Road trippin’: antique style

Karen Squires

One of the best opportunities that retirement has offered me is the ability to take off and go. I mean, go like the wind: see and do on my own time and indulge in what thrills me. This summer, I was able to do just that with my great friend, Jeffery Dean.

A little back story here: I am an HGTV fanatic. I love to watch a good home makeover show and dream about how I would do it the same or, in most cases, differently. My son Ethan calls it the d&^%n idea channel. He says I always come up with projects after watching too much. I would agree (to an extent). I enjoy Good Bones, Fixer to Fabulous, and many more. One of my favorites in the past was Flea Market Flip. I just loved how they made antiques glow up into something better and useful. I would get visions of being a flipper and traveling to sell my wares.

As luck would have it, my friend Jeffery is also one to love antiques and is a fan of the show. We began discussing how we would love to visit the antique shows and flea markets in the northeast. A plan was formed, and we were ready to execute. Plane tickets purchased, bags packed, and on a bright day in July, we boarded a plane to White Plains, NY.

We were on a mission. Did I say that I had already wholly demolished the lower floor of my house and started my dream renovation? Well, that’s another story. But, because of this renovation, I was looking for some fantastic flea market and antique finds to add to my house. Let’s just say I was looking for an antique mantel and a kitchen island. I wanted a table. A baker’s table, to be exact. One with drawers and a beautiful wooden top. Jeffery was looking for items to use in beautiful Christmas arrangements and decor. He also wanted display pieces for Deen and Company. An impressive wish list for both of us, and all we needed was the opportunity to look and find.

We spent the first two days staying near White Plains. We found great antique malls and looked at so many items. Day three was Saturday, and that morning, we started the trek to Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market Show, supposed to be one of the biggest flea markets in the Northeast.
We picked up a box truck from Budget Rental and plunged ahead.

Elephant’s Trunk was not as impressive. It did not compare to Canton, TX, and we were shocked. No worries, though. We purchased some great finds, and I got a fantastic toy riding car. We left there early and began traversing to Brimfield. On the way, we stopped at roadside shops, found the most wonderful goat’s milk ice cream shop, and tried each night to find an excellent restaurant to try. I like food almost as much as I like antiques. HaHa. We found the first hamburger place in the U.S. and ate a burger that would never make it in Louisiana; we toured Yale University and tried to find the best New York pizza and Italian. We bought T-shirts to commemorate the trip.

Brimfield Flea in Massachusetts was impressive. It was not as big as I had dreamed, but there was much to see. The trouble we found was that the furniture was sparse. We traveled all this way to fill up a truck with treasures, and our truck was bare. What do you do when you are striking out? You change direction and drive to Boston on a whim to eat lobster. That was one of our best decisions. We spent two full days trekking through Brimfield, and by mid-morning of that second day, we hit gold. We found two of our best purchases. I found my table, and he found a hutch with so much history and charm.

The following day, we woke up to a 6 a.m. light rain, decided to head home, and plotted our course. We agreed on trying to make it to Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, VA, but to make it before closing, we had to boogie. For nine hours, one stop for gas and one for bathroom, I drove at breakneck speed through the rain in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. Hands-on the wheel, bumping in our box truck. What a sight we were.

As we pulled into the parking lot with one hour to shop, I knew I would find something extraordinary. We had been all over the Northeast, and now I could feel it in my bones. I went for the aisle of mantels. There among the forty or fifty shone the prize I had dreamed of. Within 30 minutes, we purchased her and a couple of t-shirts and headed down the interstate again.

Jeffery drove the rest of the way. Virginia, Tennessee (had to stop for the night to shop in the largest Bucc-ee’s known to man), Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana flew by. Total driving time in two days: 25 hours and 34 minutes.

The trip of a lifetime. Laughs, food, snacks, people-watching, and wrong turns. For anyone who says they need to work more or travel less, I say no way. Strike out, live a little, and buy the T-shirt. You only live once.

Side note: The mantel was too small. Oh well, off to find another.