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It has been several months since Ralph and I set out together to activate a park. It felt good getting out and doing something new as I have been concentrating on Campbell Valley. Buntzen is so popular in the summer that one requires reservations to get in. Fortunately, in December there are none required. On a personal note, the dog park area houses a memorial bench for Ralph’s nephew who used to come there often, so that area has considerable meaning to Ralph and he hoped to operate from the bench. At one point the dog area had been a separately listed inner park but it has been pulled from the list, so now that area is just part of the larger park area.
We left my house at 11am and made good time to the park. I was surprised by the number of cars in the lot. There were still a lot of open stalls but the numbers were unexpected. Once parked we went for a walk to locate places we would operate. We followed the trail to the dog area and then wandered back along the beach to the far western end. Ralph felt that the ground in the dog area looked hard and so he selected a table just outside of the fenced area. I found a nice table across the picnic grounds. We then returned to the car for our gear.
Once the cart was loaded, we walked to my table and moved my equipment to it, Ralph then continued on his way to the table he had selected. I picked a spot for my mast and proceeded to erect my antenna. It did draw some curious onlookers but none came by to ask about my operation. Soon I had the 10m band tuned up and I started at the low end of it to find some activators. The first entry was strong and loud and I soon had my first contact – a park in Alaska. A couple minutes later I had a second Alaksa contact but then things slowed way down. I had two more hunters call who were in Texas followed by a chap on Orcas Island just across the strait. I worked a station in South Dakota but then it went very quiet so I moved to the 15m band.
On 15m I again scanned the band and like before the first station listed was strong and I worked him quickly. I could not hear other activators well enough to spend time on them so I picked my own frequency and began calling. Here I was getting a good response rate and well spread out across the continent. I chatted with stations in the Carolinas, Connecticut which was rare, California, Maryland and so it went. A couple of other activators responded to me giving me a total of 4 park to park contacts for the day. I called Ralph on the 2m handheld and we agreed to go a further 15 minutes. That chat gave me a 2m contact for the log. As the time came to an end the clouds decided to give us a sprinkle. It was definitely time to pack up!
In the hour of operating, I made 24 contacts. Not the best rate for me lately but it was a good number and a successful activation. Ralph also had over 20 contacts, so we were both satisfied with the day. While I packed up Ralph made a quick visit to the memorial bench and then he came by and we loaded the cart for the return to the car. I gathered a few photos of the area and a few interesting sights but nothing of high interest. Once loaded into the car we decided to head for the nearest Starbucks, it was along the way we would be going so it wasn’t out of the way.
We made good time to the store and placed our orders and waited and waited. The poor barista was so overloaded it took forever to get my latte. In the end it was very hot, I think he did an extra hot version. I could barely hold it as we walked to the car. The rest of the drive home went smoothly as we were ahead of the crowd and likely many had taken the week off so it may not have gotten as heavy as most Fridays. It was a pleasant day out at a park and we both enjoyed the time operating and gathering some fresh air next to the lake. I usually get questions asked by passers-by but today they seemed reluctant even though there were quite a number walking past looking at the set up. Perhaps my banner explained enough for them.