This morning I woke up a little later than usual and took my time getting ready. Long lukewarm shower, coffee, putting away some laundry. After seeing a real lack of thrift stores in Lafayette, I decided to hit I-64 again and get to Indianapolis to look around for some stores there.
Driving an RV makes you pay a lot more attention to the drivers around you since you can't see out the back window anymore. In the last month of driving I've noticed lots of drivers doing stupid things. One guy readingthe Bible as he was driving, truckers on cell phones (not earpieces), people putting on make-up, a man doing a crossword. I even got a couple thumbs-up hand signs from passengers in cars passing me in the left lane. Not sure if it was a thumbs up that she liked the RV, the project and Goodwill® stickers on the side or just the fact that I was keeping the beast between the lines, but it made me smile nonetheless.
But today I saw something new. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blue truck loaded with junk trying to pass me--and FAST-- in my side view mirror. Right before it was about to get in front of me in my lane, they suddenly slowed down and lingered next to me for a bit. A little confused, I looked over to see a guy half hanging out of the passenger window blowing me kisses and the driver smiling just a little too hard for my comfort. As it turns out RV-ing is sexy in Indiana! Who knew?
My first stop in Indianapolis is a drugstore to replace the toothbrush I left back in Wisconsin. This is the third toothbrush of the trip and somehow I doubt the last. So this time I got a two-pack and hid the second on in the RV for safe keeping. Hopefully I've finally outsmarted myself into keeping up with my dental hygienedespite my forgetfulness. We shall see.....
On to my first thrift store of the day, a Goodwill® in Greenwood, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis. The store is nearly empty, as most are on Monday mornings I've found. I head to the t-shirts and start my routine, but I see over my shoulder an older gentleman in a recliner. Pretty soon a young girl appears, shows him a pair of gold shoes, quickly spinning around and running back into the aisles. As a total daddys-girl myself growing up, I'm drawn to the scene like a fly to honey. I just can't help but say hello.
It turns out his name is Carl and he's here with his 11-year-old twin daughters Leann and Briann and their 10-year-old friend Hailey. Carl's too exhausted by their browsing so he's taken a comfortable seat in the furniture section while they make the store their wonderland--trying on heels, searching for books and trying on clothes in the nearly empty store. I ask if I can talk to his girls about thrifting and maybe take some photos while they look around. He leads me over to where they've disappeared to at the other side of the store, near the fitting rooms. Their excitement suddenly fades to shyness as they face me and my cameras. I ask them to tell me why they like coming here and what they've found today. They hold up books, a stuffed animal and Briann has found two elephant figurines to add to her collection.
When we're done with the video they head straight back over to Rose, 19, where they'd been before I came along. Rose came here alone to try on suits for the business attire portion of her upcoming pageant. The girls have been her panel of judges for each outfit, asking what they think as she comes out of the fitting room in another jacket.
Nothing she has in her basket seems to be working so Rose leads the girls on another hunt in the suits section, hoping to spot some pin stripes. Rose has heard that the judges go ga-ga for pin stripes. As they move down the racks, Rose occasionally holds up some cute skirts for the girls to see, offering a few bits of fashion advice as she goes.
They've spotted a few more jackets and skirts that might work so Rose heads back to the fitting rooms while the girls head over to try on sunglasses with Carl.
When Rose exits the dressing rooms the girls race back through the aisles to see what she's picked. She's managed to find a suit jacket and skirt that match and both fit-- success!
The girls celebrate, exchanging hugs and phone numbers. Rose asks the girls to come to the pageant and tells them how she got her gorgeous green formal for the pageant from a pawn shop for $20. She shows us a photo of it on her cell phone-- it's completely gorgeous! She says she's not a secondhand shopper but came here at the reccomendation of a friendf. She might be green, but this girl knows her stuff! I can't wait to hear on Sunday if she won! I have a good feeling about her...
Back in the RV I eat a few bites of cheese and call a shop in Columbus called Sans Souci-- I leave a message. Their website says the name means "without worry" and they've been operating since 1979.
It's only about 30 miles south in Columbus, Indiana and near the interstate so I decide to swing by anyway-- the name is too intriguing NOT to go.
When I pull up my suspicions are confirmed-- this place looks amazing. The sign outside ALONE made my heart go pitter-patter. I go inside and ask an employee if there's anyone around I can talk to for permission to photograph the store. I browse the racks as I wait to hear back, taking mental pictures and finding cute stuff at every turn. Luckily they find Brooke and Keighley who help run the store and they sit me down for a quick introduction to their charitible services.
As it turns out, they provide job training, assistance, low-cost necessities and recently started offering GED classes--paying the $70 test fees for students by collecting donations in thier "GED Jar" at the checkout. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
A few years back when a flood in Columbus displaced a large number of community members, Sans Souci was the go-to place for any and all of those in need, offering support and necessities. The event is even the subject of a beautiful mural they had painted in the store. Each year they provide coats and school supplies to the 1 out of 6 students in their county who need assistance. They collaborate with a number of other organizations including the Red Cross, United Way and Easter Seals just to name a few. They maintain a staff and work with volunteers, employ at-risk youth, adults with special needs and provide 20,000 hours of employment a year.
I've come on a good day they say-- they just took three days off to reorganize the store and restock. They apologize that it looks so empty as a lot of merchandise has left the store by the end of the day although I'd never know it. The place is packed with interesting stuff in a beautiful layout and specially designed displays for everything. There's a pink and lacy Victoria's Secret item display, a beer and wine display, gardening display as well as one for various international items and art. They even run their own online auction site with new items each week!
Stores like this make me smile, but somehow also feel like a bit of a slouch in my own life-- they do SO much for their community and they're so incredibly dedicated to what they do. And it's obvious the community loves them back for all they've done for them, too.
Sans Souci and thirft stores in general offer a way to meet our everyday needs affordably-- or as they say, without worry. The less worries in life, the better.
I head south again toward Louisville to meet up with my friend and former co-worker Nina. The bridge over the Ohio River welcomes me into Kentucky with potholes and bumps so incredibly jarring that the RV is filled with deafening rattles. The knocking is so bad I worry I may have lost a tire completely or that the bridge just might crumble into the watery abyss before I can even get across.
I pull myself back together by the time I pull into Nina's driveway about 6pm and unload for the night. We head directly to her parent's restaurant, Gasthaus, even though it's closed. She opens it up and gives me a private tour of the restaurant and the kitchen where she makes their unbelievably decadent German chocolate desserts. It's a wonderland of lederhosen, family photos, red-and-white checkered tables and German memoribiglia that lines the walls. We hop back into her car so I can finally meet her pink-hair-dying mother, who I've been hearing about for years! There's noodles and veggies waiting for us on the stove--mmmmm...real food!
With a quick stop and some arm-stretch photos of the two of us at Churchill Downs, we drive over to the Highlands area for a thick beer and copious amounts of self-serve frozen yogurt. What a great way to end the day!
Tomorrow-- Louisville shops and then headed to NASHVILLE!