5 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Roadtrip (Or Right Now!)

As I’ve mentioned before, I have been traveling all summer. These last few weeks have been spent in the car, which means we’ve been listening to a lot of music and a LOT of podcasts. I am sharing some of our favorite podcasts with you here.

Science is Cool
Radiolab always has a fresh take on innovative, or sometimes just plain weird, science and technology. This episode is about a meat lover who is forced to stop eating red meat because of a freak accident… one that could happen to any of us!

Learn from People Around You
This American Life looks at people and the inner-workings of our everyday world. This episode is tender when you least expect it, and highlights the importance of platonic and cross-generational friendships.

True Life Crime
Criminal is about crime and criminal activities, but approaches the criminals in the situation as people. There are surprising episodes that show people challenging the law of the time to do what they feel is intrinsically right. One episode that blew my mind was this one, about lifelong identity fraud and the least-likely suspect.

Scary Stories
Lore is a podcast about folklore and myth that lives on and continues to scare. This episode about the Chicago murder house hits close to home… it’s literally a 15 minute drive from my apartment! Yikes!

Everybody Loves Food
Gastropod is so cool. Every episode looks at a different food element through the lenses of science, history, and culture. I think just about everyone can get behind this episode about the benefits and long history of caffeine.

 

 

Check out this unexpected party playlist and my to-do list for the final days of summer!

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Unexpected Party Playlist

My grandpa turned 80 this week! I have been assigned the rewarding task of assembling a party playlist with all of his favorite songs. For years, if Grandpa hears a song he likes, he writes the title down and I return with a cd of all the tunes. This is a random sampling of some of the songs he has requested over the years for his master playlist.

Sinister Minister by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
I was lucky to see this group perform in Brooklyn, last week! Somehow I didn’t know that Victor Wooten is the bass player?

Mama Told Me Not to Come by Three Dog Night
The cool thing about making these playlists for Grandpa is that I end up with new music in my arsenal. This song has been on my party playlist ever since! Also, I love this seventies getup! These guys are so fun to watch perform.

Lime in the Coconut by Harry Nilsson
He did all of the voices in this recording! You should definitely watch this absurdist Muppet’s version, while you’re at it.

Life’s Been Good by Eagles
This song has such a relaxed feeling and playful lyrics. It is a very casual conversation about the life of fame and riches.

Hot for Teacher by Van Halen
Another song to make you laugh. Van Halen uses a lot of enthusiasm and comedic timing to pull this silly song off.

 

Related: Pay Attention to these Musicians this Summer
Related: I Was Invited to a Secret Concert

Vacations: Good, Bad, and Beautiful

Now that we are in the height of summer and people are starting to think about back-to-school shopping, I have been finding the most amazing reflections on summer vacation! Here is my vacation round-up, for one last dose of adventure and summer freedom before we start thinking about school and fall layers.

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I have been watching for this post since the author came back from vacation. These photos from a girls backpacking trip in Alaska are so striking. I have definitely added this to the list of trips I would like to take.

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Joy shows some love to Detroit, and honestly, I’m convinced. The food looks great and it sounds like she found beautiful pockets of the rich culture and history of the city.

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The trip to Joshua Tree that went horribly wrong. I held my breath through the entire story. I can’t imagine the agony she was in.

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An old episode of This American Life all about summer camp. Warning: squeaky pre-teen boys and very loud, high-pitched screeches from the young ladies of the camp.

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Photos from the Goddard family vacation give us all that final nudge to start saving for a trip to Italy. From Rome, to Tuscany, to Venice, Joanna captures the best of each region. And there is an Uber for Vespas???

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And finally, please check out my own summer vacation experience in Alberta, Canada. We backpacked in Banff, had tea on a mountain, and hiked to glaciers and hot springs in Jasper National Park.

Book Lists

“Everyone is always looking for the next good book to read.” That’s what my mom told me when I expressed surprise at the popularity of all the posts about favorite books. I have written lengthy descriptions about my favorite Summer Re-Reads and detailed reflections about popular books on controversial topics, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Hillbilly Elegy. The Wonder Of is unrolling a new Book Lists page as a central location for all of the book lists that we publish. If you just finished a great novel and want to find one in a similar theme, check for more from our Nature Week Book Club or maybe What We Read on Vacation.

The Book Lists page will be regularly updated and reorganized, so be sure to keep checking back. If you’re curious, I’m reading this book now. What are you reading?

Monday Reflections and Intentions

What a wild summer. As soon as we got back from Canada, we washed a load of laundry, went for a great bike ride in Chicago, and turned right around and drove to New York City. I’m having a blast, but am ready to slow down. This week we are headed to southern Indiana to visit my family, and I am hoping to share some local favorites with my boyfriend while we’re there. Here are my reflections and intentions for the week. I hope your summer is action packed and sunny!

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Reflections:
-Went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens (as pictured above)
-Saw Béla Fleck and the Flecktones!
-Ate lots of NYC bagels
-Biked in Central Park
-Saw the Statue of Liberty from afar

Intentions:
-Make a playlist for my grandpa’s birthday party
-Spend quality time with my family
-Write three new music-centric blog posts
-Run! Bike! Walk! Hike!
-Visit this theme park or the Exotic Feline Rescue Center while in southern Indiana

Intended:
-Rent a bike in NYC
-Learn this song
-Pay all of my bills !!!
-Share photos of my trip to Canada

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Tanzanian Dreams

I woke up from a dream about a dream I’d had before,
Where I’d fly out to Africa to visit the Tanzanian shore,
I don’t remember buying the flight, but I know I reserved our stays,
In Tanzania, in Africa, for twelve or thirteen days.

