Road Trip!

The new Leisure Travel Van Unity Rear Lounge at Van City in St. Louis for their Anniversary Celebration.

What a lovely weekend! We had a great road trip to St. Louis all things considered. The trip started off expeditiously, and we made good time with little traffic, which nowadays is an unexpected blessing on Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois roads.

Once we reached St. Louis, we headed straightaway to Van City and had a marvelous time crawling through the new Unity Rear Lounge (URL). It was everything we thought it would be and better. This is a unit without a slide, so our expectation was that it would feel very close, but that was not the case at all for us. For one, the rear lounge was very loungie (technical term), just the sort of place where you could get comfortable. The two back windows on the left (human and cat) made the smallish space feel very light and roomy. The 32 inch TV was lovely and felt plentiful for the space. The wine rack did nothing for me, as I suppose you must be a wine drinker to have a true appreciation. What was surprising was that the front area was roomier than expected, with the nice big kitchen area (yes, we recognize that big is relative when talking RV space) and with the front seats turned around, I could see being happy hanging out in the front as well as the back. The bathroom door could block off the back area of the RV, which was nice. The finish was better than either of us expected, it’s similar to the Wonder and we have not been a fan of the Wonder finishes overall, but this one looked really good. The new countertop surface worked for me.

It was all good until we took it out for a test drive. Then it became TOTALLY AWESOME!!! For starters, the driver’s space was roomy and well laid out, and I had a deep appreciation for the beefy cup holders, as that is a sore spot for me. The seats were comfortable, and the seat extender, which we both thought was a bit gimmicky, really did improve comfort. The best part was driving. It was almost too easy. Driving it was like driving an SUV. Anyone can do it. The steering wheel really could be turned with a pinky finger. I liked the paddle shifters more than I thought I would (being a stick shift purist, paddles are no substitute) giving me the extra measure of control that I would have with a stick shift. I really wish the Mercedes came with a stick shift, but I do not know of any American RVs that are manual, and the paddles are a compromise I can live with.

The rear lounge looking toward the rear of the RV. Note the two stacked windows which add a tremendous amount of light. The cushion was feeling the strain of hundreds of people trying out the coach.
The view from the rear lounge looking forward. Note the LED rope light in the ceiling which makes the coach nice and bright while adding some European style to the interior.
Looking from the front of the coach to the rear lounge. Note the refrigerator has handles on both sides of the doors. That’s because it can open from either side!
This is a look at the galley and the front seating area. We LOVE the Lagun table. It can be removed from its mount in the front of the coach and placed in the rear lounge to give you a work surface!
Outside there is a place to mount the optional exterior table.

After spending several hours at Van City, chatting with Don Klassen, a group of other LTVers we headed out to our hotel in Edwardsville, with a stop at a place called “The Cup” which was recommended to us by a friend. Think glorious cupcake confections, folks, and many varieties. We picked up a dozen (plus 2 small ones for the road for quality control) to give to the friends we were visiting and headed to see them. We had a lovely time out with our friends and then went back to their place for desert….and what a glorious dessert it was. We opened the wonder that was the cupcake box and there, before our eyes were 12 distinctly different cupcakes. It was at this point that strategy came into play. We all wanted all of the cupcakes. No two were alike, so if we each picked one, the rest would be denied the lusciousness of the claimed cupcake, so out came the knife. Being that there were 5 of us, slicing up the cupcakes was not exactly scientific, but we made it work. We knocked off 5 cupcakes in the first sitting, with the obvious winners being the german chocolate cake and the Italian wedding cupcake. Woozy on sugar, we finally called it a night. On Saturday, we met up again, went out on the lake, enjoyed another fine meal and between lunch and dinner, managed to kill off the rest of the cupcakes. By unanimous vote the absolute winner of all was the banana cream pie cupcake. The birthday cake, red velvet and the chocolate chip cupcakes were also strong. There was really only 1 weak player in the entire dozen, which was the lemon blueberry which was neither lemony or blueberryie. In looking back over this paragraph, I wax rhapsodic about the sugar quite a bit, but the real joy of the weekend was seeing our friends, with whom we seem to do nothing but laugh. All the time. Until our sides hurt. Then some more. These friends are part of the not so secret mountain dulcimer underground, and all musicians know how to have a good time, this weekend being no exception. Finally, we said good bye and went back to our hotel, getting to bed around 11:15 pm-ish with the expectation of getting up and hitting the road around 10 am. Now why would anyone care what time we went to bed? Well, that is where it got interesting. At about 1:15ish AM, the hotel was struck by lightning, all of the fire alarms went off, and we were evacuated. Staggering out of our rooms, we smelled smoke, which put some spring in our steps as we made our way to the lobby, where we stayed while the fire department was brought in. Fortunately, the lightning did not cause a fire, it just burned out some electronics, but the hotel staff and fire department could not get the alarms to reset. Finally, they told us we could go back to our rooms, but, with the alarm going off at an earsplitting decibel level, there would be no sleep, so we grabbed our stuff and checked out at 3:45. After filling up on the complimentary coffee (Kudos to the smart front office clerk who refilled it during our wait), we hit the very, very empty road.

