I enjoy making timelapses when we go on road trips. I rarely watch the whole thing straight through, but sometimes there are interesting spots that are fun to revisit. Plus, it’s a fun little project to have going along the trip.
I made a timelapse of our trip from Woodinville to Cape Disappointment State Park in the southwest corner of the state for our most recent camping trip. The video has the trip down immediately followed by the trip back (6:36 is when we are at the campground.) On the trip down there, notice the incredibly bad traffic. It added 2 hours to the 3.5 hour drive. On the way back we only hit one bad spot but it was really bad and even the backroads were jammed. It added 30 minutes.
We are planning a drive out to Montana soon to visit some of Tyla’s family. I’m working on some modifications to my setup to make it easier to do those super long timelapses.
After the success of our Little Mt Si hike, Logan, Elijah and I headed out again. We picked out a very kid-friendly trail so that Elijah could spend a lot of time on his feet instead of in my pack. That worked for about half a mile and then he rode the rest of it. I didn’t push it because he seemed legitimately tired (he was falling asleep in my pack) but it worked out fine. The trail doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain but it is 8 miles round trip.
There isn’t a huge payoff but the walk is pretty. You go past an old lime kiln and then in another mile you hit the end of the trail at the edge of the river. We had lunch there and made our way back.
The trail itself is indeed kid friendly. It’s generally fairly wide and relatively smooth. There were, however, a lot of bushes and trees growing in from the side of the trail so you have to be careful not to smack people in the face behind you. It was especially tricky with a kid riding in a backpack.
I really enjoy these hikes but I’m struggling with how to keep Elijah engaged at this transition point. I don’t love hiking without a destination, but a lot of the destinations that are fun are also more than he can handle at this point. If you have suggestions of waterfalls, lakes, fire lookouts, etc that are only a mile or two round trip without a ton of elevation gain, please send them my way.
In addition to the pictures below, you can also see the hyperlapse that I posted on Instagram. (A hyperlapse is basically a video that is sped up and smoothed out so it kind of looks like you’re flying along without the normal video bumps caused by walking.)
During our Indiana trip, I made a six-day timelapse. That was by far the longest one I’ve ever attempted. How did it work? Here are some tips:
The GoPro is a great device for this. You can set it to snap a photo every 2, 5 or 10 seconds. Generally I do 2 seconds but since this one was so long I did 5 seconds since I knew I would speed it up a lot anyway.
Set the GoPro to the lowest resolution possible. On my camera that is 5 megapixels. Even that is a waste since you’re going to end up resizing down to 1080p anyway. The lower resolution will help you save room on the memory card and also saves battery life.
Don’t skimp on the memory card. 32 and 64GB cards are super cheap. Just get a big one and remove this potential problem from your setup.
Get a portable USB battery pack. I use this one, but there are lots of options. Get one that takes AA batteries. When you run out of battery, you just slap new batteries in there and you’re instantly ready to go instead of waiting for a recharge. I use and recommend Eneloop AA’s and the Lacrosse BC-700 charger. By using the battery pack to keep the internal GoPro battery charged up, I’m able to confidently let the camera run for 4 hours and it will probably go a lot longer. I changed out the batteries at lunch and at night. That way I didn’t have to worry about them dying on me.
When I was done I had over 30,000 photos. How do you process all of those into a movie? There are LOTS of options, but here’s how I do it (for free):
Install IrfanView. It has a lot of features, but I use it to batch resize and crop all of the photos down to 1920×1080. I also rename the photos to something like image#####.jpg so that there is a sequential number for every image.
Install ffmpeg. Decipher the command line parameters to build up the video that you want. Here’s the line that I use:”c:\program files\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg” -i image%05d.JPG -r 30 -s hd1080 -vcodec libx264 -y out.mp4
Techincally you could be done at this point, but I usually take that MP4 into Adobe Premiere Elements and crop it up, speed it up, slow it down, etc.
I use that word “vacation” lightly. It’s true that I wasn’t at my normal day job, but I spent the trip doing more physical labor each day than I normally do in a week (or a month!)
Dad and Mom already have a two car garage, but they are adding on to the end of it to have a nice shop work space and another garage bay to hold their tractors. It will be a huge win for them to keep their Allis Chalmers WD45 in the garage instead of under a tarp near the woods. Other than having the foundation poured, Dad is doing almost all of the work by himself. It’s a huge undertaking and this was a fun opportunity to make some memories with him.
