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This park was still to be activated in the parks on the air program. It is a fun extra to be the first person to activate a park and I was looking forward to being the first. Ralph had also spotted the park on the list and was equally interested. Our plans had been to visit it last week but the band conditions became questionable and I needed to get home early so we opted for an alternate last week. Today the bands looked reasonable and the weather was lovely, sunny and warm with a mild breeze – ideal to be out in a park.
We left my house at 12:30 and arrived at the park area a bit after 1pm. We initially got out and scouted the area looking for two spots for us to operate. Ralph selected a closer area this time and I located a set of benches along the walkway just before a foot bridge over a marsh waterway. We returned to the car and loaded the cart with our gear and then walked to a table Ralph was planning to use. I then continued along the walkway to the bridge and the two benches.
Once at the benches I saw that the walkway at that point was in the direction I wanted for my antenna so I was able to erect it parallel to the trail and used the railing of the bridge for support at the one end. Once positioned, I finished setting up the radio and checked the bands. I could hear a loud park on 20m meters so I called out and managed to make contact. It was 1:25pm. Moving up band I heard another group of three operators at a second park. I stopped to work them but it took a while as for each hunter they needed to rotate through the three operators. One was having difficulties hearing so it took awhile to get all three done. I almost gave up on the wait as they had a backlog of park-to-park contacts. I called out again but wasn’t selected, after the three worked that park, I tried again and this time they called me back and I finally worked the three operators.
Having four in the log already I decided to find my own frequency and start calling. My first hunter was a chap from a third park and I soon had him logged. Over the next half hour, I worked 23 stations ranging from Alaska to California and over to Alabama and Louisiana, up to New York and back to Utah. I was being heard out there quite well. It was a lot of fun when you are making contacts this quickly. Things eventually quieted down a bit and since I had 28 logged contacts I decided to try for a different frequency band. It may be less productive but it would be fun trying. So, I moved to the 17m band and started calling. It took a bit of time but I soon had two more contacts logged, one from Iowa and the other Montana. AT this point Ralph called to say he had enough but wanted to go for another 10 minutes.
I agreed to keep going but I switched bands again this time trying the 15m band. It took a bit of time but I eventually had a station from Arkansas find me then Illinois and Oklahoma. The 15m band was also working quite well. Time was up and I had 33 contacts. It was a good day on the radio and the breeze in the shade along the walkway was a very pleasant but my neck was getting sore bending down to the short table I use for the radio. I was packed up in a few minutes and made my way back to Ralph. He had a very slow start and by the time he called me he had only 13 logged but managed a further 5 in the last ten minutes. The band finally opened up for him.
So, as we walked to the car I said that my first contact was at 1:25, when was his? He claimed 1:26 so I beat him by a minute. It was close but we both had an enjoyable time out there. The access to this park is really quite easy so we were both left wondering why it have never been done before. But I am glad it wasn’t and that we were the first to activate it. Being a bit warm we drove to the Ladner Starbucks for a cool drink but we got stuck behind the school kids escaping their daily incarceration so we had a bit of a delay getting to the store only 1.5km from the park parking lot. It also took a bit of a wait at the till as well. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry.