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Entries in charleston (2)

Saturday
Apr132013

West Virginia- Wild, Thrifty, and Wonderful! 

Man, Charleston is so pretty. Of course I'm partial to river cities, but this one really embraces it's riverfront location. As I drove toward my first stop of the day, I followed the walking path along the river that also features an outdoor performance venue right down on the water.

I also see a few happy boaters who seem to be racing alongside me to get there first. There's gorgeous houses up on the mountaintops that overlook the downtown and several staircases from the sidewalk that take pedestrians down from the city streets to the rolling Kanawha.  

I arrived at Goodwill and immediately met Kathy, who has been so sweet this whole trip reaching out through email and text to see if I need anything in preparation for my visit.

She's assembled an awesome welcome sign in the front window of their warehouse that faces the street and hands me a cute pink Goodwill totebag-- it'll come in very handy for my growing mound of laundry in the car! Inside the store I met Mickey who is doing a little browsing to pass the time while waiting to pick her friend up from Kroger.  

She's shopped at thrift stores for years and having worked at the local mall, she knows how much this stuff would be new. She also appreciates that it's keeping things out of landfills. "So many things get thrown out that don't need to be," she said.  

She likes looking for items for her three daughters, six grandkids and 2 great-grandkids as she shops, and especially things that she can get to upgrade her own home. She says she found a dishware set here that she's particularly fond of. 

Kathy takes me on a little tour of their processing facility here, including where the online store, ShopGoodwill, is housed. Coordinator Dustin shows me their room full of special items.  It's a whole operation here where extra special donations get a little more money by being sold online and shipped.

All of the processing and offices are housed in a gorgeous old building that was originally the Charleston trolley barn, and you can still see the rails that run the length of each of the trolley bays. 

I love it when cool buildings like this get a cool repurposing. And my bus mechanic father would've gotten a real kick out of this place. They even have a few photos to show me of the original trolley barn, which was also later used as a bus depot. 

In the donation drive-thru, I meet Jessie, a mother of three boys who had a bag of items in the car to donate on her way home from a baseball game. She pops inside to fill out a donation form.

"I'm always through here," she says.  "You should see my tax return!" She keeps an itemized list at home of all the stuff she brings in so that she can write it off.

Smart cookie! 

I head out and try to find a good lunch spot. The popular spot in town, the Vandalia Grill, was unfortunately closed.  I settled for a quick bite at First Watch and caught up on some news.  

I also use this time to plan out my next few stops and look at the map to check out my drive ahead.  

Somehow some Christmas songs have wrangled their way onto my iPod and I'm starting to regret having purchased the Colbert holiday album altogether.  

With Stephen and the gang serenading me once again, I roll my eyes and point HaRVey2 south toward Union Mission Thrift. 

To get there, I have to drive through a tunnel under a railroad track that's only one lane wide-- and barely even that wide-- forcing us to take turns going through it from either side.  When it's my turn, I suck it in and hope that I don't scratch up the sides of the Pruis in the narrow passageway.

Luckily I made it through without losing my rental car deposit, LIKE A BOSS! If I'd been in an RV like the last trip, this thrift store visit couldn't have even happened.  

At the store I meet Frank, who has been making the thrift store rounds today looking for a stove to replace his son's that broke. He didn't find a stove, but he did find some VHS tapes that he liked.  

There's lots of household goods to check out on the first floor, and near the back, my eyes nearly pop out of my head. Near the back wall for sale is a small wooden storage shed shaped like an outhouse, complete with tin roof. Curious, I open the door and see a sign inside that says in all caps, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" 

You've got to love a thrift store with a good sense of humor! I had a good laugh and headed upstairs to check out the clothing upstairs.  They had a HUGE selection of stuff and a handful of customers browsing the aisles. 

I really loved my visit here and the people I met, but I had to hit the road again and get to Columbus for the night.  

My route through West Virginia plopped me out into Ohio right through Athens, where I remembered my friends Amanda and Shealah were going to be attending Amanda's Legal Stranger debut at the Athens International Film Festival!

We were able to meet up for a quick cup of tea and a hug-- it's been a long and crazy week and I was glad to see a famililar face, if only for a few minutes.  It really made my day guys!  

I got back in the car for the last leg of the day's drive to Columbus, which takes me down some two lane highways.

I've seen deer along the sides of the interstates the last few days near dusk and I keep seeing houses with those decorative fake lawn deer out front-- making me panic that I'm about to kill Bambi at every turn. 

Why do people put these out!? They're not cute-- they're freaky! And like Kristin says, "They're the rural equivalent of speed bumps." They certainly made me slow down and take note. I hope I didn't just jinx myself there.  I'd like to keep this white rental car as Bambi-free as possible.  

While I was chatting with Amanda and Shea, I realized I haven't really mentioned on here how my days are structured, so I thought I'd share.  

Basically I wake up, hit a thrift store in the late morning-- go in, look at stuff, take photos, talk to some folks-- then head to lunch. Lunch is spent half eating, half returning calls/emails/texts with contacts ahead of me on the map to arrange visits and coordinate times. Then I find a second store to visit, (repeat process above), get in the car again and drive to my next town. Once I get close to the town, I try to find a hotel I can afford that doesn't look too stabby/murder-y (hi, Grandma!) that hopefully has free wifi and drag all my stuff inside.

Tonight's room has the added bonus of a curioulsy strong smell of cigarettes despite its non-smoking status. I hope they don't charge extra for that.

