Kids; Was: [WWFF-KFF] Parks Diverge

Detrick Merz

The mention of young kids reminds me of an activation last summer. I remember sitting in a park in Washington State. Lake Chelan State Park, a popular spot for boaters, campers, and families wanting to go to the lakeside beach. This was back when we only needed 10 QSOs for activation credit. I had visited two other parks in Washington in days prior, netting 4 QSOs at the first park and 9 over two days at the second. Washington was supposed to be my linchpin for the 7 states activation award. There are six other states that seem plausible for me in a reasonable amount of time, but a 7th state is tough for me, requiring a big trip and lots of planning no matter what. A chance trip to Seattle gave me a welcome opportunity. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit rough and pressured by the time I got a chance at the third park.

My wife had dropped me off in the morning before going on to visit area wineries with her friend. I was, in essence, trapped at this park for the day. But I had drinks and plenty of snacks; I have activation food and drink down to a science now. Wine isn't my thing anyway, and they were happy to have some girl time while I was happy for a last chance for an activation. I set up at the most secluded picnic table I could find, my usual pattern, although there really wasn't anywhere secluded at this park. I watched people pass by on the way to and from the restrooms, watched some kids playing in a nearby ampitheatre, and watched families walk down the path to the beach. I listened to the occasional interference from boat engines racing by, the sound of their exhaust in one ear and the tick-tick-tick-tick of their ignition in the other. It was infrequent and quiet enough that I didn't bother filtering it out, somehow it added to the overall feeling of this particular park. QSOs were slow coming, but coming all the same. My first was N4EX, and that felt good, my 5W was getting all the way across the country.

After a few hours, one particular family was walking the path to the beach. A little boy with them, maybe 8 years old if I hazard a guess, comes running up to me. "What are you doing?" he asked. I imagined what was going through the minds of the adults, this kid running up to me, a weird guy with a big beard sitting alone at a picnic table strewn with strange equipment. Luckily, the park is only a few hours from Seattle, so I was probably less strange and scary than I imagined myself to look. I asked the boy if he knew what ham radio or Morse code were. He didn't (perhaps unsurprisingly), so I told him it was a code you could use to talk to other people, and that I was using this radio to see how many people I could reach, and that I could earn points and awards. I unplugged the headphones and kept up my CQ over the speaker so he could listen. He asked how many people I had reached, and how far away. Luckily I had N4EX in the logs: North Carolina seemed to impress the kid. After a few minutes, he went running down the hill to the beach. I hoped, perchance, he might remember the moment and have a spark of interest some time in the future.

My day carried on. I made a park to park contact or two, tried unsuccessfully to make some psk31 contacts, and had a few kind souls stick with me as I butchered their callsigns or they followed me to a different band or two for another contact. My 6Ah Bioenno pack went flat at some point, but thankfully after I had made the requisite 10 contacts. I kept going until the Eneloops in the KX3 also went flat, wanting to pad my log with a few extra contacts to be safe. At some point, though, that same kid came back. "How many do you have now?" I looked at the notes scribbled in my log book and told him, although I don't remember the number anymore. "Cool!" he said, and went running off again.

That's one of my most memorable experiences operating from a park.


On Jan 16, 2018 11:08, <n9ee@...> wrote:
I like questions from very young kids who are not afraid to ask anything.  As we age we tend to become afraid our questions will embarrass us so we dont ask.  I'd say there are no stupid questions, mostly stupid answers.

73, ron, n9ee/r  know code Extra

Ron Wright, N9EE
Spring Hill, Florida
727-207-0808 (cel)