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Field Day 2009 found us far afield in the state of Washington, with the very finest of FB crews, AKA the Maple Valley Amateur Radio Club at Lake Wilderness Park.

Such hospitality. We were quickly greeted and introduced to MVARC president Scott Currie, NS7C, who graciously spent a few minutes in the maelstrom of set-up activities to explain the mission's operational scope and share a little club history on this perfectly sunny day. We continued to gab it up in the shade with other club members including David KC7FSR, John N7SPN, Steve KE7OCU and Rick WB6AWO among others, taking snapshots and soaking up the swell Washingtonian (h)ambience.

No nicer bunch ever gathered to CQ and chow down, but alas, we were too early to crash the Maple Valley ARC feedline. Nevertheless, Keeper of the Fixin's and Field Kitchen Hardware, Dale AC7NP, was kind enough to showcase what was in store feed-wise and clued us into a remarkably efficient and effective way to cook al fresco.

His Cobb Portable Grill was originally developed in Africa as a safer cooking system for people in rural areas without electricity. Initially, it was fueled by corn cobs, from which its name was derived, and then refined to use standard charcoal briquettes in an amazingly efficient manner. Regardless of your current grill situation, if you're into BBQ, click on the above link for the fascinating story of this device both figuratively and literally cool.

When you're contesting off the grid it's nice to know the soup's still on. And what better soup to have on than Hurst's HamBeens' 15 Bean Soup? Fifteen Beans, count 'em! We remember these from wayway back, especially that package of secret spices tucked inside the magic beanbag. In fact, we're of such antiquity, we think we recall live commericals for Hurst's HamBeans on the Today Show hosted by Dave Garroway. Exactly who pitched for Hurst remains cloudy. Was it Dave himself, newsman Frank Blair, sports guy Jack Lescoulie, or was it Boss Hurst in person? In any case we're reasonably certain it wasn't Helen O'Connell or J.Fred Muggs. After so many Today Shows over the dam, it's difficult to separate fact and fancy, but as a TV child who rose with the Test Patterns and warmed-up on agricultural shorts touting legumes, contour farming, crop rotation, tractor safety and pig innoculation, we can assure you we were in full sponge mode by sign-on time of our favortie show next to chrome-yellow Sugar Corn Pops' sponsored Wild Bill Hickock. So many memories, so many roentgens of CRT xray radiation. Who knew sitting so close to the idiot box could have such a beneficial effect? Then again, maybe it's still just the Sugar Pops talking after all these years.

Regardless, when one has taken on the task of feeding notoriously picky eaters like Field Day Hands, what are Hurst's HamBeens without HamHocks? Incomplete as a contact without a section exchange , our old club Elmer always told us. We'll call him Sparks, a retired Navy radioman and CW op extraordinaire who tended the cranky generator with equal parts Mystery Oil and Ol' Grand Dad and was not above sendiing-up the club's stuffed shirts in the company of us kid hams, who stuck close as teenagers do to the loosest cannon on deck.

But I digress, sort of. At my Field Day '65 in upstate NY, what we lacked in solar cells, laptops and webcams, we made up for in Genesee beer and all the demon varieties of arteriosclerotic foodstuffs only beginning to be supsected of causing something or other that couldn't be cured with a fallout shelter. Salads were either heavy with mayonnaise or surrounding the site perimeter -- a wild melange of Queen Anne's Lace, Poison Ivy, Jewel Weed, Dandelion and other usual suspects, 100% organic and sans Raspberry Coulis. We favored dogs and burgers punctuated by chicken and sheet cake, washed down with an amusing little off-brand cola chased with pie. If we only knew then what we know now, we might have never enjoyed operating the Heathkit Apache and Drake 2B on 80 CW at 2AM half as much as we thought we did, although all we can remember clearly beyond the grub and the rig is more mosquitoes than contacts.

In stark contrast, Maple Valley ARC seemed to be firing on all cylinders when we showed up. Thanks to the fine lensmanship and generosity of member Rick WB6AWO, we can share what we saw for ourselves. This club's enviable spirit and good cheer were really encouraging and we urge anyone in the area not already familiar with the group to get acquainted with this diverse, resourceful, welcoming crew.

Cobb cooker

WB6AWO PHOTO ©2009 Richard Fritz

WB6AWO PHOTO ©2009 Richard Fritz
Beam Raisin'
WB6AWO PHOTO © 2009 Richard Fritz
WB6AWO PHOTO © 2009 Richard Fritz
WB6AWO PHOTO © 2009 Richard Fritz