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Bite sized Roadtrop time-lapse videos, hot off the renderer

The Everglades, Key West, and going north through Florida.

sunny 84 °F

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The last two days' time-lapse videos are a bit different from the previous crop, for rather silly reasons. Two days ago, after we wrapped up lunch in Key West, I turned the GoPro on, and forgot to change it out of it's default startup mode of 'video', so the last half of the day was recorded as full HD 1080p realtime video, which I could probably take the time to cut down to a time-lapse version, but time on this trip is precious, so I'm just excising it. Most of it is us driving around Key West, and these sorts of videos are more interesting (to me) when we're going down long stretches of highway, or if we've planted the car in front of something interesting.

The following morning, while an amazing amount of mosquitos flew around our car and tried in vain to get through the flyscreens we magnetically attached over our sunroof and windows, I sat down with the GoPro manual and had another look at the settings, as I hadn't had much time to get to know it before the trip. I discovered that I could set the camera to record the pictures upside down, saving me from having to rotate the video in Vegas. I also discovered the different exposure modes, notably, the one that's designed for mounting it on your dashboard pointing outward. With the new default mode being set, hopefully I won't miss any more of our travels.

Since the Day 7 video was so short, instead of playing it back at half-speed, it's actually at quarter speed, and if you're one of the 7 or 8 people who watches these things, please comment and let me know if you prefer that to the speed all the other ones play back at, or if it doesn't really matter. And in a break from the musical backgrounds we've been including and composing, the Key West video simply uses field recording from the street where we were parked for a bit in Key West. It'll be interesting to see if YouTube identifies the music in the background and chastises me for it.

Day 8 was long, long slog from our camping spot, located at the end of the one road into the Everglades, stopping at the Robert Is Here Fruit Stand (it's really so much more than a fruit stand) and pausing at Starbucks for our morning upload, then driving up through central Florida, ultimately heading west into Pensacola, where we stayed with an old friend of mine, Jordan. He's stationed there with the Navy, after having spent a while in Gitmo- as medical staff, not as a detainee! The drive was something to the tune of 12 hours long, it was definitely 12 hours boring. The magic of the GoPro intervalometer has transformed that into two short minutes, where even in HD mode, you'd have to strain to see all the bug splats before we hit the storm that helped wash them off our windshield, if not our bumper.

We recorded the music for that video a few nights ago while staying in Homestead. I didn't get as much time to work on this. Actually, it's about as raw as you can get - it's just Melissa playing over a beat I wrote. There are more important things to do on this trip than fleshing out musical sketches - but I really like that we're making music as we go. Given how much American Routes we are consuming via streaming audio on the drive (to AT&T's chagrin, according to a text message I got) I wonder how long before what we record starts to sound like rootsy blues/jazz/country/rock. That actually works as a nice wrap to this post, as our next stop is New Orleans! We have to go to Basin Street Station and give them a fat donation for the binge streaming we've done over the past week.

Posted by leviathant 09:31 Archived in USA Tagged florida key_west time everglades pensacola lapse gopro time_lapse robert_is_here Comments (2)

Where to stay, and how to stay it

Accommodations on the road


View Roadtrop on mormolyke's travel map.

One of the more adventure-y aspects of our roadtrop is the question of where we'll be bedding down each night. While we have a couple of necessary pre-bookings along the way -- such as the hostel in New Orleans where we stayed in 2002, and campsites in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone -- most of the time, we're effectively winging it. Do we find a campsite for our compact wheeled space capsule, or boondock in a parking lot somewhere? Or do we cave and grab a motel room so we can shower and stretch out? It's actually been pretty fun figuring it out each day, and I'm glad we didn't plan every stop.

The first night, we lived on the edge, and caught some unwanted attention for it. I had originally jotted down the name of an RV park in Cape Hatteras, but, buoyed by the excitement of beginning the trip and turned off by the cost of the RV park, we chose a different route. We knew we wanted to climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse early the next morning before heading to Asheville, so we thought, why not just head down and see what was there? We found a large parking lot near the beach that was completely empty, silent but for the crash of waves on the beach, and pitch black -- except for occasional flashes of lightning to the south, and the piercing light of the lighthouse itself, less than half a mile away, spinning its beams into the night sky. It was somehow a bit terrifying, but a stunningly beautiful experience -- if I had that night over, I wouldn't have parked anywhere else.

