Hoover Dam, GPS, Pilates

It has been several days since the last update and we apologize to our readers.  To be honest, I was just too lazy to get it done.  However, in a burst of energy and good intentions, this should bring you up to date.

First of all, we were scheduled to move on but due to the weather we decided to stay put for another two weeks.  The new plan has us bypassing Pahrump on our way to Carson City.  We learned a few things during our travels — don’t fight the weather and keep a flexible schedule.

The weather eventually cleared up and this is a great place to hang out.  The days might get into the low 70s, the skies are mostly clear and the air is dry.  We have taken advantage of the good weather to do some sightseeing and run some errands.  Most of all, we have been diligent in our workouts.  In a moment of weakness, I signed up for two 5K runs on consecutive weekends, with the first run on March 5.  It will be interesting to see if my times improve.

We met the couple parked next to us, Art and Joan, who are also full-timers.  We went out to dinner with them one evening at a very nice Italian restaurant overlooking Las Vegas.  The food was excellent, the view was impressive and we very much enjoyed visiting with them.  Like ourselves, they are recently retired and searching for a place to settle.  We wish them well and plan to stay in touch.

On one very nice day we made the short trip to Hoover Dam.  Although we had both seen the dam before, it is still an awesome sight.  Viewing the dam, you wonder why anyone would want to build something that big!  Although it was built in the 30s, it is still impressive even by today’s standards.  Anyone traveling to Las Vegas should make an effort to see this, it is truly an engineering marvel.

During a prior visit to Vegas, we discovered a restaurant at the Paris hotel that specializes in crepes.  Jeanne had fond memories of the place, so off we went to have crepes for lunch.  As expected, they were delicious and our crepe craving has been satisfied for the next three years.

While visiting the family in Santa Paula, we discovered the grandkids very much enjoyed their Sony PlayStation.  While in Vegas, we took the opportunity to purchase a PlayStation 2 and some games.  It will be a good distraction when the kids visit, although we are not above using it on nights where nothing worthwhile is on TV.

One of the biggest travel challenges has been finding out where we are and where we are going.  Maps are the best bet and we usually obtain a map of the local area when we land somewhere.  However, maps are not always available, the roads are not always marked and we may not be certain of our current location.  We needed to solve this problem.

About two months ago, we installed some mapping software on Jeanne’s computer.  Working with the program we noticed it has a GPS interface.  The mental light bulb went on!  After obtaining a serial-to-USB adapter we successfully made a GPS to PC connection and can now see our EXACT location on the mapping program.  This is similar to the GPS systems available in new automobiles for a ton of money.  The capability of the system is impressive.  Wondering where we are and where we are going is a thing of the past.

Jeanne needed a little GPS training and what could be better than finding a Geocache.  For those not familiar with Geocache, it involves using GPS to find ‘hidden treasure’.  Here’s how it works: a container with worthless trinkets is hidden and its coordinates are posted on the Geocache web site.  Obtaining the coordinates from the web site, you navigate your way to the Geocache using your GPS.  When found, you take something, leave something and record your experience on the Geocache web site.  One morning, Jeanne found two Geocaches nearby, both were less than a mile from our coach.

With the GPS training complete, we needed to test the GPS/Mapping capability.  So, getting everything hooked up in the Jeep we tested the system by using it to find the Bass Pro Shop just south of Las Vegas.  The system worked perfectly.  While driving it shows your current location, destination, route, speed, direction and driving instructions.  What a cool system.  Problem solved.

So far, we have avoided gambling.  Strange how both of us has no desire to hang out in a dark, smoky casino playing a game with a negative expected value.  Frankly, it get boring after ten minutes and if we ever really want to play the games, we play them on the PC without any financial risk.

Both of us have been doing Pilates for a year or more and we are getting quite good at it.  However, instructions for some of the advanced exercises are a little vague and before attempting them a lesson would be beneficial.  Lo and Behold, we found a Pilates studio not far from the coach.  On a rainy afternoon, I spent about an hour at the Pilates studio with a Pilates master.  We’re now ready to safely advance to the ‘next level’.

We finally got the awning fixed — the wind-up spring needed to be tightened.  A manufacturer representative at the FMCA rally told me how to do this, but after watching the procedure I’m glad to have paid for the service call.  The awning mechanism included a garage-door type spring that is tensioned by twisting.  This is easier said than done.  The spring holds a LOT of potential energy and is a severe injury waiting to happen.  Do yourself a favor and pay someone to do this.

There’s not much more to tell.

We’re just hanging out waiting for the weather to warm up before moving north.