Luke, Rachel and David were there for the first couple days. It was fun to see Elijah and David interacting together. They’re the only cousins they have and they rarely get to see each other. David is 7 years older than Elijah so Elijah was pretty excited to hang out with David. The reverse probably wasn’t always true!
Elijah was in tractor heaven. Mom and Dad have three tractors: the big orange Allis Chalmers, a John Deere lawn and garden tractor that they got in 1981 and a newer John Deere mower that they got recently from GrandpaH. On top of that, a neighbor stopped by with his big John Deere 3320 tractor with a bucket on the front. That one came in really handy for getting material up to the roof. Elijah had a ball riding ALL of them multiple times. It was part of his daily routine and now that we’re home, he still talks about it and he uses a blanket to cover his tractors just like my Dad puts a tarp over some of his tractors.
Dad, Luke and I made great progress on the project. When I arrived, there was no roof. When I left, we had started the shingles. Dad and I both thought we’d have been farther along than that, but being novices meant that we did a lot of things twice. We kept joking that when we build the next garage, things will go a lot faster.
It was a great week. The weather mostly cooperated and nobody got hurt. Mom and Dad have continued the shingling work and are probably going to be done by the time you read this. That will be a huge step in the project. Next up will be finishing off the front wall and getting the windows and doors in. If Dad can get the building wrapped and the siding up before winter, that would be a huge win, but he’s just taking it as it comes. There’s a lot to learn along the way!
I set up the GoPro every single day and ran it all day long. I’ll do another post about how to handle these super long timelapses, but for now you can just enjoy the results.
It was a wild week, but 9 days was all it took to polish off the front yard. We had taken a break after finishing the back yard to recover and also because Tim was re-siding his house. Here’s a rough breakdown of the front yard project:
Dad and I started on Friday the 19th by digging a trench under the sidewalk. We picked up the tractor, truck and trailer. Then we used the tractor to fill up the trailer, make a run to dump it, and then scraped off some more sod.
On Saturday, Don, Logan and Tim joined in and we made huge progress. The trailer made non-stop runs all day long getting rid of the sod and the dirt that was being scraped off with the tractor. While that was happening, three dump trucks arrived with the new dirt that was replacing the old dirt.
By the end of Sunday, all of the old dirt was gone and the new dirt was pretty much in place. We also rented a trencher and in just two hours, we had trenches for irrigation. It might seem silly to trench through new dirt, but we still had a couple more inches to go under the new dirt and it was almost like digging in concrete.
Tim and I spent Monday through Thursday evenings out in the yard plumbing for irrigation. It was a wet, soggy mess as we got over 2 inches of rain. I bought a hand pump to help clear out the trenches but there were big sections of the yard that were just completely saturated.
We took Friday off in hopes of letting it dry out just a little more. All I did was pick up a few more yards of dirt and left it sitting in the trailer for later.
Saturday we started by spreading the remaining dirt to really level everything out. 2600 square feet of sod was delivered, and, with the help of two guys Tim knows, we had it almost all in by 2pm. We returned the tractor, spread one more truck load of dirt, finished off the sod, and then tested out the irrigation.
I spent Sunday by myself cleaning up the yard, washing the truck, returning tools, etc.
It’s incredible how much work got done in such a short amount of time. Here are some stats:
The front yard added up to 117 hours of labor (compared to 310 in the back yard.)
Each load from our house to the spot where we dumped the sod took about 75 minutes round trip
14 trips with the dump trailer to remove the old sod, and there was 3-4 yards in each load
53 yards of beautiful new “supreme mix” dirt added, including three 15-yard deliveries via dump truck
500 miles on Don’s truck for this project
10.6mpg average for the truck while we were making the runs to dump the old sod
3.4 gallons of diesel used in the tractor over the many many hours that it was running
Because our scheduled was so compressed, I didn’t stop to take as many photos or do fancy timelapse videos. Thankfully Tyla and Mom snapped a bunch of photos and one of my security cameras caught some of the action.
THANK YOU once again to all of the friends and family that helped out! We had exactly the right amount of help to get this done. And a huge special thank you to Tim. Without you, this project would never have been attempted. We couldn’t have afforded to pay a contractor to do this, and I don’t know nearly enough to attempt something like this on my own. I loved learning about all this stuff and it was awesome to spend so much time out in the yard working with you. Thanks for putting up with all of my questions, my stress, and my mistakes!