First licensed in 1982 as VE7EOQ at 14 years old. My father, then VE7DLO, was my inspiration. We lived in Prince George, BC at the time and my father wanted to upgrade to his advanced and I wanted to get my basic. So at 13 years old I started going to night school at the local college. The local club offered courses in theory and code every year so we both enrolled. After about 6 months of going to night school I wrote my exam and received 98% on the theory and 100% on the regulations. The code was another matter. I really struggled to learn the code and almost another year went by before I was able to finally pass my code test after many attempts. That was on June 22, 1982, about 2 weeks before my 15th birthday.
Shortly after that was field day and I was introduced to VE7ZZZ. I was hooked. Met many hams there that became mentors to me. VE7RK (Lorne), VE7SK (Bob), VE7WWW (Bill) and many others. They were a great bunch of guys and all of them took me under their wing. Lorne and Bob are a couple of the best CW operators I have ever been around. After the first CQWW contests at VE7ZZZ I was hooked on contesting. I don't operate contests as much as I would like to these days but that's more because of changing lifestyles than lack of desire. It's easy to skip homework to operate a contest for 48 hours but a little harder to skip XYL to operate for 48 hours.
I was bitten by the DX bug just a few days after receiving my first license. I worked ZL2RY during the 1982 Canada Day contest. I'll never forget the look of terror on my fathers face when I raced upstairs at 2am and shook him awake yelling at him about working ZL. Sorry Dad!!! That was it for me after that. It was DX all the way. There is nothing else!! Contesting is just a way to work a lot of DX in an weekend! I spent a lot of time filling out 'spots cards' and mailing them to my good friend Garry (VE3XN) who was editing Long Skip back then. Gary said it was interesting to see what was being heard on the other side of the country and I believe I was one of the only ones from the west sending him spots. My first DX QSL card was from T32AF on Christmas Is. I still have the envelope that it came back to me in!
Around 1985 I had to say farewell to VE7ZZZ and moved to Edmonton. I changed my call to VE6BSS. There I met more great people. VE6VW (Norm), VE6AX (Rich), and VE6XV (Bill), and VE6VM (Dean, now a SK). Many a late night was spent chasing DX with Bill and Rich. My contesting after moving to Edmonton was primarily just SO from my shack. I didn't know any of the big guns in Alberta and tended to stick to myself a lot since I was girl hunting and then later being a husband to a wonderful lady! I did very well though and have about 80 certificates for various contests and won the RAC Canadian Contest Championship for SO in VE6 in1999 and 2000.
Around 1988 I moved out of my parents house and went to work in Morinville with Norm (VE6VW). This was just a little North of Edmonton but far enough away that I had to move since I didn't drive. My first two years in Morinville were in an apartment and I was not able to get on the air. That was quickly remedied when I met my future wife and we bought a small house in town. I put up a 40' delhi with a TA33jr on it that I purchased from the local coronor who lived up the street. It was great fun and sure drew a lot of attention when I had the local fire department (which I was a member of) come and use their 100' airial ladder truck to take it down and then 10 firefighers carried the tower in one piece about 3 blocks to my house with a firetruck escort stopping traffic, and then went back and 2 of us carried the beam in one piece with the escort! 20 minutes later both the tower and the beam were operational! And the DX started to flow! I highly recommend that hams make friends with the local fire dept if they have a ladder truck!
Ten years later we built a new house just outside Morinville and I put up the same tower but with a TH7 on it. And I was finally able to put up a Butternut HV9. Up until that time I had not made a single contact on the low bands or the warc bands! I also changed my call to VE6ZT during this time.
Seven years later, we moved to BC and settled just outside Castlegar on the beautiful Columbia River. My new call here is VA7ZT. There is no good operating site in this area of BC as all the people live in the valleys. The valley I live in runs East/West but to the North I have a 4500' mountain that starts about 100' from my house. The south is a little better but not much. Working Europe is proving to be very difficult from here. I was very happy to work 7O for a new one on SSB from this QTH. Most of my DX'ing is on the high bands but this winter I plan on attacking the warc bands with a vengence now that I have the TW33XL and the low bands now that I have the DXA and butternut. Current Challenge total is just over 1400 so I'm hoping to add several hundred to that with the new antenna's.
My working conditions now are:
TH7 @ 60' on a Trylon tower
Interestingly enough, I really struggled to learn CW and within 3 months of getting my first call I was sending and receiving at around 30wpm with no problem. I work about 50/50 CW/SSB but do prefer CW. I have only recently aquired an amp and have worked all 342 countries barefoot.
For QSL'ing, I send a card for every DX contact I make. Because of the volume of cards I receive I now only send W and JA stations a card if I receive one. I just can't afford to send 1000+ cards after a weekend of contesting. I also use LOTW but to me the paper QSL is the true QSL and should always be exchanged. It has always been and should always be the "final courtesy of a QSO", not a means to finance another station. I understand having to pay the other operators postage for a direct card, but I don't understand the greed that seems to be entering into the hobby around the QSL and I hope in time we see a resurgence of the ham spirit when it comes to QSL'ing. I've been QSL'ing for 30 years and still treasure every card I have. You can also use https://secure.clublog.org/logsearch/VA7ZT to request a card.
Many 73 and hope to work you all!!
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