The ride home was rough, as we were both operating on fumes and staying awake was a two person job.  Fortunately, no one can stay asleep when I am belting out Radar Love.  We arrived home at about the time we had expected to leave Edwardsville and promptly went face down for a couple of hours.

Happy travels!

The Cup has two locations in the St Louis area.

Going to see about an RV

So last weekend, we said goodbye to the working majority of our furniture.  NOW we see a difference.  My sister and her husband rented a truck, I contracted with a moving company to have 2 movers assist with loading (best. decision. ever.) and away went our furniture, some kitchen goods and assorted odds and ends to help my nephew set up his first post-college place.  A note about the moving company; At Your Service movers is the name of the company, and they were truly exceptional. I paid for 2 hours of their time and they took the big stuff out of my house and into the truck.  They arrived on time, they were friendly, courteous, they took care of both our furniture and house and I could not have been happier (my back agrees).  Best money I have spent in a long time.  We moved so much furniture out that we had to break out the camp chairs afterwards so everyone had a seat. 

As a reward for making such huge progress on downsizing last weekend, we are taking a quick weekender to St. Louis for the 49th anniversary celebration at Van City.  As all 3 of our readers know, we are purchasing our RV through Van City.  Last year at this time, we went and saw the new Wonder RTB prototype they were testing prior to launching.  This year, they will have the Unity Rear Lounge, which we are dying to see.  On the surface, that unit is smoking hot, with loads of windows, including ones at cat height, which is the equivalent of super luxe cable tv to our furry little tyrants.  The recliner seating is also appealing to us, as is the kitchen. It is on the 2019 Mercedes chassis, which is the same as our FX will have. The only real negative is that the Murphy bed is just not big enough for us.  For one, we are not small people, and for another, someone who shall remain nameless likes to sleep dead center in the bed, leaving someone else (me) clinging to the side.  As in every successful relationship, give and take is key to our marriage, so while I give him that extra space, I take away all of the covers and wrap myself like a human burrito, leaving him with mostly nothing.  Hey, it works for us. 

We love St Louis, and both are feeling the itch for a road trip, so this cannot come soon enough.  Since we know we will be sporting two mortgages (house and RV) for a bit after we get the RV, we are saving all of our pennies to tide us over, which means no major international trips….grrrrrrr.  Now, this is the part where I could go wax rhapsodic about deferred gratification and how it leads to being able to live your dreams (which is true).  I could discuss with a hint of self righteous pride the intrinsic rewards of internal discipline (not feeling it) but right now it is just plain sucks, so I am going to focus on the things I am looking forward to in St. Louis.  1. New RV to explore. ( Aiyeee!).  2. Breakfast at the MudHouse. 3) Insomnia Cookies. 4. Seeing our friends Rich and Lana and at least 1 new thing, yet to be discovered, which is the entire reason we like to travel.  Insatiable curiosity. 

Eye on the prize, dang it!

Still Endless

So how is the endless process of downsizing?  Still endless. Many trips to Goodwill, many bags of stuff taken to the office and left out for co-workers to scavenge, multiple listings on EBay, Let It Go and Facebook Marketplace, and we still have TOO. MUCH. STUFF!!!  We have sunk so low as to crash our friend’s community yard sales.  Crashing other yard sales is really a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.  We drive up with a couple of Element’s worth of crap (our car is a Honda Element, so it holds a lot of crap), set it out, break out the coffee and snacks, and basically have a bit of brunch while we collect a profit.  All in all, not a bad way to go about things.

