Today I got to wake up in my own bed, make crepes and read the newspaper before my last stop of the trip, just up the road in Crofton, Maryland.
This trip was extra special because I was able to bring Ed, who was sadly not able to join me on the road this time around.
This is a Goodwill Super Store-- and it's pretty darn super!
As near as it is to where I live, I wonder why I've never been here before! In typical DC-suburb form, there were lots of suits, American flag stuff, 5K tees and brand name stuff.
I loved this little Uncle Sam chalice I saw back in knick-knacks-- perfect for a glass of wine on July 4th.
I stumble across a sassy little ashtray that has a secret surprise on the back.
Now that I know I'm going to the annual DC photo prom in a few weeks, I stroll past the formals section but sadly-- no dice.
Ed enjoys looking around a bit for himself while I do my duties one last time.
I spot Clara and her son Tommy back in the men's suits section, where Tommy is trying on sport jackets for his upcoming confirmation. He's also got his 8th grade dance coming up, so it's a great way to get a few uses out of the same thrifty purchase.
Tommy tries on a few-- one Nautica, one Eddie Bauer, they both fit great.
This is Tommy's first time thrifting, though Clara says she came to thrift stores a lot back in her high school days when extra large flannel wearing was all the rage. "When we walked in I told him he could get whatever he wants," she said.
For some reason, I have a feeling these two will be back to this place. I will too-- especially since Ed has found a few treasures of his own.
We check out and make a few last photos of the trip out front with their awesome signage and make one last lunch trip to celebrate the end of the lower 48 states being completed at a restaurant in nearby Annapolis in HaRVey2.
Fast forward to getting home and taking a nice long afternoon coma nap, I'm gearing up to go back to work tomorrow and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I only have two states left.
TWO! (And I bet you can guess which ones.)
I'll keep this post short and sweet-- it's been an epically long three weeks.
I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped make it possible-- GOODWILL!
Thanks to them for their sponsorship and support! It's been a blast meeting all the friendly staff and seeing all the cool stuff they do!
Also definitely my husband, Ed, who lets me embrace my crazy dreams even if it means three solid weeks of double dog-walking duty.
I'll still post to this blog, but probably once a week or month.
Be sure to keep following it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too!
Over and out, thrifters!
Today I got to wake up in my mother-in-law's cozy guest room and sleep in a little, since the first store of the day is just down the street.
I have to admit, I've been there every single time I visit her many times before. I love browsing at this store because it has such a sense of whimsy and humor about it. The manager Al decorates the checkout area with fun signage and clever things from the store that always make me smile. And their display window is always dressed up for the season with funny stuff-- a sure bet for a giggle every time I come.
I walk in and immediately start my research back in t-shirts, where I'm half expecting to find some pizzaria tees, and definitely expecting to find some Eagles jerseys. The Eagles don't let me down, including several bearing the proud stains of game day chili-dogs past, and surprisingly there's more New York souvenir shirts than I thought there would be.
Sometimes going through this section can be like seeing old ghosts, and this one stopped me in my tracks. A vintage souvenir tee from sometime pre-9/11, showing the Twin Towers in all their skyline glory along the Statue of Liberty.
I take a stroll through knick-knacks where there's a stack of photo frames with photos still in them. A yearbook photo, a prom picture of the same teenager holding hands with his date.
I never quite understand why people donate things like this, it seems so sad. But at the same time, it's an interesting way to meet the people that live around here.
That's right about the time I meet Ken and Becky, who have just found a fun Phillies t-shirt, playing off the Coke logo that reads "Choke" in reference to a game against the Mets. They say they love the "thrift store song" that a daughter introduced them to, tough she's not much of a thrifter herself. Ken says they once even played it on his cell phone as they walked into a thrift store.
I imagine customers in a store going wild (like in the video) in slow motion as Ken and Becky walk in wearing fur coats.
Ken says he wasn't a thrifter until his friend took him to a Goodwill to look around about two years ago. "I found a pair of new Wolverine boots," he said.
He was hooked.
They make a great thrifting team, I can tell, and talking with them only confirms my suspicions. They say they take photos of stuff on their cell phones and text them to each other when they're on opposite sides of the store and sometimes post them on Facebook.
And like me, they like visiting stores wherever they go.
"We went to visit family in Delaware and went thrift shopping," he says.
