Sunday, June 21, 2009

National Lampoon's Ikea Vacation

I always thought the Chevy Chase Vacation series were spoofs, but on Friday Debi (who's helping me set up the new store) and I lived one. We got some great decor items for the new sewing lounge but...

It began as a normal trip to Ikea, a simple 2 hour highway drive to a store that is right off of the highway.We left early, but not too early, calculating and planning so that we would avoid both Madison and Chicago rush hours. We figured (generously in our minds) 2 hours for the trip down, 3 hours for shopping, and 2 hours for the return trip, putting us back home mid afternoon.

About 20 minutes into our trip, it began to pour. I'm talking a torrential downpour complete with gusty winds. This continued for our entire drive, letting up only occasionally for a few minutes. Once in Illinois, construction started, which apparently drives somepeople insane because they were taking god-awful risks to advance one car length. Nearing out turn-off, we found out that our exit was closed due to flooding. No, it had just happened, so of course there weren't any detour signs. We waved at the store, aware that we were going further and further away from our destinationm and unsure of how to correct the situation. We tried to turn around at the Oasis, a rest stop that is pretty close down the highway. No dice--we could only go back onto the highway going the same direction. Finally, we decided to turn around at Ohare airport, which we knew had to have an exit ramp back onto the Northbound highway. Well, apparently, it is the access road that is marked (and we didn't know it was the access road) rather than the highway itself. We ended up taking a lovely 2 hour tour of the local streets surrounding the airport, then using a compass, made our way back to road that the store was located on (we gave up asking for directions after the second person steered us the wrong way).

As luck would have it, the sky was clearing and sunny as we entered the parking lot. As Murphy's Law would have it, the storm reappeared at the exact moment that we had gotten out of the car and started walking (did I mention that I had my 10 month old baby with me in a sling?). Wet, exhausted, hungry, and, um, wet, we rested for a little while, than shopped. Ikea is a lovely store, and I hope to return there one day when I get my guts up again for the drive.

A few hours later as we were about to start checking out with our four carts, the lights went out. They did go back on again about a minute later, but I truly lived in dread of the implications of being unable to make my purchases after 10 hours of heinous effort. We celebrated as the lights came back on.

Our celebration was short lived however. About 10 minutes later, as we were exactly half way through checking out, the front end manager rushed over. Apparently, there was more water than the room could handle, and it was about to start raining down right on top of where we were standing. Seriously.

Attempting to get back on to the highway in a torrential downpour at night with the roads still closed was another hour-long feat in and of itself, but I am honestly too exhausted (and if you have made it this far, you have been incredibly patient--thank you for letting me vent) to go into much detail. Suffice to say, we got home at 11:30 at night.

As I took my contacts out before bed, I breathed a sigh of relief that my incredibly tired eyes could rest after all the strain while I was driving (Debi navigated). I couldn't remember the last time I had put them through so much. The next day I woke up with pink eye in both eyes and the flu.

I did have some good scores though, so maybe it was all worth it...


  1. Oh you poor thing...what a nightmare...glad you made it home safe and sound!!!!

  2. I too love Ikea, but we are halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. It is a full day affair and you have to REALLY want it...We had some flooding due to said storm.

  3. well, well. i think my daughters and i will have to make an "recovering ikea-holic" waldorf doll for you .... go to the website, to see a couple of the styles, and then we will make one totally opposite those pleasant happy dolls. but really, i never, in 48 years, EVER made a single trip to chi town where i did NOT get lost, and i even LIVED there for a couple years, and i STILL could not navigate. on the other hand, my years in nyc started off like a pro, i found it very different from chicago. glad to hear you and debi and the baby made it in one piece, though. heck of a trip.

  4. Oh my gosh!!! I loooove Ikea and moving to Madison was painful for me because it's so far away, but a trip like that would definitely turn me off from making the journey again anytime soon!