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Although it is the closest park on the Parks on the Air list to my home, it has been closed to the public for over two years. Well, this week it finally opened up. Being now open, I planned to visit on the first day with decent weather. That came on Friday. I knew I wouldn’t get the first activation as my friend Ralph braved the rain and wind to go on Thursday. He sat in his car hiding from the wind to make 19 contacts. But even he missed out on the first as another prolific activator went on Wednesday though he only operated in an automated digital mode.
Well Friday came and the day was sunny and moderate so it looked to be a great day for enjoying some sun. I Packed the car and set out for the short drive to the park. I am always a bit leery about going there as if you aren’t careful you could end up on the road to the US border. It really isn’t that difficult but I am always extra cautious. I had no issues making the proper turns having just checked the google maps before heading out. I arrived to find a large lot with three cars in it. I selected a spot on the edge near where I saw a nice table I could use. I then went for a short excursion to review the area but in the end that table was perfect so I didn’t wander far.
Returning to the car I loaded the wagon and walked to the table. I then set up the antenna and the radio. Just as I was about to turn it on a border guard came by to see what I was up to. I mentioned that I was about to see how the bands were and he immediately knew I was an amateur radio operator and after confirming such and started on his way. I started up a longer chat with him and he expressed how he liked the area having been here 5 years now. He had been stationed across the country and said all the locations had their good points.
He continued along and I switched on the radio, the noise floor was low so I didn’t bother with my new noise reducing equipment. I saw that the 20m band was quite busy so I quickly moved to the 15m band. I found that even 15m was quite busy as well. I quickly worked another park activator who was doing a dual, so I had my first contacts and two park-to-parks in the log. I found an open frequency and spotted myself on the list and then started calling. Almost instantly I had responses. I had multiple people trying at once. It was going very well. I soon had worked stations from Florida, New York, Louisiana through to California. It was a great day on the bands. In twenty minutes, I had over twenty contacts in the log. Since I had enough, I felt I could try the 10m band.
Dialing in 10m I found it busy as well, a good sign. Fortunately, there is a large frequency range for amateur radio and I kept moving up until I found an opening. I then started calling. Even here I was soon working multiple stations at once. Many were east coast but a Hawaiian station came in and then one in Venezuela! All on 10m. Two stations, one in Connecticut and another in Kansas claimed to be operating with only 5 watts of power, though weak they did make it across the continent. Then I worked a chap in Wisconsin claiming to be putting out a single watt of power! I guess my 85 was over-kill for the day.
After an hour of operating, I had 59 contacts in the logbook! The most I had ever done at a single activation. And in such a short time period! I also worked some states for the first time. But I was getting a bit tired and felt I had completed enough contacts so I shut down the station and packed up. Then I walked around the park area gathering a few photos before heading home. All the time I was there the lot never had more than 4 cars in it though there were a number who came and went over the time I was there. I suppose it will be crowded some the nice weather week-ends. It was a lovely day out and very successful for radio.