Monday, December 31, 2018


As 2018 draws to a close, I can't help but sit here, with a broad smile on my face, and remember this day, two years ago. December 31st, 2016 - the very last day of National Parks on the Air.

NPOTA was such a wild success, I have said and will continue to say that when the bicentennial history papers are written for the ARRL so many years into the future, NPOTA will continue to stand out as one of the all time crown jewels of ARRL operating events. Over 20,000 NPOTA activations were completed and over 1,000,000 QSOs were logged on LotW.  I think it will be a very long time before we ever see its likes again.

So much fun was had, so many friendships were made, so many fledgling operators became grizzled veterans. So much good stuff happened that year. Even a book on portable operating by Stuart Thomas KB1HQS, came out as a result of NPOTA.

But that day, December 31st, 2016 still ranks in the top five of my personal "Best Days in Amateur Radio". I started the day at Morristown National Historical Park, making contacts. My goal for the day was to work Dave KD2FSI on SSB and I met that goal. We had worked the park together that January and that's where Dave's year long NPOTA adventure was launched. I wanted to end the year as it started and there was no better way to do that than to hook up with Dave on the radio.

The QSO was made and I was happy as a clam. However, the day got better when Dave showed up at the park in person a little while later and we got the chance to reminisce about our NPOTA experiences.. Even "better-er", we got the chance to put in some PR or Amateur Radio by explaining to some curious bystanders what NPOTA and our hobby were all about. In return, they shared their "glug" with us, which is a Norwegian concoction of warm red wine, raisins and almonds, It seems that small group of friends also gather at the park every New Year's Eve to share their own tradition; and they were kind enough to include us. So cool!

After Morristown, I headed back home to the Frazee House on the Washington-Rochambeau Trail which is not far from my house. 40 Meter CW was quite good, but pickings on 20 Meter CW were disappointing. Not wanting my end to NPOTA to come so early, I decided to switch from CW to SSB. To my amazement, I was occupied with a pileup on 20 Meters that lasted well over an hour! I was so glad that I had brought the microphone along, as that is something that I don't normally do. It proved to be a providential move for me, and an eye-opener, too.

It was a day of personal Amateur Radio accomplishment and a day of total fun. I met up with KD2FSI, made a slew of contacts at multiple NPOTA sites, and then finished the day in conversation with Bob W3BBO. It just doesn't get any better than that, and it sure seems that days like that don't come around often enough. The memories are cherished long after the event concludes.

I missed the days of "The Golden Days of Amateur Radio" from the 40s, 50, and 60s - but I was fortunate enough to live through and participate and be part of National Parks on the Air. For that, I am very, very grateful!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

1 comment:

  1. One of the best surprises I have had in radio is making a copper tube backpack frame like that guy on the ARRL book cover has, stick a 20m whip antenna on it, and find in WSPR tests that it outperformed (due to the ability to select excellent locations) full sized wire antennas elsewhere!

    Enjoy the outdoors - that is certainly on my 'to do more of' list for 2019!