Greetings from a warm day in Portland…
We just returned from our weekend trip to Seaside, OR to attend the SEA PAC ham radio convention. The weather over the weekend has been wonderful – sunny skies, highs in the upper 70′s with a nice cool breeze coming off the ocean. Finally having several days of clear skies was absolutely delicious – could not get enough of the sun.
Seaside is a small tourist town right on the ocean. They have a nice wide beach with nice sand. We did not expect the beach to be so nice with most of the Oregon coastline being rocky and rugged. Along the beach is a long sidewalk they call “The Promenade” that divides the hotels, condos and vacation homes from the beach. Most of the hotels are nothing special but are located right off the Promenade. The tourist area is about 6 blocks of restaurants and stores selling the typical array of precious chotskies. Was fun to window shop and browse. One evening we had supper at McKeown’s and the next at Dooger’s. Both places were slightly upscale with tourist prices. I enjoyed seafood both nights. Trio plate of salmon, crap cake and blackened snapper on Friday evening and Ahi Tuna steak (rare) the next. Would go back to either one if we ever returned.
Best part of Seaside is that you can park once for the weekend and walk everywhere. The downtown area got a little busy in the evening, but was fun to wander around people watching. We stayed at the Hillcrest Inn that was 1 block away from the beach, two blocks away from the convention center and downtown. There were a few issues with our room. Knowing that most of the town was booked up we dealt with it, but it was quite pricey for a soft “wet noodle” queens sized bed that seemed smaller then the bed in the MoHo, A shower head that flew off the bracket every time you turned it on, and A/C that didn’t work. It was cool enough we survived without the A/C, but its just the point. John left comments on the card in the room, and didn’t really tell me what he wrote. Will take a few days for my back to recover. Room had a large Jacuzzi tub that was great after walking around the convention and town all day. After we got home and unpacked my phone rang and it was the manager of the Hillcrest Inn. He was very apologetic, and thanked us for leaving the feedback. He wanted to make it right for us, and wants to comp us another room in the future… We might take him up on it. Here’s some pictures we took around Seaside:
The ham radio convention was a bit larger then anticipated. They had most of the major manufacturers there – Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, Elecraft along with other major retailers like HRO. Were surprised that MFJ was not there…
They had two separate areas for hams to sell used items – downstairs and a upstairs area that surrounded the lower part. Our only 1/2 way large purchase was a used 12″ iBook G4 macintosh laptop. Paid $120 for it – will be nice to take to work and play games on during my lunch break. John is also toying with the idea of setting up some type of ham radio server with it – Packet or APRS maybe…
Our biggest complaint about the convention is that it was very crowded on Saturday morning – was difficult to get around to all the vendors and tables. That is the main reason we like outdoor events better – but around here the weather is so unpredictable there’s not many large outdoor hamfests. I purchased a few small electrical components, picked up some old electronics magazies from the 1970′s for free and that was about it.
I spent some time talking to some clubs that have “CW Nets” in the area – specific time and frequency they meet and communicate via morse code each week. I’ve been using some of the time since I passed my Extra exam to continue learning morse code – so would like to attend some of the Nets as a way to get started doing something “real” with the code. They claim that the Nets will slow way down for me when it is my turn until I get up to speed – seemed like they were hungry for new members….
Saturday afternoon we drove 15 miles north to Astoria, OR to check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The museum was newer and very well done. They had lots of exhibits that outlined the history of the shipping and canning industry. Where the Columbia river and the Ocean meet is an area known as “The Bar”. It is a very dangerous section of water because of the high waves and nasty storms causing many ship wrecks.
After checking all the inside exhibits we headed out back to the “Lightship Columbia”. It was anchored at the mouth of the Columbia River and provided navigational assistance to ships. It always had a crew of at least 17 men who stayed onboard for at least two weeks at a time. Being anchored in the middle of the Columbia River during storms they were basically a big cork just bobbing around at the mercy of the wind and waves. I would have gotten seasick….. but guess they would get used to it eventually.
While onboard we checked out their radio room. They have an operating ham radio station that was being manned by Ed Aho – W7LU. Ed was cool- he showed us around the radio room and let the both of us operate from his station for a bit. He explained how he has been part of the ham radio club that operates from the ship for the past 30 years. Propagation was not too good – so did not make any actual contacts but had fun trying.
While hanging out with Ed three other hams joined us. Two were part of the radio club that operated out of the RMS Queen Mary museum ship in Long Beach, CA. John chatted with them for a bit – maybe sometime we could go down, visit the ship and operate from it.
This morning we got all packed, checked out and then headed to the convention center to check out the vendors one last time before heading out. Not much going on and nothing new and exciting so we headed out and made it home shortly after 12 noon. Prince was very excited to see us – we have been giving him lots of attention and play time. He’s been very vocal telling us about his weekend…
This afternoon I’m going to head down to the Lloyd center to go ice skating for a bit. The ice rink is going to closed for the next two weeks so this is my last chance for a while. I’m used to skating for two hours each week – so not liking having it closed – but they say it is closed every year for maintenance and employee vacation times…
So tomorrow it will be “back to normal” for us – back to work for me and school for John. His semester is winding down in the next two weeks. Will need to start preparing for the final exams and planning for the next set of classes that start up right away.