This weekend we took a mini road trip and headed to the Keys to put Mr PoP’s recent SCUBA certification to good use. It had been a few years since we last made it down to there, but it didn’t disappoint. Mr PoP went diving with a group of folks he met through his certification course, where they saw some jellies, a whole bunch of stingrays, and even a loggerhead turtle. (Color me jealous, as they are one of my happy animals!)
I had planned on tagging along to snorkel while they SCUBA-d, but as conditions weren’t great for snorkeling a couple miles out, I had to be content with sticking close to shore and renting a paddle board and doing some exploring via paddle board (and parking next to the mangroves for some SUP yoga) on my own. But I still got to see a manatee (or was it a chubby mermaid?), a small shark, some adorable mushroom-like jellyfish, and an adorable little fish with a long nose that danced across the surface of the water on his tail fins for a good 30 feet or so.
Side Note: We should really learn more of the names of these lovely sea creatures, as otherwise I am reduced to calling them 1-Ups or Jesus fish.
All in all, it was a wonderful time. The weather was just gorgeous – the water warm enough that Mr PoP didn’t feel the need for a wet suit, but the air cool enough that I wasn’t sweating off my sunscreen on the paddle board. I don’t mean to rub the gorgeousness of the weather in (especially for those currently reading from the frigid tundra* – here’s looking at you, Frugal Hound!), but it was just such a wonderfully perfect and relaxing time that reflected so well what we are “planting our pennies” to achieve.
But Then We Went To IKEA
We had never been to IKEA before, but there it was – visible (big as anything) from the Florida Turnpike. We were already planning on getting some butcher block countertops from IKEA for our kitchen remodel having seen them online, and since we were so close to an IKEA (something that rarely happens), we decided to take the opportunity to stop and check out the countertops in person since it wasn’t too far out of our way.
What a bad idea that was.
For as calm and gorgeous as our time earlier in the day had been in and on the water, IKEA was almost the exact opposite.
When we walked from the parking garage into the atrium we were blasted with air conditioning that put a chill right through. Then as we followed the crowds up multiple escalators to find the actual entrance, we kept getting this weird feeling of being at a theme park. That feeling was kicked into high gear when we stopped and picked up a store map once we finally got to the entrance.
As we wound our way through the “Showroom” level, making our way to the Kitchen area that was not-so-conveniently just about exactly halfway through the maze, we dodged so many people. Kids running all over the place, occasional parents running after kids, old people stopped in the middle of the walkway gawking blocking the entire walking path. In the moment it felt like we had veered into a tornado of people of all shapes and ages and sizes making SO MUCH NOISE!
We managed to make it to the kitchen and saw the countertops… they look fine, so that’s good.
We tried to salvage the IKEA experience by getting Mr PoP a meal at the cafe before heading out (he was starving by this point from the SCUBA and we still had a good drive ahead of us). How wrong can you go when you’re that hungry, right? So Mr PoP pointed at a picture of the “salmon special” and said, “I want that.” When he looked at what appeared on his plate, he said, “Like the furniture, it looked a lot better in the picture than in real life.” The taste wasn’t great, either. =/
Why Was It So Bad?
As we drove the rest of the way home, decompressing from IKEA and trying to get back the utter relaxation that we had just hours before, I started to wonder why visiting IKEA felt like such an assault on our senses. We’re not big shoppers to start with, and CostCo gives me the same heebie jeebies that IKEA did. But we can tolerate them in doses, like when we visited Nebraska Furniture Mart (which Wikipedia tells me is the largest home furnishing store in North America) with The 1500’s last year for the BBQ as a part of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting. So why did IKEA feel so terrible? Best guess …
Having such a peaceful and relaxing experience of the water jut right up the relative chaos and bedlam of IKEA just did us in.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that our visit to IKEA ruined the day, but it definitely detracted quite a bit and I think we need to remember that lesson going forward. When we go out of our way to find peace and relaxation (a definite happy spot for us), we don’t want to give it away too quickly by adding an unpleasantly jarring experience immediately thereafter, even if it is terribly convenient to do so.
I’ll just let Mr PoP wrap it up here:
“So what are we missing from the IKEA experience? Is it really a consumer hellhole or is there something we’re missing?”
* My definition of the frigid tundra is pretty expansive, usually anything north of say, Atlanta. And last winter even Atlanta pushed my definition of the tundra!