Travel Tools

The promotion I got earlier this year came with an unwelcome side effect – more travel. Not “Hawaii on the company dime” kind of travel, but frequent 2 hour car trips, or occasional overnights within the state.
I have an ipod, but it had been collecting dust for a while because my daily commute wasn’t long enough to warrant its use. And on long car trips, Lee’s ipod was always full and charged and ready to go.
But recently, I decided to brush off the old ipod and give her another try. Now, she is an integral part of my trips, but not because of the fun music I’ve loaded onto the player. Because of podcasts. Sweet, sweet podcasts.
I now subscribe to several podcasts on itunes (for free!), and while I still don’t enjoy these mundane road trips, I do look forward to the opportunity to listen to my podcasts. Back in the day, I enjoyed listening to books on tape, but they’re so long and could be a little dangerous for me. I got so involved with the books, that one time I ran out of gas on the side of a Macon road because I’d been so engrossed in the story I hadn’t realized the gas light was on. For a long time. So I had to hike to the gas station because I was too chicken to get in the car with any of the multiple passersby who stopped to offer help. They could be murderers. I’d settle for the blisters forming on my feet instead.
Anyway, podcasts are great because they can be quite good and entertaining, but not as lengthy as a book. One of my absolute favorites is NPR’s “This American Life.” It’s so good. It’s sit-in-your-driveway-so-you-don’t-miss-anything good. The radio show producers use each episode to focus on a different aspect of american life – and especially on the interesting people who live it. It’s very well done, and even though I’m a relatively new listener, I’m a devoted fan. Passionate fan. Total aficionado. If someone told me they didn’t like this show, we would fight. With fists.
I also really love listening to Delta Park Project, Jason and Anna’s podcast. Not only is it a fun podcast, it makes me feel a little closer to my two good friends. I still haven’t gotten over their move to the northwest, but at least while I’m listening to the podcast, it’s like they’re in the car with me.
I also enjoy Anna and Jason’s Lost podcast, and the official Lost podcast. They help me decipher each episode of my favorite TV show.
In addition to my ipod and podcasts, my other new travel tool is… I hate to admit… a bluetooth earpiece for my phone.
I know lots of people who have these earpieces, and that’s fine – but I have always regarded them with a pious disdain. I mean, it’s enough that I always have my cell phone with me. Do I really need it IN MY EAR? AT ALL TIMES? Just in case I get a call and it would take me an extra 10 seconds to fish the phone out of my purse? Horrors!
People with these bluetooth earpieces not only look self-important to me, they also often look absolutely insane. I was in the grocery store recently on the chip aisle, when an older woman was trying to select a bag of chips. I was shocked, and tried politely not to stare, when she began talking to the racks of chips.
“There are just so many different kinds. I mean, do I want the barbecue chips? I don’t know, the sour cream and onion look good. No trans fats for either of them. But oh, there are these salt and vinegar, I just don’t know.”
Poor, poor senile old woman.
Then she turned around and I could see the earpiece flashing in her ear. I guess I just wasn’t expecting a bluetooth granny.
But now that I’m on the road, I’m still on the phone a lot for work. The earpiece gives me the freedom to talk without taking my hand off the wheel. Georgia’s roads are decidely safer.
I’ve also found it handy when I’m waiting on an important phone call while at home alone with Camille. It’s hard to wrangle an increasingly mobile baby and hold a phone at the same time. But now, I can devote both hands to her while I explain to the nurse on the phone why we need more antibiotic. Camille doesn’t seem to suspect that I’m talking to myself or anything, so that’s good.
Anyway, even though I’m not thrilled to be driving so much more, the podcasts and bluetooth are little silver linings along the way.