Rainbows and dolphins
July 31, 2020

I'm feeling so lucky to have spent a few days at the beach last week. COVID makes this even more precious. We will hope we did not catch anything and cherish the fun we had.
Well, actually, the trip didn’t start off well. My wonderful girlfriend from college invited us to come camping on the beach at Assateague Island, MD. Sounds so wonderful doesn't it? We have been doing this since we were both young and single. Adding sweethearts to the trips since has meant they never go as well. We keep thinking we can recapture the magic- the fun of wild ponies, the amazing stargazing, the sound of the ocean waves all night long, uncrowded private beaches to body surf all day, talking most of the night until we collapse. Somehow the brilliance of all that is overwhelmed by sand (and sand blowing behind my husband’s contact lens), the tents blowing away, the heat, cramming into the car during thunderstorms, stiff joints in the morning, piles of pony shit and the latrines- the things we hardly noticed when we were younger, things that we used to laugh about.
The past few camping trips have been really bad and last week was no exception. It was the first trip in about 6 years. It was a record-breaking heat wave with high humidity and a heat index of 115F when we arrived, and the mosquitoes were epic. Within 20 minutes my sweetheart announced he’d stay tonight but was leaving in the morning and an awkward silence hung. I knew there’d be a buzz kill, but it came much faster than I’d expected.  We dove into our tents early, with the stifling heat, killing dozens of mosquitoes and in the process bloodied our hands, our sheets, and tent. 
Tossing and turning and mosquito slapping still at 1am, we thought we’d try to get some relief by the water. I stepped out of the tent and quickly turned to zip it shut. My husband shone a flashlight on my legs. They looked like hairy ape legs, but it was just a solid mass of mosquitoes biting, everywhere, not just my legs. I tried to outrun them, but no luck. We ran to the car instead of the beach and began the mosquito slapping process again. We relished the A/C for awhile. By 5am, mosquitoes still buzzing in my ear, we went to the water to cool off and not wake my friends. But my friends were already by the water waiting for the sunrise. No one had slept and everyone agreed that we were not staying. We didn’t even dare to put on bathing suits and expose more skin. But then, we got the most exquisite sunrise and watched it with the ponies and ghost crabs. And here’s a peak that doesn’t even begin to capture how beautiful it was.
All of us agreed that we may not go camping again when it’s over 90F. Maybe 80F. Maybe winter camping would be better. What about RVs or a hotel? Maybe we have gotten too old for tents? But at least we saw the sunrise, surely, we’d have missed it if hadn’t been so awful to sleep. We’d arrived at 4pm and packed up and abandoned camp by 8am; it was already 88F. My friends didn’t want to risk getting COVID, so we waved happy hands, instead of hugs, to say good bye as they headed back to DC slathered in hydrocortisone lotion. 
Luckily, our next stop was a Fenwick Island DE motel with lots of disinfectant wipes and zero mosquitoes. We slept much of the afternoon and when we went to the beach at last, the whole horizon was filled with dolphins jumping for fish. I couldn’t stop smiling. Also, strangely, none of the red bites itched at all. I am so lucky; I could not even make this up. 
The next day had dramatic thunderstorms and I finished almost 2 books. Two mornings later, not quite as early as at Assateague, we had another dolphin show, and a double rainbow arched over the sky behind us, the waves lapped kissing our feet. It was magic. As we passed two women, I pointed at the rainbow. They hadn’t even seen it. They pointed at the dolphins and I nodded smiling. It was one woman’s birthday and we marveled at how enchanting it all was. The water was perfect, the tacos and ice cream too. As we left Friday morning, we got farmers market bounty of local peaches, tomatoes, and zinnias, and felt so happy.
Here’s my husband and 5 dolphins in front of him, the rainbow, my sand doodles, beach pines and produce, flowers, the Bethany boardwalk, lazing about, stormy skies, tacos, and more sunshine.
My friend called last night, the mosquitoes almost forgotten already, and said “Next year we leave the men home”. Itchy for another beach run already! But I wonder, with working from home now (or living at work- depending on your job), why do we wait to move to our happy place? It’s actually less expensive than where we live.  The conversation has begun. How much climate change risk is too much? What criteria are malleable?
Continuing the trend with recent posts and the fun game of searching on different criteria, I am doing a scenario in the Selection Tool - DE beach area versus other local beaches.  
For today, I opened the Selection Tool. To start, you can check out the 1. Read Me tab if you’re wanting directions on how to use this tool.

 Then I select the tab titled 2. Choose Criteria and Weights.
Today I am selecting and weight the following at 200000 since these are my must haves (noticing that anything I update is highlighted in lavender as I go):
·       Census Region:  South
·       Place with an Ocean Beach: Yes
Then I am selecting and weight the following at 20000 since these are super nice to haves:
·       Independent or Public Radio: Yes
·       Independent Bookstores within 50 Miles: Multiple  
·       Farm Markets/100k of population: Above US Average
And then I am selecting and weighting the following at 1000 as my nice to haves:
·       US Climate Extremes Index:  Normal
·       Hacker and Maker Spaces: Yes
·       # Museums: Above US Average
·       Life Expectancy: Above US Average
·       Physicians per 100k of Population: Above US Average 
And then as I thought about it, I changed my mind and added 20000 point weight to have 4 seasons
·       Has 4 Seasons (Avg Jan Temp <45F): Yes

And so click on Tab 3. Top 10 Report to Print.

click on Data, Refresh All. This is a critical step to see YOUR matches:


And just that easily I can see my Top 10 are:

Wait, there are 11 results, yes, the top scoring results are shown and the tie puts the count at 11. 
 DE and MD beach areas are in there, and I think I will dig into Charleston, SC next too. I can print out the report on Tab 3. Top 10 Report to Print I can print the 13-page report of top matches.

If I want to, I can go to Tab 4. See All Places, then I can sort on Total Score and see what else ranked fairly high.

And yes, I do have so much fun using this tool.
Hoping I can help you get to your happy place soon!
Best wishes,
 Rose Thun, CEO and Creator of the Choose MY Happy Place Method©
 PS-   Send me a note hello @ ChooseMYHappyPlace.com to tell me if your criteria!
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