The Up North Happiness Project

Image 2Last week Madam and I tried something new, a themed road trip. I needed fodder for my next book, and she hoped to point her book club cronies to a more inspiring topic than Senate filibuster. So, we decided to create the First Annual Up North Happiness Project. Surely it would be more fun than polarized politics and safer than last years project – recovering Madam’s stolen horse from Nowthen, Texas.

So I dusted off the Rand McNally Road Atlas, and chose a destination—Ely, Minnesota, home to North Pole dogsled explorer extraordinaire, Will Steger. It made a perfect spot to launch some lofty happiness goals. Madam invited friends Monica and Miss Vicki to join us. Then, in honor of our first happiness project resolution, Just Say Yes, she also invited Pooch One, Pooch Two, and the Fluff Muffin Cat.

Ely is located approximately three rest stops and one doggie throw-up north of Saint Paul. That combined with Madam’s checkered past operating GPS made it a longish drive. Yet, the drive time and the Fluff Muffin’s erratic use of his litter box provided ample opportunity for each passenger to exercise resolution number two, Lighten Up.

The Happiness Project author, Gretchen Rubin, surely would have approved of our third resolution, Spread the Joy. It applied nicely to the birthday celebration we held in honor of Monica. Not only did the party include a fabulous soufflé cake and several bottles of chardonnay, it transformed our happiness blueprint into an AARP enterprise. In other words, the discussion veered sharply from men to Medicare and high fiber food.

Night one, the women washed party dishes, picked up the cabin, and tucked themselves into their cozy beds by nine bells. About midnight, a woodland creature attempted to make entry through an open window. Apparently the women believed the crackling sound came from a bear, because they sprang out of bed as if someone had sounded a tornado siren. Madam shouted safety instructions and waved a canister of Mace pepper spray that she mistook for a flashlight. Pooches one and two barked bravely at the possibility of menacing wildlife. All the while, the Fluff Muffin reclined on the kitchen counter where he entertained a small field mouse. The terrified mouse was attempting to transport an M&M chocolate bar to his abode before the Fluff Muffin caught up to him. The candy wrapper made a fearsome crackling sound that no doubt prompted a bear alert. So much for lessons learned from the wildlife expert we just met at the Ely Bear Center.

Anyhoo, in the interest of happiness resolution number four, Be More Inclusive, Madam chased away the cat and prepared a plate of quiet food for the mouse. This meant the candy wrapper had to go, but the tiny intruder could still enjoy a peanut butter sandwich without waking any intrepid campers.

As for the Up North Happiness Project, I’d say it lost a few points in wildlife identification but made up for it in field mouse hospitality.

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