However, for all of our progress, we still have not tipped that edge to the side of an emptyish house.  Yes, there are gaps and empty cabinets and shelves and such, but overall, the house still feels mostly intact.  I swear the cats are dragging more crap into the house while we sleep!  Each day we try to make a bit of progress, sometimes big, sometimes small.  Tonight, we rolled coins…lots and lots of coins.  We will be very well prepared for coin operated laundry machines once we hit the road, that is for sure.  In the process  we also found quite bit of Philippine, Hong Kong and Singapore coins from our past travels as well as surprising number of Sacajawea dollars, which we have absolutely no clue of how we obtained them….probably part of the cats’ nocturnal house restocking program. It is interesting how often we look at something nowadays and ask ourselves, “now where did this come from?”

This week’s lesson learned – Lots of folks give advice about how to deal with boxes of photos.  Take pictures of the pictures and then pitch the original they say.  To this I say hogwash.  Taking pictures of pictures so that you can get rid of the originals is an aggravating process.  There is always an issue, either with light bouncing off of the photo or cropping or a curl, something to make me want to toss the photo back in the box and the box in the trash.  Maybe scanning will work better.  In the meantime, I will eat ice cream.  I mean, really, someone has to clear out the freezer, and it may as well be me.

What’s next?  Coming up next is another yard sale, this one actually at our own house, closely followed by another trip to Goodwill with the items that do not sell, and then my sister and her husband are coming with a moving truck for the furniture.  We are giving most of our furniture to one of her sons who is setting up his first adult household after graduating from college.  Some other items are going to my sister’s place for set up in a spare bedroom.  They have also graciously offered us some of their spare attic space, as apparently their attic is the Taj Mahal of attics and their stuff is lonely up there all by their lonesomes.  We are grateful in the extreme for this offer, especially knowing that my sister likes clutter about as much as I do, which is not at all.

Since our RV has been delayed until September, we are going to hold back a couple of comfy chairs for now, but I am hoping that this will do the trick to finally make it feel like we are making the kind of progress we want to be ready for the RV. If not, there is always more ice cream in the freezer that needs to be cleared out.



Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

This week we decided to skip the fireworks and instead ran away for a few days to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, located near Lexington, Kentucky for some rest and relaxation.  Shaker Village is about 30 minutes away from Lexington but is truly worlds apart.  Set in the rolling hills near Harrodsburg, Pleasant Hill is a beautifully preserved Shaker settlement dating to 1805.  You can visit for the day or like us, stay overnight.  We stayed three nights in the East Family Dwelling, one of the residences that housed 40-60 shaker men and women,  and we ate at the Trustee’s Table, the onsite restaurant located in the Trustee’s building.  In addition to visiting Pleasant Hill, we also went hiking on a small portion of the 40 miles of trails around the village, took in a bourbon distillery tour with a tasting and because we just could not get enough, on the way home, we visited the South Union Shaker settlement outside of Bowling Green, KY.  We had a wonderful time, learned a lot, ate well and recharged.  For Lee, Pleasant Hill is a wonderful place for photography, in particular, for studies in symmetry.  There is more to tell than will fit in a single post, so today I will focus on our time at Shaker Village and what makes it a great place to visit.

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The Meeting House was the center of worship for the community and it’s where the two elders and two eldresses lived separate from the rest of the community.

A Paper Thin Slice of Shaker History

Why were they called Shakers?  They danced, swayed and spoke in tongues during services, so they were referred to as the “Shaking Quakers” which then was shortened to Shakers.  While the name started as an insult, the Shakers adopted the name for themselves.

The three cornerstones of Shaker faith were Confession (members confessed to their Elders and Eldresses), Communalism (all property was community property) and Celibacy (all members signed a pledge of celibacy upon joining). Simplicity was woven into all facets of their lives and was a living practice of their faith that ran through their work, their cooking and their worship.  They were early conservationists, reusing and re-purposing their materials.  The Shakers were also pacifists, which caused difficulties during the Civil War as both the North and South distrusted them.

The Shakers were progressive innovators and scientific farmers.  They were skilled artisans and ran thriving business selling seeds, brooms and other goods.  They had running water before the White House did and had one of the first water towers in Kentucky.  They believed in racial equality and accepted African American members as early as 1811. They also believed in the duality of God and the absolute equality of men and women.  Each settlement was led by two men and two women equally.  Within each settlement, the community was separated into “families” of 40 – 60 men and women who lived together (yet separately) in a “family dwelling” where they lived and worshipped together.  Each house had an Elder and an Eldress who led the family.  The Community leaders were composed of two male and two female trustees who lived and worked separately from the rest of the community.  At its height, Pleasant Hill had over 500 members before eventually dwindling down.

