I first got my license to help out with our CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team) in northern Washington and joined ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service). That's when I found out about all the extra-curricular events where I could use my radio. We got to be the Comm for the Great Olympic Adventure Trail Run (GOAT Run) which goes through the mountains where there is no cell coverage. For the Race to Alaska we got to be the land Comm alongside the marine Comm for the section of the race from Port Townsend and Victoria BC. Then there was the Active Shooter Drill at the high school in Port Angeles where I was stationed at the Emergency Room of the location hospital. These are the kind of things that I found to be the most fun.
Then I moved my home base to Pahrump, NV (I'm a full-time RVer). I was so disappointed when I found out that they didn't have much of an ARES group as they don't have much in the way of emergencies. That was two years ago. But, low and behold, I recently found that there WAS an ARES group and it was very active.....in extra-curricular activities!!
I had my first meeting last week and there was a good sized group of about twenty of us. We're out in the desert with the closest city being Las Vegas, one hour away, but we have a few small towns in a 50‐miles radius. HAMs came from there and locally. And guess what? THERE'S A RACE coming up and it's manned by us HAMs!!
The race is the first weekend in April: The Baker, CA to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay. 120 miles of pavement, 20 stages, over 8,000 runners, guests, family members and support staff. The world's most prestigious and unique law enforcement foot race. Hot days and cold nights. And we get to man all the stages reporting back as runners come through. We will be the contacts for the runners, race officials and rescue squads. No cell phones in the desert so once again us HAMs will be the Comm. OH boy!!!
This means 24 hours in the desert, huddling around a fire at night to keep warm and shorts and tank tops to keep cool during the day. For me, that's going to the easy peasy since I will be able to haul my 29‐foot travel trailer out to the stage I'm assigned to. I'll have a stove, frig and a heater and air-conditioner. Yes, life is tough, lol. I can't wait!!
The nice side benefit to doing all these activities is we usually get a t‐shirt or something with the logo for the event. I'm told this one has given out jackets!!! Oh boy #2.
So, HAM radio isn't just about sitting at your radio and talking to someone across the country or across the ocean or across the street. It's about having the fun of participating in community events. Usually free food, always good company and sometimes free stuff to wear. And knowing you were there to help out and keep an eye on those that might need help. Oh boy #3.
CJ, K7CJS 33
So, if you're thinking, "Why would I want to sit in front of a radio talking to some stranger in another land?"
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