It was a Saturday in late September; a beautiful fall day, crisp and clear. The boys were outside running and playing with the neighborhood kids. I could hear their voices from time to time.
I went online to check out Craigslist/free to see if there were any finds to be had on that morning. I like to scavenge and repaint or clean up and give new life to old or discarded items, and I like to do it for Free. I have mentioned this before, in a past post on my Craigslist finds, but you'd be surprised what treasures I have found for the taking.
Well, this September morning I found a listing for the leftovers of an estate sale. There were tantalizing photos of filled boxes and tables of tons of stuff….all for free. The listing said Princeton, but the directions sounded rural and confusing at best.
I knew it was somewhere north of Anoka and Anoka is only about 30 or so minutes from our home. So, I looked it up on the map and decided it wasn't too far to go. I talked Will into the adventure to go scavenge estate sale leftovers an hour or so away, but the boys grumbled as we gathered them up and into the car.
We drove and drove and drove. It was a beautiful drive as the leaves were already starting to turn, pumpkins were stacked at roadside stops. We passed fields and old farmsteads and woods and farm supply stores. We got further and further out away from the city as we drove north and west. The boys started to open up to the idea of having an adventure.
You see, this was not the first time we had gone in search of something I had found on Craigslist. They knew this drill: go to a stranger's home, load something into the car, drive home, unload and then mom goes to work re-doing, re-arranging or re-thinking. But this time it was different. We had never driven so far for a Craigslist freebie.
They enjoyed the rural scenery. Remember, my kids are city folk and rarely venture into the countryside except for our trip to Texas every summer.
I have always loved road trip adventures. There is something about riding in the car with my family, heading towards something and open to whatever stops or adventures come our way.
After a long while we entered Princeton and noticed a stock car race track before turning down the first of many county roads in our quest for free stuff. We continued to try to follow the directions turning here, then doubling back and then turning the other direction. After a bit, we left the paved roads and just when we were about to give up we spotted a spray painted sign beckoning us on. We continued to follow those signs until we got to a long, dirt, tree-lined drive, with a sign announcing that we were in the right place.
The boys were now completely into this adventure, as we strained to see what was at the end of the dirt road. We had arrived.
We found boxes of interesting things, clearly once loved and cared for, antiquated items, some unusual, some broken, some beautiful, some with potential. The boys chose their treasures, coming home with a ceramic bird with its beak wide open…maybe it's a vase…., a blue, square, beaded, vintage hat for the dressing up bin, an Iowa State clock, a lazy Susan, a hat box and more. We picked up a fantastic shelf for the boys' room – no painting necessary, some art that simply needed new frames, vintage linens, a few classic books, the whole set of Little House on the Prairie just like the one I had as a kid and a few other things. And had lots of fun going through all of items.
We felt that we had accomplished our goal in the trip and headed back down the dirt road to the gravel road to the paved road and back into Princeton.
By this point it was early evening, the sun was just starting to go down. As we drove back by the stock car track, we noticed there were races going on now. None of us had ever been to a stock car race before, and we were curious. We didn't have to convince the boys of this adventure. So, we pulled in and bought tickets.
The nice lady at the ticket booth gave us the low down on where to sit (for family atmosphere) and where to buy the ear plugs (it get VERY loud) and the history of the Princeton Speedway (apparently it's the place to be on Friday nights from late April/early May through September). We had happened upon the last race of the year on this Saturday evening.
We got our ear plugs and sat in the family section and watching in wonder at the roaring, modified, painted up, smashed-up cars. These races certainly offered a treat for all five senses; it was something to see these cars speeding around and around, up, down and around, stirring up thick, red dust, to hear their rumbling and roaring motors, to feel the vibrations from their revving engines, to smell the fuel and burning rubber and to taste the dirt flying up from the tires.
We sat mesmerized by this scene as the sun dipped down in front of us and breeze got cooler and crisper, lulled by the constant rumblings of the engines, intermittently checking our raffle tickets we were given at the ticket booth as the numbers were called between races.
We got brats and chili cheese fries from the local chapter of the FFA (for you who did not grow up in rural parts that is the Future Farmers of America) made from scratch and cooked to perfection on the grill behind their booth. We bought roasted corn from a father and his son. We munched on freshly made-on-the-spot kettle corn that an elderly gentleman was peddling.
It was a bit peculiar to have stepped into this small town tradition without any connection or purpose in being there. And yet, I felt completely at home sitting in the metal bleachers, eating the food from the little booths and cheering on the hot pink car or the #8 or the bright green one or the sleek black car or the brothers competing in the same race. It felt like being at the 4H shows of my childhood in small town Texas, including the taste of the red dirt in the air; and it was comfortable.
When the sun had disappeared and our ears had had all we could take and bellies were full, we climbed back into our car and headed home. We talked about what we had seen and gotten and experienced on our mini, unplanned adventure as we headed towards the city lights. We felt happy. And a huge, bright, round moon kept us company all the way home.
And this is what it's all about…life. My kids will remember this day and these experiences. We may never pass along that way again, but this memory will be perfect in my mind. We did nothing earth shattering or expensive. We planned nothing. We did not rush or get caught up by time. We simply moved along from one thing to the next, being present in the moment. Over and out…