Tag Archives: Glacier Waterton hamfest

Dreamstreamr’s Best of 2010 — a short personal list

2010 was one of our best years in many ways.  We haven’t had a bad one, mind you.  We realized today we started Airstreaming seven years ago this year.  Four of the less than seven we’ve been full-time in our 25′ Airstream travel trailer.  All four years have been wonderful, exciting, different and often surprising.

What made 2010 great and different? A thumbnail sketch includes these things:

  • participating in a WBCCI Airstream caravan;
  • staying a month in Gillette;
  • visiting the oldest hamfest in the world;
  • visits to over a dozen national parks (and we’ll try to narrow it down to the best one;)
  • fun in Vancouver with our granddaughter;
  • three weeks volunteering with NOMADS, a United Methodist mission;
  • making a couple of smart purchases; and
  • stays at a wonderful pair of resorts.

Rainbow Bridge

We spent six wonderful weeks touring America’s southwest on a WBCCI Airstream caravan led by our friends Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. We were delighted to gain precious friendships with couples we hadn’t already met before the caravan while deepening our relationships with those we traveled with before.  And the six-week

Mule ride thru Bryce Canyon

guided tour throughout our country’s southwest was wonderful.  Our caravan leaders arranged tours, boat rides, and other special treats we either would have missed by scrimping or just wouldn’t have known about on our own.  Too, we enjoyed the company of many friends while trying to absorb the wonders in six weeks of sightseeing.

A month in Gillette WY allowed us time to really mine the area, so to speak.  We  toured one of their incredible and gigantic coal mining operations — nothing at all like the media makes it out; eat wonderful bison rib eye steaks at The Open Range Restaurant in Wright WY; tour the Wyodak air-cooled electrical generation plant;walk downtown Gillette; play tennis in Campbell County’s

That's a big pickup

incomparable municipal recreation center;  join the local ham radio club for breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen; browse and restock on electronic parts and custom cables from Chris Supply; participate in amateur radio’s annual Field Day with our WBCCI Amateur Radio Club; enjoy terrific convention management by the CAMPLEX staff; and celebrate another successful annual Airstream WBCCI rally.  We had a great month in Gillette!

best place for a hamfest

More than two years ago Dave Blum kf4gtj (SK) and Jim wanted to briefly slip away from our Airstream caravan’s tours for a look at the oldest continuously running hamfest in the world, the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest.  Dave and Jim didn’t make it then but it remained on their bucket list.  We (Jim and Debbie) put it on our agenda for 2010 and enjoyed a week in East Glacier with the best international group of hams we’ve been with.  Great weather, great scenery, great radio folks — This was a fine week.

North Rim Lodge

Debbie and Jim are divided on which was the best National Park we visited — North Rim of Grand Canyon, or Zion, or Mesa Verde.  We visited probably at least a dozen throughout 2010.  These three were our clear favorites for the year, and all were stupendous for roughly similar reasons.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde wins out for being the least crowded and still providing stunning history and scenery. Zion has incomparable hikes and public transit and a very accessible but separate town site.  North Rim gave us an inch of overnight snowfall, very nice days, such a great old lodge, and more views than we ever could have imagined.  How do you pick one best one?

Cradlepoint router

Hands down, no equivocating, our best purchase for the year is our Cradlepoint CTR-500.  Our Airstream trailer is a mobile WIFI hotspot and we are radioactive!  Okay, only figuratively, but for us nothing beats the convenience of our own mobile wifi network.  We work three laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  Friend Bob Simms highly recommended the Cradlepoint to us, and we owe him many megabytes for our happiness with local wifi.  All devices tune effortlessly and quickly to the wifi, the Cradlepoint can support up to 32 devices at a time (but please don’t ask us to share, okay?), and we don’t mess with VZ Access anymore.  Wifi is good.

