A Tale of Three Field Day Weekends

Since becoming licensed in the Fall of 2007, I’ve participated in every ARRL Field Day event since becoming licensed (2008, 2009 and 2010) and can honestly say I’ve had fun each and every year.

Let me explain, my three field day weekends mention above are not my only field day weekends. As a child I attended at least one FD with my Uncle, K5SOR perhaps more…But one I remember really well.

Anyway, in 2008 I was honored to have the opportunity to spend my first field day as a licensed ham with my Uncle. He and I went down to his childhood home of Cleveland, Texas and participated with the SHARK (Sam Houston Amateur Radio Club). Many of my Uncles friends belong to this club and just about all have been licensed for over 50 years. The 2008 FD event with the SHARK club was a lot of fun. We operated as N5AF, a 1A station in STX.

Last year in 2009 I spent Field Day weekend with my local club here in Denver. We operated as W0TX, a 6A station in CO. We setup out near Hudson, CO at an old AT&T site. The site is literally in the middle of nowhere.   It was hot, it was dusty and dry.  The Rocky Mountains just west of Denver teased us with every glance.  But…it was fun. 

As I began thinking about what I wanted to do for Field Day 2010, the thought of a hot, dusty location just didn’t appeal to me.  After all, I live in one of the most beautiful states in the lower 48.  I kept thinking of all the advantages to having Field Day in the mountains.  First, the daytime temps could be anywhere from 10-20 degrees cooler than those down in the city.  Second, the elevation difference sure wouldn’t hurt from an operating position.  Third, the smell of pine is just incredible.  It was decided….my third Field Day….Field Day 2010 would be in the mountains. 

I discussed the idea with a few friends and back in the March/April timeframe all thought it was a great idea and everyone was in.  At that time there would be three operators.  Our number one goal was to have fun.  We weren’t out to win anything…just have fun and prove to ourselves we could pull something like this off.  We stayed in touch via email and every couple of weeks we would update logistics and add more to the overall planning checklist.  We would keep things simple and operate as a class 1 station.  The decision of power was yet to be determined.

As we got closer and closer to Field Day weekend, more and more issues began popping up for the three of us.  It was pretty clear we would only be able to operate on Saturday as we all started having scheduling issues with Sunday.  But that was OK.  We planned to operate for 6 hours or so and break down our operation and be back home before dark.  Remember, our number one goal was to have fun. 

Just a few days prior to Field Day I got the call.  One friend had to bail on the plans.  And then there were two.  But….no sooner as I even thought that….the second friend sent me an email saying he would be unavailable.  And then there was one…..ME!  Well I wasn’t going to let this ruin my plans and I wasn’t going to change my plans either.  I wanted to operate Field Day in the mountains….I wanted to have fun and I wanted to smell pine trees while doing all this. 

Now my wife is THE BEST wife a ham can have.  She supports me and my hobby and all that goes along with it.  She agreed to go with me.  Give her a picnic lunch, a comfy chair and a good book and she’s very happy.  We’ve gone on picnics before where I take my Yaesu FT-817 and Buddipole and she takes a book and we’re both happy doing what we enjoy for 2-3 hours.  I figured the same could be true for Field Day. 

All was set, the car was loaded and it was time to head up the hill.  We have a favorite little park just up from Evergreen, Colorado.  It’s a great site because there is almost no one there and it sits up overlooking the town of Evergreen.  We arrived just before 11 AM local time (1700 UTC) and I had an hour to get my station setup.  Field Day would start at High Noon. 

My wife the day before encouraged me to leave the generator at home and try operating “green” for field day.  Now understand, we’re not tree huggers or anything like that.  By the way….there is nothing wrong with being a tree hugger.  Yes we care about the environment and we do our part to make a difference.  I have batteries and I have solar panels.  What else do I need? 

So we arrived and I began setting up.  The forecast was calling for a beautiful day.  Of course, I checked the forecast the day before and didn’t bother checking again that morning.  Like other places….In Colorado, wait 5 minutes…the weather is sure to change and change it did.  We quickly had our meal just before noon and I was setup.  About 5 minutes before noon the clouds began to roll in.  Hmmmmm, solar panels not working.  No worries….this will blow over and as long as it doesn’t rain……

I managed to work about 5 stations and then I felt it.  Yep….one single, tiny little rain drop.  But you know….where there’s one.  Possibly the one piece of equipment I did not take with me (other than a portable sun) was a canopy.  So the rain drops turned from one to many and so the gear needed to be packed away.  Saint Maximilan Kolbe (the Patron Saint of ham radio operators) was truly looking out for me because no sooner did I close the back of the Ford Escape, the bottom fell out.  It rained and it rained some more.   Knowing the weather would not clear up for the next few hours, we decided to start heading back to Denver.  I finished out my Field Day fun for Saturday afternoon and even a few hours on Sunday morning from a local park with just my buddipole and my Yaesu FT-897. 

So….do I have a favorite Field Day weekend from the three?  Well…certainly nothing will ever top sharing field day with my Uncle.  But I still managed to have fun and as with the two years previous, I did learn a few things.  As for Field Day 2011, I’m not sure where or how it will turn out.  Field Day in the Rocky Mountains???  It will happen some day.

Until next time,

73 de KD0BIK


Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].

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