A Uniquely American Experience

Friday afternoon (or evening, depending on which side of town you're in, apparently). Wow. Seriously just wow. You are all very familiar by now with my love of words, so don't forget to be impressed with the fact that I cannot adequately describe with words the endless yard sale experience.

First, we arrived in Birmingham (AL) Wednesday night, went to a baseball game, and then drove to our hotel for the night. Well, it wasn't a direct trip (darn those Yahoo Maps!), but we did eventually get there intact. First thing in the morning, it was up and at it, heading over toward Noccalula Falls Park and Tabor Road, the official southern starting point of our journey. We went through Dogtown, Fort Payne ("Official Sock Capital of the World"), and DeSoto State Park before crossing into Georgia briefly then arriving in Tennessee via the Lookout Mountain Parkway. That was day one.

Day two (today) started out this morning at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, heading up Highway 27 to Highway 127 and the heart of the yard sale - central Tennessee including Jamestown, the headquarters for this whole convocation, and ended for the evening in Albany, Kentucky at the only three star hotel for hundreds of miles. Whew!

That's the Reader's Digest version - here's the good stuff. As we pulled onto Tabor Road in Gadsden, I was floored by the amount of traffic and I'm from southern California! It must have taken us 30 minutes to cover the first mile or so because everyone was stopping on the road and then pulling off to check out a sale (or two). The entire route was not like that, I hasten to add, but many parts were. Or worse.

So many cars, so many people, so much junk! Men in overalls! With only a tank top! Nuts. Bolts. Bottles (both antique and otherwise). Statues of Jesus. Statues of Dale Earnhardt. Quilts. Hot dogs. Fried oreos. Fried pies. Fried potatoes. Frying pans. Tea (sweetened, of course). Coca cola. Dogs of all description (not for sale, just observing). Moving vans being driven by sweet little ladies from Missouri. And Kansas. And Ohio. And a Lexus from Rhode Island towing a Uhaul trailer. I am in a Toyota Corolla, which gets excellent gas mileage and has fabulous air conditioning, which is all that matters. Tracy and her friend, Ann, are driving an Escape (just like my own, beloved Esme at home in San Diego). We are all just flabbergasted at the sheer vastness of the experience.

A lady in Tennessee handed Tracy a bible verse written on a hankie this morning just because she walked by. Things like that just keep happening. I think director David Lynch might have something to do with this thing and, if not, someone really needs to let him know about it so that he can put it in his next film.

What I am struck by most strongly is how very American this experience is. First because there is no other country as in love with their vehicles as ours. Our cars, trucks, (and moving vans) are such a huge part of our culture that we even take them on vacation with us. No one else does this. Next is the fact that we've got 450 miles of fairly uninterrupted countryside in which to place this whole event. Seriously, we've been through only one major city since leaving Birmingham - that would be Chattanooga - but there have been people and houses aplenty all along the route and you just know you wouldn't find that in any other country. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it's about the people. The beautiful, wonderful, welcoming, heart-of-America people. Where else would you see total strangers letting someone else use the bathrooms in their house? Or providing water for someone's thirsty doggy companion? Where else but Middle America would people come out in 100 degree heat (with 96% humidity) to walk through others' junk in search of their next great treasure??? Only in America, my friends, only in America.

So, next time you're decrying the fall of American society as we know it or despairing that you'll ever find good, old fashioned American hospitality again, make plans (well in advance) to come out to the endless yard sale and dip your cup into a refreshing wellspring of all that's still right with our lovely country. Just be sure to leave your big city cynicism at home because these folks don't take American Express and they don't take kindly to those who turn their noses up at simple but heartfelt expressions of American pride.


How are you going to fit all your new treasures in a Corrolla? Not to mention getting them back to California?

Don't tell me you're just window shopping!
I've always wanted to go to that.
Ally said…
It sounds amazing ... :)

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