Today I woke up in Troy, NY and headed to the nearby Goodwill, which just had a grand re-opening yesterday. I'm partly sad that I missed it, but sort of glad, too since the crowd probably would've given me sensory overload.
Little do I know I'm about to go into sensory overload anyway.
I grab a cart to put my stuff in and start to browse. I see three new Ann Taylor blazers in a row-- same size. That's strange.
What are the odds?
Then I look a little further-- even more of the same exact blazer.
All the same size.
After about 5 minutes of this, I realize this place is loaded-- no joke-- loaded with donated samples from Ann Taylor, which were almost exclusively size 8 dresses, formals, suits, jackets, tops and slacks. Never in my life have seen anything like this-- literally hundreds of brand new gorgeous size 8 stuff--or have I ever been so mad that I'm not a size 8, nor can I even remember ever having been a size 8.
But part of me is glad that there are no double digit samples to be found here, since I'd probably have left at least $300 lighter and be forced to camp in the car the rest of the trip.
Financial roadtrip crisis averted.
But I didn't leave empty handed. What, you think I'd come into this sort of thrifty wonderland and not find a single thing?
I managed to find one cute, generously-cut size medium Ann Taylor sample top in my favorite shade of mustard yellow that fit. I also found some gold glitter ballet flats, which I think will make this trip feel a little more Wizard of Oz-zy.
Back in houswares, I stop to chat with Ana, who is pushing a cart full of goodies while shopping with her two-year-old son Thaygo. He's got a tight grip on an Avengers toy he found. She had to drop something off for her husband who works nearby and when she saw the grand opening sign, she had to stop in for a look.
She's been a thrifter for a long while tough. "My friends don't come here. They think it's junk, but it's not, it's gold!" she says, her eyes smiling.
I check out and get back into HaRVey2, pointing him toward Burlington. But first, a lunch stop in Saratoga Springs!
I sit down at Bailey's Cafe for a salad thats approximately the size of my head. It's been a long roadtrip and I sense I need to eat something that had dirt on it at some point in its life. But looking across the street I see a Ben & Jerry's. I realize I'm about to enter Vermont-- land of cheese, ice cream and maple syrup.
This is going to be trouble.
I walk in and meet Charlotte, who manages the store. Even at age 86, she's the oldest of the seven volunteers here, working five days a week, five hours a day. The store's been here for 12 years and donates to the local fire, rescue and ambulance squads, as well as funding small scholarships for local high schoolers. Last year the stuff they sold in this store provided them with enough revenue to donate $12,000 back into this little community.
She says they've had everything come through the store. "From thimbles and needles to horse collars and skis," she said. "It's amazing what people donate." She's a bit shy and didn't care to be photographed, but the store itself was a maze of rooms and stuff lining every square inch of floor, shelf, and wall. They even have a big Christmas room, which she says is a popular attraction during the holidays.
I'm looking around and pretty close to closing time, so I try to get as many photos and angles as possible before it's time to lock up for the night. Back in HaRVey2, I set my sights on Vermont.
The roads are small and slow, but I didn't mind at all. With the clouds and rain finally giving way to a warm glow of the impending sunset, I find myself navigating roads alongside lakes with gray layers of the Adirondacks off to my left, hazy in the late day sun.
At one point I feel a rush of joy just looking around me while I drive--I start to think how happy I am-- that this project is nearing completion, that this crazy idea has actually happened, that it's taken me to such gorgeous places and allowed me to meet such amazing people along the way. I realize this is one of those drives that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It's just so gorgeous.
Just as I'm thinking this, I realize I'm stuck behind a septic truck who is going terribly slow-- and I don't even care. It's giving me more time to admire this place and be present for a minute. A rare occurance on a lightning-fast roadtrip like this one.
It's been a tough week, America.
I've been following the news.
But as usual, there are always beautiful things like a sunset drive on a beautiful road and a great conversation with a totally random stranger to remind us that for all the crazy that goes on around us, there's an equal amount of awesome to behold.
I leave you tonight just outside of Burlington, Vermont where it's raining a nice soft rain tonight. I'll take a look at a few stores tomorrow in this area tomorrow, and if time allows, make a quick tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury as a cheap Saturday night treat for my road-weary bones.
Total miles driven since DC: 2,874.
Total miles for the project since 2010 (roughly): 12,374