Tales of the World’s Longest Yard Sale, Days 3-5, Year 4: The Hobbits head into Mordor, or whatever hot place they had to go to melt that stupid ring

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.

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Day 3: We’re on a mountain!

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.

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We don’t know those women who are also wearing our cool t-shirts.

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.

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Nihilists!

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.

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Lone Oak Community Center hooked us up with lunch, air conditioning, and an indoor toilet!

Stops with shade were a relief, but then we’d find ourselves hightailing it to the car when clouds and lightning rolled in. aug4thurs_day1sale1

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. IMG_1888

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?

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We did a slow drive on a loop through the park, checking out the waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and encountering the local deer and turkey.FallsCreek

Dinner was a just okay buffet, but we sat on the balcony later watching a lightning storm in the clouds over the lake.

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Ick. Gross. So awful!

Friday morning brought sunbeams, no more vest- goodbye, Walter- and a quicker less mountainous route back to 127 and the McDonald’s in Pikeville.

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UUUUUGGGHHH. So ugly! My eyes!

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.

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This truck of goats were left at the window for an uncomfortably long time. Just watching me eat my biscuit.

Our goal for the day was to make it to Crossville and few points beyond like Clark Range, revisiting points of interest from our very first year. The weather was a repeat of heat and rain.

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G.I. Joe appears to be getting a handy…or something. Only $100

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Much better picture of a hummingbird moth with the pink flowers.

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.

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OMG!!! We’re here!

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.

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MomBert’s stash.

 

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My goods.

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.

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Yard Sale Day 1:”Kentucky rain keeps pouring down..

And up ahead’s another town

That I’ll go walking thru

With the rain in my shoes,

Searchin for (bargains!)

In the cold Kentucky rain,

In the cold Kentucky rain”

Elvis knows what up. My mom and I went to the Longest Yard Sale again this year, covering about a 75 mile section from Harrodsburg, Kentucky,  to Glencoe, Kentucky, where  it never stopped raining. Ever.

Sexy jellyfish

Sexy jellyfish

About 24 hours before we left for this adventure, I had just returned from a trip to Watkins Glen, New York. It rained the entire 7 hour drive to the Glen, at least once every day I was there, and then some more on the drive home. The weather combined with the sufficiently clean,  but slightly musty and damp hotel room, made me feel like I would never be completely dry again. At least there was wine in New York. Our yard sale route in Kentucky took us past most of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, but there was no stopping for hard liquor.

Friday, August 8, (Day 1 for us, Day 2 of the actual sale) saw us dropping down to Lexington, Kentucky, then speeding across the Bluegrass Parkway which proved to be a lovely 70 miles per hour and not the slow scenic drive that we had expected. All the expansive farms, fences, and horses looked just as good at 75 mph. Our destination was Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, where we would start the 127 route heading south as far as we could before returning for the night to our hotel in Lawrenceburg.

I swear the rain started as soon as our tires touched 127. Thankfully, it was not blinding, white knuckle driving rain, but just enough of a misting and dripping to soak through shoes, purses, and t-shirts sucking all energy and warmth out of me. There’s something exhausting about being slightly damp head to toe all day. Petting a basket full of puppies who may or may not have had poo on their heads did not help.

After a few minor stops, we hit our first tent city. It seemed promising since there was a moose head on a flag pole at the entrance and tons of buyers negotiating parking spots.  My mom had an umbrella for herself and we dug through the roadside emergency kit for a flimsy poncho for me. It floated around me like diaphanous jellyfish, but it was better than getting damper. I wore it well.

This has to be good. Right?

This has to be good. Right?

We learned that the off and on showers had the vendors continuously covering and uncovering their wares which hampered the shopping process somewhat. This stop was fairly heavy on antiques, but overwhelmed by “Mexican antiques.”  “Mexican antiques” are items made in Mexico and mass produced as antiqued picture frames, iron garden sculptures, giant alphabet letters, flower pots, wooden tables and herds of vibrantly colored tin goats, chickens , and peacocks. Mixed in selectively with real antiques, these items can be alluring. However several tents gave up on any pretense of antiquity and just offered massive stacks of these antiqued fakes.

Finding lunch lifted our spirits. A food truck offered pulled pork and giant pickles which were excellent until it was time to find a bathroom. I had noticed that there were random porta-johns conveniently located throughout the tent city, many set up behind every other vendor. So a bathroom stop seemed like an easy solve until we discovered that the first porta-john was padlocked. As was the next one and an entire line of them behind  a building. We finally saw a woman across the lot actually open a porta-john door. Then we watched as she fell back in horror and disgust. It turned out that the vendors, who had pulled together to rent the porta-johns for the site, had locked all, but three, using the rest as their personal bathrooms. One porta-john for every couple of vendors, three for the hundreds of people who would be passing through over a four day period. We opted to hold it.

Giant pickle

Giant pickle

Fortunately, we soon hit the edge of Harrodsburg and found a gas station where we were allowed to go potty. It may have only been moderately cleaner than the porta-john. On the plus side, apparently it’s okay to smoke inside gas stations in Kentucky especially if you’re the local sheriff.

So far our purchases had been mostly food based so when an actual antique mall showed up on the route welcoming yard salers, we went for it. Like deep ocean fish going for the angler’s luminescent,  wavy, fake bait, we went for it. When the wave of potpourri and candle scent hit me, I knew we had made a mistake. I stage whispered to Mom, “It’s a trap!! Run.” The lobby was a mass of fake flower arrangements, wooden geese in dresses, slightly misspelled wooden signs with the occasional reversed letter, and the dreaded primitive tchotchkes. Beyond the lobby, we could see a warehouse with vendor booths. Perhaps there was hope yet.

"Abandon all hope ye who enter here"

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here”

It was a horror show. Every booth featured some variation on the lobby’s motif. My sinuses rebelled against the onslaught of sprays, scented soaps, more candles, and products to make anything smell like something other than natural. There were multiple sins against antiquities, taking perfectly good solid furniture pieces and repainting scenes and random French words on what was once beautiful wood. Mom pointed out that some people would absolutely squeal with delight at the sight of this place. I reminded her that I had squealed, just not the way she meant.

This did not need to happen.

This did not need to happen.

The next antique mall on the route was a bit more eclectic although not stellar and was our point to start heading back north. This route was decidedly less populated than last year’s adventure. Big stops were few and far between, so we covered more miles quicker than we had before. We got back to Lawrenceburg with light and yard saling hours still available, so we pushed through the city, ending at their expo center  which was full of vendors and conveniently located in the same shopping strip as our dinner destination.

Our first day out, I purchased one Czechoslovakian bird at the second antique mall. Somehow it didn’t seem like a real yard sale route purchase even though we were still on 127 and the mall was offering a yard sale discount. Mom bought a handful of things including a new pair of Frye boots for $35 for my sister. I repeatedly explained to her that this was a crazy good bargain.

The day had been okay overall. The highlight was a taxidermied bear labeled as “half a bear”– it really was only half a bear- set up in a conversational pose with a taxidermied boar head. We speculated on the need for labeling and where the other half could be as we watched senior citizens line dance in the back of a Mexican restaurant.

 

 

A Little EmBEARassed

They really lend themselves to a conversation.

They really lend themselves to a conversation.

HalfaBear: “So I says,’Bert,’ I says, ‘I don’t know where my mind is. Everything I’ve done is half-assed!

I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m neither here nor there.

I can’t find my ass with two hands!’

Whaddaya think?”

 

BoarHead: “Well, I dunno. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got…. oh. Sorry.”

Just in case it wasn't obvious.

Just in case it wasn’t obvious.

****Pssssstttt…it’s only half a bear!