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Ralph and I have been visiting each of the marsh land parks along the western shore of the lower mainland. The region has been divided into several management areas and each is a separate park in the parks-on-the-air program. The next one on our list was Sturgeon Bank and we looked forward to visiting the area and operating. The park can be reached from several access points from Garry Point Park in the south, a few road ends and Iona Beach Park in the north. For our adventure we thought we would try one of the road ends to reach the middle area of the marsh reserve.
As it was Friday and the memorial week-end in the states, we both felt that traffic might be heavier than normal going south through the tunnel. We therefore felt it would be better if we started a bit earlier than normal and head out before the rush. So, to that end Ralph arrived at my place at noon and we set out for Richmond. The drive went quickly and soon we were pulling into the end of Williams Street. There weren’t many cars parked alongside the road and I was able to park close to the end of the road. There was a nice walkway up to the trail that makes its way along the dyke next to the marsh keeping the housing safe and dry.
The area near Williams Road looked quite good but it was close to some high voltage power lines that were feeding the close-by AM radio station transmitter. I was concerned that we may be close enough to the station’s tower that it could de-sense our radios. After a brief look around we returned to the car and drove north to the next road – Francis Road. Here there is a small 5 car parking area which was occupied fortunately the side streets had lots of parking. We wandered up to the dyke area and saw a nice table one of us could use. The area looked good and the AM station towers were far enough away to cause minimal issue. We decided to stay here, so we returned to the car and moved it to a now open parking spot in the small lot. We then loaded the cart.
We decided I would use the table and so we unloaded my gear there and Ralph continued north along the trail to a shaded spot a couple hundred meters to the north. I was able to set up my antenna along side the trail and soon I was setting up the radio. This was a busy place with walkers and general public access and so I was getting asked many questions about my antenna by those wandering by. Some were interested enough that I offered my small brochure to them.
Once on the air I dialed in the 20m band and searched for some park activators. I could barely hear any and so I just moved to an open frequency and started calling. I was calling for quite some time and still had no responses. I was beginning to think it may be a bust but finally I had a response from a chap in Minnesota. A couple of minutes later came a California contact and then they started coming much faster. 20 minutes after the first contact I managed my 14th. It was now after 1:30 which is around the normal time I find to operate. It seems that before then one has a harder time being heard. I reached two other parks today and my contacts ranged from California to Florida and up to Ontario, over all a good wide spread of contacts.
Ralph called at about 1:50 to see how things were going. He had enough contacts at that point and I needed one more, we decided to go until 2pm. I made 5 more after that and I felt things were picking up but Ralph was packing up and we wanted to avoid the traffic so I also closed down and packed the station. I completed just as Ralph arrived.
We soon were loaded into the car and starting our way home. Both of us wanted a drink after sitting out in the hot sun for an hour. We made for the closest Starbucks but on arrival we saw that it was a Safeway version so we searched for the next and drove to that one. Once loaded with drink we checked the navcom for the suggested way home. It had us follow Blundell road across the highway and enter the Steveston exit from the east rather than drive along it from the west where we were. The map showed much congestion on the west side of Steveston. So, we followed the suggested route and though it was a bit slow at the end we made reasonable time getting to the tunnel. The rest of the drive went quite quickly.
It was a lovely spot we were at and we both were able to get sufficient contacts to activate the park. There are still a number of marsh lands left for us to do so we will be busy with them for a few more visits. They are nice places to go compared to some of the small parks we have been at as they are more open and generally further from radio interference. The views can also be quite plesant as is the fresh air and sun.