a TigerRAWk Film

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Midwest Sea To Atlantic Ocean: first trip post-vaccination (March 30th - April 11th, 2021)

 Due to COVID19, we did not visit with Elphie's family over Christmas as we usually do. We didn't visit with anybody. The last trip was Thanksgiving and hunting...only getting to see my immediate family. So we decided to make a trip at Easter to try to sort of make up for that. We were fortunate enough to get vaccinated prior to the trip which lessened the hassles of abiding by a quarantine upon our return to Chicago and my return to work. The timing of this trip being the very end of winter and beginning of spring creates a natural "break" in footage between winter and spring seasons as far as my video documenting goes. This trip, since it was longer than the usual Christmas visit, also allowed time for some other adventures. We took a drive to Florida through South Carolina and Georgia so I could collect a couple more states that I had visited. It was a nice visit and allowed after a very cold and snowy winter a chance to be in warmer temperatures...though the cold did somewhat follow us.


I decided to name this project Midwest Sea To Atlantic Ocean due in part to songs I could use for an intro soundtrack. Flatfoot 56 has a song called "Jungle Of The Midwest Sea" and Thrice has a song called "Atlantic." I wanted to attempt to mix them together for the intro/trailer clip. I chose the ending choruses of each song, spliced them together with a "record scratch" effect and layered "record static" effect over the entire thing using the Soundtrack app in Final Cut Pro. I hoped that perhaps it might stop the copyright block on YouTube. I don't think it helped as I did get a copyright notice, but thankfully I was able to upload and post it without being blocked.

For the intro clip, I added flags from the states and attempted another way of showing highlight pictures while again sort of attempting the appearance of the pictures being dropped onto a table top. I used Motion 4 to once again drawing our route on screenshots I took from Google Maps. This time, since it was a trip there and back along mainly the same route, I made two separate files of the trip...one going south and one returning north. I added title text over the ocean and picked fonts that had a bit of a pirate like look to them I thought. I added in effects to give it a misty look fading in as well. Next I changed the sizes of the flags and arranged them in such a way as to not interfere with the route motion or the title text. The last thing I created was the picture montage. This will cover parts of the travel and flags but it will fall in as I pause the motion of the route video. All of these different elements were edited to be separate video files so I could manipulate the timing independently.

I began the editing process for this intro clip on Final Cut Pro. I slowed down the route map then paused it at each stop where photos were associated. I placed the flags in as we passed state borders, attempting to not cover the route or the text. I slowed down the title text file then duplicated it from the point after the fade effect ends to cover the rest of the route map file. At each stop I added the photos. These did cover the route, some flags, and some of the text so I faded it out before continuing the route to the next destination. My initial plan was to leave the photos stacked but it didn't really work out to do it that way without leaving much of the route covered. So as to not have an absurd amount of layers (well more absurd than it was already), I saved a file once I finish putting the flags in. I did the same after adding the photo files. I reviewed what I had created and felt somewhat pleased with the result (it still wasn't quite what I wanted but I also don't want to linger on this so I can get the project done sooner than later), I got to work on the soundtrack...again as I wrote earlier, using the final choruses of each song and splicing them together with a "record scratch" and "record static" effects throughout. I adjusted both audio tracks to fit the timing of the video. I'm not completely  happy with it either, but felt it was good enough to move on from at this point. I created a still by pausing the project as the first set of photos from Florida began fading out. This allows the text and route which is covered by the photos to somewhat be visible while also showing the sunrise photos. This is the still I uploaded to YouTube.

I created more travel route video files using Motion 4 and Google Maps screenshots to show where we went with a little more detail that are used throughout the project. I am working to keep this clips brief. I think there have been times in previous projects where I made these clips a bit longer than necessary so brevity is the goal moving forward. These files are a bit time consuming to create but I like having them in these clips so, for now, I will continue to utilize them. I have an idea of a change I'd like to do to the process...but I will experiment on that at another time.


