Just one more blogger’s post about her trip to Round Top.

Let me tell you something. I almost didn’t go on this trip last week. I was tired, didn’t feel good, and had stepped on a sliver of glass or something that, despite my best efforts, remained enbedded in my foot and I couldn’t imagine limping around the fields feeling like that. (It’s still there, by the way. I’m too terrified to go to the doctor to have them dig it out. So when I write on my blog that my left foot has been removed below the ankle, please do not be surprised.) I Googled and Googled and Googled and Googled to try and find some indication that the prices at at least some of the shows would be low enough to bring them back for re-sale in the booth, but all I could find were rhapsodic posts about HOW. MUCH. STUFF. could be found on the 20+ miles of Highway 237 near Round Top. It sounded wonderful, but we’re in the middle of making a HUGE purchase (more about that in a different post) and to say money is tight is a gargantuan understatement…and this trip would be nine hours, six meals, and one night’s stay in a hotel worth of moola.

But.

I might have a job this time next year, preventing me from making such an impulsive trip. Justin had already taken Friday off in preparation for his Mr. Mom duties. My mom was scheduled to come down on Thursday so she could go with me. And after doing all that research, the Interwebs had thoroughly convinced me that this was something that I needed to see.

So Mom and I headed out the door at 6 am on Friday (the original plan was to do down Thursday, spend Friday and half of Saturday shopping, and come back Saturday afternoon. In an effort to be thrifty, I amended that to staying only Friday night, which would shorten our shopping time considerably.) The first thing I have to say about this trip is: it is long. Although it’s 9 hours, and I’m used to traveling the 10-11 hours between Chicago, Fayetteville and/or Little Rock, that trip basically consists of getting on one interstate until you turn onto another interstate and then BAM you’re at your destination. Not so this trip. We were on mostly backwoods highways, sometimes just two lanes, that wound through tiny little Oklahoma and Texas towns (except for when we drove through Dallas which — if I may say — is a lovely city, at least as seen from the highway). The complicated nature of the directions made the trip seem so much longer than 9 hours, and for a lot of it, there wasn’t anything to look at except vast green fields full of munching cows.

The last half hour of the trip, though, was so beautiful. I read so much about shopping at Round Top but not a lot of it talked about how pretty it all was. The last leg of the trip was on Road Top Road, and it was astonishingly pretty. When I saw these (baby mules? miniature mules? what the heck? I’ve never felt like such a city girl) I had to pull over and take a photo. There were eight or nine of them in this field but one, in particular, really knew how to work it . I think he was accustomed to scoring goodies out of the cars of tourists.

 

Dude was making eyes at me.

We pulled into town around 4:30, and we dead-ended on Round Top Road right at Highway 237, with the Round Top Inn at our right and a whole lot of vintage goodness stretching immediately out to our left. I had glumly assumed we were getting into town too late to do any real shopping, but there was clearly still a lot of activity going on, so we pulled into the first parking lot we saw, which was at The Old Depot.  I asked the first dealer there what time they closed, and she said they would be open until 9 or 10. Yay! The best part was that it wasn’t crowded AT ALL — the weather was perfect (right at 80 degrees) and it was so relaxing to walk around and look at so much stuff without having to push your way through crowds. I loved shopping here — they had a ton of great stuff.

This adorably-sized armoire was only $125 and in perfect shape.

We saw a lot of these old carnival game wheels. I would have been all over these in my previous, big-city, funky apartment life.

 

This vendor had lights make out of all kinds of vintage and industrial materials…very cool.

I was in love with this print. I considered buying it for Justin but that would be like him giving me a Dr. Who poster for my birthday. Not very considerate. It was hard to pass up, though, because I loved both the verse and the adorable art.

Oh My Gosh YOU GUYS. Round Top was FULL of all kinds of drawers and dressers and cubbyholes so PERFECT for a craft room. I was filled with envy and lust since I will soon be giving up the nice little craft corner with built in shelves and drawers here in a month or two.

After we shopped around this area — maybe the size of a city block yet took us over an hour and we didn’t even hit half the booths — we decided to explore a little bit more. The GPS was going wonky at this point and inexplicably took us to Jaster Road, which turned into a happy surprise, because Festival Institute is on this road.

I seriously felt like we had turned down some enchanted road. Everything about the campus of this place was gorgeous — several beautiful old houses which I gather are artist/faculty residences to the Institute, which seems to be a music school of some kind that has periodic music performances. While we were driving down the street, I had no idea what it was, and wondered if it was Rachel Ashwell’s bed and breakfast (which I wanted to take a look at but didn’t get the time) — it was that pretty.