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One of the Shakers most profitable businesses was selling seeds. They pioneered selling seeds in envelopes which made them easy to ship and to stock in stores all over the country.

The information above is just the tiniest sliver of background, and it leaves out huge swaths of Shaker history and belief, so while there is simply no way to do justice to the history of the Shakers here, I have added a couple of links below for anyone who would like to explore more about them.  The Maine Shakers site in particular has free ebooks written by and about Shakers, so that you can experience their history from their perspective.

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East Family Dwelling, built in 1817. Men entered through the East door and women through the West door. Notice our cat guardian sitting in front of the west door.

Our Stay

Pleasant Hill Shaker Village is the best preserved of the Shaker settlements, with over 2800 acres of land and 30 buildings remaining.  They offer accommodations in the very buildings that the Shakers lived and worked which appealed mightily to us.  On this trip, Lee and I stayed in the East Family Dwelling, which was the first of the family houses built by the Pleasant Hill Shakers.  Our spacious and very comfortable room would have once slept three or four Shakers, but we had a king sized bed all to ourselves.  Most of the furnishings are Shaker in design.  Many people who have never heard of the Shakers themselves, have heard of Shaker furniture, where form and function meet in perfect harmony creating simple, yet elegant furnishings.  The floors are hard wood, with area rugs, and the room had plenty of natural light with windows that overlooked the working farm.  We had a private bath with all of the amenities you would expect including nice toiletries and thick fluffy towels. Our building was open to visitors during the day, then limited to overnight guests in the evenings. At night you are well guarded by the two resident cats, who are friendly and who appreciate bacon the way God intended.  Prices are very reasonable overall and rooms are priced by size and bed configuration.  There are discounts in the restaurant and shops for overnight visitors.

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Distinctive Shaker oval boxes in the Welcome Center gift shop.

The shops are well curated with a variety of shaker and shaker inspired items.  In addition to hats, scarves, hurricane lamp shades, spices, tea, seeds, pictures, skincare products (the same as are in your room), books, toys and more, you can also buy some shaker furniture pieces.

Things to Do

The main activities revolve around the history of Shaker Village, and include tours, educational programs, horseback riding, wagon rides, boat rides and hiking.  At 4:30 each day, you can watch the ducks parade off to bed, which is adorable.  There is live music on weekends and plenty of special events throughout the year including a juried craft show, trail runs and food festivals.  There are 40 miles of trails, ranging from moderate to strenuous in difficulty and from 3 – 6 miles long.  There is also a waterfall that is a short hike from the west lot and totally worth the effort.  We stayed there for a long time just soaking in the beauty and serenity.

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Fulling Mill waterfall

Once you have had enough peace and serenity, head to Lexington.  The drive alone is worth it for scenery.  You are also within striking distance of several distilleries on the bourbon trail and if you like horses, they are everywhere, and there is even a horse theme park.  On your way into Lexington, take a quick side jaunt towards Versailles (sounds like vir – sales, not like vir-sigh) and drive by the ginormous castle.


There are two on-site options for food, the restaurant in the Trustee’s house, and the take-out selection in the craft shop.

The Trustees house contains The Trustee’s Table a farm to table restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Breakfast is of the hearty country sort, a buffet with eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, sausage gravy, fried apples and an assortment of healthier items including fruit from the farm.  With breakfast, a basket of biscuits and pumpkin muffins were served.  Hearty is the descriptor here.

Lunch is completely different.  An assortment of sandwiches, salads and some shaker dishes, including fried chicken, make their appearance, along with a bowl of coleslaw and a basket of corn muffins. A variety of deserts are available, but the one you want to try at least once is the Shaker lemon pie.  It is a shaker dish that perfectly encapsulates the Shaker ethos of wasting nothing while being exceptionally delicious.

Dinner.…oh my…such happy memories.  Our first night there they debuted their summer menu and it was mouthwatering.  We had such a good experience the first night that we changed our plans and came back the second night to try more dishes.  The stand outs were: cold cucumber and buttermilk soup; bourbon peach barbecued chicken with warm fingerling potato salad; seared Idaho trout with lemon butter over a warm sorghum salad (scrumptious) with garden vegetables; and the pork chop with polenta, braised red cabbage and a miso maple pan sauce.  All dinners included a relish bowl from the garden and yeast rolls, as if you needed to eat anything else.  A stand out in desert was the sour cream panna cotta with a butter rum sauce served in a jelly jar.  I may have licked the jar.