We left Chicago on Tuesday March 30th, 2021 - Apocalypse Day #380, after work. The plan was to drive to the Cincinnati area to spend the night at the Sheehy's before continuing to North Carolina. We encountered a significant traffic jam leaving the city before even getting to Indiana. There seemed to have been some sort of accident. We eventually got through that then taking the exit to get gas, we encountered a lot of police. I made my way into the Speedway to get gas...a lot more police came to the Love's gas station nearby where something had apparently happened. It distracted me so much that I pulled the gas nozzle out of my car before it finished filling so I spilled gasoline on the ground! Oops! We pulled into the Petro Truck Stop to get food at the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut. Elphie asked the officers who were standing outside what was going on at the Love's but they stated that they could not tell us. After waiting an obscenely long time, we got our food then made our way. The rest of the drive wasn't too bad. The GPS took us a strange way through Indianapolis where we ended up off the highway to get on the next one rather than merging where the highways come together...I think this is the second time at least this has happened and I'm not sure why but afterwards I researched what I can do instead of following this strange route. We arrived at 1:30am...we talked with Donna for a while then went to bed.

We woke, had breakfast and more chats with Donna, then left for North Carolina around noon on Wednesday March 31st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #381. We stopped at Meijer as we left to get some more Easter candy (we left what we had bought in Chicago, accidently) for Elphie's nieces and nephews. I picked up some Ale 8-One. I had missed this drink! The trip wasn't too bad. We encountered rain but nothing that really slowed us down. Headed into North Carolina, the GPS indicated a significant traffic delay so we re-routed a bit. Once we got around it (not sure if we saved time or not) we stopped at Blackwood's for some cherry lemon Sundrop and hoped to order a barbeque sandwich. We had thought we were told that the people who ran Blackwood's at one time worked with R.O.'s so we wanted to taste the difference. Turns out that we were mistaken in that belief (we were told of Black's) and they do not serve barbeque. R.O.'s happened to have a food truck sitting across the street so we got some R.O.'s then continued to Elphie's sister's house. It was good to eat some R.O.'s again! We settled in and relaxed the rest of the evening and spent time with family. That was good as well.

Thursday April 1st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #382, we celebrated one of Elphie's nieces birthdays at El Patron, a Mexican restaurant. One of her cousins was playing with the helium from one of the balloons and it was pretty funny. The food was good and it was a fun time overall.

On Friday April 2nd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #383, we continued the birthday celebrations with Laser Tag at The Bunker. After the Laser Tag, we ended up throwing axes for a while as well. The Bunker also ran the Ax Throwing an apparently a space where you can shoot each other with Nerf guns. We went well beyond our time limit and some of the other kids got a chance to throw who didn't originally sign up. I started throwing right handed after a while of doing 2 hand throws and left hand throws. Left is my dominant hand. It was fun...kinda tiring as well.

On Saturday April 3rd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #384, we visited with Elphie's mom and stepdad. We got our Christmas gifts that they were excited to give us. We visited with the neighbors and their new dog then got Bojangles for dinner. I tried their Mountain Dew Southern Shock for the first time. It was like a fruit punch. We hung around a while then when we went back to Elphie's sister's house where they decorated some Easter eggs. Her oldest nephew had friends over and they watched Godzilla Vs. Kong.

On Sunday April 4th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #385, it was Easter! There was a nice dinner made and the kids did an egg hunt in the dark with flashlights. I decided it was a good time to wear some of my zombie clothes, ha!


Part of this trip was planned to be a road trip to Georgia and Florida so on Monday April 5th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #386, we took that trip with Elphie's mom. We headed south by way of Charlotte, crossing into South Carolina near the Carowinds amusement park.

We made our first stop at some Atlas Obscura sights in Columbia, SC that happened to be essentially in the same spot. One was Tunnelvision, a mural painted on the side of the building that looks like a tunnel through it. The optics could give a slight appearance that it might be a real tunnel and I tried to make it work with the camera. I also found that the camera had a lot of dust in it with these being the first shots of the trip using my Canon Rebel T6. I also took a shot of a tree that resembles that on the South Carolina license plate...but I'm not sure if it was the same species or not. On the other end of the parking lot stood the Busted Plug Plaza. It is a large fire hydrant. I also took a shot of another mural depicting farm work that was in the area as well. As we left Columbia, we passed a cemetery then stopped to pee at a gas station. I made a very slight detour to pass by the Never Bust Chain but we intended to stop there again on the way back through. It turns out we only missed one site from Atlas Obscura in Columbia. All of the sites we visited were created by artist Blue Sky.

