My sister and I just had an adventure. For the first time in our entire adult lives, we took a trip together by ourselves, with no parents, husbands, kids, or grandkids. It was wonderful and strange all at the same time. Along with countless other shoppers from around the nation, we took a three-day trip along the Highway 127 Yard Sale.
As my sister and I began our journey along rural Highway 127, it was as if God began to skillfully weave the two threads of our very separate and hectic lives into one inseparable strand, bound by our shared childhood memories and our shared love for Him.
Commemorating one of our not-so-fond memories, my sister made us matching t-shirts, visors, and backpacks with the 127 logo for our trip, a different color for each day. Our husbands and children were mortified. They prayed diligently we would not make it onto one of the HGTV shows that film an episode each year about the yard sale. Their prayers were answered because we missed out on a television crew that had been filming a sale we visited.
In case you have never seen one of those television shows, this particular event is billed as the world’s longest yard sale. Running through six state and 690 miles, from Gadsden, Alabama, to Addison, Michigan, the Highway 127 Yard Sale takes place annually during the first full weekend of August.
And it is a sight to behold, hundreds upon hundreds of people trekking through town after town, searching for the ultimate bargain. It lasts four days, Thursday through Sunday, but some vendors set up their wares on Wednesday.
My sister and I got started around noon on Thursday at Cookeville, Tennessee, with a goal of making it 133 miles north to Danville, Kentucky, by noon on Saturday. We never made it that far.
Instead, we ended our junking adventure 49 miles short of our 133-mile goal in Russell Springs, Kentucky. And to be honest, we gleefully wimped out and headed home late Saturday morning after a great night’s sleep and an awesome breakfast at The Potter’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Wilmore, Kentucky.
In our defense, by Friday, we had an SUV packed absolutely to the brim with goodies we had found and purchased, so any more shopping would have been hazardous to our driving abilities. We could barely see out of the windows as it was. Plus, by Friday afternoon, Highway 127 was crowded with back-to-back traffic on both sides of the road. Getting in and out of the highway was treacherous, as was walking across the two-lane road. So, we opted out of Saturday’s sales.
We estimated that we only managed to see about 10% of the sales we encountered along our 84-mile route. Single-family dwellings along the highway rent out spots on their lawns (via the internet) to vendors from other places. So, one small home might have 10-15 others booths in their yard, depending on how large their lot was. We heard one guy say he had driven down all the way from upstate New York to set up a booth and hawk his antique goods.
Some homeowners rented out barns, sheds, and workshops, whatever they had to offer. At some spots, we found extended families sharing the yard of one family member. We saw all ages, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even little kids, all working together to sell everything from baked goods to cast-off clothing to toys to handmade arts and crafts.
In the small towns that line the highway, the sales got bigger and bigger. Small business owners opened their doors and their parking lots to other vendors. One business might have ten small booths in the parking lot, while also offering the use of their restrooms and complimentary coffee or ice-cold water, a boon for both buyers and sellers.
Some municipalities rented out their city parks, fairgrounds, or town squares. We shopped in VFW buildings, community centers, and picnic pavilions. The towns took advantage of empty lots, especially those connected to busy crossroads and thoroughfares, by renting hundreds of spaces in one single location. We quickly learned to love these crowded shopping spots the best.
But everywhere we went, people were super friendly. The atmosphere was something I had not experienced in a long time – that of community and fellowship. It reminded me of a big, huge family reunion. Everyone carried on conversations with everyone else, regardless. For one weekend, we were all one big family, connected by the common thread of an extended yard sale.
It truly was a memory-making adventure. And one of my favorite memories of the trip will forever be when my sister and I bought a homegrown watermelon. We asked the young lady farmer who sold it to us if she could cut it for us with her pocket knife so we could it eat right there on the spot at a picnic table in the park.
We were so hot, so thirsty, and so tired, that something as simple and fresh as a watermelon was absolutely perfect. Plus, it was like being little girls again for us. I was reminded of sitting out by our daddy’s garden and busting open the first watermelon of the year because we simply could not wait.
It is amazing how the smallest things can evoke the most profound memories. I will forever cherish sitting with my beautiful sister at that picnic table in the hot Kentucky sun, laughing and reminiscing, with watermelon juice running down our faces. What a treat! God gave us an absolutely perfect moment in time to share, and I thank Him for it.
I doubt my sister and I will remember all the little trinkets and goodies we purchased during our Highway 127 adventure, but I am almost certain we will never forget that watermelon-eating moment and other precious memories we made along the way. Those moments were the real treasures we discovered from the world’s longest yard sale.
Sadly, most people never find such treasures. Our world seems to be madly rushing along, searching for something or someone to fill the emptiness inside. We somehow think our houses, cars, technology, and trinkets will satisfy that aching need for more. But the truth is that Jesus alone satisfies for He alone will fill the aching of our hearts.
He is our treasure. And amazingly, He is also the giver of all good gifts.
We forget that truth sometimes, and in our forgetfulness, we sometimes miss the most profound gifts from God by overlooking the smallest and seemingly most insignificant moments in life…like eating a fresh watermelon on a hot day with someone you love dearly.