Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Friday, October 22, 2004


BrailleNote GPS - the Newport Beach Bay

Twenty of us eased out of the dock at Fishermans Village for a 2 hour cruise, demonstration of the BrailleNote GPS and celebration of the latest advancement in wayfinding independence, GPS version 3. Pulse Data HumanWare, Sweetman Systems and Sendero Group sponsored this cruise. The purpose and result was to introduce rehabilitation counselors and teachers from Southern California to the importance of location information and how the BrailleNote GPS is addressing what we sometimes call, “location literacy.”

Showers and cloudy skies in the morning gave way to sun and a light breeze by the afternoon when we cruised the harbor. We heard about points such as John Wayne’s home and beautiful bay view mansions. Our database even showed navigation aids in the harbor although Captain Chandler wasn’t quite ready to let us take the helm without him nearby.
Mike at the helm
It was an extremely smooth ride and the perfect floating classroom for demonstrations of use of the GPS at sea but more importantly how students and clients would use it on campuses or in cities. Since the BrailleNote GPS has an explore mode, we could show what information a user would get in any community in the U.S. and other countries too.
The group enjoying the sun on the deck of the boat

About the Hornblower:
M/V Hornblower, a 65-foot converted sport fisher, provides the perfect place to watch a majestic Southern California sunset. The trademark open bow allows
up to 30 guests to sit outside and enjoy the cool Pacific breezes or sip a favorite cocktail. A member of the Hornblower fleet since 1984, M/V
Hornblower features a cozy setting for up to 49 guests. Recent additions of wood flooring and detailing have made the vessel even more of a favorite.

Friday, October 08, 2004


GPS the San Francisco Bay

On Friday, 35 Northern California Rehabilitation counselors were hosted by the Sendero staff for a unique demonstration of BrailleNote GPS version 3 while cruising the bay on a Hornblower yacht. The wind was brisk and the weather gorgeous. The GPS told us we were going 10 miles per hour. A sighted guest said that Treasure Island looked like it was a mile away and the GPS told us it was 3 miles when we first set out.

Mike and Charles toasting to the release of version 3

the group in the yacht cabin enjoying the hors d'oeuvres

This enjoyable venue gave us a chance to explain how the accessible GPS works on land as well as by sea. The BrailleNote was connected to the yacht's sound system so passengers got a minute by minute update on our speed, heading and nearby points on land and water. Perched on the bow of the boat, precariously balancing a drink and shouting over the wind, one person said, "this is one of the best class rooms for a workshop I have ever been in!"

the group enjoying the view from the bow

"Admiral Hornblower, a 60-foot Carricraft built in 1970 and completely refurbished in 1998, has catamaran hulls to insure smooth sailing. She has two fully enclosed decks and an open-air bow perfect for enjoying cocktails as the sights pass by. The main deck features a hardwood dance floor, plush carpeting, a mahogany bar, complete sound system, and a fully equipped galley where all cuisine is freshly prepared on board by Hornblower's talented Chefs. The upper deck comfortably seats up to 32 guests at tables graced with white linens, china and brass lantern centerpieces."

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Exploring Cascade Idaho at the NR AER conference

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I flew off to Idaho for the Northwest Rockies AER conference in Cascade Idaho, over an hour and a half from Boise. What exactly would be in the GPS database in a small town in the middle of nowhere?

I used the Virtual mode to explore Cascade before I left. There was something like 55 points of interest within a mile of the hotel. I found the hotel location by entering the address. It wasn’t yet added to the Points of Interest database, being only a year old.

I was very surprised when a member of the staff from the Ashley Inn met me at the Boise airport to hear that they had high speed Internet in the rooms and wireless in the lobby and conference rooms. This former lumber mill town, as it turned out, had a beautiful, cozy but modern hotel.
Another blind guy and I, Gary Olson from Cheyenne Wyoming, set out from the inn to have dinner at Gramma’s Family restaurant, not far from the inn but along a rather pedestrian-free Idaho state route 55, also called Main Street as it ran through Cascade. Gary was impressed that two blind guys could find their way to and fro in a town they had never been in before without sighted assistance. The trip was a bigger highlight than the food. Ah, but the homemade cookies at the front desk when we returned…

I took an hour my first morning to walk up the East side of Main street and back on the West side to mark points of interest not in the database. The next GPS user who passes through Cascade will be amazed at the quality of points in the town. The streets were already extremely well recorded. Good thing since we can’t change those. Even the little bitty side streets are right there, being announced. The locals were mighty curious about this blind guy wandering around town. Very friendly folks in Cascade including the lady who chased me down in her car because she thought I couldn’t find the window to an espresso booth I was exploring 4 blocks back.

The conference events were centered on Cascade Lake including tandem cycling, hiking and Kayaking. I took my groups on a 2.5-mile trail, formerly a railroad bed, skirting the lake. I had marked various intersecting trails, benches and points to show them how this technology would be effective on rural roads or when camping. They took turns being blindfolded and getting used to the BrailleNote announcements.

I clocked about 8 miles walking before dusk fell and we headed back into town for dinner. We bypassed Gramma’s this time and found Chief’s, a slightly more upscale place for dinner, not to mention that their libations were a bit broader in selection. A neat blind woman, Danna, and I explored our way back to the Inn with a stop at the Gas and Grubb. We found our way, without the sighted folks, back to the Inn where the conference continued for a few more days and I unfortunately headed back to Davis. I am looking forward to going back to Cascade and the Ashley Inn, maybe this winter when a the new Tamarack Ski Resort opens for the first time. Kudos to Aylee Schaefer and the others who put on a unique and informative conference in what turned out to be a very special place.


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