We don’t usually stay in resorts, national or state or provincial parks are more our speed.  But several years we have stayed in two resorts, one in British Columbia and the other in Mesa AZ.  Burnaby Cariboo RV Resort 17 km east of Vancouver BC is really really nice.  But Towerpoint Resort in Mesa has it beat hands-down.  Towerpoint is a  premiere tennis resort with five gorgeous hard courts, two hot tubs, two swimming pools, and too many excellent facilities to mention.  If we weren’t tennis players, we’d find plenty else to occupy us at Towerpoint.  And the people are wonderfully friendly and supportive.  Towerpoint is clearly the best resort we visited last year and we look forward to many more visits.

building a shed at Ocean Park Retreat

The best short description for our past year is “active”.  We saw a lot, participated in a lot of guided tours, hiked and toured many places, volunteered three weeks at Ocean Park Retreat on Washington state’s coast on mission work with NOMADS, played tennis all winter in Mesa AZ — we had an active year.  Yet we moved fewer times, stayed longer in places.  Three months in Okeechobee FL, a month in Gillette WY, five weeks on Washington state’s coast, three months in Mesa AZ.

We might be getting the hang of this full-timing thing, living throughout the continent.  Life on the road as full-timers, as a recent responder reminds us, isn’t vacation — it’s life (thanks, Sue, for the excellent phrase) on the road.  Our house has wheels, but it doesn’t require constant rolling.  We can stay in one place awhile if we want. We’re enjoying our environs more as we dig a little deeper in each locale.

You’ve absorbed all you can in one reading — we’ll save some highlights from last year for another day.

Jim and Debbie

locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

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Oldest (continuously running) Hamfest in the World

Parading The Colors opened the W7G hamfest

We witnessed, a few minutes ago, the closing of the 76th annual Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest. This hamfest was most like a very laid-back rally, not so much like any hamfest we’ve attended. The tempo and mood was mellow, not focused upon finding the best source and price on gear, throughout the weekend. This weekend’s greatest opportunity was meeting and talking with other folks.

Just enough tailgating to lure us out awhile and meet with each other

Absent also was the stimulating, yet somewhat tiresome, browsing past dozens or hundreds of tailgaters’ tables of electronics. Instead we saw perhaps one dozen tailgaters with the normal sorts of electronics gear and old books. Since the hamfest did not designate a special section just for vendors and tailgaters, the few tailgaters were mixed in amidst all the RVs. And it felt just right.

We could count on finding groups of hams ready to talk

Browsing constituted, as much as anything, walking about and socializing. Ask a ham about his antenna or his radio, or her truck or RV. And sit down and get to know each other a while. The hamfest was large enough to fill the pavilion, and beyond, at mealtimes yet the seminars and tailgaters operated at a relaxed pace.

A great hamfest site and a nice campground

Glacier Meadows RV Park rented sites this week to hamfest attendees only, and we nearly filled the park. All sites with water or electric rented early through reservations. Most of us parked in the meadow with plenty of space and sunshine. Our weather was ideal with cool evenings, warm and dry days, and steady afternoon breezes.

We had the luxury of picking the compass orientation of our parking

We lucked out and were able to face our RV to the north. Our large curb-side awning shaded the camper throughout the mornings and provided us a shady patio all afternoon. We were less lucky, sunshine-wise, for having lost, just one week ago, our solar charge controller. So much sunshine and nowhere to put it.

All this sunshine is raining upon our two 125-watt solar panels and coursing through the copper wires down to our connectors. Alas, the stuff is still pouring out on the ground for lack of a charge controller to translate the potential power into something our batteries can store.

We’re hopeful, though, we’ll pick up our refurbished charge controller at the post office tomorrow. We called the manufacturer two days ago and he advised he had already repaired it and shipped it to us. Our forwarded mail and the charge controller both, hopefully, await our pickup tomorrow. We’ll see.

The temporary loss of our solar charging has not been any problem, though, for our batteries or us. Our batteries have maintained greater than 12.2 volts since we arrived two days ago, Friday early afternoon. We’re intermittently using our water pump, reading lights, mobile hf/vhf/uhf radio. Our refrigerator and natural gas detector and other phantom loads have run more or less continuously.

