Hey Jim, I think I have you beat on the grips solution: tennis racket tape! All the wacko desert miles on mine had the grips worn out as well. It's just a set of Wilson stuff. Very grippy and made the grips much larger too. As with yours, it takes a little longer to get them warm, but they do get warm. I think it cost me like $10 from a sporting goods store.
Definitely some cool stuff in here!