Next Stop: Babyland

I’m a child of the 80s. My mom fought for Cabbage Patch Kids THAT Christmas. And had to enlist the help of a friend because the limit was two and she needed three. I remember my first. Her name was Allie. Maybe Allie Arabelle or something like that. And she had auburn hair like me. And she wore it in braided pigtails. Her dress was mostly white with navy blue accents to match her navy blue bloomers. (And no, I’m not staring at her. I don’t have the slightest idea where she is, and I’m pretty sure there’s no way she’d still be wearing her OG outfit.) Suffice it to say, Cabbage Patch memories stick with you like the Xavier Roberts autograph tattoo on every doll’s backside.

So when a friend sent me a picture of a Babyland brochure she found in an Airbnb she was staying at in North Carolina, we knew we had to go. It was our duty. Plus, the place is in Georgia. Other than the ATL airport, I’d yet to really visit Georgia (and airports don’t count in the states game). At least two birds, one stone. The road trip was planned.

Lucky for us, Oprah’s “What I Know For Sure” was released just in time for us to hit the road. Oprah was the keynote speaker at my college graduation with a speech sharing that title. It was a pretty big deal because I was a pretty big fan of Oprah. Also, sometimes my mom still quotes things from that speech 14 years later. Another fun MAB factoid: Oprah was one of the first celebrities I interviewed. Oprah reads the audio book version herself. It was an easy sell, and I was certain my car would be menstruating by the time we hit the state line.

The book as expected was lovely and the drive was gorgeous. I had never been that far east in Tennessee. The highway is lined with trees and mountains and Oprah wisdom. More than once, we were on a two-lane highway and stopped because of construction. Seemingly  on cue, it would be a point in the book when Oprah was stressing the importance of stopping and breathing and – needless to say – it freaked us out. And made the lessons resonate that much more.

When this entry turned into an Oprah book dissection, I’m not sure. But eventually, we made it to our destination.

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The excitement of two grown women at the sight of that sign was a bit ridiculous. And we had already decided this trip was so much more about the journey than the destination. But we were still excited at what we assumed we would find inside.

It wouldn’t be EXACTLY what we expected.

But at least there were fun photo opps. And those make most things worth it.

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There were a lot of those cloth Cabbage Patch dolls everywhere. I never considered those the real ones. Give me a doll with a hard plastic head and cloth body. They were arranged in cribs and nurseries and it was all kind of creepy. There were signed autographed pictures of celebrities like Michael Jackson and Randy Travis on the wall. Everyone giving props to the CPK. That part was kind of weird too. What there wasn’t – and what I wanted – was a museum of sorts/back story of Xavier Roberts and how everything came about. They offer a story, but it’s silly.

That doesn’t mean we still didn’t perk up when we heard the announcement that a birth was about to happen. Everyone gathered at the patch. And when I say everyone, there was a good-sized group there. There were other children of the 80s, with their own children as well as a couple of groups of adults my parents’ ages. The curiosity was palpable. What were we about to witness?

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To say the “Licensed Patch Nurse” was fully committed would be an understatement. She clearly had a real medical background (we would find out later she had been a nurse for 20-25 years). It’s fun to share moments like that in a group because you can’t wipe the smile off your face, and you’re doing a good job of not laughing aloud – except for when you’re not – and you feel better knowing you’re not alone in actually enjoying the madness whilst realizing how weird it is.

Then came the post-birth exam portion of the show.

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It was super thorough. I jokingly wondered out loud from our side of the window if she would have performed a circumcision had it been a boy. When she emerged from the room, one of the dad-age men asked her my question. She said nobody had ever asked that before, but in the patch baby boys were born with that already taken care of.

We decided to up the creepy with another photo shoot before we left. The fun part about a place like this is it’s already so weird that nobody bats an eye when you’re running around arranging baby dolls on a bench.

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So yeah…we basically drove four hours for a glorified gift shop. But knowing is half the battle, right? This sign on the way out really clinched it.

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No comment.

So before we left, we asked one of the employees for a nearby lunch recommendation. This is a tried and true thing I like to do when visiting places I’ve never been. Yelp helps in a pinch, but if there are people you can ask, I’ve found it usually works out.

This woman asked us if we had heard about the alpine village at Helen, Georgia. We hadn’t, but as soon as she told us there was a winery on the way. We knew we’d love it. At the Habarsham winery, we ran into the group of older people (including the guy who asked my circumcision question). It turns out after that experience, we all needed a drink. We did a tasting, and had a super fun time chatting with the guy, and then asked him for his lunch recommendations.

He suggested a specific spot in Helen right on the Chattahoochee called the Cafe International. The view was spectacular. Made us want to take a float. The veggie burger was delightful as well, and the reuben earned rave reviews. We walked around the village before heading home, another fun adventure in the books.

Side note: neither of us purchased a Cabbage Patch doll. I’m not sure why everyone expected us to. We’re grown women without children. I mean, I realize we road tripped to their birthplace (speaking of, I would have been more interested in a factory “how they’re made” tour). We did, however, purchase bottles of wine. And maybe should I ever have a daughter or son who really loves dolls, and I happen to find myself near Helen, I would stop in again.

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