Giving back to the Lothians Radio Society

Andy (MM0FMF) had brokered the introduction to the Lothians Radio Society and then Pete (GM4BYF) and Pete (GM4DTH) had given up the majority of a Saturday to enable me to sit my UK Foundation exam, so it seemed the least I could do was to find a way to give back to the club.

The easiest seemed to be a presentation but I assumed that given Andy’s stature and contribution to SOTA many if not all of the club members might find an introduction to SOTA a little mundane. My love of the western USA has had me visit every state bar Idaho west of the Rockies in the last three years. What I had was a stash of photos and a few stories to tell and so I thought maybe a photographic journey through the western USA tied together by my wilderness activations might offer something engaging and different. Clearly SOTA was an impetus/source but the ARRL 2016 National Parks (NPOTA) event offered equally compelling material.

Not long ago my neighbor Elsie lowered her voice ensuring no one could hear what might be a very personal question and asked me “are you a hoarder”. Well the truth is I am, when it comes to certain things and one of those is photographs of my life.

Whether its paintings in a museum, a meal that I’m about to consume, a beer label and all the way through to beautiful vistas, I’m snapping away. Apple makes it quite easy as the iPhone is a very descent camera and the panorama option just addictive. So even with regular culling I had a lot of photos and subjects to choose from and it wasn’t easy. Given the audience is Scottish – British I thought it would be nice to tie where possible some of the places and stories back to the UK. What in the west could possibly be UK centric? Well the Pig War is one and Francis Drake’s foggy missed opportunity is another.


So I settled on a presentation title of “Wilderness Activations in the Western USA“. I’ve done over a 150 SOTA activations and probably over 50 National Park activations in the last 3 years in the Western USA. I’ve learnt a lot about gear selection, antennas, radios all the way through to boots and tires (my Jeep has some awesome and huge tires) and it was hard to capture this in 28 slides plus or minus. Whether its watching a favorite place burn, the moon set over another favorite place or acknowledge a catholic mass on a peak in Wyoming, I had a variety and then some of stories to tell. You can see the presentation at the Lothians Radio Society site by clicking here.

Andy’s opening comment summed it up “the grass is always greener on the other side” or in my case bone dry but the point is apt in that this is about somewhere quite different. I think the audience enjoyed the presentation as I was awarded a bottle of gin, local in nature and in keeping with the boutique rage that gin is nowadays.

The choice of location was quite strategic as it was no more than ten feet to the bar. It seems the apres-ski  visit to the bar was tried and true and no arm twisting required on me. Fortunately, I was staying the night in the hotel and hence I treated myself to more than a single drink and had a really interesting evening chatting with the club members.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening and I’m looking forward to “hanging out” with the Lothians Radio Society again.



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