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For today’s radio adventure Ralph and I drove to the Pitt-Addington Marsh area at the south end of Pitt Lake. We had been planning on Golden Ears Park but it requires parking passes and the time periods didn’t mesh with our plans. It was Ralph’s birthday so we wanted to do a more interesting location and he had never been to the Pitt Marshes area. It would be a new experience for him. So, we met at my house at 11:30 and made for the park.
The drive was estimated for 45 minutes and it took that amount of time. The drive was uncongested and we enjoyed a leisurely drive through the rural districts. The smoke in the air from the wildfires however, made the mountains almost impossible to see. I was quite surprised at the density of the smoke so early in the summer. We arrived at the parking lot and found a stall; it was under half full so lots of places to pick from. We then got out into the 30-degree heat! It was a hot day out there.
We wandered to the south end of the parking area where a line of trees made a pleasant shaded area. Ralph thought that he would operate along the area next to the main road which was nicely shaded and enjoyed a pleasant breeze. We then wandered to the north end along the Pitt River and the start of the lake. There were a few tables alongside the walkway and two were shaded. After reviewing the area, we returned to the car to pick up our gear.
We first walked to Ralph’s area and unloaded his gear and then I walked to the western most shaded table. I studied the walkway and open space for a bit to figure out how I would place my antenna. I eventually decided to run parallel to the walkway even though it was mostly east-west. Once selected I placed the tripod and staked its legs. With the new higher antenna, I think having that extra support by staking the legs is essential, especially in the breeze. Next went up the mast. It was tipping sideways in the tripod as the bottom was not sitting well in the bottom well. I need to get a better lower support for it. At one point it retracted into itself and broke the clip I had at the top. I was able to retie the string on the clip and with the help of a friendly neighbour we got the mast in the air. I had it leaning a bit into the wind for stability.
Once up, I quickly got the radio going and started calling. I heard a Nebraska activator coming in strong and tried working him but after several attempts I was not successful so I moved on. He seemed to be having some radio issues making it hard for him to hear clearly. I continued scanning the bands and eventually found a second activator at a park in Minnesota. After quite some effort I finally had a contact logged. I then selected a frequency and began calling. It took quite some time to get my next contact, a chap in Iowa and then one in the Yukon. A few minutes more and I had 5 logged. It was now one thirty and I contacted Ralph as planned. He had only 7 contacts himself. We were both struggling and short of the goal. We decided to keep going until 2pm.
The next half hour was tough but I did finally manage my tenth contacts a bit before 2pm. Ralph now had 13 in his log and decided he had enough for the day. He said he was packing up but wanted to come and see my mast before I take it down. So, I continued calling for a further 10 minutes. I saw Ralph on his way to me and Just as before I switched off the radio, I heard a park activator calling so I took his callsign. It was the chap I wasn’t able to reach at the start! This time we heard each other and completed the contact. Well, I thought that getting him at the end was a sure sign I was done. I shutdown the radio and waited for Ralph to get to me.
I began packing away the radio gear but left the mast up until Ralph got to me. He looked over the set up and was quite impressed with how high it was. As we were taking down the antenna a couple sitting on the next bench started asking about the radio. I had a pleasant chat with them, they were seniors and had just completed their project of Kayaking in each of the provinces. They were from Ontario and were visiting the area to complete their challenge.
By now it was 34 degrees out and very hot in the sun. The breeze in the shade made life quite pleasant but one couldn’t stay there all day. We carted the gear back to the car in the sun and made for the closest Starbucks. Ralph wanted his free birthday drink. The drive to the store was quick and without much delay. We didn’t stay at the store, Ralph wanted to get driving once we had the drinks as he needed to get ready to go out for dinner. It was a lovely day at the park, the views of the boats on the river and lake were interesting and people who dropped by pleasant to talk to.