I've been a ham radio operator since I was twelve years old. While my wife and daughter said I should never say this in public, I was fascinated by radio even before I realized girls were kind of interesting, too.
While there have been periods of years (and even a decade) where I did nothing radio-wise, one constant in my 43 years as a ham has been the yearly Dayton Hamvention - sort of a combination yearly ham radio convention and gigantic electronic fleamarket held in Dayton, OH. When I was a teenager it was sort of a legend you would read about in the ham radio magazines. Back in the early 1980s I went for the first time, sleeping on the floor of Rick WA3UOO's sister's house in Xenia OH. In the 30 years since then I've gone a half dozen times or so, including this year when I managed to finagle a business trip to Columbus for the Friday before the Hamvention.
Rick drove down from Columbus Friday night and we had a nice dinner at the traditional Dayton Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant. I don't think the economy has been kind to Ohio in general and Dayton in particular, but 25,000 radio nerds coming to town does give the economy a boost. The restaurant also had a lot of teenagers in tuxedos and gowns (not simultaneously) - imagine taking your prom date out to dinner and being surrounded by middle-aged men with antennas sticking out of their heads.
The next morning we drove the Hara Arena, and parked at the traditional church parking lot for $5. I waited impatiently while Rick put on his makeup donned his traditional hamfest outfit, and by 0815 were were doing the traditional walking around the outdoor flea-market area pointing at old radios.
Much of the fun is running into people you talk to on the radio but don't see very often, and we did a lot of that. After a few hours in the 80 degree weather under the cloudless sky, it was time to head indoors for a break.
Hara Arena is basically an old dilapidated convention center, with a small hockey arena in the middle. Commercial vendors set up booths on every possible indoor surface, and the seats around the hockey rink are a good place to give your feet a rest and observe the action. Kenwood was showing their new radio here - it is literally the size of a microwave oven.
Rick and I split up for a while and I sat in on some seminars on contesting and went and looked at the new Elecraft, N3ZN and Begali goodies, but largely kept my wallet in my pocket. By 3:30 we were Hamfested-out and Rick headed back to Columbus and I went back to downtown Dayton and hit some of the radio club hospitality suites and chatted with more people I've known for years over the radio but often never met. I took a shot at the Kansas City DX Club's pileup contest and was an early leader - but that was only because most of the yearly winners were still at the contest dinner...
I had an 0615 flight back to Baltimore on Sunday morning and went out to the boat directly from the airport. Lauren and Mike met me there and we went out on the South River for a bit (picture here) Unfortunately, clouds had moved in and the winds had kicked up - there were small craft warnings out. We went out in the Bay far enough to see the Bay Bridge and glimpse the Thomas Point Light at a distance but things were rocking and rolling. A nice lunch at Annapolis Seafood Market closed out a really FB weekend.