If you are looking for picnic supplies for your hike, stop by the craft shop, where there are sandwiches, side salads and baked goods that you can pick up and take on the trail.  The cucumber, tomato and corn salad with a light vinaigrette was a standout, as was the super fudgy brownie.

Who should visit?

I think this is a great place for everyone to explore at least once, but in particular,

  • Families – This is a great day trip place for children, with many programs related to the farm animals. They bring out animals during the day for some of the programs, and the parade of ducks heading off to bed is simply adorable.
  • Photographers –Good shots are everywhere. Just before dawn is magic time.
  • Couples – This is a great place to reconnect as a couple. It is peaceful and gentle and oddly romantic.
  • Family reunions – There is plenty of room for large groups, and the family houses have comfortable common spaces with couches and chairs.
  • Church or business retreats – There are plenty of meeting facilities, and no one will go away hungry. There are many room configurations for all kinds of groups.
  • History lovers – This is the mother-load of historical experiences. Stay overnight, take all of the program tours and then go to South Union Shaker village for a completely different experience.
  • Architecture Lovers – The buildings will make you happy. Explore them all, especially the Trustees house and the Meeting House.  Take the Preservation tour. Stay overnight and walk the village after dark for a whole new experience.
  • Horse Lovers – They have stables, horses and riding paths. Horses have the right of way over pedestrians and cars.
  • Nature Lovers – You will be very happy here. The rolling hills are stunning.  The hikes are enjoyable and the water fall is lovely.  A full grown deer leapt out of the woods right in front of us on our hike, and we are pretty sure we spotted a really big mink plus bunnies, squirrels and a huge variety of singing birds.

This bowl of lemons is always on the agenda for a yearly photography workshop.


If I sound like we are a bit in love with Shaker village, it is because we are.  The scenery, food, activities and history combine to make a place that is absolutely worth seeking out for a day for a long weekend.  If you have family that go to University of Kentucky, consider ditching the big box hotels and stay a bit further out.  The character and experience are like no other we have found.


Something Wonderful This Way Comes


Let me tell you a story about our plan to buy an RV.  We want to move into the RV, but we do not want a great big one.  We want to be nimble, but not sacrifice comfort.  Our bottom line is that we do not want to feel like we are homeless and living out ofoury car.  The RV must feel like our home.

We have been looking at RVs for a while and one manufacturer has stood out above all of the others for quality, design and did I mention quality?  So many RVs are poorly made that it is a truism in the RV world that it takes a full year to shake down all of the issues in a new RV.  A year where you are back and forth with the dealer, working through punch lists of issues.  Many folks say to buy used so that someone else can work the issues out for you.  That seems wrong to us.  We should not blindly accept that the best we can hope for is shoddy quality and paper thin walls.  We want to buy once and we want our RV to hold its value well.  Is that too much to ask?  That our RV be like our 12 year old Honda, which at over 200k miles still gets strong dealer trade in offers?  We do not think this is too much to ask for, so with that in mind, we have done a ton of research.

The more we looked the more Canada called.  It seems that for high quality B+ vans, the Canadians are in it to win it.  In our research, Pleasure Way and Leisure Travel Vans have consistently the highest ratings from customers for quality.  So we concentrated our search on those two manufacturers.  In the end, we are going to go with the Leisure Travel Van Unity FX (Flex), which is about 25 feet long, and has a slide out and a Murphy bed….In full disclosure, I have lusted after a Murphy bed for many years.  Who knew I would get one in an RV?

This past weekend we went to Van City in St. Louis where they were having their 48th anniversary celebration.  We wanted to measure all of the storage inside and outside of the FX to see if there would be enough storage for us, cats, instruments and paddleboards.  And this is where the trip went sideways.

As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw something new.  It was the prototype for the new LTV Wonder Rear Twin bed model, which LTV is going to announce tomorrow.  It had monstrous storage with a sliding bike rack with room for two bikes, two chairs, two paddleboards a folding table (which they had attached to the exterior wall) and more, and let me just say it was AWESOME!!!  Before we even said hello to anyone, we were crawling into the prototype and man is there a lot to love!  The Wonder is slightly smaller than the Unity, and is built on a Ford Chassis.  There is no slide out, and all of those items had completely knocked the other Wonders (Murphy and Front Twin Bed) out of contention.  We really want the slide out and I have had a sordid experience with Ford in the past – think Taurus run amok -so we had counted them out.  This Wonder could change our mind.  The storage in it is epic.  There is hanging storage below the twin beds (which can be turned into a king sized bed).  There is a place for cat litter.  The bathroom is lovely, the kitchen is well designed, and did I mention the storage?????