After Columbia and a quick fuel stop, we visited a UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, SC. This is another Atlas Obscura site. It is essentially a pile of junk made to look like a space ship with a few other space related pieces around it. But mostly there is a lot of junk. Going into the UFO seemed a bit treacherous, but we did go in. I signed the guest book. The guy who maintains it was no where to be found. There was a sign requesting $20 tips. Perhaps had we given one, the guy would have appeared from somewhere. There was a television playing inside the structure and some snacks laying around. It was an interesting thing to visit.

We headed toward Georgia next, encountering a bit of traffic. We stopped in Hardeeville, SC at a Speedway for gas because the previous fill up wasn't a full fill up. We took US-17 into Savannah, GA which marks my 35th state visited. We crossed a high bridge and headed toward The Pirate's House in hopes to have a meal. We saw the mossy oak trees as we made our way through the town. Unfortunately, the wait at The Pirate's House was hours. We did some quick searching of other food options and ended up picking Spudnik - a gourmet twice baked potato restaurant. We all got the BBQ Porktato and we all seemed to quite enjoy it! We were fortunate to find free parking right outside the restaurant and it had outdoor seating as well. We decided to walk around a bit after. At first we had somewhat intended to go to the river but then decided to walk through the downtown area. We passed the First African Baptist Church which was organized in 1773 and has substantial history predating the United States and throughout the civil rights movement. In Franklin Park right across the street is a Haitian Memorial to those who fought in the American Revolution. We walked through the town for several blocks. We came across a statue for John Herndon "Johnny" Mercer which is a guy leaning on a fire hydrant reading the paper. He is a Savannah native music composer and founder of Capitol Records and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. We walked on to Johnson Square and saw a monument for Nathanael Greene (Revolutionary general). In planning a trip later this year to Alabama, we found that Forrest Gump scenes where he is sitting on the park bench waiting on a bus eating chocolate and telling most of his life story were filmed in nearby Chippewa Park. I wish we had known this before! We decided after Johnson Square to begin to head back to the car. As we walked, our mind was on trying to find some dessert...but we were pretty full from the potatoes. We passed a cat café along the way, used the restroom in an arcade bar, then got to the car and began our drive to Florida.

We crossed into Florida, my 36th state visited, and then hit a Spiral Interchange coming into Jacksonville as we made our way to the Best Western Oceanfront hotel in Jacksonville Beach. We arrived at around midnight. I transferred footage from the trip to my computer then planned an alarm to wake up for the sunrise on the beach.

With sunrise being 6:47am on Tuesday April 6th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #387, I woke to my alarm at 6:30am and got ready to head to the beach hoping to film the sunrise. I brought my tripod to keep the Canon Rebel T6 steadier than I was able to do with the sunsets in California a couple years ago. It was a bit cooler than I expected but not too bad. I set up the tripod and got a shot of the moon prior to the rising sun. As I was getting the camera adjusted on the tripod and aimed in the right direction, I tried to adjust something and ended up turning it lose and I wasn't able to get it tightened. I missed the very moment the sun crossed the horizon for this reason and the footage is a bit shaky as I tried to keep it trained on the sun and as steady as I could. A couple times I let it drift above the sun, I think while getting shots with my phone. Unfortunately this didn't end up turning out as I hoped it would. After the sunrise, I finally did get the tripod adjusted and got a steady shot of the sun and the ocean. I walked into the water, which was my first time in the Atlantic Ocean! I took a cup and filled it with ocean water. As I walked, I saw a lot of shells and a few dead jellyfish. I tried drinking the ocean water through the Life Straw...apparently the saltiness of the water doesn't get filtered out. I took a shot of the hotel from the beach, showing the renovation work that prohibited us from having an ocean view that we had selected, then I went back and tried to sleep for a bit longer. I don't think I ever fell asleep. We got up and got some breakfast. We checked out and headed into Jacksonville. Elphie tried to call in a reservation for The Pirate's House in Savannah but apparently they were full for reservations. That wasn't the information we had been told the night before.

