This is my shop hop story, told Dragnet style. Following Sgt Joe Friday's directive of "just the facts, ma'am" I will begin.
It was a sunny August day in Michigan. My sewing buddy and I joined 40 other women on a bus to visit 6 quilt shops on a round trip that should have totaled 260 miles over 12 hours. Two hundred more women were doing the same thing on 5 other buses, one from each of the participating shops following the same circuit. All meals and snacks were included in the cost of this adventure on chartered buses with bathroom facilities. We were supposed to look like this:
This was the first time for this particular shop hop. My sewing partner and I have been on others before, but never by bus. Statistically, buses probably do not break down any more frequently than cars, but if one car had transmission trouble and another had a flat tire, only two carloads of women on this adventure would have experienced delays, not all 240 of us. Yes, you read that correctly. All of us had to delay our arrivals at scheduled shops for the two buses with problems.
Each store had a drawing for each bus load of women. You've probably seen game show contestants behave so exuberantly, you wondered if they were coached to act that way. Perhaps not, based on some of the reactions I witnessed.
Seems a bit much for a pattern, doesn't it? Or for a book about canning. And just what does canning have to do with quilting?
Our bus driver was very nice as were the two women assigned to our bus representing our store of origin and the whole shop hop event. Before returning to our "home" store, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire about this experience so they could improve for next year. Here is a photo of Joe Friday and Bill Gannon discussing the questions. Or maybe Joe is rubbing his temples and asking Bill for extra strength headache medication.
An hour per shop proved to be too much time. All of the stores were very nice, but a certain portion of goods carried in any store dedicated to a hobby are going to be the same. Most of us lapped the stores at least twice, made our purchases and still had time to kill before getting on the bus again. Here is Joe calling home to tell his spouse how much later he was going to be because of the bus snafu.
The food that we were served on the buses was provided by the shops we had just left. We had breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner and after our last store, dessert. My only complaint about quality was the cold breakfast dish of eggs and sausage as we left the first store. The complaint that most of us shared was over our eating utensil throughout the day. This photo might look like Joe Friday is examining a knife, but what you don't see is the clear plastic fork we shop hoppers had to use for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He isn't using a magnifying glass because the fork is clear, he is using it because it was so small.
What? You don't believe me? Allow me to present Exhibit A, the fork used on the shop hop photographed next to one of my forks at home.
By the time we reached our last shop, most of us had backaches from seats that didn't sit up straight enough and swollen feet from sitting in one position too long all day. I will visit the last store again some time when my eyes aren't glazed over and my head isn't throbbing from a lame video that played the last two hours of the trip. A screen and speaker were right over our seats. The store could have had a pot of gold free for the taking or a pile of dead bodies and I don't know that I would have noticed either. Walking around inside was more about flexing knees and hips and using the rest room for most of the bus, including the driver who didn't use her bus' rest room because the light didn't work.
Did I say it was a long day? It was over 14 hours from leaving my home to returning.
Would Joe Friday, Bill Gannon, my sewing buddy and I do this again? Sure, if we could take our own wheels and leave a store when we were ready.
And if we came upon this, we'd pick it up for our dining pleasure!