Monday, November 21, 2011

Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! Google Maps Story

 From The Desert to The Snow in California!

ds106 has a web assignment called Google Maps Story and it was submitted by David (Mr. Thimble). I think this assignment is extremely fun and enjoyable, to my surprise, mainly because Google Maps website is pretty advanced an updated now. The directions to get started on the assignment are:

  • Use Google Maps to tell a story! It can be the story of a trip you took, a trip you would like to take, a strange occurrence, a war, anything you like!
  • The only rules are that you have to use Google Maps proper in order to tell your story.
This assignment enticed me because I have been on a great many epic trips, some of them international! I could picture them in my head, as I was motivated by David's well-depicted story. I also thought it would be awesome to explain a detailed historic battle marked in a map of our current world! (That will be saved for when I have the time, though. And I also wanted to tell the story of my 1st deployment to Iraq, which was exiting and full of different missions around Iraq...but that would bee against OPSEC so I can't.) Surprisingly, the more I read on Google Maps Stories, the more I found comments on how they are underrated. I also couldn't find any archived examples from ds106 :-/ must be the lack of proper tagging. I'm guessing it's because Google maps USED to be a pain to navigate still might be on somethings, but it's FUN!

FEAR NO MORE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, Google Maps website is all updated, it even has rich text html! At every point in your map, you can add pictures to colorful and highlighted text! I kept mine at default text font, size, and color, but certainly added picture!

It's super easy to use! Just write the title of your story, add some description, and use the tools to mark your first check point. There, a bubble will pop up; which you can edit just like a word document, or a blog! Add links and pictures! A story can actually be SO detailed, if you add a picture of the event, and a link to a wikipedia page or blog with more pictures and description! There are great possibilities!

I've done plenty of epic trips across America and internationally! But for this story I chose one that I will always remember, mainly because it was actually pretty dangerous. I've always been an automobile enthusiast, but I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Unlike the Midwestern boys, I never had a chance to become a good driver, only driving freeways and such. (Eventually I traveled to the Midwest with my Marine Corps brethren, and the car scene was unparalleled!) My friends an I raced, but I wasn't good. After I totaled one of my cars before my second deployment to Iraq, I told myself that was enough. (If you're my friend on Facebook, you can see more pics of this event, here.)

Back then, I was 22 years old and invincible. Shortly after I came back from Iraq, I bought my dream car--a 530i back and sexy BMW, all by my own! Knowing I was a bad driver, I had been researching Skip Barber Racing School and their programs. I waited for the Christmas 30% off discount back then, and paid under a grand to drive high performance vehicles for 2 days!

As an Infantry Marine, I was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA which is in the Mojave Desert. The base is the only thing keeping that desert town alive. There is nothing around, and the weather is deadly HOT. There isn't much different between 2-9 (as we called it) and Iraq. Many adventurers have died from heat there. However, it's peculiar weather also throws storms and blizzards at you on winter. You will find the roads dilapidated with "Subject to flooding" signs around. This is what made my trip treacherous.

I was used to pulling trips on a 48hr weekend "libo." Except this time, a blizzard randomly showed up, as I decided to take the less traveled back-roads instead of highways. The suspense entails....

View Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! in a larger map

As for the assignment, I had to dig through old emails between my best friend, Justin, who was in Afghanistan at the time, as I told him the story. I also had radical pics from that trip, but they were all left back home before I came to Japan :( So I had to google some. Fortunately, most of them are from the same place and time. ALSO, Google Maps has this awesome feature, where you grab this one dude from the zoom bar, and drop him on a road to get a street view! This reminded me where things happened in the 550 miles stretch that I drove!

I also googled the weather at that time, and read up to refresh my mind of the whole trip. I should have seriously written it down back then!
Any ways, Here it is! My Skip Barber Treacherous Trip! Hope you enjoy!


  1. This one is ten ways to awesome. I love the way you've maximized the story-teling features of Google Maps. Isn't incredible how much the service has been enhanced over the years?

    BTW, I've just contacted the ds106 folks about getting your blog syndicated on the main site. Standby for further info.

  2. Thank you so much! I just glanced over the emails, now the ds106 community will have to put up with my pesting!

    I was blown away by google maps while working on that assignment, it was the least irritating, much more, it was actually FUN! I highly suggest more people at least give it a shot! Again, Thank you!

  3. This would be a really good way to do camping pictures. You could use the history feature of your GPS's location to plot out the location on Google maps with the image. Alternatively, my DSLR has an addon that puts in the location of the picture when you take. This gives me really good idea about ways to use pictures during trips in the future.

    Thanks for your post!

  4. Well, your DSLR is AWESOME. But yeah I figured I should really start doing that for most of my trips, like this up coming Ogasawara Islands trip I'm doing on winter.
    You can upload as many pics on one location in Google Maps and save the route you took, while adding comments and rich HTML goodies. You can choose to share them with the world or not. I see plenty of this coming up for me!

  5. I like how you post the image of the nice car in the white box.

  6. Thanks Manish, that was my pride and joy. I love driving that car!


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