We were totally gob-smacked in the best of ways.  We ended up measuring everything inside the Wonder as well as getting our measurements of the FX.  We had a long conversation with Dan Dwyer from RV city and Don Klassen from LTV about both the FX and the Wonder RTB (rear twin bed).  Both gentlemen took great pains to answer our many many questions.  We are now in love with not one, but two LTV models.  What to do, what to do?????  Our goal is to order in September, which should ensure that ours arrives in the spring also known as camping fun season.

There is no moral to this dilemma, simply a case of something new disrupting the best laid plans and making us rethink our options and priorities.  We are now building a list of pros and cons for each version and once we have a final decision, we will let you know.


On a related topic, part of our discussion was about financing.  If we were to finance through Van City, how would that work?  If we ordered the RV, would we be making payments while it was being built?  How much did we need down, etc?

Here is the skinny.  To order, you need to be able to put down $10,000.  It then takes 6 – 8 months for your RV to be built with the options you select at the time you order.  When the RV arrives, you must put an additional payment down to bring your down payment to at least 10%.  So if your RV costs $130,000, you would need to bring an additional $3,000 to the table when you take delivery to bring your down payment to $13,000.  Your interest rate is based on your credit rating and overall interest rates at the time of delivery, so there is no locking down the interest rate early.  The price of the RV may also fluctuate.  You will pay the price of the RV as it is at the time of delivery, not the time it is ordered.  With the Tariffs recently announced on Canadian Steel, you can expect prices to rise. You could finance over time, with several options (that I do not remember, except that 10 years was one of the options).

I also checked with my credit union and they also would want 10% down and they would finance over up to 10 years.  Every person’s situation is different, so do your research.  Check multiple options before it is time to put down your money so that you can select the best deal.

Crawling through RVs was not all we did in St. Louis last weekend.  Next week we will talk about the rest of the trip including one of the coolest museums we have ever been to and some fine food and craft cocktails.  St. Louis is a town that we could see ourselves living in, if we had not already decided to run away in our LTV.



One step forward…

Two steps back.

So it has been a while since we have posted.  Life decided to get on stage and take over for a bit.  Lee finished up an exhibit at work which pretty much sucked all of the energy out of him.  My office continues to evolve as I bring up my new team.  All good things, but it has made our progress a bit slower than we originally planned.  With the exhibit up, we have a bit more mental space to push ourselves forward on our journey to location independence (also known as running away…we have our own circus already, no need to join one).  It is vacation time.

Vacations for us have always been tricky.  Lee and I are both involved in project work, and finding time when we are both between projects, or more accurately, in the lower intensity phases of our projects gets tricky.  Lee’s projects have less flexibility than mine.  When he finishes a big exhibit, we try to go on vacation, as long as one of mine (think system implementations) isn’t at a crucial stage.  More detail than you wanted to know, I am sure.

We originally booked a week at the beach, but when we reviewed our finances, we decided that we had not made enough progress on savings to justify the trip.  Sacrifices must be made.  We also had put off the first of our yard sales, and if we stayed home, we could have the yard sale on the first Saturday of the month (when people often have a bit more money) and we could spread the prep work over several days so we would not be so tired afterwards.

Staying home turned out to be the BEST decision and here is why…

  1. Our 12 year old Honda decided that it needed some spa love, and went nuts in the middle of rush hour traffic on one of the busiest streets in town. Lights blinked, the engine stuttered and the car would not go forward.  Being residents of Music City, this town is full of frustrated musicians and they were all on the road right behind us when the car took a powder.  Using the instruments they had at hand, their car horn, they treated us to a symphony of displeasure for blocking a major street.  Having this happen seven hours away from home would have been a nightmare, so we are grateful that it happened at home.
  2. My work went a bit sideways and I ended up working a couple of days out of my planned week off. If I had been at the beach, that would have been much harder.
  3. Prepping for a yard sale is a lot more work than I remember it being. Since we were forced to stay home for couple of days (we only have one car, so when ours was towed to the dealership, we took an Uber home and stayed there), it took care of our procrastination problem.  We were well prepared for the yard sale.

