Garmin RV 780 GPS

Get Custom RoutesI recently picked up a Garmin RV 780 GPS to replace my aging Garmin Nuvi.  A lot of people use their smartphones and I get that.  I largely use mine for quick navigation.  But Google maps will not tell you if you have bridge up ahead that is too low for the travel trailer you’re towing!  So I bought a GPS that is geared towards RV’s and camping.

Know What’s Ahead

I pulled it out of the box and found it very easy and intuitive to set up and use.  I still haven’t looked at the manual or online documentation yet.  Haven’t needed to.  It goes through a start up wizard where it connects to a WiFi network, and then tries to pair to your phone via Bluetooth.  Both worked well.  After connecting to my home WiFi network I did a system and database update.  This took about 30 minutes to download and install but it did everything itself.  I didn’t need to intervene other than to restart the download one time.  (We were watching Netflix at the time so that could have something to do with it).  Part of the setup suggests that you install their Garmin mobile app on your smartphone which will allow you to get real-time traffic and weather updates as well a do hands-free calling on your phone (if your car doesn’t already do that).  Incoming emails and texts can also be displayed.

Outsmart the TrafficThe features in this unit and the speed FAR surpass my old GPS unit.  Screen updates are really fast and it’s very responsive to touch input.  Inputting a route is very easy as it autocompletes what you are typing and brings up suggestions you can select rather than type out the entire place name.   You can also use the Garmin Drive App to find the place you are going to and send it to the RV 780 so you never even need to touch the GPS.  I love the real-time traffic updates.  It will tell you what’s been reported up ahead on your route and how much time it will add.  It also has the capability to display images from traffic cameras up ahead on your route too though I haven’t found a way to make it do that automatically like it does with traffic.  Also the traffic camera images don’t refresh, they are just snapshots. One of the dislikes I have is the voice that they have chosen to use in this GPS.  It’s a slightly abrasive female voice.  I prefer the female voice in my older Garmin unit.

I’ve still yet to use this on an actual trip with my travel trailer.  I’ve only used it a couple of days on my commute to work.  But on those drives it’s worked really well.  After I get a few more miles under my belt I’ll report back on how it’s doing.

Malignant No More!

Got the good news today that the report came back from my melanoma surgery and they got it all!  I can’t tell you what a relief this is.  Well, yes I can.  I literally cried when I read the results.  Then I praised God for carrying me through this.  Then I finally cried and was able to truly mourn losing my sister to cancer.

It takes me a while to process things.  My brains seems to work on things at a subconscious level.  When I have problems at work that I can’t figure out.  I go do something else for a while and stop thinking about it.  Later, the solution suddenly comes to me.  My emotions seem to work the same way.   When something happens that would normally cause deep emotions, mine just turn off.  I can completely ignore them for days, weeks, or even months.  I can continue to function in the most dire of circumstances.

But then one day…  It all comes back to me and just releases.  Today was one of those days.  God has complete lifted these emotional burdens from me.  I can think and feel again.  I can look at God’s gifts in this moment and be grateful.  And in just one day I have these things to be grateful to God for:

  • Another year of life.
  • The wonderful brownie my daughter baked me and the amazingly sweet birthday card she gave me.  Her talent, and just plain ol’ her!  I love her.
  • Being able to have a quiet lunch with my wife.
  • My wife.  A woman who helps me, supports me, prays for me, and selflessly loves me.  I love her.
  • My son.  Just because I love him.
  • A job that, even though it didn’t go the way I wanted it to today, still supports me and my family, coworkers that care and support me, and a boss that largely stays out of my hair. 🙂
  • Another chance tomorrow!

Life is wonderful but God is wonderfuller!

Red Hills Fly In 2019

Normally I would be up at the Red Hills Fly In camping with some old friends.  But my back surgery has me sticking to my nice soft mattress rather than sleeping on on the ground in a tent!  But Cristy and I did decided to go up and spend Saturday with all our intrepid pilot friends.  The fly in is usually held over Memorial Day weekend, however the weather last week (which was Memorial Day) was calling for scattered rain showers which makes for a muddy sticky runway.  So we postponed until this weekend.

Cristy and I made the one hour drive in my truck up to Jack and Myrna Moyle’s airstrip in the Red Hills.  Truth be told it’s actually quicker to drive up than to fly.  If we flew, it would be a half hour drive to the airport, half hour to get the airplane ready, and a half hour to fly there.  Driving… is… quicker.  But most other pilots come from much farther away so travelling by airplane is the way to go.  Plus, it’s an airstrip.  Who want’s to drive all that way to an airstrip?!

We arrived at about 10:30am and greeted our old friends.  Most of the day was spent sitting around talking and snacking.  It was PERFECT weather to enjoy sitting under the trees watching the airplanes land and take off.




The funnest part of the entire day is just catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  We really enjoyed our afternoon at Jack and Myrna’s and we will definitely be back to spend the night which we unfortunately could not this time.  Just love those folks!

Here are a few pictures to enjoy.









Cut It Out

Well the day I’ve been dreading has finally come… and gone.  Praise God!  Recently my dermatologist discovered and removed a questionable mole.  It was sent to the lab and the results returned… malignant melanoma.  Unfortunately the dermatologist did not remove all the cancerous tissue.  So I had to go to a surgeon to remove a wider section of skin to make sure they got everything.  Today was that day.