Headed back toward Jacksonville, FL, we went through the Spiral Interchange again. I tried to save the video of this but apparently the CrossTour CR-900 deleted it anyway. We stopped in downtown at the Treaty Oak where it was said folks made treaties under its shade...but it turns out that wasn't true! Only a story to preserve the tree! It is a massive oak tree with branches that end up touching the ground, perhaps growing into the ground as well. We didn't feel we had a lot of time in Jacksonville so we didn't explore anything else, but as we left, I noticed that we weren't too far from the abandoned Annie Lytle Elementary School. We ended up driving right by it on the highway! As I did with the Spiral Interchange, I tried to save the video from the CrossTour CR-900 of it but either I didn't hit the button or it was deleted by the camera prior to us finishing the trip.

We made a quick pit stop in Yulee, FL at Florida's Citrus Center and saw some live baby alligators. We got some alligator jerky as well. We left and crossed back into Georgia, getting a much better sign picture.

We stopped for a restroom break near Townsend, GA. Across the road was an abandoned Citgo station. I looked at Atlas Obscura and found America's Smallest Church was a mile a way! We decided to go check it out. Unlike the child's playhouse in Michigan, this is a small church which folks could go in for services and is active. Apparently it is rebuilt after a fire some years ago. Elphie rang the church bell. This didn't stop didn't really make the trip too much longer but was a fun unplanned stop.

We continued on our way and returned to Savannah, GA and visited the Colonial Park Cemetery. Some of the grave stones are said to be desecrated by the Union Army during the Civil War though it's not necessarily verified. The desecrations included changing dates on the stones. Those stones are attached to a wall. There are also victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic buried here. There are lots of old stones and mausoleums throughout including a number of broken and otherwise badly weathered stones. Again, I wish I had known about Forrest Gump being filmed in Savannah...Chippewa Park was about a block from this cemetery and would have been an easy walk to visit. While in the cemetery, I picked up some fallen moss and got a shot of that. It was very soft. When we left, we tried to drive along the river but found that road was one way in the opposite direction. We went up a hill on cobble stone and drove along that way before leaving Savannah. We decided to stop for dinner at Sonic. While there, waiting on our food outside, a passing train hit a transfer truck. We found later that there were no injuries...we also found this has become a regular occurrence in this spot! We got ourselves through the traffic and headed north.

As we entered South Carolina, after passing the state sign, we passed a wall that made it appear as though we were entering a gated community. As though the state of South Carolina was a gated community from its southern neighbors. I stopped for gas at the Speedway again in Hardeeville, SC.  We hit some traffic again in a similar area we hit it coming south. I struggled a bit at this point of the drive. I felt very tired. We took a restroom break and that seemed to help a bit. We continued...this might have been the longest stretch of continued driving for this trip. We stopped at a rest area just before getting to Columbia, SC. In Columbia, we stopped to properly visit the Never Bust Chain. It was across from the art museum and I got some shots of the sculpture outside. We left by going south a few blocks to see the Statehouse.

We returned to North Carolina and could see some of Carowinds lit up a little bit as we crossed the state line. After dropping Elphie's mom off, we headed back to her sister's house and pretty much went to bed after the long day of driving.


On Wednesday April 7th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #388, Elphie wanted to have a day with her nieces and nephews. After some were playing in the yard with a hose to cool off on the warm day, she sent me to pick up some Domino's Pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts. I was confused a bit at Krispy Kreme. I was told to pick up a box of assorted...apparently I was supposed to pick what goes into the assorted. I figured you get what you get when you order assorted ha! Elphie's nieces and nephews played with their silly string - a traditional Christmas gift Elphie gives each year. It turned out that two of the bottles were colored hair sprays...they still had fun with those as well. Later, the decision was to watch a movie...it ended up being Godzilla Vs. Kong again.

Thursday April 8th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #389, we met up with some friends to have Hillbilly's BBQ. It was good. Elphie was able to catch up with a friend she hasn't seen in quite some time and others came as well that we typically see each year. I ended up sharing an Ale 8-One with one who got super excited when he saw the bottle. Later, we took Elphie's niece and nephews to get ice cream. We tried to go to Tony's Ice Cream but it was already closed. We ended up going to Cookout. I shared another Ale 8-One with Elphie's brother before taking his kids out.

