Cool Idea: summer fun

February 16, 2008

in Cool ideas

Faithful readers will remember that my husband and I spent two years teaching at an international school in Syria in the late 1990s.

We had a wonderful time living in a culturally rich community (expats from dozens of countries), getting to know mainstream Islam (which is represented by radical Islam about as closely as Fred Phelps represents Christianity), and traveling all over the region.


But I hated working in a Syrian bureaucracy. Our school was under the umbrella of an agency which was under the umbrella of another agency which was under the umbrella of the World Bank. Think of a series of egomaniacal Director Generals all hell-bent on showing how important they were, each wrapping his layer of red tape around our little school.

But there was a bright spot. Our Headmaster, a man from Indiana who reminded me of Bob Newhart, was one of the best leaders I’ve ever worked with. He was guided by his principals rather than by the political winds. He had high expectations and held us to them. He put in longer hours than anyone on his staff. He didn’t let petty personality problems mire him down, sticking instead to issues. He was humble, one of the few PhDs I’ve met who didn’t insist on being called “Doctor.” I learned a lot about effective leadership from him.

I recently heard from Tom, who is now back in Indiana. After we caught up on all the people we knew back then, I asked him what he’s up to.

And here’s where I’m awarding another award for Cool Ideas by Cool People.

Image from bigfoto.com

Tom has created All American Road Trips, which brings together a group of people with a common interest who go on a road trip across US Highway 50.

For example, people signed up for the Teacher’s trip will meet in Ocean City, MD on July 3 to begin their Road Trip, the eastern start of Highway 50. Over the next 3 weeks, this group of new friends will travel 3000 miles through 100 counties in 12 states, consuming all things Americana, and ending up in San Francisco.

Travelers provide their own transportation, meals, and payment for arranged hotels.

For a modest fee, Tom’s company provides a tour coordinator, hotel discounts, insider information, and trip memorabilia.

I asked Tom why he started All American Road Trips:

“The idea was to bring together people of similar interest for the purpose of taking the classic American road trip. We are particularly interested in getting folks off the interstates and bringing some business back into small communities.”


This isn’t Tom’s first ambitious project. He sees it as an outgrowth of The Great US 50 Yard Sale, now going into its ninth year.

If you’re considering a road trip over the summer and would like to connect with new friends and have some details handled for you, click on over to Tom’s site.

Now. I want to know what cool ideas and cool people YOU discover. Keep an eye out for the next cool thing, and write it up on your own blog. Email me at bestlightlori at gmail to get the icon code. I’ll keep a running list of Cool Ideas by Cool People at the bottom of this post.

Go on. Recognize the cool in your life.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lavender Luz April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

MB — verrrry cool. Your kids would learn so much from that.Mel — meet me in St Louis?Joanne — way cool! I’ll work up an honorary post soon.

Reply

Joanne April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Okay, I’m back. I think this is a VERY COOL IDEA! You’ll probably have to copy and paste the link. Let me know if it doesn’t work.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4

Reply

Joanne April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Great post! I came across a very “cool idea” a while back…I may have posted about it on my blog so I’ll go look and let you know. >>>i once read a book about a history teacher who was sick and tired of kids memorizing things for tests and not really ‘learning’ them or having an interest in learning about our country’s history.>>>>>Sadly, that’s all to common in our school system.

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That is a really cool idea. Sort of makes you want to jump in the car and start driving.

Reply

mary elizabeth April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

your posts are so well written lori and very thought provoking. i love tom’s idea. i once read a book about a history teacher who was sick and tired of kids memorizing things for tests and not really ‘learning’ them or having an interest in learning about our country’s history. the name of the school and the book escapes me as i write this but i loved the idea. the teachers put the kids on a bus for several weeks and took them to these historical places. the kids, in turn, took an interest in learning by experiencing rather than via memorizing in a textbook. they wrote papers and had exams on the road. not only did it spark a new interest in learning but it showcased the struggles and pride of our country. it changed my perspective on education. i want to take my kids around the country and let them learn, taste and smell what the world is about-not read it from a book. i try to live my live that way too. is that cool?

Reply

Lavender Luz April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

MB — verrrry cool. Your kids would learn so much from that.Mel — meet me in St Louis?Joanne — way cool! I’ll work up an honorary post soon.

Reply

Joanne April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Okay, I’m back. I think this is a VERY COOL IDEA! You’ll probably have to copy and paste the link. Let me know if it doesn’t work.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4

Reply

Joanne April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Great post! I came across a very “cool idea” a while back…I may have posted about it on my blog so I’ll go look and let you know. >>>i once read a book about a history teacher who was sick and tired of kids memorizing things for tests and not really ‘learning’ them or having an interest in learning about our country’s history.>>>>>Sadly, that’s all to common in our school system.

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That is a really cool idea. Sort of makes you want to jump in the car and start driving.

Reply

mary elizabeth April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

your posts are so well written lori and very thought provoking. i love tom’s idea. i once read a book about a history teacher who was sick and tired of kids memorizing things for tests and not really ‘learning’ them or having an interest in learning about our country’s history. the name of the school and the book escapes me as i write this but i loved the idea. the teachers put the kids on a bus for several weeks and took them to these historical places. the kids, in turn, took an interest in learning by experiencing rather than via memorizing in a textbook. they wrote papers and had exams on the road. not only did it spark a new interest in learning but it showcased the struggles and pride of our country. it changed my perspective on education. i want to take my kids around the country and let them learn, taste and smell what the world is about-not read it from a book. i try to live my live that way too. is that cool?

Reply

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