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The nice thing about a vacation is the chance to do things unavailable at home. Today I planned to activate another Victoria area park in the parks on the air radio program. The closest one to my hotel was the bird sanctuary park. This is actually a big area that includes all of the Victoria harbour area, up the inlet as well as the southern shoreline along Juan de Fuca strait past Oak Bay. There are a lot of beach areas that are included in the park boundaries. In my initial planning I considered going to Clover Point as the road gets very close to the shore and there are easy access paths to the beach. To be inside this park one needs to be in the intertidal zone of the beaches that form the border of the park, so easy beach access is essential.
Though the sun was out there a brisk westerly wind that would make life a bit challenging when sitting on an exposed beach area. I decided Clover Point was too exposed and to look for a more sheltered spot where I could access the beach and be protected from the wind. The Gonzales Park area on the south-east corner of the region proved to be an ideal candidate. It was only a 6-minute drive from the hotel which was ideal. As time neared 1pm I packed up my backpack and set out in my car. After dropping my wife off at her friend’s place for a visit, I made my way to he park. It has a small parking area and it looked full, some empty spaces that I saw upon arrival proved to be no parking areas. So I turned around and saw a spot alongside the road just a bit further along. I soon was parked and ready to explore the area.
I grabbed my camera and set out on foot to grab a few photos and see where I would need to go to operate. There is a open area above the beach with grass and tables but it would not be within the sanctuary so I couldn’t stay up there. The park offered a wide sloping causeway down to the beach unfortunately at the bottom there is a drainage ditch and it had created a water filled channel across the end of the ramp, so much for easy access! Fortunately I saw that there was an alternate stairway down just past the channel which stayed on dry ground. I walked back to the car and got my gear. I hoped to make only a single trip down the stairway with my gear. After organizing my gear, I found a way to carry everything down in one load. It was a bit awkward, but the route was quite short, so it wasn’t too difficult.
Once on the beach I scouted for an open area not currently occupied by the beach goers. There was a set of logs not far along the beach so I walked there and dropped my pack. The log would make a decent seat so I set up my table next to it and then planned my antenna position. Soon I had the station ready and I started scanning the bands for other park activations. The radio noise level was quite low which was nice. I saw three parks listed on the 10m band but I couldn’t hear any of them. There were no listings for 12m and only 1 in 15m. I tried calling the chap on 15m and after a number of calls he eventually heard me and we had our park to park contact completed. As I was planning to operate on 15m I just moved up frequency to an unoccupied frequency. I posted myself on the spots list and started calling, I soon had the first replies. It was a bit slow at the start but then I got a good number in rapid succession. By the time I had been operating 36 minutes I had 25 stations logged. I noticed that the noise level had increased quit a bit so I decided to shutdown at that point.
My contacts today were almost all from the east coast area and a bit inland but nothing from the west coast. Not having a California station in the log is a rare event. Packing up went quickly and soon I was back on the road for the short drive back to the hotel. It had been a very pleasant time at the beach and the location was well protected from the wind. Gonzales Beach is really quite good for activating the sanctuary park. It is away from the main tourist areas so will have less crowding than the more popular areas. It is also easy to access the beach from ones car.