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My friend Ralph has been wanting to operate his radio at the Iona Beach Park for some time now. He, having worked at the airport and this park being next door, has made it somewhat special in his mind. I on the other hand have been leery of the traffic issues around the airport and so felt a bit hesitant about going. Alas a day with good weather was here and I felt it would be a good day to get out there and see what we could do.
Being in the midst of a high traffic area we decided to leave earlier than normal so that we could beat the rush-hour traffic coming home. We set out a bit after 11am and were soon traveling the highway for Richmond and Sea Island. The drive was quick as traffic light and soon we were approaching the airport. The road we needed required us to start down the normal airport access road but turn off at the first light. This we did with no issues. We continued along, passing the huge postal services air handling facility and followed the road as it followed the north side fence of the airport.
It seemed like a long drive alongside the airport but soon we got to the waste water treatment plant and then the entrance to the park. There were cars parked alongside the roadway as we entered, it made me wonder if the parking was that full. The lot itself was mostly empty and the roadside parking was just nearer the start of the main dyke hike area. Once parked we got out to explore the area and select an operating location for our two radio setups.
We initially wandered the picnic area and then over to the beach. The main 4km long dyke was off to the south a bit and we were separated from it by a small lagoon. We then wandered along a service road that continues alongside of the Fraser River for some distance. We walked only part way along it as we spotted a nice spot for Ralph to set up. The area is quite flat as it is built up sand and debris from the river. There are some smaller trees scattered throughout but mostly it is sand an brush. Having selected our spots, we returned to the car for our gear.
We quickly loaded the cart and made for a table where I would be setting up. Ralph continued along the service road to his location. I soon had my antenna in the air when I saw Ralph walking back to me. He said he was missing his support post. He got my car key and went to check the car. He then returned having found no post there. I offered him one of mine as I was able to attach one end of my antenna to some driftwood. He then went back to setup. I was soon scanning the bands looking for some other park activators when I again saw Ralph walking my way. He said his phone battery had died and asked if I could spot him on the list.
After giving him a few minutes to get back I spotted him on the Parks-on-the-air list and then I added myself. I was initially going to use the 12m band as it looked to have the best coverage but the band seemed very noisy at this location and so is moved to 15m. Here I likely had less range but probably more people able to talk. Soon I was calling and then the contacts started coming in. Over the next 25 minutes I managed to get my 10 needed contacts. The first was in California then over to the east coast in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and up to Alaska. So, the range was actually quite good.
I had enough but still had lots of time so I switched over to the 10m band. Here I made 7 more contacts in 10 minutes and was getting up to speed but Ralph had packed up and was walking to me with his gear in the cart. On 10m my contacts were in Indiana, Illinois, Ontario and Delta! So good coverage again. At this point two chaps came by who were licensed hams but used their equipment for their hiking/mountain biking sports. They were asking about a good base station for their situation. Hopefully Ralph and I were able to offer some useful tips.
Well, it was past 1:30 and we needed to pack up and get going if we were to beat the traffic. So after a few minutes of packing we loaded the car, searched again for Ralph’s missing pole and then made our way back home. We planned to grab a coffee and muffin to augment our small on-site lunch. It was a very successful trip; the driving was no issue at all. The location was very pleasant with lots of scenery to enjoy and water fowl pictures to be sought out. We did chat briefly with a guy who had a big lens who had come to get wildlife pictures. The long dyke offers a full 8km return walk/cycle which seems to attract the most people. Perhaps I will need to walk or cycle it one day.