Friday April 9th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #390, we went to the Scheile Museum with Elphie's mom to see a Planetarium show. The presentation was on the constellations visible in the sky currently in that area. It was interesting. After it was over, we went into the petting zoo area. I think we were meant to pay but we didn't. We went to R.O.'s after this and had a late lunch and their version of cherry lemon Sundrop. In regard to the cherry lemon Sundrop, I think Blackwood's is the best I've had so far. We hung out there for a while with Elphie's mom. We got to see an employee assist an older man who appeared to have a seizure before we left. I bought a tub of R.O.'s BBQ Slaw to take back to Chicago. After this, Elphie's mom got tired apparently and was ready to go home. We headed back to Elphie's sister's house and prepared for heading back to Chicago.

Saturday morning, April 10th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #391 we headed out to begin our return to Chicago. We loaded up our things, heated some leftover pizza to eat as we went (and the dog apparently ate it), and made sure we weren't forgetting anything. We had our R.O.'s BBQ Slaw in the cooler so I could enjoy it at home! The first stop we made as we hit some heavy rain was in Asheville, NC to see Steve Weese. He had moved from Los Angeles and was now sort of on our way so we wanted to get a visit in with him. He showed us around his apartment. He had built a sound space for recording voice overs. It was good to see him.

We continued north and encountered a little more rain but wasn't as bad as earlier. We continued through the mountains, stopping near Knoxville, TN for another round of Bojangles. I got some more of the Mountain Dew Southern Shock to drink as we went. We encountered another big traffic delay and decided to detour but the detour we took I think probably took as long or longer than the delay. We ended up on some dirt mountain roads that were quite twisty. We ended up back at the Sheehy's around 11pm. Some folks had planned to come hang out but it got to be too late. We sat and talked with Donna and Mike for quite a while before going to bed. It was good to catch up more and this time with both of them.

We had breakfast and hung a bit more with Donna then began to head home to Chicago on Sunday April 11th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #392. We stopped in Southgate, KY to see Lisa and hang for a bit with her. It had been quite a long time. It was good to see her and catch up on life!

After this, we drove through downtown Cincinnati by a different route than usual then stopped at Meijer on our way out to pick up some more Ale 8-One before we left the region. It had been quite a while since I was able to enjoy some Ale 8-One and was very happy to be remedying that situation! I now had a couple of my favorite southern food items: Ale 8-One and R.O.'s BBQ Slaw.

We stopped in Indianapolis, IN next to visit with Mark and Natalie for a while. It was a nice visit as well and good chance to catch up. We gave them goodie bags taht Donna made for them. At some point, hopefully they will be able to visit with us in Chicago and Natalie can enjoy some venison stew! We then made our way through the rest of Indiana, seeing the windmills, and stopping at Meijer (again) for groceries then Speedway for gas. I decided to get a car wash as well. We made it hope around 10:30pm and unloaded.

I decided to put most of the end credits over the car wash segment of the video. I included the soundtrack list which went into the rest of the drive home a bit.


It was a nice trip. It was good to get away for a while and see new places. After the winter, it was also nice to get out of the cold for a while. To do things more normally was refreshing. Mostly, it was great to see our friends and family again after a forced separation due to the pandemic apocalypse. Hopefully this trend continues rather than regressing.

I tried to pick a soundtrack representing bands from these states and songs that referenced the state, the south, or things the state is known for. While sorting through songs and bands, I ended up with a few more than I needed. I suppose that was a good problem, ha! I think what I used worked fairly well, overall. I tried to do better about mixing the audio in such a way as to not interfere with the audio from the video files and also not be so overbearing when I brought it back up at areas where the audio from the video files were not necessary.

The additional soundtrack for this project is "Jungle Of The Midwest Sea" by Flatfoot 56, "Atlantic" by Thrice, "Bird Song (Prayer)" by Jonathan Hape, "Carolina" by Bradley Hathaway, "Stampede" by He Is Legend, "Left With Alibis And Lying Eyes" by Emery, "The End Of All Things Will Be Televised" by Norma Jean, "Savannah" by The Castros, "Snowbirds And Townies" by Further Seems Forever, "Sunshine State" by Gasoline Heart, "Savannah" by Squad Five-0, "No Montage" by '68, "Peaches" by Presidents Of The United States Of America, "Peach Farmer" by 6'10, "Raised By The Tide" by Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster, "Southern Weather" by The Almost.

This project filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. It was edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson. Animations, maps, and titles were created using Motion 4 on a MacBook by Joel A. Swanson.

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