July 7, 2014

Sounds of a Summer Road Trip


This weekend we took a last minute day trip to Palo Duro Canyon in Amarillo, TX, the second largest canyon in the United States. It's a 3 hour drive through wide open prairie, and as practice for our upcoming cross country move we left the DVD player at home. We are trying to figure out what else will entertain the boys in the car so we can rotate through a few different options to help keep things fresh. Happily, the books and DS/iPad time easily occupied them during the drive.

Even more exciting? We realized that with the boys occupied in the backseat with headphones, my husband and I could listen to whatever we wanted (within reason) on the radio. Parenthood is exciting stuff, sometimes, isn't it?

Over the years, we have relied on both non-fiction audiobooks and podcasts as a way to bridge our vast differences in musical tastes. We can always find science or history topics that will interest us both. We will also happily listen to the NPR news shows, but unfortunately we are running into stories that my 6 year old isn't ready to process. 

Call me overprotective, but I'd rather he didn't know the details of some of the horrors happening around the world lately.

Trailside selfie with my oldest. 

Instead, we choose podcasts that might occasionally make a joke or reference that we will need to explain (if they are even listening), but overall I'm not worried will add anxiety, especially when they are already dealing so well with so much change and stress this summer. 

Without further ado, here are my top five choices for podcasts right now. Several are downright nerdy, but you should expect that on this blog by now! After all, I'm the one in a panic about how to survive without all of my books for 6 weeks this summer.  These are all husband approved, by the way. Some day I will do a separate list for podcasts I love that are pure girl.

This weekly tongue in cheek current events quiz show hosted by Peter Sagal is the first thing I listen to on a road trip, a run or when I'm just cleaning my house. Like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, they mock everyone and when it's over you realize you've learned more about current events that you would from an hour browsing CNN. 

Hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson of Cosmos fame, this podcast ranges over a real variety of science topics, despite his background in astrophysics. One of my favorites is an old Halloween episode, where he interviewed Mary Roach and several other authors about the science behind ghost hunting. Some debunked myths, others explained the history of the field, and one talked about how the machines used to "detect" were invented. This podcast never fails to be fascinating, and leads to good conversation starters while we're driving. Considering that we stopped to look at all the tarantulas crossing the road on the way home yesterday, you'll understand why this one is a big hit with the whole family.

     After we drove past the 5th migrating tarantula, we pulled over so the boys could take a closer look. Ben's main concern was that tarantulas might not have Christmas if they lived in the grass. 

A new(ish) podcast from Rita Meade, a librarian and Book Riot blogger, where she and a guest discuss reader questions. Everything from "how do I make more time to read" to "how do I handle book judgement" comes up. It's funny and the advice is generally solid and in true librarian form, no one judges what you read. 

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, there don't seem to be many recent episodes of this one. The back catalog is well worth listening to however, as Baldwin chats with celebrities from Brian Williams to Lena Dunham. He is remarkably adept at interviewing. He leads the guest through his questions, making it into a conversation between two friends, but it never seems forced or promotional. They are just telling stories to an audience and I love it. 

I never thought I would voluntarily listen to a sports podcast, but this one hosted by ESPN writer and Grantland founder, Bill Simmons is the exception. He chats with his buddies about whatever is going on currently in sports, but ties it into pop culture and life in LA that I'll even listen to it when my  husband isn't around. The episodes they do ranking the contestants in each season of The Bachelor or Bachelorette like players are ranked before a sports draft are some of my favorites. 

Do you have a favorite podcast? Please share in the comments! We have 3 days in the car to fill in just a few short weeks, so I'd love to stock up on some new recommendations. 

Also, if you're a blogger, I'm hoping to have some guest posts to help cover the blog while I move during the end of July to beginning of August. If you're interested, comment below or send me an email at hearthandhomefront (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!!


  1. What a fun list! I hate to admit but I have never listened to a podcast!? I think this list may be the motivation I need. I'll be passing on the science one (sorry!) but Dear Book Nerd- how awesome is that? And Bill Simmons is my husband's favorite sports writer! I will be driving my oldest quite a distance back and forth to a creative writing camp each day next week so I will be giving some of these a try for sure! Dorky question- do you download podcasts? Like a tv show? And if you are still looking for guest posters I would be love to be considered. I adore your space and would love a chance to get to know your readers a bit better. Favorite summer reads so far perhaps? Either mine or my girls' or both?

  2. NOT a dorky question! Yes, I do download them if I'm going to be listening in the car, so they aren't relying on 3G access to play. If I'm home on my wi-fi network my phone will just stream them like it would Pandora.
    I would love to have you guest post! I will send you an email tonight with details on dates, etc. Thank you :)

  3. Yes to the mixing up of activities. We are apparently one of the last families without portable DVD player, but our kids do pretty well as long as we mix things up. The Kindle helps too :).

    On our way back from Maine, my husband and I listened to Dave Ramsey's podcast a lot. Also a Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me fan. And one of my new favorite podcasts is the Popcast.

  4. Our portable DVD player just died, and I think we're going to try to just use the iPad instead of replacing it. That might change in the next week though :) We're going to try some audiobooks that we might all enjoy too…as soon as we figure out what book will appeal to my husband AND a 5 year old!
    Thanks for the recs-I'll have to look up Popcast!


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