Last night when I pulled into the RV park, they were technically closed, but the camp hosts told me to just come by the office at 9am and pay for the site for the two nights I needed.
I woke up about 8:30, ate breakfast and at 9:05, when I'm dressed and ready to go pay for the campsite, I open the front window curtains to see a note on my windshield demanding payment according to title whatever-whatever of the Army Corps campground code.
Whoa! Those folks don't mess around-- when they say 9am, they MEAN 9am! So I unhooked and headed up to the station to pay.
I got an early start today, considering my meeting at the Goodwill® Outlet with Suzanne wasn't scheduled until 4pm. With some spare time on my hands I thought I'd ask to go check out the home studio of folk artist Harry in Springfield-- just outside Nashville. Luckily he agreed! His work is gorgeous so I was excited to meet the man behind the paint.
While we're chatting a Kodak Brownie camera he ordered on eBay arrives in the mail. Harry says he's excited to use it and start photographing plants and nature. When he opens up the package, it still has a price tag on it from the place the eBay seller had bought it from-- $4. Harry says he paid at least twenty-something for it.
Not only is Harry a great artist and budding photographer, but he lives just a few blocks from Marie's New and Used Thrift Shop, which he says is a must-see. He offers to show me how to get there so we both go have a look around. This place is a total mishmash of stuff-- tools, baby stuff, industrial cookers-- you name it. It's also an unairconditioned warehouse and it's so hot in there the sweat is pouring down my back like Niagara Falls.
Harry and I spot a box of drawings--really GOOD drawings, signed Jerome and dated 1987-- on the floor near house wares. We pick through them and admire each unique one-- mostly very sci-fi but very detailed. All I can think is where Jerome might be right now. Seeing people's art feels so intimate, almost like seeing someone's underwear. I wonder if he'll ever know someone else saw his drawings and appreciated all his hard work.
Harry and I say goodbye and I head back toward Nashville. Not far out of town I see a little brown foal and it's mother in a pen next to the road-- and the foal was doing CrAzY circles all around the pen like it just figured out he could run. It's little gangly legs were flailing all around in every direction. Ed will tell you anytime I spot baby animals along the road in the RV, I squeal like a little girl. This was definitely the cutest baby animal sighting of the trip yet! I was smiling for miles.
I eat a super-quickie PB&J in the RV in the Goodwill® parking lot and head inside to start documenting. This is a retail store attached to an outlet, so it's a double-down of treasures.
I start with a t-shirt run. What people wear on their chests says a lot about them, and a lot about the community. Events, logos, sayings, celebrities-- it goes on and on. You can see who has run for office, what bands have been through town, what church is hosting a youth rally-- all because there are shirts as evidence that it happened.
Mens shirts are the easiest-- it seems men will wear logos, wolves, super heroes-- literally anything on their chests.
Womens t-shirts are trickier though. Women don't tend to wear a lot of logos on their chests, and most of them with clever little sayings or events printed on them are either really small or well hidden amid the rest of the shirts. It takes a long time to do a t-shirt run. I literally look at probably 1,000 shirts at every store.
Then it's back to knick-knacks and mugs.
Can I just say, there are soooooooo many #1 Dads out there, as evidenced by the number of mugs I've seen on this trip. No #2 Dads, no #36 Dads-- they're all #1 dads.
But can we ALL be #1 Dad? Maybe we should have a contest and decide, once and for all, just WHO IS the #1 Dad so we can just issue just one #1 Dad mug per year. It sure would save a lot of ceramic. Although, too, the #1 Dad to #1 Teacher mug ratio is quite close......
But I digress.
Over to the outlet, where the blue bins are being refreshed-- something that happens every few hours. Customers line up behind a yellow line while they're wheeled into place and then BINGO! The stampede begins!
I'm filming the frenzy when I notice Emily piling toys into her cart. I tell her she must have kids, but no, she doesn't. She's about to graduate from college and is about to start a child play therapy practice. She needs toys-- and LOTS of them. Her friend recommended the outlet and it's been a goldmine for her! This is only her second time to the Goodwill® Outlet here, but it probably won't be the last. She's already amassing a huge collection of carefully chosen toys, most of which she finds at the very bottoms of the huge blue bins.
Sweat is dripping off her face despite the air conditioning. She's taking it to a whole new level-- economic, environmentally friendly AND a great workout! She stops every few steps to wipe her forehead on her shirtsleeve, but only for a second. The intense pace at which she is digging through the piles of stuff is astonishing.
Emily's intensity rubs off on me and I try to help her find more toys. I follow her close by to photograph her in action.
Just then I look down, and I almost jumped with delight! Right in front of me was a Kodak Brownie! Yeah.
How funny that Harry had just gotten one in the mail today that he got on eBay and here, right in front of me is one that I'll only have to pay for by the weight of it. That's going in the cart.
(If you're reading this Harry, I got that Brownie for $2!)
Emily's here about an hour and a half. When the closing announcement is made, she pushes the cart toward checkout counter, pushing her cart of toys onto the scale. She pays only $39.76 for a cart load of toys that would've otherwise cost her at least a thousand dollars.
It's only because of the ability to get toys cheap that Emily is going to be able to open her business ready to work with children. She'd originally planned to initially only offer services to adults and amass enough toys over time to work with children-- who are her real passion.
It's people like Emily that I love to see at stores like this. New to shopping here, she's excited, she knows what she's looking for and she's able to do something she's dreamt about doing only because of a place like this.
The night ends late after a long chat with Emily after closing in the parking lot. It's a long, long dark road back to the campground for the night. A nice hot shower and a big bowl of berries for dinner.
I'm so wiped out, but in the way that you're proud of. I'm sure I'll sleep as hard as Emily is tonight after that rampage of awesome! Thanks for letting me follow you, Emily! It was so much fun!
Tomorrow-- one more Nashville store and then on to Chattanooga!!!