Then my evenings are spent downloading photos, recording my expenses in spreadsheets, organizing all my signed releases, updating my social media outlets with updates, emailing contacts to arrange visits (again), writing a blog post like this one, doing my taxes (at least last night I did), calling the other half and asking about the dog, and eventually I sleep. 

Then I get up and do it again the next morning. 

For three weeks.

A vacation this is not-- but it sure is a lot of fun!

Miles driven so far-- 1574. Miles to go...... a lot.

Talk at you tomorrow!

 

Wednesday
Apr102013

Charleston-- a town of THRIFTY COUPLES! 

Last night I got a call from my bank's fraud department. They wanted to know what crazy person got a hold of my debit card. Apparently dropping out of your life for a few weeks to spend money on nothing but gas, hotel rooms, Starbucks, and thrift store purchases raises some red flags.

Who knew? Obviously they've never met me or that wouldn't even make them flinch.

I started the day a little later than normal-- this stupid ear infection is getting super annoying. I feel like half of my head us underwater, which messes with my balance and makes for some very interesting looking sideways-walking. I shake my head as much as I can on one side to make my ear pop, but all it does is mess up my hair and make the other hotel guests give me strange looks.

I feel just like this lady-- I can't be sick, I got thriftin' to do. Ain't nobody got time for that! 

Being in the South now, I decided it was high time to dress like it, so I put on a pretty dress to try and blend in.  

But these Southern ladies cannot be fooled by me or my amateurish attmepts at cuteness-- they know I'm no belle. Are all women here stylish dressers or am I imagining this? As much as I love Charleson, I'm lucky I don't live there because the pressure to look nice enough each day I stepped out of the house would just be too much. 

My day kicked off with a drive down to the Goodwill on James Island, where I had to circle the parking lot at least four times to find a parking spot. Not even joking there-- this place was packed.  

And what awesomeness was there to greet me? A cool banner out front!  Awwww! So warm and fuzzy! After three days of oncoming headlights and late-night check-in hotels, little things like this keep me going. Thanks so much you guys!

Once inside, I went straight for the red t-shirts, since I'm still on a mad and determined quest to find a Cheerwine t-shirt. Sadly, none. But it didn't take long before I met some interesting folks to stop and chat with.  

I met Rev. Parris, who comes every day looking for houshold items for his parishoners. Today he found an orange jumpsuit for himself to wear when he's out mowing his four acres. 

I also met Cleary, who comes every day as well and was sporting a rather dapper outfit, complete with hat. He shops for everyone in his family when he comes in. Today he found a purse for his daughter. 

And then the store tells me that I have a fan in the store-- Lindsey and her fiance Lorne read my blog and wanted to meet me! She's already got a cart full of goodies, including a gray dress for one of the bridesmaids at their upcoming wedding on May 4! Not only is this gal thrift-smart, she's clothes-swap savvy.  She's started a group in Charleston about two years ago called ReTrend to get people in the community together to swap threads! And we're not talking a house full of chicks looking at purses-- she says she has around 80-100 people show up to swap-- occasionally at a bar-- which requires her to talk her friends into volunteering!  She must have some great friends because that sounds like some serious stuff. Who wouldn't like a new skirt and a beer? If you're in Charleston, you should totally check out her group. Espceially because from the looks of her cart, she finds some seriously cute stuff here!  

She and Lorne even find a piece of furnture to fix up and use as a bar at their upcoming wedding next month!  

How adorable are these two? And how cute is it that her fiance said these exact words-- "A couple that thrifts together, stays together!"

I couldn't agree more, you two! 

After I left Goodwill, I couldn't help but crave a little sunshine and a lunch outside along the water in downtown Charleston, hoping a little vitmain D and fresh air might help kick this stupid ear crud.  I quickly realized you don't have to spend more than two minutes here to want to move to this town. I was able to find a nice sunny spot on a bench along the water to sit and return calls and emails and plot my next shops of the trip. Which definitley beats where I have been doing it from-- behind the wheel on the side of the road. 

On a whim, I called Children's Cancer Society Thrift Store.  I swung by and met Napoleon and Latrell, who were on a roadtrip of their own from Savannah. They'd decided to check out the thrift store on their way to the beach today, and it didn't take long for Latrell to find a sweater she liked.  Napoleon just smiled. He says Latrell never used to step foot in a thrift store, but ever since she saw all the good stuff he was bringing home, she decided to give it a shot too.

They're too cute, too-- it's so cool to meet two thrifting fun couples in the same day in the same city.  

I stopped and filled up (all $13 worth-- I love this Prius!) and grabbed a Cheerwine. I'm not even a soda drinker, but something about being here made me crave one.  I hopped in the car and, feeling the southern slow vibe, decided to take the backroads to Savannah. I needed a change of scenery from the highways.

What I didn't think about was that backroads also mean fewer potties. One thing about the RV-- it chugged gas like a frat boy, but I had a pottie with me at all times.  I sort of miss that this trip.

I kept thinking there would be a place around each corner, but there wasn't much.  This trip has already made me a bit of a gas station bathroom conneseur, not that I want to be one.  I can tell which ones are going to be cringeworthy and which ones will be decent, but I was seeing a whole lot of nothin' out on these roads.  Finally I saw one, only to go in with my eyes watering and see an "out of order" sign on the door.  I ran back to the car, cursing myself for not bringing my Go-Girl. My dad would be disappointed in my lack of preparedness. 

Finally I found a gas station with a decent potty and I was so overjoyed that I bought a Krispy Kreme to celebrate. Ahhh, Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme-- it's the southern dinner of champions.

So tonight I'm staying in Savannah, where I will be visiting a few stores tomorrow morning, before driving back toward Columbia, SC and on into West Virginia.