I need to call my sister now, did I even tell her we’re going?
Waking in the night, memories quickly slowing,
I dreamt I bought these tickets, now I dreamt we must soon pack,
We need to check in for the flight in order to make it back.

In my first dream, I remember, rivers and forests at night,
My geographical knowledge is limited, but somehow I got Tanzania right.
Three great lakes of Africa here, with abundant greenery,
With beaches and plains and east African rains, Tanzania has distinctive scenery.

I imagine there are zebras and giraffes, wildebeests on the go,
Sipping the waters of Lake Victoria, or surrounding the peaks of Kilimanjaro.
When we visit Tanzania again: in my dreams, in my sleep, at night;
I’ll be sure to call my sister first, and tell her about the flight.

In the City

In the city you can get away with
Anything.

If you need to
Lie down
In the city, it’s okay; go ahead.

“Hey asshole, it’s an emergency!”
“I can’t see past the construction. Does she need help?”
“Where are the police?”
They bond by uniting against the jerk in a hurry

Because you’re in the city, we move fast enough, already.
What could be more urgent than being in the city? You’re here.
Slow down already.

Hiking in Jasper National Park

After backpacking in Banff National Park and hiking to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, we set out for Jasper National Park. Jasper was more remote than Banff, and we had more nature encounters throughout the trip.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetThis sunset happened during our first night in Jasper. We all ran up to the balcony of our chalet to watch it. Our dad ran downstairs to grab his camera and by the time he was back up… not even 60 seconds later!… the sunset was over. Luckily, my sister caught this photo.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetThere were a lot of unique water experiences in the parks of Alberta, Canada. On our first day of hiking in Jasper, we visited the Miette hot springs! The source of the springs steamed hot and stinky sulphur, but the actual lounging area wasn’t stinky at all. We especially had fun running from the 100 degree waters and jumping in the ICE cold mini-pool nearby. The next day we hiked the Valley of Five Lakes, the fifth of which is featured above. We hike the trail backwards, starting at lake 5 where we ate lunch and soaked in the views before hiking out. Each lake was a vivid and distinct shade of blue or green.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetContinuing with the tour of spectacular water attractions, we visited the Sunwapta and Athabasca waterfalls the next day. Standing near water that is moving with such force is pretty terrifying. There were effective signs posted all around warning of people who were overconfident and climbed past the fences, only to fall in.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next day was our father-daughter hike. My dad, sister, and I all drove to a beautiful and isolated section of the park, planning to take a strenuous four hour hike. It took us an hour to hike to the trailhead, where a sign was posted announcing the closure of this trail due to the spotting of a mother bear and her newly born cub. You didn’t have to tell us twice… we’ve all seen The Revenant. After hiking another hour back to the parking area, we decided on a shorter two hour hike nearby, where we visited a secluded lake that was home to a beautiful swimming loon. The water was so clear that you could see the loon through the water as he torpedoed under in search of fish.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetWe also visited this insanely mirrored lake where from a distance it looked as if people were walking on water. This lake was massive, but at no point was it ever more than ankle-deep. Some bold people had braved the frigid waters and waded across the entire lake!

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetTo break up the 6 hour drive back to Calgary, we stopped halfway to stretch our legs and hike up to a glacier. It was wild to see the markers of where the glacier used to reach before melting, and so sad to see how much was gone. This glacier won’t be there for many more years.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetWhen we got back, we did a bit of urban backpacking to get from the airport to the south side of Chicago. We were quite a sight at our bus stop downtown!

Be sure to read about our backpacking trip while we were in Banff National Park, and the amazing Teahouse Hike we took!

 

More Nature Adventures:
Hiking advice from my brother and sister
What we packed
What we read
What you should read

Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike

The one thing we had most been looking forward to was the Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike we had planned for our last morning at Banff. We had plans to meet our family at Lake Louise by noon, so we essentially ran up and down the mountain in order to have time to sip tea and have a second breakfast. (We told youThe Hobbit” is a great read on a hike!)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThis was one of our favorite hikes of the whole vacation. It was so special to visit this teahouse hidden up in the mountain between two lakes. In the future, we would also like to visit the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetWe shared a large pot of “Top of the Mountain Zen” herbal tea. I had a smoked salmon bagel, Kendra and Thor each had a bowl of beautiful rainbow root-vegetable soup. We shared tea biscuits and jam before jogging back down the mountain.

20294256_1398184933551750_3885805489218610382_nWe made it to Lake Louise at the agreed meeting time. Only once we had regained cell service did we learn that our family was just leaving Calgary! We spent the next few hours waiting for our family at the lake. We read a lot… look at how many books Kendra read during our 3 days of backpacking!!!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetAnd finally, we hugged our family and climbed in the car for the next 4 hours up to Jasper.

This is day 5 of an 11 day trip! Tomorrow, I will share our adventures from Jasper National Park, where we spent the remaining 5 days of our trip. There we visited hot springs and met families of elk! Be sure to read about our backpacking trip while we were in Banff National Park.

Until then, check out the hiking advice from my brother and sister, see what we packed, what we read, and what you should read.