Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The World's Longest Yard Sale- Our Experience- Part Three

As promised, today I'm posting with tips for planning your trip to TWLYS, if you've never shopped it before.  Even if you have, you may find something helpful here.
I've included links to every map, website, or business that I've mentioned in this post.  Just hover over the lighter grey words (it's sort of hard to tell the difference, but I cannot change it.) until they turn blue, then click on them.

And, before I get started on this post, if you missed the first two posts of this three-part series, you can find them by clicking on these links:  Part One and Part Two.

Okay, let's get started...

Make a plan

Every successful venture begins with a good plan, and this is no exception. I sat down with the Hwy 127 yard sale map on the computer in front of me and started plotting out our shopping trip, one day at a time.  Because I had done the trip before, I had a good idea of the area we could cover in one day.  My very first trip was a few years back, and we started at the very beginning in Gadsden, Alabama.  We only made it up as far as Mentone (which is still in Alabama) on our first day!  We were almost running, and it would have been impossible to go any faster, so it doesn't look like you are covering much ground when you look at the map.  It measures on the map to be around fifty miles. The Alabama and Georgia part of the trail has a lot of twisting and turning with the roads, and if you're not watching a map carefully, it's easy to take a wrong turn and get off the trail. You have to get through Chattanooga before you actually get on the Hwy 127 corridor. So, with the estimate of around fifty miles per day, I started planning, beginning this year where we left off the first time in Mentone, Alabama.   We decided to stay in Fort Payne, at the Holiday Inn Express, which was the perfect place to get onto the yard sale trail the first morning.  There are many good restaurants and eating establishments located very close to the motel, so finding dinner was no problem.  We enjoyed steaks at Sante Fe Cattle Co. and then scoped out the local part of the trail (and made a few purchases) before retiring to our room.

Sign in Santa Fe Cattle Co.  celebrating the home of the
singing group, Alabama

Peanut bucket...

When I tried to find lodging for the second night, there didn't seem to be much available, and I was booking several months before the sale.  I decided to look at the Tennessee State Parks and see if they had rooms.  They did!  The closest and most convenient one was Fall Creek Falls State Park just outside of Pikeville.  This put us traveling a little over ninety miles from morning to evening, but I figured we could just shop until we were tired and then stop and drive on over to our room at the state park. It worked out with the schedule of the day perfectly.  As it turned out, most vendors and yard sales weren't even open until around 8:30, so it gave us time to drive and make it up the trail a little faster.  Now, we did skip some, because they weren't actually open, so I'm still sticking by my general rule that it's hard to do much more "shopping" the trail than fifty miles or so.  Also, make a note than motels are very expensive in Tennessee for some reason.  Holiday Inn Express (and all of the others) up around where I-40 crosses were wanting over $200 for the night, for regular rooms.  The state park room was just under $100.  Anyway, we estimated the next day that we could comfortably make it from Pikeville to Crossville, and then we would turn around, head back toward Alabama and catch some that we had skipped.  That was just over twenty miles, and it put us into the town of Crossville just at lunch time.  We found a great little Italian restaurant, Forte's Restaurant, that was just what we needed- chef prepared prime rib and pork loin.  It's worth planning a stop to this restaurant in your trip.  Click here for a link to their facebook page.  

The third night, we stayed in Fort Payne, once again, at the Holiday Inn Express.  The next morning, we shopped our way from there back to Gadsden, where we had lunch at Chili's. It was another nice place that I would recommend- good food and service, and really pretty setting by the river.

We covered  about 143 miles of the 690 mile long yard sale, and it took us three days.  That should give you some idea about how to plan.    The only thing we could have done to have shopped more would have been to eat only food from the cooler in the car, but you can only do so much of that (we ate snacks and lunch one day from the cooler)...  We spent maybe six or seven hours of the three days in restaurants, but that was time well spent to recharge our batteries!


  • It rains frequently, which it did during this sale, and it makes for messy feet.  Bring some rubber floor mats so that you don't trash your good ones in your vehicle.
  • Also, because of the rain, pack some rain boots (with socks!) and/or rubber shoes that can be thrown into the washer.  I have Crocks.
  • A cooler is a must.  It gets really hot and you need to stay hydrated.  You can find ice at your motel or gas stations all along the route.
  • Hand wipes- your hands get nasty from handling not so clean things.  And, you don't want to eat those snacks with dirty hands.  You will also most probably have to use porta-potties, and most do not have hand washing stations.
  • A hat, especially if you're bald like hubby.  A sunburned head hurts!  
  • Sunscreen.  I have sunburned shoulders because I did not take any.
  • Dress in layers.  It can go from cold (in mountains and after rain) to hot in a few minutes.
  • If you have multiple parties (I had hubby), it's a good idea to make sure that everyone has their phone in their pocket before getting out of the car.  It's easy to get separated and lost in some of the larger sale sites, and you can spend lots of precious time trying to find one another.  Yes, it happened to us- once.
  • Your smart phone is handy to check in on the World's Longest Yard Sale facebook page during the day for updates.  People get on there and post good sale locations, traffic updates, etc.
  • Your big map (can be copied from website I shared above) and local maps.  You can either print the local maps or pick them up in the motels.  Most will have them on hand for you.
  • Blankets, quilts or towels to wrap larger purchases to prevent damage.
  • Boxes to organize wrapped smalls that you've purchased, unless like me, you use that as an excuse to purchase cool old boxes.
  • Ladies, don't take your purse.  Leave it locked in the car, hidden, and take a large floppy style shopping bag, floppy style, so that it doesn't make you bump into things and people.
  • Keep handy your itinerary and reservation numbers, along with the motel contact information, just in case you need to call them for late arrival or to cancel.
  • I mentioned taking food along in coolers.  That's what we did, but you will find folks set up with bar-b-ques, and other food at various different places, if you should want to try that. It's hard to plan for meals that way though, because they are few and far between.

Well, that's all I can think of to give you to help you plan your trip.  I would love to hear from you with your tips or recommendations as related to this event.  We can all learn from each other.  

It is definitely something that everyone should do at least once. 

Thanks for following along- I appreciate every one of you!


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