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Our Classroom on the Road

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Mahatma Gandhi

On our journey across America we spend many hours in the car—and have cooked up some ways to use that time wisely. One thing we like to do is keep learning. Fortunately for us, our library system has an extensive library of downloadable audio books.

Monument to the Encierro (Bull Run)

Pimsleur Spanish. We listened to this audio series to develop some basic Spanish skills before our hike across Spain. While we never reached conversational level we were able to master critical phrases such as “Dónde está el bano” and “Café con leche por favor.”* Pimsleur is great in that it is primarily audio training so we can do it in the car together. We plan to do a Spanish immersion course for several months in a Spanish speaking country sometime in the next few years. A half hour to hour of lessons each day on the road helps us remember what we’ve learned.

Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869
, by Stephen Ambrose.
Early in our trip we finished this fascinating history about the railroad that united our nation east to west. It gave us a new appreciation for American ingenuity, the contribution of Chinese immigrants, and disgust at people who abuse their power. We now have plans to hike parts of the tunnels that are described in this book on our return trip.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. Add this to the growing category of “Books we wish we had read when were younger.” Duckworth illustrates with stories and research how persistence outweighs talent, and how to develop it. I like that she includes interviews with our hometown Seattle Seahawks. See a fascinating story about that relationship here.  See her TED talk, but note that since this talk she has learned much more about how to develop grit and has incorporated it into her book.

Brave Companions: Portraits in History, by David McCullough

This is next on our list, thanks to a recommendation by fellow adventurer, Dick. Looks like a fascinating collection of stories about 17 remarkable individuals including Teddy Roosevelt, Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. A great companion book to our own journey across America.

How About You? Do you have books related to learning that you’d recommend to us or our readers? Please share them in the comment section.

Travel Update. We spent Saint Patrick’s Day in Fort Stockton, Texas, where the people were friendly but had no idea about how to celebrate the holiday. Fortunately, we spent the next two days in San Antonio where they were still honoring the good saint. The waters in the River Walk area were dyed green and barges were parading a day after the holiday.

*”Where is the bathroom” and “Coffee with milk, please.”



5 thoughts on “Our Classroom on the Road”

    1. We’re having a great time going to other churches–but do miss Saint Pat’s. I bet you guys would have had a much better holiday celebration than we found in west Texas!

  1. Jim and I watched Hell on Wheels and it showed the chinese people being the main ones to use explosives where they needed to build a tunnel or some other need. It finally clicked with me that the Chinese pretty much invented fireworks so of course they would be good at explosives.

    1. The Chinese laborers story is one of the fascinating parts of Ambrose’s “…Transcontinental Railroad..” book. They initially used Europeans for the western part but they would quit as soon as they got up their stake to be a gold miner. The Chinese stuck with it, and like you mention, had plenty of explosives experience. At one point they had a tunneling contest with some Welsh miners and waxed them.

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