We wish all of our friends and acquaintances a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2018. Or at least a year that doesn’t have as much dismal national news as 2017.
Georgia and I have spent the year doing the usual things that retired people do; if you follow us on Facebook, you know probably more than we remember! You can scroll down the posts here to see what some of our activities have included. I’ve been riding my bike a lot (achieving a goal of 2000 miles this year) and working with my amateur radio (my call is KØGUZ). Terry also has a ham radio license (KEØHNW) and he has had a lot of fun packing it in to mountaintops and contacting other hams, using battery power. I’m not into climbing a 14,000 foot peak, but if you can drive most of the way there, I’m game. This is me, my radio and antenna and computer, on an unnamed peak in Utah:
Georgia, with the help of friends, has learned how to quilt, use her sewing machine and play the addictive and very complex game of Mah Jong. She hosts regular games with three neighbors.
And of course we’ve spent as much time as possible with our grandchildren – three live nearby in Grand Junction, and the youngest lives near Durban, South Africa. Our oldest just started high school.
We took a couple of weeks to visit friends in North Carolina, and a week with Sue and Charlie Fienning and their friends in Pawley’s Island,
and we went to Wyoming to view the solar eclipse. Paula (Georgia’s sister) saw 90% of it from Cheyenne, but Paula’s husband Michael and I drove north about 75 miles to see the 100% eclipse. It was awesome.
Above: Michael and me just before we we were abducted by space aliens during the total eclipse.
The population of Wyoming more than doubled as hundreds of thousands of Colorado residents streamed northward to view the event. It was really worth it.
Our year is ending with a visit from our South African granddaughter and her mommy. After a couple of days here, they flew to San Diego to be with Jackie.
We hope that this is a sign that 2018 will be a good year.
My goal for 2017 was to bike more than 2,000 miles. I thought it was pretty impressive, but as it turns out, many of my biking friends in the area consider 5,000 miles to be a more ambitious goal. But then I’ve been biking seriously again only since my motorcycle crash.
Here’s my 2017 results:
I achieved my goal in late October, about a mile from our house.
The following information deals with my ham radio hobby, and is designed to be shared with my friends who may want to try a new, low power weak signal operating mode that’s become very popular: FT8. We’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
Here’s a checklist of useful information which you’ll need as you get ready to use FT8:
Fix the time on your computer. Click here to see how far off your time is now. Follow the instructions for your computer in Section 3 of the manual to install one of the recommended programs which will make sure you are in sync with everyone else.
Google is your friend. Search for your rig and “FT8” or “JT65”. There are likely to be several helpful YouTube videos explaining exactly how to set up your rig to work with these modes.
Dig out your rig’s manual because you need to interface your rig’s control signals with the program. If you’re lucky, you got a USB cable with the rig or may have another way to interface the two. If not, you may need to get a Signalink.
The software will create its own ADIF file which you can import into your favorite log, or the qrz.com online logbook. In addition, several other logging programs interface directly with the software, including Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD), and the DXLab suite or Log4OM. I use N3FJB’s Amateur Contact Log. Whatever you use, get it working with the ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) and eqsl.cc .
This is our annual Christmas themed blog entry; this year, we’ve taken several trips and most of them are outlined in entries. Just scroll down and read whatever interests you. One trip that isn’t mentioned (yet) is one we took to Brooklyn, Iowa to visit a family reunion for members of the family of Georgia’s grandmother Georgiana Kreiss/Mitchell. It was one of those surprisingly warm and wonderful meetings with people you never knew before with whom you have more in common than you thought. We combined this with a trip to visit her family in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.
Steve has been riding his bicycle a lot – and we even took a trip to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois specifically so he could ride on rail trails there. He’s also been working on the family history – click here to see if you recognize anyone. If you’re related to us, request a user account and you can find out things about yourself and your family and correct any misinformation.
Like many, well be glad to see 2016 in the rear view mirror. We hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The CA&E ran from the Chicago loop, and my mother often took us to downtown Chicago on the train, not the car. Riding the big third rail electric cars from Elmhurst to the city along the private right of way and on the L (elevated) tracks made a lasting impression on me.
In an unparalleled display of municipal short-sightedness, the railroad went bankrupt in 1957, and no government entity took it over. A judge signed an order authorizing abandonment just before lunch, and all of the trains were recalled to Wheaton by noon, leaving many stranded – and angry and frustrated – commuters with no way to get home. It made the front page of the Chicago papers. I remember it.
The abandoned right of way was converted to a trail in 1963, so it’s actually been a trail almost as long as it was a railroad. We had hoped to ride from Wheaton east at least to beyond Elmhurst, and perhaps beyond, but the 80% chance of precipitation proved too accurate. Being obsessed with this ride, I forced my cousin Mike to ride in the rain a few miles from the Villa Park station to York Road, where we’d caught the train years ago. The station is located near the old Ovaltine factory:
The gray and gloomy day when we got there:
Only a few miles east we crossed York Road. I recall that my dentist’s office was on the second floor of the building on the corner, above a drug store, and I could watch the trains roll by while getting my cavities filled.
It’s now an art gallery
It’s ironic that the adjoining property owners bitterly resisted the conversion of the right of way to a trail (they wanted the property to enlarge their back yards); the path has apparently substantially improved their property values, and the tiny WWII crackerbox houses along the way have been converted to Illinois McMansions.