It all started with the 11-meter band. Wait! Don't touch that dial . . . .

This was back in the early 60s. My parents belonged to the "Five-Watter's Club" in Chicago. We even held the FCC-issued call 18A9961 and exchanged QSL cards. Of course, those contacts were made across town via groundwave, but we proudly displayed them on the wall above the old rig. My Uncle Hank, W9IUO, was a ham, and he would sometimes be on the radio when we went for a visit. This was my only exposure to ham radio growing up. At night, when the am radio stations began coming in from hundreds of miles away, I would lie in bed with my 7-transistor shirt-pocket radio and listen to see what distant stations I could hear. One station I remember was KAAY in Arkansas. That's a long way from Chicago. Somewhere in all this the mystery of radio and how invisible energy waves can travel so far became rooted forever in me.

I moved from the suburbs of Chicago to the mountains of Colorado in 1974. It wasn't until the mid 1980s that I returned to my radio interests. During a casual trip to a local department store, I found a portable shortwave radio that seemed to have my name on it. That evening I pulled out the long whip antenna and the first ever DX station I heard was HCJB in Ecuador. This was soon followed by radio Australia and the BBC. There was no turning back. I had the radio bug. I built a Heathkit VLF converter, and from the plans of Steve McDonald, VE7SL, I wound 250 feet of wire around a five-foot wood frame and began recording low frequency NDBs (non directional beacons) heard from my basement (no room for the antenna upstairs).

By 1987 I was taking ham radio classes, and that year I became KBØAPA. As a technician-class ham I had voice privileges on ten meters and made some nice contacts with a used FT-101Z. In 1988 I was working 12-hour days, raising three young kids and going to night classes for five hours earning an AS degree in electronics. With virtually no spare time, radio again faded to the background.

In 1998, coincidentally during the time of a rising solar cycle 23, I became active again and have not stopped since. One hundred watts and a Hamstick antenna on the rear bumper of my truck became my ham shack. Ten meters was in good shape and I "worked the world." In 2000 I upgraded to General, then Extra Class and became NØLX.

In the second year of the Millennium I found the USIsland group on the Internet. They take boats or cross bridges and operate on islands. Not just the ones on the coasts but on rivers and lakes in all fifty states. I bought a small boat and on September 23, 2001 I took my mobile radio, a copper pipe vertical for 20 meters and a huge marine battery to a high mountain lake and rowed nearly a mile to reach two islands.

The next-big-thing was discovering the HFpack group. They're a bunch of hams who operate small rigs strapped to a backpack or bicycle or kayak. Ahhh. Here were my people. A most memorable QSO was with a college professor in Illinois. He was Rollerblading around campus with a radio on his side and a whip antenna strapped on his back. That's when I also discovered the joy and challenge of QRP operating. The rest, as they say, is history, and the theme of this website.