FLICKR SET: Roadtrop: OBX
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Unforrrrrtunately, it turned out that the carpark belonged to the surrounding national park, and at 7:30AM, we were awakened by a loud rap on the Magnum window. I startle awake even in the most familiar surroundings, so the sudden knocking immediately sent me into paroxysms of loudly squawking "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" that I'm sure made an impression on the park ranger standing outside our car. Matt struggled to pull on some pants and find the car keys so he could open a window (yet another reason I still prefer manual winding windows) and face the music. The music turned out to be a brief lecture from the poor ranger about how trashy the Outer Banks would be if everyone just slept wherever they wanted, and a hilariously cheerful Matt countered by showing him our National Park Service Annual Pass and handing out one of our roadtrop.com business cards so the ranger could learn all about our epic trip which had just begun.

We were let off with a warning, which handily makes a sweet souvenir of our stay:

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The second night, we found a Super 8 in Knoxville, TN. We were originally planning to find the hotel we stayed at when we roadtripped to New Orleans in 2002, but as it turns out, A LOT has changed in Knoxville in the last ten years. We had a vague idea that it was the Holiday Inn, but the area has evidently come up, because the Holiday Inn was $150 a night, and we weren't going to pay that much on a hunch. The Super 8 five miles away was all of $40.

Day three, we crashed with Dave and Charlene, but the next night, we had our first legitimate Walmart boondocking experience (we had previously made a hilarious failed illegitimate attempt during one of our pre-roadtrop jaunts). About half of all Walmarts around the country allow overnight parking by RV's and other camper vehicles -- if you google around, you can find a list of which ones do and which don't. The important thing is to always call ahead to check, out of courtesy and because each store has the right to change their rules whenever they want. The Walmart outside of Savannah was super laidback about letting us park -- there was an RV and a truck already in situ when we pulled in at around 1AM -- and they had a security guard patrolling the lot, so we could sleep in complete safety.

We did the same thing a couple of nights ago on the way to Miami, but at a Cracker Barrel in Deerfield Beach. The official Cracker Barrel company policy is that overnight parking isn't allowed, but we already knew from reading blogs that, in practice, most of them are fine with travelers who ask to stay. We waited until after we ate dinner and had a long conversation with our server about gas prices and electric cars before raising the question, and without pause, the friendly manager said, "Sure!" He didn't even need our assurance that we would come in for breakfast in the morning before we trucked (well, station-wagoned) out.

Other nights so far, we've stayed at cheap motels - our only stipulation is that the place we choose should look at least as presentable as motels on the X-Files. Believe it or not, there are many, many motels out there that are so dank and seedy, they make X-Files motels look like resorts. Some of them give me a serious Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe.

Last night we camped in Everglades National Park. I had done my research, so I knew that our greatest challenge at the park would be biblical plagues of mosquitoes. American mosquitoes provoke some gnarly histamine reactions when they suck my Australian blood, so I had brought defenses: an Off lantern, mosquito coils, and plenty of DEET spray. I had also whipped up some custom-fit flyscreens for the Magnum which attach to the outside of the car with sewn-in neodymium magnets (strong enough that we could drive through the park at 55mph without them blowing off).

FLICKR SET: Roadtrop: Everglades National Park
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It was a good thing we prepared. Jesus Christ. I was bitten a couple of times mounting the flyscreens at the visitor center parking lot, which had a low density of mosquitoes; the campground 40 miles deep into the park was so full of clouds of mosquitoes, I didn't dare leave the car. Matt went to use the bathroom (stumbling over a camper who had pitched a tent in the men's bathroom in an attempt to stave off the bloodsuckers), and even he came running back as quickly as he could (Matt barely reacts to insect bites, as proven a few years ago during our Egypt vacation, when I was COVERED in excruciating bedbug bites while he appeared completely untouched).

I'm looking forward to our future overnights. We have some more stays with friends lined up, more national parks, and a log cabin in South Dakota.

Posted by mormolyke 12:52 Archived in USA Tagged accommodation national_parks camping everglades cape_hatteras motels boondocking deerfield_beach Comments (1)

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