Monday, August 8, 2011

This is Flea Marketing Heaven

I love flea markets.  I was raised on them so I guess you can say I come by it naturally. Growing up in Florida it was almost a weekly thing for my mom, younger brother and I to head to the local flea market on a Saturday morning.  So it's no wonder that the three of us wound up on a road trip for the “World’s Longest Yard Sale” again this year.  You can find just about anything along the way, from antique furniture to pottery; crocks, jugs and old ceramic bowls (a particular favorite of mine) to all manner of things rustic and sometimes just plain rusty.  Following Highway 127 along beautiful, winding roads from Alabama to Michigan, this is flea marketing heaven.

Last year the three of us piled into my Prius and while we were able to fit an amazing amount of stuff in the back along with our luggage, we soon realized that we needed a larger vehicle if we were going to take advantage of low prices on great pieces of furniture.  This year we rented a 15 passenger van, taking out the two back benches to create space that longed to be filled.

Our Chariot
Hitting the road on Thursday morning—a day earlier than last year—we headed over to Gadsden, Alabama where we traveled up Lookout Mountain Parkway toward Mentone.  Passing through Mentone last year we all agreed to and chose this for our first overnight this year.  Mentone is very quaint, with small shops, a couple restaurants, a Victorian hotel and the Mentone Inn; a charming B&B and our accommodations for the evening.  Each room has an in-suite bathroom, with claw-foot tub/shower, and the unusual feature of a tiny sink in your room.  The rooms need a little bit of paint here and there, but the beds were comfortable and the veranda was the perfect place to spend the evening after a day of driving and searching flea market stalls.

For breakfast, the Inn serves a huge country breakfast.  I’m talking scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy, fruit, and pancakes.  We ate until we were full and then climbed back into the van and headed down Lookout Mountain toward Chattanooga.

We refused to let a second day of intermittent rain dampen our spirits and crossing 68 onto AL 176 we were excited to spot a huge flea market we remembered from last year.  Parking out front was full, requiring a drive down a somewhat muddy lane to park in a large field.  We were in the process of buying Amish jams, pickles and cheese when the wind picked up and it began to rain very hard.  Waiting it out under the tent with the wind blowing a mist of rain inside, we found ourselves in the unusual situation of being cold in August.  This is when Troy made the decision to make a run for the van and pull around to pick us up.  Mom and I waited, and waited, the water slowly rising over our shoes.  I had a sinking feeling.  In all honesty I should have known from the moment we travelled that muddy drive into the field what would happen, but I ignored my better judgment, and sure enough we found him spinning the back tires in about six inches of mud, unable to move the van either forward or backward. 

Once the rain let up I borrowed a couple pieces of plywood to lodge under the back tires.  With me behind the wheel and Troy and my 76-year-old mother pushing  from behind (really, go ahead and laugh, it was and still is hilarious), we prayed for the mud to give.  Even with the help of a passerby who generously joined in the push unasked, we were unable to make any headway.  Finally, the manager of the flea market offered to call a tow truck for us.  We waited in the van as the rain began to come down hard again and worried about whether the tow truck would be able to rescue us… he wasn’t.  But, thanks to a vendor with a Ford 4x4 Dually and the chain from the tow truck we finally escaped the grip of the mud and after $25 and kiss blown to the 4x4 owner from my mother, we were once again on our way.

Later over lunch we were able laugh about this.  I got the giggles and couldn’t stop, which set my mother to laughing and there we were, three lunatics laughing hysterically.  I made sure to park on very solid ground the remainder of the trip, which was much less dramatic.  We each found a few “treasures”; for me this included a tiger oak chest of drawers, which I got for a steal at $70 and two chairs, both for $45.  I also found a couple pieces of McCoy, Camark and Roseville pottery, along with a couple old crocks and pitchers, and some really great glasses.

Old crocks and bowls

McCoy, Roseville & Camark pottery

I love this funky oil lamp and the silent butler, and believe
it or not, I have been seaching for a glove mold (at a reasonable
price) for a while.
We made it safety to Lexington Saturday night and headed home on Sunday morning, logging just under 1000 miles in four days.

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