What do you get when you take your husband, your parents, and your almost-2-year-old on four days of epic treasure hunting across two states at the World’s Longest Yard Sale?
You get the best road trip ever!
The World’s Longest Yard Sale started in Fentress County, Tennessee in 1987 and now stretches 690 miles along Highway 127 from Michigan to Alabama. The four-day event always starts on the first Thursday in August. We started in Frankfort, Kentucky and headed south, making it just across the Tennessee state line as the event was wrapping up on Sunday.
Along the way we met interesting people, negotiated great bargains, loaded and unloaded the van about a million times, had a lot of good laughs … and picked up AWESOME treasures for All Things New Again!
Here’s my journal from our trip.
Wednesday, July 30: On The Road
G, Joey and I were out the door a few minutes before our official start time of 6:30 a.m. We clocked in at the McDonald’s drive-thru for coffee at 6:29. This is noteworthy because I am never on time for anything (especially something that early in the morning) but I have been so excited for this trip. Woo hoo! We were off to a great start!
We met up with Mom and Dad in Strasburg, Virginia—and we somehow timed it perfectly. We weren’t sure where or when we would catch up with them on the road, but we all rolled into town around the same time—and just in time for breakfast.
Then we made our way across West Virginia and into Kentucky, arriving in Frankfort around dinnertime. (Like any good road trip, this one revolved around meals, snacks and iced coffee breaks!)
Thursday, August 1: Let The Shopping Begin!
Highway 127 is an older highway that predates the interstate highway system, passing through small towns and miles and miles of cows and beautiful green countryside. The idea behind the World’s Longest Yard Sale was to get people off of the zippy interstates and back into these small towns and rural communities along the way. Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky, was the largest city we visited on our trip.
Yard sales pop up anywhere and everywhere along Highway 127 the first weekend in August. We stopped in front yards, church parking lots, flea markets and open fields. Our first stop was in a muddy field where about a dozen vendors had set up shop for the day. People were selling a little bit of everything, but our mission was clear: We wanted furniture.
Mom and Dad scored first with this cute little table and an old, rickety tobacco table. Mom isn’t a fan of the tobacco table, but Daddy has big plans for repurposing it into something wonderful. They also bought some little benches and more of the pretty vintage aprons Mom started collecting recently.
I left empty-handed … but not for long.
The next stop was a giant flea market. Booths were set up inside of a big warehouse, with more booths outside in the strip mall parking lot, and still more booths in a field across the street. We stayed here for hours.
Here I am next to this sturdy little drop-leaf table. This was my first purchase, but it wouldn’t be my last! Would you believe I bought 10 little tables that day? I love little tables, but I think 10 in the same day is a new record for me. Each table has its own unique personality. Some are already painted beautifully while others need a little TLC. My favorite is a tiny table with great legs that I never would have noticed if I didn’t have Joey with me.
Some people might think I’m crazy for dragging a toddler on a trip like this, but let me tell you, he was a trooper! And he’s a great shopper!
Inside the warehouse he spied a light-up twirly thing that was right at his eye level in the stroller. He got all excited. The light-up twirly thing was sitting on the little table I ended up buying. I totally would have walked past it without ever seeing it if Joey hadn’t piped up. Great job Joey!
Friday, August 2: More Fields, More Tables
That pretty much sums up our second day of shopping. Day 2 was kind of a bust, but I did get a few more little tables. My best find of the day was an entire bag full of table legs. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them yet—I’m not even sure how many table legs are in the bag—but the price was right and I grabbed them all. Daddy’s best find of the day was a bunch of ax handles that he is going to repurpose for table legs on a future project. He is the Repurpose King!
Saturday, August 3: We Want Something Big
My sister and I flew to Spain one summer without any airline tickets. She was working for an airline and we could fly for free if they had empty seats for us. We just waited around the airport while the flight boarded and if two seats ended up available, we were on it. There was no time to check luggage. We went overseas for three weeks carrying all of our clothes with us in those little carry-on bags that you wrestle into the plane’s too-small overhead compartments.
We didn’t run out of clean outfits the entire trip—and our clothes never wrinkled—thanks to our Dad and his amazing packing skills! He showed us how to roll up our socks and tuck them inside extra shoes to save space and how to fold everything just so to make it all fit. We eked out every inch of space in those carry-on bags and somehow still managed to find room to bring home souvenirs from our Spanish adventure.
