PENINSULA - From the moment the sun was up on Friday morning the race was on. A race that would be won by just about everybody who participated by the time the weekend was over.

You see, there were lot's of prizes to be had - if you were willing to look - during the "World's Longest Garage Sale," sponsored by the Chinook Observer. The event, which took place from Friday through the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, hosted sales from Naselle and Chinook all the way up to Oysterville and Surfside.

And though over 55 sales were advertised in the Observer, it wasn't hard to see that there were probably twice as many popping up all over town. It seemed everytime you drove a block on Pacific Highway or Sandridge Road last weekend you would inevitably run into new sales you hadn't expected.

While making the rounds last weekend, it also helped to have eyes like a hawk - and not just at the sales. Many folks put out homemade signs advertising their location, but some made dubious choices as to their placement. One sale was found by way of a network of small cardboard signs staked about three inches from the ground. Others were marked on paper plates stapled to power poles.

Once at a site, those sharp eyes that got you there probably helped in finding some of the treasures hidden under the surface - literally. Unlike at retail stores where items are put in plain sight, many of the best garage sale finds are often buried under other things. Heck, anyone can find that bedroom set sitting there in the middle of a room, it takes true garage-saling skills to find that rare Swedish jazz album under a table for 25 cents.

In some ways, visiting the sales can be almost more a lesson in sociology than in commerce. You can learn a lot about people by what they are selling and why. Whether it was a man in Klipsan Beach selling an inordinate amount of shot glasses - though he said he did not drink - or a house in Ocean Park that was selling everything - including a giant painting of Jesus hanging on a then-bare wall. The owner of the home said her sale began before she even knew it - she came out of the bathroom with her toothbrush in her mouth to find several people in her kitchen.

"There were purses everywhere and a big envelope full of money just sitting on the table," she said.

Ann Wammer of North Long Beach said she spent a good deal of time cleaning up her garage the day before just so she could hold her sale. And she didn't make short with the small talk either. Wammer would jump up from her folding chair to answer a question or demonstrate one of her items on a whim.

And whether it was lightly worn used clothing, kitchen wares or a mint condition original Nintendo system with games for $3.50 ( which this reporter's wife gleefully found Saturday), if you were looking for something over the weekend, it was probably not too hard to find.

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