On Sunday afternoon with nothing planned (that never happens), my husband and I got hit with some serious cabin fever. We quickly decided it was the perfect day to pack our toddler in the car and “ramble.” That’s what we call it when we just start driving spontaneously with no plan and no agenda.
Without realizing how random it would sound, I said, “Let’s go to IKEA, I need a new plant for my desk.” My husband gave me that familiar look and I knew he was thinking, “nice excuse,” but he went for it and we headed south on I-75 toward Cincinnati.
After a short drive, we rode the escalator up to a shimmering showroom of storage solutions, furniture and other Swedish stuff. Here, we managed to buy much more than a plant, of course. Some of our best, most unusual finds were a set of finger puppets including the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, and an adorable stuffed rat for our daughter. We were comforted by the smell of Swedish meatballs cooking in the restaurant, and the soothing sound of tiny golf pencils scribbling code numbers for things people wanted to buy before leaving the store.
We were still feeling adventurous when we left IKEA, so we decided to embrace a worldly theme and head to Fairfield, Ohio to visit one of our very favorite Ohio destinations – Jungle Jim’s International Market.
We started our Jungle Jim's expedition by sampling cheese from all over the world in the International Cheese Shoppe. With more than 1,400 varieties, it was tough, but we finally decided to take home an English Sharp Cheddar. Our next stop was the Scratch Bakery, where we picked up iced Pumpkin Cookies (a tribute to my hometown of Circleville, Ohio – home of the Pumpkin Show) and some hearth-oven-baked European bread.
With a toddler in tow, we couldn’t leave without a visit to the Candy Spot to see the largest selection of Pez dispensers in the tri-state area and watch the animated Elvis bear perform his rendition of “Hound Dog” (though it turns out a certain 2-year-old is terrified of six-foot animatronics).
We made a pit stop at what USA Today voted one of the “America’s Best Restrooms” and made our way through the seafood department to peer into the 1,000-gallon tanks at crabs, lobsters, catfish and more. Then we picked up a bottle of Georgia Peach Hot Sauce (one of 1,400 hot sauce varieties available); stopped into the specialty areas for Holland, Scandinavia, Greece, Spain and France; and made our way to the checkout serenaded by animated singing birds.
It was a whirlwind day and we headed for home with a car full of souvenirs. To complete the tour, we capped it all off with one last worldly adventure at China Cottage – one of our favorite restaurants in Dayton – for firecracker shrimp and pot stickers.
It was a world-class ramble, to say the least, and we can’t wait for our next random getaway. Any suggestions for our next trip?