the learning truck

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The old truck recently crept over 200,000 miles. It took us 15 years to hit this milestone.

It’s a pretty basic rig, four cylinders, manual transmission. The fanciest feature is power windows – because I couldn’t find one with the classic roll downs. The best feature is the four-wheel drive – because I need it on almost every adventure.

I converted the back seat to a dog bed years ago. The truck outlived my first dog Madison and has traveled 2.5 years down the road with Chimehuin. I built storage boxes and a sleeping deck in the truck bed. I sleep like a baby back there.

The driver’s seat serves as a classroom. Yes, it’s where I learn.

I’ll crank up the Johnny Cash on the right stretch of highway, but I discovered over the years I also love filling travel time with schooling. The course materials started with books on CDs rented from the Missoula Public Library. With time, the mediums evolved to Audible, Digital Classrooms, and Podcasts.

Audible is my channel for books. I struggle to read books and always have. My Blinkist behavior supports this observation. I’m still a big fan of books, but I found I’m a stronger listener than a reader. I drove from Bend to the Oregon Coast last weekend and listened to books by Dale Carnegie and Guy Kawasaki. I would have never have consumed these books otherwise. I’ve also discovered I hear faster than I read. I keep my audible playback speed at 1.75x and will occasionally kick it up to 2x. I tend to buy the Kindle and Audible versions of the book at the same time. I listen on Audible and revisit the high points on Kindle.

Digital Classrooms
As digital classrooms emerged, they quickly found their way into the truck.,, & have all earned my money over the years. For example, Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects & Premiere Pro were learned in the seat of my truck thanks to Don’t worry, the distracted driving offenses are not as bad as they sound. I don’t watch or study the details, I introduce the concepts and bookmark the tips to revisit in the office. Call it digital classroom skimming.

Podcasts are my favorite audio medium. Stitcher is my favorite player. You can listen to detailed conversations with the best of the best. Accessing these great minds of the world, all in the palm of your hand. Amazing. An exciting podcast makes me want to jump behind the wheel and drive. No really, it does. I’ll take the long way to the river for extra time with How I Built This or The Tim Ferris Show.

The point of sharing here is not to brag about my windshield miles and the schooling I've received. It’s to challenge traditional learning. Today, education has no boundaries. In seconds, your phone can outperform the greatest scholar of the last century.

Find the topics you love, the mediums you use, and the time in your life to learn.

On a recent trip back from the Deschutes River, the truck motor misfired, the check engine light came on, and I thought we had come to the end of the road. A couple of new spark plugs later and we're looking at the next 200,000 miles.

Of learning.


Another piece of writing inspired by my colleagues in the Western Writers League. You can read their works at Mario Dot To and The Nature Theory.