We’ve been a beach-vacation family my whole life.
It was Ocean City, Maryland when I was a kid, every summer for two weeks.
We would leave Pittsburgh on Friday at midnight, so my dad could drive the 6+ hours and be there by sunrise. My sister and I slept on a mattress in the back of our Ford pickup truck, surrounded by luggage, coolers, and beach toys.
Don’t worry, it was safe. The truck had a cap on it. We loved every minute of it.
I spent a solid 8 hours every day in the ocean, aside from the one day I inevitably nursed a sunburn watching Munsters reruns on TBS. My sister never had that problem because she laid out in our driveway all summer, tanning in preparation. At the beach, she graduated from SPF 4 to baby oil.
We ate blue crabs, flew kites, mini-golfed, and played cribbage for hours. Showering outside was (and still is) the best thing ever.
In high school, my buddies and I did an additional Ocean City week. I had a failproof fake New Hampshire ID we made on my mom’s office printer and laminated at Kinko’s, which allowed us to buy all the Mad Dog 20/20 and Milwaukee’s Best we could throw up.
When our kids were born, we outgrew Ocean City and shifted 15 miles north to family-friendly Bethany Beach in Delaware. My mom and dad still ran the show, with my sister, her family, and ours all staying together in a much nicer house, drinking much better booze.
After my dad died, the tradition faltered for a couple years. Then Maddie started going to performing arts camp at French Woods all summer. Noelle’s gymnastics team practices five days a week and missing is heresy.
Whatever bulk free time we can orchestrate is typically spent visiting grandparents and cousins. Quiet weeks at the beach are hard to come by, almost impossible.
The good news is that by the time you’re reading this, the four of us will be on our way to Bethany Beach – or maybe even already there – for the first time in five years. We’ll drive in daylight. The kids will be securely buckled in the backseat (wimps).
Everything else will be like it always was.
There’s a less than zero chance you’ll get an email from me next week. Sorry.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
The COVID vaccine might be curing political tribalism. OK, not even close. But bear with me. We did a study on the coming resurgence of air travel – and vacationing in general. Over half of Americans feel safe traveling right now and 1 in 5 are planning to board a plane in the next month. But what stood out to me the most is the chart below – COVID-cautious political liberals are now more likely than COVID-cavalier conservatives to plan to fly. That’s a huge shift from what we saw just a few months ago. And since left-leaners generally travel much more often than righties, it’s good news for the airline industry.
Shopping will never be the same. I could write an entire Saturday email about this study on in-store and online shopping during the pandemic. Fewer than half of Americans say they are shopping in stores less than they did before the pandemic, which is a big drop since the beginning of the year. Parents of infants and toddlers are the most eager to shop in physical stores. Meanwhile, 68% of people say they plan to continue shopping online as much as or more than they did during the height of the pandemic – particularly notable among the 55+ crowd. COVID brought a lot of Luddites into e-commerce and they’re here to stay.
Cryptocurrency just keeps gaining traction, but so do volatility fears. The percentage of Americans who have invested (or plan to) in crypto climbed an amazing 20% over the past month. The big mover was Dogecoin, which we didn’t even ask about 30 days ago. Not only has it surged on to the scene – it’s now the second-best known behind Bitcoin – investors seem to be far less concerned about Dogecoin’s volatility than other digital currencies. Me, I’m still on the sidelines. This stuff requires too much babysitting.
People like using likes to keep score of how much people like them and I like using the word like five times in the same sentence. The narcissist farmers who brought you Facebook and Instagram recently announced they would allow users to hide how many people like their posts, ostensibly because tracking likes is bad for our mental health. It’s kind of like if tobacco companies let people opt out from having carcinogens in their cigarettes. In any event, only 1 in 5 users of FB/IG appear likely to take advantage of the feature – though over 1 in 4 Gen Zs like it. And that’s 10 likes in one paragraph. Wait. 11.
I’m guessing the vast majority of you reading this fall under the category of “remote workers,” except I’m not guessing at all because I have all the data. We did a cool deep dive into the remote work crowd in America and most of it is fairly intuitive, if affirming. Seventy-six percent of remote workers have at least a bachelor’s degree. We’re also super tech savvy and way more environmentally conscious. Forty-four percent are Gen X because we’re the best at life hacks.
A couple more studies this week:
- 58% of Americans have never used any kind of teeth whitening and I’m assuming they don’t drink as much red wine and coffee as I do;
- Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about eggs, especially that men and women differ wildly in how they crack them;
- 1 in 3 Americans eat QSR Mexican on a monthly basis and I don’t know what’s wrong with the other two-thirds – also El Pollo Loco is the highest rated brand and I’ve never been there so maybe there’s something wrong with me.
The most popular questions this week:
- Do you stack the dishes on your table after eating at a restaurant?
- What do you think is the best camping food to cook over a campfire?
- Have you ever used a white noise machine to help yourself fall asleep?
- Do you tend to keep watching athletic playoff games even after your favorite team is eliminated?
- Does the prospect of living “off the grid” sound at all appealing to you?
Answer Key: Yes; Sausage; No way; Always; This week it does.
Hoping you’re well.