I witnessed my Dad’s amazing packing skills on a larger scale on our World’s Longest Yard Sale trip. During the day, he would place all of our new treasures in his big white van any way he could get them to fit. Each night, he unloaded it all into the hotel parking lot and strategically reloaded each item to protect it from damage and make room for the next day’s haul.
It was a lot of work.
Mirrors got wrapped up and strapped to heavy dressers. Table legs were removed and placed inside dresser drawers. Tabletops were stacked up neatly to the ceiling.
Every night I would think we were full, but, somehow, Daddy always made room for more.
By Saturday we had accumulated a lot of great stuff, but mostly little items like tables and benches. Mom and I wanted something big, something spectacular!
Saturday afternoon was sweat-dripping-down-your-back-hot and after perusing dozens of tents at a makeshift fairground, we decided to drive for awhile with the air-conditioning blasting just to cool off. There was a town up ahead and the plan was to get some iced coffee, our favorite road trip afternoon treat.
Jamestown, Kentucky (population 1,624) has a traffic circle with a statue of a World War I soldier in the center of it. As we rounded the circle, we turned off too soon and ended up away from Highway 127. We never found iced coffee. Instead, we found something so much better: a little thrift store off the beaten path from the hoopla of the yard sale.
Inside we found a glamorous art-deco style vanity with a big round mirror.
That’s it! Something big and spectacular!
But wait! There was a second vanity …
…equally glamorous and big and spectacular!
And a third!!!
Mom and I loved them all. How could we choose?
Daddy was confident that with a little reconfiguring he could fit all three vanities into the van. The rest of us weren’t so sure.
It was late in the day and the baby was still a trooper, but he needed a change of scenery. And an ice cream cone.
We decided to head back to the hotel early so Joey could go swimming and Daddy could work his magic while it was still daylight. Daddy and G went to work. When they finished a few hours later, Daddy was even more confident that all three vanities would fit.
The rest of us still weren’t so sure.
Sunday, August 4: Just One More Thing
We turned at the soldier statue and found the thrift store again.
All three vanities were still there so we bought them all!
Daddy and G started loading them when something else caught Mom’s eye, cupboard/armoire with beautiful paintings on the doors that looked like the mission churches in California we visited when I was a little girl.
“Do you think we might have room for that?” Mom asked.
It was at least 5-feet tall.
Daddy just looked at her.
An hour later, Mom, Joey and I were hanging out in my car eating M&Ms and reading Elmo books. We couldn’t see the guys because we were parked behind the building. We hadn’t heard from them in awhile either. We were becoming concerned that they couldn’t fit all three vanities after all.
“Go check,” Mom finally said.
I turned the corner as G was squeezing a suitcase into the side of the van and Daddy was shaking hands with the store owner.
“You got all three to fit?!” I was so excited.
It turns out the store owner was an even better expert packer than my Dad. He had experience packing up tractor-trailers. He showed the guys how to flip a vanity on its side and wedge it in place with a table leg to save space and how to stack everything just so to make it all fit. They eked out every inch of space in the back of that van and somehow still managed to find room to bring home one more treasure from our World’s Longest Yard Sale adventure.
When Mom looked inside the van, she shouted, “You got it! You got it! I can’t believe you made it fit!”
In my excitement over the vanities, I hadn’t even noticed. Tucked on its side underneath two of the vanities was the 5-foot-tall armoire with the California missions painted on the doors.
“Your Dad really loves your Mom,” G said as we walked back to our car. “We must have unloaded and reloaded that van five times, but he was determined to make that big cabinet fit. That was a lot of work.”
It was a lot of fun too.
What did we bring home from our four days of epic treasure hunting?
Here’s the list:
- 1 old rickety tobacco table
- 14 tables, various sizes and styles
- 2 benches
- 1 folding stool
- 4 pretty vintage aprons
- 1 black desk
- 1 bag of assorted table legs + 6 ax handles
- 1 big black dresser
- 4 mirrors
- 1 cool old gold frame
- 1 wine rack
- 1 bookshelf
- 6 vintage pink vases
- 4 crystal candy bowls
- 3 big and spectacular vanities
- 1 even bigger and more spectacular 5-foot-tall cupboard/armoire with California missions painted on the doors
- 2 cowbells!
My Dad really wanted some cowbells for the grandchildren to play when they visit.
After all that hard work, he earned them!