I was incredibly nervous the past few days.  I showed up thinking it would only take 15 minutes or so.  It ended up taking close to an hour.  The surgeon was VERY thorough, explaining everything that he was doing, and taking MUCH skin off. This to make sure that they had very clear margins around the affected area.  Much of the time was taken up by him closing up the area he had removed.

But I’m happy to say it’s over now.  Now I wait for the lab results to come in.  I’ll go back in two weeks to have some of the stitches removed and we’ll also review the lab results.  I’m praying for clear margins!  I’m also happy to say that God has held me up through all this.  I’ve talked to a lot of people have have had plenty of moles removed, including some with melanoma and they all say it’s no big deal.  But it was a big deal to me, and God held me up through the entire process.

Public Service Announcement:  If you’re a person with a lot of moles like me, please have them checked out.

Memorial Day Flight

For the first time in four years I flew a fixed wing aircraft solo today.  I took my biennial flight review and got checked out in Oakdale Aero Club’s Cessna 152.  This morning I took it out solo.  It was a beautiful morning.  There were still some clouds around from yesterday’s storms.  It made for a beautiful sunrise, golden skies not red.  A good sign.

I got the airplane ready to go, performed my run-up, radioed my intentions, and back-taxied to runway 28 at Oakdale.  They are doing construction on the airport and all the taxiways are closed so we have to taxi down the middle of the runway to takeoff.  This is called back-taxiing.  I lined up on the runway, radioed once more and took off.  I departed left downwind and flew towards the Sierra foothills.


I flew eastward until I reached the hills on the west side of Salt Spring Valley and then turned north.  I knew that the morning Ham radio net was going so I pulled out my HT (handheld transceiver) and tuned into the SARA repeater.  As today is Memorial Day it was a smaller group of folks on the net and wouldn’t be going as long as the regular weekday net.  So when I heard a pause I keyed my radio and said “BREAK”.   Net control told me to go ahead and I checked in, “This is N6SVA, aeronautical”.  That’s a fun thing for Ham folks.  They love talking to Ham operators that are in out of the ordinary situations.  A Ham operator flying an airplane qualifies.  So checking in to the morning net was a fun thing for me too.  I checked in a couple of times telling them what the weather looked liked, where I was, my altitude, stuff like that.  They loved it and I thought it was fun too.

After the net ended I turned my HT off and just enjoyed flying around a bit.  I thought it would be fun to fly over to New Jerusalem where I had flown my powered parachute and powered paraglider so much.  It felt odd approaching the field from 2500 feet MSL as I hadn’t flown over 500 feet above the ground in four years!   I had a little difficulty finding the field because it had been so long since I had seen the field from that height.  I finally found the field and entered the pattern on a left crosswind.  I flew the pattern and made a landing that… well… let’s just say I’m a little rusty.  No metal was bent, no wheels popped, and the airplane will live to fly another day but it wasn’t one of my trademark smooth landings.


I taxied back and took off and headed back to Oakdale.  Happily my landing at Oakdale was MUCH better.  I taxied over to the fuel pump and topped the tanks off for the next guy.  All in all it was a wonderful morning but I can see that I need to get out on a few more wonderful mornings and knock this rust off.


Social Media Retreat

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Facebook for quite some time now.  But this latest round of disclosures that Facebook has been sharing user private data with advertisers has really chafed my hide.  I’ve deactivated my Facebook account and will leave it that way indefinitely.  I’d like to delete it altogether and may some time in the future.  I HAVE deleted my Tumblr, Twitter,, and Pinterest accounts.   I’m not sure what all other accounts I have out there but as I find them I’ll deactivate them.  If Facebook is selling my data, I’m sure the rest of them are too.

The one social media account I will be keeping is my YouTube account.  I do like to share videos of my exploits from time to time.

That all being said if you really want to know what I’m up to just check back right here!

Back In The Saddle

Related imageWell after 4 years away from fixed-wing aircraft flying both my powered-paraglider and my powered-parachute, I am now flying a Cessna 152 owned by a local flying club.  Why did I get away from parachute-type aircraft?  I was starting to miss flying longer distances and missed the speed and utility of fixed wing aircraft.  But ultimately I believe it was a God thing.  It goes like this…

About a month ago I got a letter from the United States Ultralight Association which is an advocacy organization for ultralight type aircraft of which both my parachutes were.  The letter was informing members that their insurance carrier had decided to stop insuring ultralight aircraft and that at that point there was no other insurance carrier willing to insure their members.  So starting at the end of May 2019 I would no longer be insured.

Two weeks later I got a call out of the blue from someone asking if my powered parachute was still for sale.  It wasn’t but really, everything is always for sale.  I told him that it was.  He asked for my “bottom line” price to sell it.  I quote him a reasonable price for both the powered parachute and the trailer.  After some back and forth on when and how he could see it he showed up the Saturday following that phone call, gave my my price in cash, and drove it back home to Arizona.

The events and their timing made it pretty obvious to me that God’s hand was moving in my life.  For whatever reason I was being steered back to fixed wing aviation.  So to that end I joined the Oakdale Aero Club and this morning got my biennial flight review and club checkout done at the same time.  So as of now I am once again a fixed wing pilot.  It will be nice to be able to fly to other airports again.  Especially with my buddy Jordan.  We’ll probably do some flying together in order to save costs.  Stay tuned for more flying adventures!