This weekend was the 400 Mile Yard Sale in Kentucky, which stretches along 400 miles of US 68, from Maysville to Paducah. Guess what stretch of road we live on?
Now, I love yard sales. I grew up going to them on weekends with my grandparents, looking for awesome deals, and working with my parents to hold our own with friends to make a little money out of old toys and gently used clothes. And Southern Honey loves yard sales even more than I do.
However, I do not like yard sales that interfere with my ability to go about my daily life. Actually, that’s a bit inaccurate. I don’t have a problem with the yard sales. I have a problem with the people who go out looking for yard sales with no regard for people who live in the area.
US 68 is a busy stretch of road with a speed limit of 55 mph. It’s frequently traveled by semis delivering a variety of goods to cities and towns that live well off the interstates. It’s also a main artery in many areas — here, it’s a major commute route.
So what happens when you liberally dot a two- (sometimes four-) lane road that runs through many hilly, wooded rural areas with yard sales? You end up with traffic that drives the locals nuts: people driving at 30 or 35 mph, doubling commute times; drivers who brake randomly and hard when they think they see yard sales, pedestrians who stroll blithely across the road (or dart out, in the case of one child my brother-in-law saw) in front of semis and personal vehicles, drivers who can’t really manage to get their vehicles all the way out of the way, causing cars still on the road to veer into other lanes to avoid collision with parked vehicles.
Oh, and the Amish apparently *love* yard sales around here, so they were out in force with their buggies. It was really neat seeing one family who had parked their buggy in a nearby yard (with the owners’ permission), horse hitched to a light pole. But in 90+ degree weather, they really couldn’t push the horses too hard on the road, so traffic behind them was forced to a crawl and could sometimes back up dangerously, so there were downsides, too.
To recap: The way to tackle 400 miles of yard sales (or just the ones you find in your hometown newspaper one week) is to be at least vaguely familiar with the road you’re going to be driving. Check out the website if there is one (and there is for the 400 miler, here) to see if some areas are off-limits. Take a look at a map; trust me, it will help. Take a scouting trip — reconnaissance is your friend when you’re driving around in a less-than-familiar area. Give a pass to sales that don’t have enough off-road parking for your vehicle at the moment. Pay attention to signs alerting you to congested areas, animal crossings, pedestrian crossings, and communities such as the Amish who use different methods of transportation. And if you have to cross the street, look both ways and don’t mosey; 18-wheelers can’t stop on a dime, and neither can smaller cars doing 55.
In the meantime, the locals promise to sell you water and snacks without ripping you off, to barter in good faith, to offer a variety of … interesting wares for your perusal, and not to throttle you for clogging the roads (trust me, nobody got rich yesterday; people don’t do it for the money).
As much as I complain now, I honestly can’t wait for next year. The sale snuck up on us, so we didn’t have a chance to get any junk of our own out to sell.
We did do well as shoppers, though: a new carrier for the cats, bamboo placemats for the kitchen table, a scale for the bathroom, and a weight bench with 300+ pounds of weights for Southern Honey’s man cave, aka our storage building, all for about $200. The weight bench and weights by themselves would have cost us almost twice as much if we’d had to buy them new. (And I promise, we didn’t mosey across the road in the face of oncoming traffic; we scampered to make sure we got the heck outta the way!)