Last year, by the perfect alignment of the travel stars, I was finally able to make my way to junker’s mecca, the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Is the junking better than Canton? I’d have to say, yes, sorta, but Canton is much more convenient. All packed together and condensed, like a ramen package. Not small by any stretch of the imagination, but everything is where it needs to be, all tucked together. Civic Center has the real antique vendors, The Arbors area has the artsy, crafty stuff with the furniture thrown in, and the folks in the back have the junk. This makes it perfect for a day or weekend of searching because you know where to go to find what you want. By definition, the WLYS is, well, long. You have your professional vendors then you walk a ways and find junk. Drive some more and see a yard sale, a little farther and more vendor tents. A completely different bird. It may not be convenient, but it makes for a great Girls Road Trip.
The trip this year was harder to plan because I had another grand baby on the way. Although I felt SURE this baby would come early, as the days crept past my daughter’s due date, I began to panic. Fortunately, sweet baby boy finally made his appearance and I, reluctantly, left for a few days.
2 other friends joined the original cast this year. WLYS rules included: only 2 to a car (more space for stuff), bring food in a cooler (we don’t stop much to eat so it requires quick meals at gas stations while we fill up), 4 ladies to a room so be willing to sleep with someone (saves money for more junk), cars don’t have to stick together while shopping (moving on and meeting up later is fine) and most importantly (a rule that we also use for NYC trips), NO WHINING. Now, when everyone is in the room and we are exhausted, of course we can group whine. We are all over 50, our joints, heads, eyes, feet, and backs hurt. Also, if we stop at a place that looks promising and all it is are a bunch of crafts, then it would be wrong not to bellyache. Seller won’t budge on a price? Gripe away.
Day 1 was a 12 hour drive, with only gas/potty stops and one glorious stop at Interstate BBQ in Memphis. We were fortunate enough to hit Nashville during rush hour gridlock and come out on the other side to a blinding rain thru the mountains. After a blistering 30mph trek thru a curtain of gray and in the middle of nowhere, we noticed that gas light had come on and we only had 20 miles left in gas and it was 25 miles to the next town. Gas was finally found, but not before my co-pilot almost had a heart attack. We slept well that night.
Day 2 was when the fun began. Suffice it to say, we found treasures from the first minute and had a blast digging, searching and picking. We traveled 79 miles in 10 hours. Our only break was at a wonderful diner in Pikeville called Scotty’s. Tiny, red booths, dishes hand washed right behind the counter, it was a true diner. All that I read about the WLYS said to bring food because you never know when it will be hard to find. We never had a problem with finding snacks (fried pies sold out of a person’s front yard anyone?) or great places to get real food. Maybe it was because we were hungry, but it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. We had dinner on the opposite end of the cuisine spectrum in Chattanooga. Contemporary Southern, locally sourced, blah, blah blah…but it was WONDERFUL. Lori ordered a meat+2 and I ordered the veggie plate (4 sides) and we shared. That way we were able to try almost all of the sides. Woo hoo! The next morning, another southern meal on the banks of the Chattanooga River. Lots of bacon and gravy and biscuits and……Diet Coke….you know.
With full bellies, we headed south thru Tennesse, Georgia, and Alabama. I would say that this stretch was completely different from the previous day. There were many more set ups the day before that were in fields, fair grounds, whatever with lots of vendors/sellers. This part had that, but father apart and not as big. Instead, we saw a lot more yard sales. We did score some goodies along the way, so I’m not complaining, just pointing out the differences. While shopping, we kept running into a couple of ladies. We chatted each time we met up. At one stop, one of our new friends said that if we hadn’t had lunch, we were welcome to come by her summer cottage to have our lunch. Ummm…YES! We had our cooler full of various lunch/snack fixings so we followed them out of town, thru a gate, up a dirt road to her wonderful cottage overlooking a valley. It was a really nice time with all of us throwing together whatever we had to make, as my friend called it, a stone soup luncheon. Disclaimer: I don’t suggest you accept every offer to go lunch at a stranger’s house that you’ve met at a yard sale in the mountains of Tennessee, or anyone you don’t know for that matter. I will say, though, that it makes for some interesting trips. We are tentatively planning a WLYS reunion for next summer. Thanks Ann and Joy!
We really wanted to make the drive to the very end, Gadsden, Alabama, even though the pickins were getting slim. We pulled in around 5. All garage sales had pretty much shut down and we turned around in the parking lot of the county fair grounds, the official end of the road. Instead of being disappointed, we were thrilled to see this. What a beautiful ending to a great 2 days of shopping.
We made the drive from our last shopping stop to Tuscaloosa for another southern diner meal. This time they had a meat+3 and a 5 veggie plate. That’s meatloaf and 8 sides to share! Plus cornbread and rolls!! Heaven.
Day 3 was our drive home. We spent the night in Jackson and had one last pigout in Vicksburg. Fried chicken and all the wonderful sides. What we didn’t see on the menu was the homemade pimento cheese. We saw it on someone’s table as we were leaving and commented on it. This being the South, they offered us a taste. We, being gracious women, took them up on it. After fried chicken and all the sides, peach cobbler and caramel cake, we still had room to each pimento cheese off a strangers table. Kind of embarrassing, but I wasn’t leaving until I tried that pimento cheese!
The rest of the trip was uneventful. We googled the small towns that we drove thru, reading their histories, while listening to “Ode to Billie Joe”, Glen Campbell and other Southern ditties. The food was great, we all found lots of good things and I love road trips, but the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Traveling around the backroads with good friends, having conversations that take time to get to, enjoying regional foods and finding treasures for yourself and others is a life experience that I cherish.