We drove to Warrenton and stopped at a few places, where we saw…

…the biggest, weirdest, coolest thing I have ever seen at a flea market.

The traffic was starting to back up further towards Warrenton, so we decided to call it quits and go check into our hotel for the evening. We stayed in Brenham, which was a good half hour away from Round Top, at the Super 8. I am a hotel snob. I have no right to be, as I am not a wealthy person who jet sets around Europe staying in only the finest hotels, but let me tell you what happened to me during my formative years. I worked for a company that put their employees up only in Four Season Hotels, when they were available, and the Next Best Thing when they weren’t. Before my first business trip with them, the nicest hotel I had ever stayed in was a Holiday Inn, which we occasionally stayed in on summer family trips IF WE WERE LUCKY and IF MY DAD WAS FEELING FLUSH. I had no idea that such luxury existed until then, and it ruined me for all Best Westerns forever. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I was pretty worried about the Super 8, but other than the difficulty of finding the place (Brenham has a weird system of “turnarounds” and one-way streets), it was very, very pleasant and certainly the cheapest place in town to stay. At this point, the GPS wigged completely out on us, and this is a good time to warn you that THERE IS NO GOOD CELL OR WIRELESS OR INTERNET SERVICE IN THIS PART OF TEXAS. Most of the vendors I heard talking about it were having trouble with their credit card transactions and there were several times we had no cell phone service whatsoever. We were okay as long as we were at the Super 8, using their wireless, but when we ventured out, no GPS — so we hit a Schlotzsky’s and called it a night.

The next morning, we headed back towards Round Top and Warrenton early enough to get there by 9 am. On the way, off to the side of the highway, we stopped at a GREAT tent sale. I have  no identifying information other than it was under a huge tent, next to a charming old house, visible from the highway between Round Top and Brenham and it had really, really good stuff with really, really nice vendors. I loved everything they had but unfortunately was not in the market to pay any of the prices they were asking (which were totally fair and reasonable, just not bargain pricing). When we turned onto 237, we stopped at the first sale site we saw which MIGHT have been La Bahia, best as I can tell from the map. I meant to write all of this stuff down but the excitement prevented rational thinking. My plan at this point was just to stop when we saw something interesting but this plan proved completely useless as EVERYTHING WE SAW WAS INTERESTING and OMG THERE WAS SO MUCH OF IT.

My Mom was THISCLOSE to buying this for her beads. It was $285 and the fact that she was considering paying that much for something is a testament to how freaking cool this thing was. In the end, she passed on it, which is probably best, because I think the act of parting with that much money for one object would have sent her into cardiac arrest.

SWOON.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all of the cubbyhole stuff.

 

Before this trip, I never knew such a thing existed, but now I want a collection of vintage diner creamer pitchers STAT.

About noon, things started getting to be a toasty 85 degrees, so we slathered on some sun screen. “You need to rub that in more,” I said to mom, and she answered, “Oh? Is it still sitting on top of my skin?” and I had to take a picture because OH IT WAS. When I was 18 I would have snidely said “Nah. You’re fine,” and let her walk around like that. I’ve matured since then.

I knew we wanted to try to head back to Arkansas around two, and we still had not found any “junky” vendors. Everything was beautiful — beautiful products, beautiful styling. The prices were good, but not cheap. During my research I kept reading about “the fields” in Warrenton (one place referred to them as “gypsy fields”), and I wanted to try and find these mythic fields where things were cheaper. So we set off towards Warrenton, where things get a little hairy in terms of driving and parking. Pedestrians everywhere, wall-to-wall traffic, and though there are signs for parking here and there, it’s hard to figure out where you’re supposed to pull in what with all the foot traffic. We drove to what I think might have been the end of the action, or at least towards the end of the action, paid our $5, and set out.

The barkcloth is from the booth of Margaret Meier, who wrote the book on barkcloth. Literally, I mean. She has a book out called “Vintage Textured Barkcloth”, and the most astonishing collection of barkcloth that I have ever seen. I didn’t even ask prices because it was clear these beautiful patterns, in perfect shape, and so much yardage, was out of my league. In addition to barkcloth, she had other vintage textiles, including a scrumptious collection of feedsack fabric:

 

This dude stood about eight or nine feet tall and was made out of styrofoam. He was amazing. He was sold by the time we got there, and I was dying to know what price he fetched but didn’t want to be nosy and ask. I wish I had gotten the card of the people in this booth, because it was one of the most unusual ones we saw during the trip. They had wax saint statues under glass cloches from a church that they said were hundreds of years old, and those things hanging from the tree next to Mr. Green were antique lamp parts.

