I do nearly all of the driving for our adventures, not so much due to skill but temperament. I don’t stress easily and while driving is one of the few things that can get me wound up it normally doesn’t. Trail, on the other hand, can get pretty stressed out just being a passenger when we are towing the trailer. My weakness as a driver is I get bored and hypnotized by the road easily which makes my reaction time and awareness drop precipitously.
To counteract this on longer drives I generally turn to books on tape or podcasts which give my mind something to chew on and thus stay alert and yet it is not so occupying that it distracts me from the action on the road. While a good conversation can do the same, we’ve learned those can take my attention well away from driving with some rather frightening results. Thus we keep the conversations lightweight and the radio interesting.
The Great Courses
We decided that the best thing to listen to while driving across America would be American history. For that we turned to an endless font of great audio: The Great Courses. These folks record college professors giving lectures on a wide range of academic subjects. We were turned on to them by our friends Jeff and Kate (The GRUBB STREET) who order them often and share the CDs when they are done. This is why we subscribed to Audible.com for around $15 per month. For the subscription we get one credit per month to purchase an audiobook at any price. This is an awesome deal for us because we often pick audiobook lectures worth $50 or more since they have over 20 hours of audio and it usually takes us about a month to listen to a whole lecture. The Great Courses audiobooks done by The Teaching Company tend to fall soundly into that category.
Some of you may imagine that a lecture by a history professor might make for dull listening but I assure you this is not the case. For starters, they can pick from among the best lecturers available and as a result, you get some pretty amazing speakers and storytellers in these courses. These are folks that built their careers on giving lectures and it shows through. Furthermore, American history is filled with some incredible dramatic stories and characters. Most of us have heard of them in passing but these lectures really dive into the details and create a grand narrative of our countries past. The miles fly by and I look forward to our trips just so I can listen to more of these lectures.
History of the United States
The History of the United States 2nd Edition, is what we’ve been digging into as of late. It is a truly mammoth series but consistently fantastic. We particularly appreciated Professor Guelzo’s contagious energy, but all three professors did an excellent job of dividing the sections into logical points. After listening, I gained a well-balanced grasp on American history. If you have any interest in the subject at all, I strongly recommend getting these and making time to listen