I also meet Sharon, who says she somes several times a week. "It's one of my hobbies," she says. Today's discount color is yellow, so she's looking to score some half-off goodies. "If I can use it it makes me really happy."
I leave with the Twin Towers tee and head back to my mother-in-law's for a bite of lunch before heading to Delaware.
About an hour later I'm crossing the Delaware River (for the second time this trip) and scouting out the store in Wilmington.
I know Joe Biden's a donor at the stores here, and I'm curious to see what may have come from his closet.
As usual, I head right to the tees, where I find some possibly-from-Uncle-Joe epic shirts.
One has a happy face and says "Happiness is a Republican Majority."
Another has a fist drawn on it and says, "Chuck Norris Approved."
A third, from the movie The Hangover 2, has a photo of Zach Galifianakis and says, "Please Address Me As Captain," which I can't help but picture Joe wearing while kicking back with a beer the White House.
The last one, I'm SURE had to have come from his donation bin-- one that shows a Trans Am and says, "Show 'Em The Bird" -- which immediately reminds me of one of the funniest Onion pieces ever done on my favorie gaffe-prone VP washing his T-bird in the White House driveway.
I'm glad to know we share a love of Goodwill!
I meet Lee, who the employees here tell me is a regular. And a jokester. Lee doesn't let me down.
I tell him about the project and he tells me he's a photographer, too. He's found lightstands(!) and camera bags(!) here for super cheap.
Between questions and answers he's doing magic tricks and telling me jokes. First a half-dollar coin appears from no where, then it's gone and discovered inside my coat sleeve.
I ask what he found today. He tells me "I found a henway."
A henway? What's a henway?
I feel dumb for not knowing.
He tells me, "I don't know-- about five pounds, I guess."
Then he makes my pen seemingly turn to jello in his hands-- then shrink-- only to be recovered fully and put back in my hands.
"I work with children, so I'm a kidder," he says.
He also buys and sells things online that he finds here. He recently found 1980's era Legos, still in the package that he says are worth an awful lot. And today he's found a Vitamix mixer, and when he tells me how much he paid, I'm incredibly jealous I didn't see it first.
"I like recycling and saving," he says. "It's a treasure hunt."
I get back on my research lap around the store when I hear his voice again. From across the tops of the racks he reappears.
"You know they say the memory is the second thing to go," he tells me.
Which begs the question-- what's first?
"I don't know-- I can't remember!" he retorts.
As I head to the checkout with a few cute things I found, I thank the employees for introducing me to Lee.
One of them recounts a time when she had a long line at the register that was making her a bit anxious, and Lee was there to save the day with jokes and tricks for his fellow customers with children-- who were getting a bit impatient with the wait.
This just proves my point that thrift stores are some of the friendliest places you'll ever go.
I get back in the car for the final leg of the day's drive-- and type in the GPS the address to my HOUSE!
I have to say, if you were driving alongside me today on I-95 you would've been witness to some of the most epic behind-the-wheel dancing I've ever done and felt that cuing up this song on my iPod was pretty apropos after a long three weeks on the road.
I have to say though, I did lean forward a bit when I pulled up to the house, although there was no finish line tape across the street. And instead of celebrating with an epic collapse, I instead went inside for an epic hug-out session with Quincy.
I still have a Goodwill store in Maryland to visit tomorrow, so I'll post that here tomorrow night, but as of now-- the lower 48 are COMPLETE!!
All I have left now are Alaska and Hawaii-- which-- I'd love to do ASAP. So perhaps tomorrow will include some lottery ticket-buying.
Once I parked, I unpacked the car into the living room--which currently looks like a thrift-hurricane has hit it. There was some epic tag-popping going on as I got things sorted.
I'm so glad to be in my own bed again with a little downtime to settle back into my regularly scheduled life before I go back to work on Monday.
If you've been calling or emailing while I was away and I haven't gotten back with you, I just want to say I REALLY appreciate your support and I'm sorry I just didn't have the brain space to spare for much other than the projet while I was away. Hopefully I can catch up this week.
Tonight I leave you from my favorite red chair with a stack of utility bills at my side and a sleeping, dreaming dog gently kicking at my feet in DC.
I started the day early, a little nervous to navigate the city for the first time totally on my own. I've been in Manhattan plenty of times, but always with someone else leading the way.
