World’s Longest Yard Sale: I Think I’ve Died and Gone to Heaven

So, trip number 3 to New York was a road trip. A trip necessitated by the daughter of a friend moving there (this post might clarify our connection, but probably not. We can barely explain it anyway). Lori needed to move stuff up, I needed to move some of Meg’s stuff back from that ill fated attempt at a summer in the city, so it was the perfect set up. Lori had an uncle in Ohio who was celebrating his 80th birthday the week we were traveling, which was lucky, but the most serendipitous of all was the yearly occurrence of the World’s Longest Yard Sale. On my bucket list as a dream and in my heart as a longing from the time I heard about it. Attempts have been made to go before, but this time it looked like the stars were aligning and it was going to happen (cue angels singing).

We made the uneventful and singleminded drive to Ohio in 2 days, eating only what we brought in the ice chest and only stopping for gas and to wire money when Lori found out Hanna needed it for a possible deposit for an apt. The plan was for her to find the place and then we could move everything in when we got there…oh, silly small town girls! Anyway, we got to Ohio in time to attend not one, but 2 celebrations (Happy birthday, Uncle Verne!). Great parties, great food and lots of laughs. Made me sad that I didn’t have a huge family so that I could have crazy cousin stories. I think I’ll just hijack some of theirs. Stories, not cousins.

The morning after the party, we got up before the sun had left the beautiful Midwest to head to the Big Apple. Just in time to drive in during rush hour in the pouring rain. My fingerprints are still on the steering wheel of the Tahoe, from my vice-like grip. It took us over an hour to drive the 3.5 mile route thru the Holland Tunnel across Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge. Thought my head would explode.

I wish I could express the craziness finding an apt in NYC.  Hanna had spent days going out after work, looking at different apts in various neighborhoods. Once you find one, you had to ready with the money before someone else grabbed it.  She was hoping to have it by the time her house sitting gig was up. She had narrowed it down to a few for her mom to check out when we got there. And then her phone was stolen, out of her hands by a teenaged thug on a bicycle. All the names, addresses of apts, phone numbers of brokers gone. Back to square one. On the plus side, it did eliminate one neighborhood from the list. Didn’t fit the “safe” criteria.

Lori and I took the task to heart, manning ourselves with phones, ipads and computers, searching for the perfect place.  On our list of must haves: above the first floor, close to a subway that ran to Midtown, 2 bedrooms, low ghetto factor, diverse, within the budget (of course), a building with some character, and safe. She was fine without central AC, an elevator, a doorman, dishwasher, washer/dryer hookup, was not particular about neighborhoods or subway line and didn’t have to have new.  We set up some appts, but I told Lori I felt lucky and that the first would be the one. When we got there, the broker met us and said the apt was already rented. So much for my feelings. We told him of our desperate situation and he got on the phone with his boss. He said there was one around the corner that had just come open, but it wouldn’t be ready for a couple of weeks. We didn’t think that would work, but decided to take a look-see so we could get an idea about what was available.

When we opened the door, we had to mouth breath. Yowza! The stench! It looked like whoever lived there were squatters or running from the police. They got up, cooked breakfast and were vaporized. After never cleaning their house. Ever. There were baby toys, unmade beds, clothes, dirty dishes, FOOD for goodness sake, toothbrushes, stuff everywhere. They even left their panties hanging in the bathroom. I’m gonna tell you now, even if I am drawing my dying breath, I will take my panties down. Looked like a no-go, until the Super started telling me what they were going to do the the place. Redo the hardwood floors, paint, new bathroom but leave the vintage tile, add more closets, gut the kitchen and add granite counters and stainless appliances. Before he finished, I was offering to leave a deposit before even consulting the person who would be responsible for paying for it. It had it all. Second floor, check; pre-war building, check; 2 bedrooms, check;  in a diverse “up and coming neighborhood”(that means still cheap enough but about to become out of their range), check; across the street from an express line (!), and 1/2 a block from Prospect Park.  It was perfect for me Hanna and Jill. I could just see myself them, sitting around in their hip apartment, eating locavore food from the farmers market and  drinking wine from vintage jelly jars.  Did I tell you across the street from an express line to Manhattan? This is so important for a girl after a long day of shopping classes.  We put down all the money we had (still not enough for a deposit but he took it) and looked at one more place (more expensive, smaller, and a less desirable neighborhood) just to be sure. We were. I generously volunteered my retired self to help move in, decorate, shop and peruse neighborhoods on trash day for finds. It may take a trip or 2 up there to get it just right, but I don’t mind doing it for them. I’m nice like that.

That is how Hanna got an apartment completely sight unseen. I’m glad she trusts us. After all the crazy apt paperwork was done we had to take care of other loose ends. Storage was arranged for the stuff we had brought, furniture was picked up from a Craig’s list find and we had to found parking for a Tahoe with a couch sticking out the back and tied shut with a clothesline. 3 days of all things apartment and we were done. Ready for phase 3 of the trip, the “all about us” phase.

We left Thursday morning and the pace was instantly different. We stopped at farms and picked up corn and apples. We ate local food and had rivels, “road kill” soup and Cincinnati chili, and we antiqued. So much fun!

Hamburg Diner
Some of the things we got on the way to Cincinnati

We got to Cincinnati with a plan to start the famed HWY 127 World’s Longest Yard Sale bright and early Friday morning.

We had so much fun, driving, talking and shopping. No rush, no agenda, truly a perfect day. We got lucky on our first stop of the day. Trucks for Reid, a sugar bowl and creamer for Hanna and a bathroom for me.
Still had sugar in it. Winner!

One of the best stops was a little after that. We had to take a detour up the hill but did we score.  The  guy was in his 80’s and said his daughter told him to get rid of some stuff. He even let us see the inside of his old farm house.

This is what it looked like up and down the highway.

Yard sale or not? We had a hard time deciding.

We saw lots of beautiful Kentucky countryside and met lots of interesting people and self described Hillbillies. Quality of “Yard Sale” sign did not indicate quality of yard sale stuff and plywood that was hand lettered with black spray paint was the signage of choice. We were intrigued by the inverse relationship of teeth to body ink, came nose to nose with a pet raccoon, tried to understand/appreciate the support of the local tobacco economy by way of a cigarette dangling from at least one mouth at every stop and noted that on a hot August day, a good number of men will be without a shirt, regardless of age/weight/or proximity to customers. All were very kind and helpful, whether directing us to the best cold cut sandwich or the best yard sale in town.


I was a little aprehensive about the sale. I had done my homework and the good reviews were great, but there were some Debbie Downers saying it was too crowded, too hot, too expensive, too much junk (really? can there be too much junk???), waa waaaahhhh! I thought it was perfect! We started in an area that wasn’t as popular, so there were no crowds, I found everything I wanted and stayed within my self imposed $20/item restriction. As for the heat, we’re from Texas, yo! We laugh in heat’s face!!! 

Some more of my loot. You know what those jelly jars are for, don’t you?

We even found a vintage kitchen sink and I’m telling you, I would have bought it if it would have fit in the back of the truck.

Plans are in the works for next year. I have to feed the beast. I can see it now, a caravan of junk hungry men and women caravaning from Texas. Who’s in


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