A letter written by the murder victim to her new boyfriend, from the Serial podcast series. (Serial)

A letter written by the murder victim to her new boyfriend, from the Serial podcast series. (Serial)

John White: Podcasts keep the wheels turning

I had the pleasure of driving from Castlegar to Edmonton (and back) last weekend.

I had the pleasure of driving from Castlegar to Edmonton (and back) last weekend.

You might be saying to yourself, “Pleasure? Are you sure that’s the word you want to use?”

I’m quite sure, thank you.

It’s around nine and a half hours of driving, not counting pit stops. (Factor in an extra 20 minutes for latte purchases and latte disposals.)

Unlike the drive from Winnipeg to Edmonton — which is, how shall I say, “A little bit flat and straight” — the route to and from Castlegar and Edmonton is endlessly interesting.

You have the winding hills near Castlegar, and the transition to the rolling foothills and scenic meadows further east and north. Fernie is my go-to stopping point to grab a snack and a coffee, and refresh my dainties. You often see other travellers gathered at the gas stations and coffee shops there, stretching and kvetching and refuelling bodies and vehicles.

Last weekend, I witnessed an adorable moment between an older husky pupper and a younger husky person. The owner enticed his senior doge to relax and stretch on the grass by laying down and rolling back and forth on his back. The dog immediately joined in and had a great time. Pure joy was displayed on both smiling mugs.

You could also tell who had a little more time to prep for their big drive. Some had neatly stacked boxes and items in their vehicles, while others appeared to be rolling storage units. Perhaps the overstuffed cars were actually well-planned packers? Hmmmm.

Outside of the visual intrigue and run-ins with fun fellow travellers, the trick to making this day of driving a snap was Serial. This is the famous podcast series from producer Sarah Koenig (https://serialpodcast.org/). I managed to listen to all 12 episodes of season one during the return drive.

Season one focused on the Baltimore murder of high school student Hae Min Lee, and subsequent trials of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed in 1999 and 2000.

The overview from the Serial website entices the listener: “He says he’s innocent — though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.”

It is while-they-investigate radio journalism at its finest. You can’t wait to start the next episode as the previous one is wrapping up. The suspense, storytelling and production keep you engaged from start to finish, and before you know it you’ve reached your destination.

I have season two ready to go for my next trip to Edmonton. This one focuses on the strange case of Bowe Bergdhal.

The summary from the Serial website: “In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.”

I recommend several other podcasts for long drives, namely Freakonomics Radio (http://freakonomics.com/archive/) and Revisionist History from Malcolm Gladwell (http://revisionisthistory.com/seasons).