Thursday, August 4, 2016, saw us in the car by 8 a.m., climbing the treacherous (at least to me) switchbacks of 127 up Signal Mountain. I can’t imagine that road as my daily commute, but people do it. We arrived at our first tent city in Fairmount on the mountain by 9 a.m. We’ve never started the sale on the very first day! A momentous occasion.
There we ran into a vendor traveling in a VW bus and creating her own very cool ” I picked 127″ t-shirts. I went with her racerback for yoga usage.
That day I was also testing my own fashion theory: the fishing/hunting vest. In Ohio the previous year, I had seen two women sporting multi pocketed vests. It seemed like a genius move! They removed the back strain of a purse -a problem for me-and the uber dorkiness of the fanny pack which was what I was wearing to combat back ache. I cruised thrift stores and eBay until I found a vest suitable for experimentation. It had Velcro pockets, snapped pockets, zippered pockets, secret pockets, and pockets within pockets! Unfortunately, the fabric wasn’t very breathable and eventually felt like it weighed 50 pounds. If you find Walter Sobchak attractive then I was smokin’ hot. ( I was also sweating balls hot) The Dude abides.
There were plenty of big stops on the mountain, but our increasingly sweaty travels were interrupted by rainstorms. Rainstorms that added to the heat, humidity, and muck.
Stops with shade were a relief, but then we’d find ourselves hightailing it to the car when clouds and lightning rolled in.
It was the end of a long day as Siri directed us up gravelly switchbacks over what felt the millionth mountain of the trip. Oddly enough, there aren’t a lot of chain hotels in rural Tennessee. The easiest place I could find for us to end the first day of the sale was a state park lodge at Fall Creek Falls. From the outside the place was a cement block, but it was cheap and convenient.
It. Was. Beautiful.
We opened our door into the cement block and stepped into the lake. The lodge was built along the curve of the lake and each room opened onto a balcony overlooking the water. Who needs modern decor when you’ve got scenery?
We did a slow drive on a loop through the park, checking out the waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and encountering the local deer and turkey.
Dinner was a just okay buffet, but we sat on the balcony later watching a lightning storm in the clouds over the lake.
Friday morning brought sunbeams, no more vest- goodbye, Walter- and a quicker less mountainous route back to 127 and the McDonald’s in Pikeville.
Side note: The summer of 2016 was when McDonald’s started their all day breakfast menu. Items varied restaurant to restaurant, but we were in the South, so that meant biscuits all day, every day. Heat be damned, second breakfasts happened. A lot.
Our first stop in Pikeville had a weird deja vu feel. We realized we’d been there the previous day in rain we could barely see through. Eye roll and moving on.
By the time we made it to the mass of vendors at Clark Range, I had to close my eyes and be still for 10 minutes to convince my head and stomach that we could make this work, damnit! Aside from my sweet pickin’ t shirt, Clark Range offered another great purchase. A husband and wife team were crafting chainsaw sculptures. Their creations were spread in a wide circle around the base of a tree where the husband was doing more carvings. I bought a handsome gray squirrel. Ahhhh art.
Our hotel that night in Knoxville was a chain so while there was modern decor and several junior high football players there for a tournament, there were no amazing landscapes or Bambis wandering about. We ate dinner at Blaze Pizza (fancy pizza in like 5 minutes) and tried not to hate how we smelled.
Knoxville was supposed to be the last stop on the road to home, but I made a proposal. Year 1, we naively thought we would eat up the miles and be lunching in Jamestown, the heart and headquarters of the sale. We didn’t make it there until evening when the sale had shut down. In Knoxville, I proposed that we take a route diagonally across country to Jamestown the next morning just so we could say we’d made it there. And maybe buy a t-shirt.
Saturday morning, after battling pre-teen footballers for breakfast, we made it to yard sale ground zero in a little under two hours. The poor representative at the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce was trapped by our enthusiasm for the sale, and our desire to change in to our brand new shirts in her air conditioned bathroom.
She gave us suggestions for a few local stops. A biscuit and a few stops later, we were yardsaled out somewhere around the Maple Hill RV Campground and truly ready for home and cats.
I spent $130 on yard sale items. MomBert can’t remember what her total was. Overall, the weather of year four made the a rough endeavor.