Antiques Road Show ruined me forever. The first time I watched it convinced me that someday somewhere if I looked hard enough I could find valuable treasure buried in the trash. I dream about that rare painting covered with dust stored in an attic, a yard sale, or an out-of-the-way thrift store that’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. I have visions of finding a hand woven Native American Sioux blanket worth several hundred thousand dollars folded neatly under a pile of worthless papers in a trunk or old dresser left on the curb destined for the garbage dump. I know…I know…I’m a dreamer, but you never know.

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure or so they say. I’m a treasure hunter and treasure is definitely in the eye of the beholder. A few days ago, Cathy and I left on another treasure hunt called The World’s Longest Yard Sale. Imagine if you can a yard sale stretching 675 miles with 5,000 vendors scattered from Nocaloola Falls in Gadsden, Alabama all the way to Hudson, Michigan, with their trash and treasures displayed under tents on every imaginable kind of make-shift table in pine thickets, yards, fields, old buildings, and church parking lots. Now I know for some of you just thinking about this conjures up visions of what hell will be like, but really it’s not.

It’s Southern Americana at its finest—men and women, even kids, who know the value of the treasures their selling literally down to the penny. Plus—there’s a story with every piece even if they have to make one up. It’s the fine art of deal making carried to the extreme with badgering, bartering, and begging all mixed together.

The Alabama section is a leisurely drive along the Lookout Mountain Parkway through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet—like Dogtown, Fort Payne, Mentone, and Desoto State Park. Along with the natural beauty are the colorful characters you may meet along the way. One year Elvis was carving those little cedar signs with your name etched in them. Every so often, he would stop, put down his tools, and pick up a microphone connected to a slightly weathered karaoke sound system with cracked speakers and break out in one of his greatest hits. Yes—you heard right—a slightly overweight Elvis sighting in the East Alabama Mountains wearing faded Liberty overhauls without a single button fastened or even a tee shirt. Or the Tupperware lady who travels from place to place on an old yellow school bus loaded with at least one piece of every Tupperware bowl, container, or lid ever manufactured in the United States. If she doesn’t have it, she can get it—just leave your name and number. And there are hundreds more—all unique with a tale to tell or an item to sale.

Our treasure hunt unearthed no fabulous prize worth hundreds of dollars, but it did yield a few good finds—boat buoys, doll house furniture, creamy vanilla ice cream, and one dollar hotdogs with all the topping you can pile on a bun. The enjoyment comes in the looking and I’m still convinced if I look long enough I will find that mythical treasure I’m hunting.           

By the way, Jesus is a treasure hunter as well. Even as we speak, He is busy sifting through the trash and the garbage of this world looking for men, women, boys, and girls. Each one, no matter their station, location, or status in life is priceless to Him. On the cross, the redemption price of His life established the market value of our lives. Ever wondered what you’re worth? The price tag reads “Jesus.” That’s what God was willing to pay for you. Has the Ultimate Treasure Hunter found you?