like and maybe convince him one would not be an ideal pet.
The Llama-Stay Cottage is next to the Alpaca Treehouse in the Bamboo Forest, a beautiful property that seems like a dreamland in the midst of Atlanta. While staying in the actual treehouse was impossible due to cost and the size of our family, the next-door “cottage” (a good sized house!) fit us perfectly. We were able to see and feed the llamas and alpacas from our side of the gate, play in the bamboo forest, and see the treehouse! We were also offered a reduced-rate tour of the main property but were unable to take the tour due to some time restraints.
We had a fire pit and chairs to roast marshmallows for s’mores and enjoy the outdoors, as well as a large table on the deck where we ate meals outside. The shade outdoors kept us cool in June. We decided to leave tablets in the car and phones hidden away as much as possible, and spent our time playing Euro-style board games, doing arts and crafts, and letting the kids run around and hit trees with bamboo. Our oldest even set up obstacle courses in the forest made of trees and branches.
The kids fought so little; we had by far the most peaceful times for our family since March 14. Libbie, the 11-year-old, said it was her favorite trip next to Disney World, and we were all just so, so grateful to see some walls that weren’t our own.
Travel is almost always worth the trouble, and right now, maybe getting away to an Airbnb is the best option. We don’t have to share the space, it’s cleaned before we get there, and we can order food to be delivered if we don’t want to cook. (We ordered Vietnamese food from Anh’s Kitchen and it was AMAZING.)
Because of COVID, we decided to book a place where we almost certainly wouldn’t have to stop and go to the bathroom in a public place. We timed our leaving on Sunday so we could be back home for lunch. We didn’t get to explore Atlanta, but we were very content with hanging out, resting, and adoring the llamas and alpacas.
It’s a weird time for travel. But if you have the opportunity, I’d highly suggest surrounding yourself with a new space for just a few days. It’s a breath of fresh air during the Time of Corona. And we highly recommend the Llama-Stay Cottage — tell them the Weavers sent you!
(No one from the Alpaca Treehouse asked me to write this even though I know that it sounds like an ad. Just wanted to share our fun idea with you! We paid for everything with our own money.)