The result?  Our first yard sale was a success!  We sold a lot of stuff.  We did not sell everything, and the big, old computer desk that we REALLY wanted to go away is still with us, but overall it went better than we anticipated.

What we did right

  • Balloon signage – We picked up balloons at the dollar store up the street, and for a couple of dollars, we feel they did the job of attracting folks into our sale. People speed around the corner where we live, and the shiny helped.  After the yard sale was over, we went to pick up our Honda from the shop, and when we came back, the yard sale sign was still there, but the balloons had been liberated.  As we had no further use for them, we were happy that someone wanted them.
  • Reusable Signs – Do not put the date on your signs. Our yard sales will all be on Saturdays, so we put that on the signs, but not putting a date on the signs means that we can use them again.
  • Plenty of Change – We started with 25 ones, 10 fives and 4 tens, with an additional group of ones, fives and tens in reserve. It was a good thing, since one of the first sales we made, required giving change for a fifty….grrrrrrrrr.
  • It was HOT! We tag teamed and we hydrated.  While we had seating in the shade of our porch, we needed those planned breaks.  We also had frozen grapes and frozen fruit slushies for snacks.  These were especially helpful when I made the brilliant decision to multi-task and do yard work during the slow periods.
  • Stuffed animal baskets. We both love stuffed animals.  We are not collectors by nature, but the cute little buggers have crept into the house over the years.  When we started gathering up stuff to sell, we realized that we had a loads of stuffed animals (mostly Lee’s…he’s a big softy).  We discussed donating them, as they were in great shape but decided to put them out in the sale first.  We did not sell a single one.  Instead, every time a family with small kids came by, the kids were drawn to the basket o joy (I mean really, who wouldn’t be?) and played while their parents shopped.  Because they were not bored, they were not wandering around bumping into fragile items.  They were so drawn to them, that we made a spot decision to just give them away.  We gave each child their pick of the toys (whether their parents bought anything or not) and the joy we saw on those little faces was a total high. Best. Decision. Ever.  I really wish we had gotten a picture of the one little boy dragging away a moose that was as big as he was.  It was priceless.

Things we would do differently next time

  • Pricing – We had folks looking over the merchandise before we even had it all out. They were digging through the bags we had not unpacked yet.  We should have pre-priced the items, because for some folks English is a second language, and they couldn’t ask.  Numbers tend to be universal.
  • Pricing some more – Next time, Lee will price my items and I will price his. Even though this is the first of several planned yard sales, there were items in it that we both were attached to and so we overpriced some of those items…including said behemoth desk.  The goal is for it to leave without us having to take it away ourselves.
  • Advertising – We purchased an ad in the local newspaper and posted an ad in Craigslist for free. While for others, it may make sense to advertise; our neighborhood is blue collar and is not one to attract outsiders.  Our visitors were overwhelmingly drive-by.  We would not pay for another ad.  We will still do Craigslist, because it is free.

Other things we learned

  • Learn your market – As I mentioned previously, our neighborhood is blue collar. Lots of immigrants looking to build the American dream, and these folks do not have a lot of extra money.  They focused on the basics.  Tools, clothes, exercise equipment, kitchen tools, sewing equipment, etc.  What did not sell as well were decorative items.  I was REALLY surprised at the clothing and shoe sales.  I was not originally planning to sell clothes, but I had a pile for Goodwill, so we put them out.  They sold like crazy.  We charged a couple of bucks each, and away they went.  Our next yard sale will focus more heavily on those items and we will discount decorative items more heavily.  If we were in a higher rent area, decorative might have sold better.
  • Yard work and yard sale do not mix well. During a lull I got bored, and started pruning bushes and pulling weeds and that was a bit of a mistake because it was so hot and sunny, and in no time at all, I was bright red, soaked in sweat and scary gross.  Also, even though I wore gloves, my hands were dirty.  I had to take a pause and Lee had to take over so that I could clean up enough that people didn’t want to avoid me.  On the plus side, my yard looks way better.
  • Sunscreen – Really, you would think that we had learned this by now…Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Final Thoughts

We made good money on our yard sale, though that profit was completely wiped out (and then some) by the bill for our Honda.  While it was a lot of hot, hard work and we ended up net down financially, we have cleared a lot of stuff out and learned a lot.  Now we are on to gathering stuff for the next one.


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