We’re just returning from our whirlwind Traveling with The Travelers (Spring Break Edition) vacation, which took us from Northern Virginia to Northern New Jersey back down to southern Virginia, Williamsburg to be exact. Now we’re back home again. That was a lot of driving.

20170409_164001Car talk and talk and talk and talk

When you spend 10+ hours in the car keeping up the conversation can be difficult. There are only so many political discussions you can have before it really puts a damper on vacation. And discussing how teen actors can’t just be actors anymore, they also have to sing while juggling and be so cute you just can’t stand it, can only get discussed for so long before someone in the car starts to go crazy. (Usually that person is me. My daughter and husband have a much higher threshold for absurd conversations that go on for absurd amounts of time.)

Other topics that run out of steam quickly:
  • The weather
  • Traffic
  • Google maps vs Waze
  • Rehashing meals/restaurants

Topics that can sustain you a little longer:

  • Telling outlandish and strange fake memories from your past. (My husband’s current favorite? How he used to be an amateur tomb hunter and somehow that this also includes a disco ball.)
  • Making up stories and backgrounds on other people on the road based on their cars, bumper stickers and personalized licence plates. (The man in the red pick up truck with a Trump sticker who didn’t signal when he steered into our lane, continued to steer into our lane even after we honked very loudly and caused a near collision that practically ran us off the road did not get a very favorable profile.)
  • Discussing ticks and how worried we should be about Lyme disease. (I managed to thoroughly gross out my daughter by explaining how an explosion in mice is the reason we have to deal with so many ticks this year. She now panics every time she walks through grass. Good parenting.)
  • Recounting favorite parts of the day/trip. (This can often branch out into other discussions of things seen and learned, such as the plethora of adorable dogs pet and which ones were the best.)
Regardless, we’re still talking about hours and hours of time stuck in a small car.

So, we decided (or I decided) we’d try something new: an audio book.

I’ve never listened to an audio book nor had anyone else in my family. But I’d heard good things from friends who spend a lot of time in their cars carting kids around.
The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy.jpgBefore we started, I researched suggestions for the best family friendly options. We finally settled on Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
Why?
1. My husband and I read it long ago and were ready for a fresh read.
2. We knew there was nothing in there that would be potentially inappropriate for our daughter.
3. It’s really a road trip story in space, perfect for a road trip on earth.

I purchased the book on Amazon, hooked up my phone to the car and the British voice started spilling through the speakers. We all settled in for a story and a break from discussing what it would be like to pick up road kill as your job and if that would be my daughter’s least favorite job ever.

I expected this experiment in audio reads to be a success and become a new tradition on our road trips. If I’d really thought about this, knowing my family, I would have known this was a bad idea.
After only about 3 chapters my husband said, “maybe we can take a break from the book.” Where did this idea go wrong? On paper (no pun intended) it was perfect.

Here’s what I neglected to realize.

1. The peanut gallery

The questions started early into the narrative, before we even got through Chapter 1.
  • Why is he laying in the mud?
  • Do we have cashews in the snack bag?
  • Why would that guy take his place in the mud?
  • Are they going to knock down his house?
  • What are those big yellow things in the sky going to do?
  • Can someone get my water?
  • In choosing this book and this activity I may have forgotten my family can’t even get through a TV show without pausing it 17 times to make a comment, ask a question, or get food or water.

Why did I think listening to an audio book would be any different?

2. Choice of book.

Maybe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was a little too hyperbolic for my daughter. She might need a few more years before truly appreciating its comic genius. Or maybe it’s just a book that is better read than spoken. There are subtle nuances that can easily be missed. It’s hard to go back and re-read an audio book.

My daughter explained this well when she said, “I like to pause and think about my books, sometimes re-read pages. I can’t do that when we’re listening. Plus this guy’s voices is making me sleepy.”

3. My family likes the written word.

There are some people who love audio books. It gives them options if they spend a lot of time in the car or can’t read at night because their significant other wants to go to bed and not have a glowing phone light or headlamp keeping them up. I’d thought since we all enjoy oral storytelling we could appreciate this format too.

I was wrong. My family really likes to read their words. That’s not something I can just snap my fingers and change.

I think it’s going to take a special book for them to enjoy it in audio form.

Looks like I have some more researching to do especially since we have another 10+ hour road trip vacation coming this summer. We’re going to need to re-try this experiment with a few variables adjusted.

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