I've been on lots of subways in my life, but New York's is slightly beyond my grasp. The subway system map here just looks like a bowl of spilled spaghetti noodles to me and always has.
I can never make any sense of it.
So Kristin says to walk to the nearest station and take the F train to West 4th, and that's about the extent of the direction I can follow/remember in using this subway successfully. Add any transfers or other train letters to that and my eyes glaze over in fear and I start looking for the nearest cab.
I get to the Goodwill store in Greenwich Village around 9. They aren't open yet, but this gives me a chance to look around. This is a boutique, so it's the best of the donated goodies!
During this project there have been two old standbys of things you could find in any given thrift store about 99% of the time: A souvenir from Las Vegas of some sort-- and an "I <3 NY" t-shirt.
I'm curious if that will hold true-- IN NY.
But I do see about a dozen t-shirts with maps of the subway system on them. Perhaps that's just what I need to get around this city-- something I wear that I can look down to for reference!
While I'm browsing I bump into Will, who is here browsing the men's section with his friend Lee, looking for new duds. They're both actors here in the city, and Will has just returned to NYC from a tour with Fiddler on the Roof.
Lee spots a red jacket and searches for a mirror, then Will takes a turn trying it on, too. Then they both spot a pair pointy men's dress shoes, as well as a pair of shiny silver high-top sneakers.
"These are EVERYTHING!" he exclaims.
They take turns trying them on. As they're lacing them up, Lee also spots a black velvet vest hanging at the end of a rack.
"This is EVERYTHING!" he says again. It fits him perfectly and he walks over to admire it in the nearby mirror. He says it'll be perfect for auditions.
Lee sums up why he likes shopping at thrift stores. "The reason people are afraid to wear it is because it's 'out there'," he says.
"But for me it's perfect! You can't find this stuff at Macy's."
I wander off to the knick-knacks, which seem pretty picked over. I do spot a cool wall decoration- three large wooden boxes made to look like CTL+ALT+DEL buttons on a computer. Sort of regret not getting those now.
But oddly, there is a brand new, still packaged set of Memorex cassette tapes (!), a big bag of dog food and a bottle of Karo syrup.
I check out a cool necklace inside the display case that's just too cute not to come home with me, so I check out and get on my way-- down to the WTC area to have lunch with Kristin before heading out.
When Kristin attempts to give me subway directions as to how to get back to Park Slope, my eyes glaze over and I actually DO flag down a cab. Thank goodness they take debit cards now.
Besides, I enjoy seeing the city from above. And I got to finally see the Brooklyn Bridge.
I gather up my stuff at Kristin's and hit the road bound for Princeton, hoping to get in one more store in New Jersey before turning in at my mom-in-law's house in South New Jersey for the night.
Strangely, getting out of NYC seemed easy (except for that $15 bridge toll-- ouch!) compared to coming in. But getting in to New Jersey, my plan to hit one more store is quickly thwarted by traffic. The "short" drive in distance ended up taking a total of four hours.
By the time I drove up to Pat's house I was downright dizzy with tired.
But opening the door to the smell of freshly baked cookies and an offer of a glass of milk felt like arriving at the pearly gates themselves.
Now that I don't have driving in NYC to dread anymore, I have my sights firmly set on the light at the end of the tunnel.
New Jersey and Delaware tomorrow.
Then it's back to real life on Monday.
It's been a crazy three weeks!
I started my day off right with a view of the bay in New Haven, Connecticut and an actual wake up (no snooze-- ok, well, maybe one) before the continental breakfast was over in the hotel downstairs. After a quick cup of juice and bite of yogurt I popped in the car and headed over to the Goodwill in nearby.
It had just opened and there weren't many folks looking around yet, so I entertained myself with t-shirt and knick-knacks.
One thing I have definitely noticed in recent days as I make my way closer to NYC are vacation trinkets and souvenirs from places I rarely ever see-- Sweden, Norway, Switzerland-- not the typical Cancun and Las Vegas fare.
Also, shoppers I approach are a little more weary of being photograhped in a thrift store here. After getting shot down a few times and feeling a bit sorry for myself, I start to chat with some of the staff there, including Chanel, who tells me she didn't thrift until she started working here. She really likes frogs, so she keeps an eye peeled for frog things when she goes thrifting.
It's there with Chanel at the checkout that I meet Rachel, who is here with her husband looking for a Hawaiian shirt for a luau coming up this summer. They come in because they like looking for a bargain, plus now thrifting is all cool.