This is our first-ever run-down test for these two 6-volt golf cart batteries. We very rarely disconnect the feed line from our solar panels to the charge controller. We almost always, when dry-camping for more than two days, set up and connect our generator to the RV’s 110v electrical input to allow occasional re-charging of the batteries. And, our generator is sitting alongside the camper.

We have not connected the power cord to the RV, instead periodically noting the batteries nominal voltage. It helps we have had such nice warm days which excite the batteries a bit, and very late daylight each day. And we haven’t done after-dark cooking to require lighting. We are using the batteries very lightly, so this isn’t too much a test. Nonetheless, we’re enjoying the quiet boycott of our generator.

The Only burgers in town were also excellent

The potluck yesterday evening, and the hamburger lunch earlier yesterday, were NOT characterized by a bunch of RVers showing up an hour early to eat. We arrived for the potluck at the scheduled hour and were surprised we were among the first ones to bring our food to the table. The hamburger lunch did kick off a little early to accommodate the large number of attendees already gathered nearby for other activities.

There were not many activities in conflicting times, so it was easy to attend the seminars and still enjoy enough time on our own or for socializing and learning. A ham also, Debbie chose not to register and participate in the seminars or meetings. This is the most expensive hamfest we’ve attended, at $28.00. Only Hamvention (Dayton) was close, at $25.00 for walk-in tickets.

Beams and dipoles for special event stn W7G in bkgrd

And the price is worthwhile to us. We like helping support a long-running hamfest for this very isolated part of the United States and Canada. We tire of hearing of activities, events, and membership organizations cancelled or terminated from apathy. When the hamfests disappear we all lose the option to stop and shop, browse and barter, talk and trade.

The nearest large amateur radio vendor might be 600 miles distant, in Portland, OR (HRO). No equipment vendors showed this year, saving some of our money (for now). Last year they showed and next year vendors will show up, and they support the hamfest every year through donated prizes and discounts to attendees. One supporter, QRZ.com, drove approximately 1,400 miles to attend this hamfest.

The biggest ham shack on the grounds this weekend

We enjoyed meeting and visiting with Fred AA7BQ and Robin. They are a lot of fun to talk with and have interesting stories. They showed us their new old motor home, a gorgeous behemoth (at least by our standards), in which they are representing QRZ.com at hamfests across the nation this summer and fall. If you’re in the neighborhood and can make it to the Shelby Hamfest (in Dallas, NC) on Labor Day weekend, take a minute to say hi to these friendly folks from Phoenix.

A ham who has attended this hamfest since 1937 won the pre-registration Grand Prize, a new Yaesu FT-2900r mobile. It seems fitting, for someone who has supported this hamfest for so many years, to win the dandy mil-spec Yaesu amateur radio. The most special prize, the 1937 unopened beer bottle, was awarded through a hotly contested special auction. Two bidders were deadlocked for the honor of 2010-2011 custodian of this special bottle, and the honor was decided through paper-rock-scissors.

We survived this enjoyable hamfest and people are pulling out in droves and calling out, “this is VE7xxx, mobile” as they hit Highway 2. Other hams chime back, “Safe travels, VE7xxx, from W7xx” and the same from several other hams from above and below the 49th parallel. We’ll hope to visit this hamfest when we’re again in this part of the country at the right time.

Construction on this grand old Lodge started 100 years ago

And now we are sitting on the veranda at the Glacier Park Lodge. This 161-room lodge, built in 1912, is a grand place to visit. We visited two years ago and are just as excited to see it this time. The main lodge is magnificent, with tremendous tree-trunk posts and beams. The views from the veranda are great, looking northwest at Dancing Lady Mountain. The mountains still have snow on them, just in a few north-side spots. What a great part of our great country!

We hope this is, for us, one of many encounters with the Oldest Hamfest in the World. As much as we like checking out new radio and antenna gear and parts, we both enjoyed more this most sociable and friendly Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park hamfest.

See You Down The Road,

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr