Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Complete a 690-mile scavenger hunt - despite frequent stops, heavy traffic, massive crowds and myriad temptations slowing your progress. You have four days.
Yes, bargain shoppers, it's time again for the World's Longest Yard Sale, the annual rummage royale that has drawn a cult following since its debut in 1987. This year's sale starts today, Aug. 7, and ends Sunday, Aug. 10.
The route stretches through six states, following Highway 127 from Addison, Mich., south through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia before ending in Gadsden, Ala. Tri-state travelers should note that U.S. 127 becomes Lookout Mountain Parkway south of Chattanooga.
It's not necessary to make the complete trek, of course, or to shop all four days. But the faithful turn out every year hoping for a one-of-a-kind find in the wonky mix of wares.
The event draws sellers of all sorts too - from professional road warriors with made-in-China merchandise to front-yard entrepreneurs hoping to turn a profit from their garage, basement and attic excesses. You'll find them set up in yards, fields, parking lots and wide places in the road all along the route. The smart ones find shade.
Most are ready for shoppers by first light, hoping for at least a few hours of moderate temps and blue skies. Weather is always the make-or-break variable. Shoppers can haggle over a price, but there's no negotiating with a face-melting sun, pop-up storm or dreary drizzle.
You can find out more on the proceedings at www.127sale.com. But don't dawdle. If you're sitting at home reading this, you're already late.
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.
For its die-hard shoppers, the World's Longest Yard Sale is entertainment enough. But what do you do when vendors pull the tarp and call it a day? Here are a few of the options in selected cities along the route. Some destinations may call for a detour off the yard sale's beaten path, but all are easily accessible from U.S. 127 or the Lookout Mountain Parkway.
¦ Crossville: The Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., has three productions running the four days of the sale: "Gypsy," "Shrek" and "Smoke on the Mountain." Three of the five scheduled showtimes are matinee performances - good to know in case of rain. Call 931-484-5000 or visit ccplayhouse.com for ticket information.
¦ Pikeville: Fall Creek Falls State Park boasts an 18-hole golf course, Olympic-size swimming pool, horseback riding, hikes to the iconic falls, fishing, birding and biking, along with a new addition, a zipline with more than 70 aerial obstacles. Today through Sunday adds an assortment of ranger-led activities, including snake shows, pontoon boat tours, softball games and marbles. Find out more at tnstateparks.com/parks/about/fall-creek-falls, or call 423-881-5298.
¦ Dunlap: The Tennessee Dude and Guest Ranch, 1050 Ray Hixson Road, will host its monthly Cowboy Church of Sequatchie Valley at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday. This family event includes pony rides, chuckwagon chow (appetizers and drinks), music and a Scripture-based, hands-on horsemanship program. RSVPs are appreciated. Visit www.tnhorsevacation.com or call 423-554-4677.
¦ Signal Mountain: The Mountain Opry, 2501 Fairmount Pike, has been a Friday night tradition for some 35 years. The free shows typically feature bluegrass, vintage country and old-time music. Bands confirmed this week are Mountain Cove Bluegrass and McGill & Company, but president Ken Holloway says other performers are likely to show up. Also on the premises, he says, will be a film crew working on a documentary about music venues. Admission is free. Call 423-886-3252 for more information.
¦ Lookout Mountain: If your yard-sale pickings don't turn up a Rock City birdhouse, then go to the source. The attraction at 1400 Patten Road is open daily, with music by the Old Time Travelers and birds of prey shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Both are included in regular admission ($19.95 adults, $11.95 children 3-12). For more information, call 706-820-2531 or visit www.seerockcity.com.
¦ Fort Payne: Headquarters for the Alabama band's fan club are at 101 Glenn Boulevard SW near the intersection of state Highway 35 and U.S. Highway 11. The museum and gift shop are open until 5 p.m. each day of the sale.
¦ Mentone: Up next in the Kamama Music Series, held first and third Thursdays, are 2Blu & The Lucky Stiffs. The blues band takes the stage tonight at 7 CDT at Kamama, an art and antiques gallery and coffee shop at 5951 Alabama Highway 117. Tickets are $10, and reservations are recommended. Call 256-634-3001 or visit www.kamamamentone.com.