"Years ago this was unheard of," she says. "Now it's common."
She also likes the earth friendliness of it. "It's kind of like recycling, instead of always buying something new all the time."
I find a Sweden t-shirt that I can't leave with, so I check out and point HaRVey2 toward the west along I-95, when I come across a thrift store in Stratford, CT called New and Nearly New Thrift Shop run by an auxiliary of women. It benefits The Kennedy Center, Inc, which creates jobs for handicapped individuals in the area. Most of the volunteers are mothers of clients, or know someone who is, which makes this place all the more special
It's here that I meed Hershel, who is a regular here. His Italian suit and skull-and-crossbones-tie, combined with his Atlanta baseball cap create quite a presence in the store, and I can't help but strike up a conversation with him.
He's proud of this suit and it's clear he knows his stuff. It's a Donna Karan Italian wool suit, which he of course found at a thrift store. He's been thrifting for over 30 years now.
He tells me he once found a Chanel handbag for $5 that he saw was worth $800 online. " I gave it to one of my daughters and she lost it," he says, looking a bit defeated. But hey-- how many dads can spot a Chanel bag in the first place, right?
A volunteer at the store stops to chat. I tell her about the project and her eyes get huge. "I have to hand it to you!" she says. "I couldn't travel like that all alone!" I have to stop a minute and do a gut check-- am I crazy?
Oh, yes. That's right. I am. That's been established already.
I set my sights back on the highway, knowing NYC traffic awaits me. But before leaving Connecticut, I have one more stop to make in Westport.
Driving in off the interstate, I pass a Shake Shack a block away from the store.
Proof that dreams do come true, my friends.
I pop into the store, which has a gorgeous blue sculpture directly over the secondary doors made up of donated items and spelling out "GOODWILL." I saw something like this at the Omaha Goodwill Boutique I stopped at in 2011, but it was behind the cash register. Such a cool idea to incorporate art and secondhand goods!
Inside there's a women's boutique area that seems to take up half the store. It's where all the high-end stuff has been pulled onto separate racks for easier hunting. It's like a veritable who's-who of clothing designers. There's a Coco Chanel quote gracing the wall behind all the upscale donations currently hanging for sale.
I notice a one shoulder Lily Pulitzer number that still has the tags on it-- only $75. The tags say it was originally over $200.
Of course it's tiny. Lots of stuff here is. Tiny people here in this part of Connecticut, apparently. Makes me long for the days of Montana and North Dakota where I couldn't sneeze without hitting a pair of size 10 pumps.
It's seriously hard here to find anything that's not designer. The donations are great-- but the prices are made to match, too.
A customer stops to tell me that people who are needy don't really shop here, it's more for people just looking for bargains. While it might be more true here than a lot of places, I know better-- neediness comes in all shapes and sizes. Even here in Connecticut-- I'm sure of it. Besides, it's gotten so cool to thrift shop now for a variety of reasons that it's not obivious anymore who's shopping here or for exactly which reason.
I meet Nancy, who has found a curtain rod her daughter needs. I love how she's holding it like a proud farmer in American Gothic. She says her mom got her into thrifting when she was young.
"But back then I didn't think it was cool," she smiles. "If you wait, you can find anything."
I spot a cute small leather Banana Republic purse that seems perfect for summer, so I check out of this label-wonderland and hit the road again-- this time with my eyes on NYC.
It's only 3, and my GPS says it's 45 minutes to my friend's house in Park Slope.
WELL-- two and a half hours, a teeth-gritting traffic jam, some epic honking (not mine), a few choice words uttered and a nap in my car later, I was greeted by the lovely Miss Kristen outside her apartment. What a sight for sore eyes!
Every time I come into NYC I feel A) Like a total troll-- the ladies here are always so flipping gorgeous. B) Like Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer (this city frigtens and confuses me!) and C) like I should never move to NYC because of reasons A & B.
So I leave you tonight from a comfy couch in Park Slope. Tomorrow I'll head (via subway, thank goodness!) to a Goodwill store near Washington Park in Manhattan tomorrow morning before hopefully dodging rush hour and high-tailing it to my mom-in-law's house in South New Jersey tomorrow evening.
Three more days!
THREE MORE DAYS!
ALL 49 STATES WILL BE DONE IN THREE MORE DAYS!