Gorgeous Cinderella dress.

At about 1:45, we reluctantly decided we needed to grab lunch and head back home. In my research the one thing I read over and over again was that we needed to eat at Royers, so we headed over there to have a quick bite. I know I’m treading on sacred cow ground here but I did not feel it was deserving of the press it gets. You sit at a table with other people, family-style, only there’s about three too many chairs at each table, promoting an atmosphere of forced intimacy that was uncomfortable to me. Plus, the place was so crowded and loud, making small talk was even harder. The food was pretty good (I had the shrimp BLT and mom had the tenderloin sandwich) and our waiter was lovely but I personally think the rhapsodic reviews of the place are somewhat undeserved.  Much of my attitude might be caused by the fact that their bathrooms were closed to customers “due to the crowd.” Honestly? Fix your bathrooms so they can handle large crowds if you’re a busy restaurant. I think it’s beyond the pale for a restaurant not to offer a restroom for their customers.

The trip back was really stressful — the GPS was still cutting in and out and with about four hours left we hit a stretch of bad weather that would follow us right to our door. We pulled in about midnight. In the end, I didn’t buy much — a milk glass vase, a little yellow pitcher, three little side tables to paint. I’m glad I had realized before we left that I probably wasn’t going to find a bonanza for the booth.

And here is how I would sum up the experience: it was like seeing my Pinterest boards come to life. Everything you’ve ever pinned — every lovely piece of painted furniture, every cool industrial piece, every genius re-purposing of an old piece of wood, every gorgeous refinished dining room table/buffet/china cabinet/headboard, every clever craft project and every piece of material needed to create that clever craft project is right there in front of you, stretching out forever in a beautiful setting. I never found the “cheap” stuff, if it is even there to be found, but a whole lot of what we saw was very affordable and if I were decorating a house, I could find everything I need for very reasonable prices. It was very, very rare that we came upon a vendor who was offering boring or unattractive stuff. Every booth was prettier than the next. How is that even possible? Kane County Flea Market, for example, is the biggest flea I’d ever been to before this, and I would say it has a 70/30 percent ratio of good stuff to bad. But from what we saw here, it’s more like 90/10. Granted, we hardly saw ANYTHING — as we were pulling away, I could see that we had done about three rows of a section that stretched back and to the side as far as my eyes could see. It’s SO. MUCH. STUFF.

In short: GO. If you have the chance, go. You won’t regret it.

April 4, 2013 - 9:41 pm

Laurie magpieethel You got the weather..Amy and I have had cold and rain for three days! Having fun…wish we could find the mythical fields of bargains too! Crazy prices and lots of eye candy. We ate at Royers last night. Need to exchange thoughts when we get home….what an experience! Suitcase will be full…

April 4, 2013 - 9:41 pm

Into Vintage Love your photos and finds from Texas! We’re still here and the temp has dropped 30 degrees since you left. A balmy 55, high winds and rain … Paired with sticker shock but that hasn’t stopped us from 12 hour days of junkin’! Looking forward to comparing notes when I get back home.

April 4, 2013 - 10:22 pm

Lara Jo Oh, I’m sorry about the weather, you two! That is a crying shame. It was warm enough while we were there for me to think that the August/September dates would NOT be fun. Hope it gets better before you guys leave…can’t wait to see what you got!!!

April 4, 2013 - 11:22 pm

Shara Sounds like you had a fast and fun trip. That restaurant sounds a lot like Lambert’s outside Branson – sit with strangers, they bring you different food to try and they throw rolls at you. No thanks, that doesn’t sound fun to me! I’d love to hit a big junk fest like this some day, but I think I would be overwhelmed at the shear volume of STUFF. Glad you are back safe and sound!

April 4, 2013 - 11:23 pm

Shara Also, maybe we could do a Bargains Galore on 64 trip this August. Starts in Alma and goes forever. I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve never made it. Maybe this year???

April 5, 2013 - 9:02 am

Mother Hightower My lawyer will contact your lawyer for using a photo of me without permission. Could I have ever in my life looked worse than that?…. NO!!!!!

April 8, 2013 - 9:31 am

Lara Jo YES! I’m in!!!Let’s keep this on our to-do list.

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