DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

It Sounds Like Fun

QRZ, QRZ came the cry from the speaker
Quick, tune up before they get weaker
Where are they listening?  Where?
There they are!  Thanks to Shakespeare!

The bands were a bit flat last week, and we were taking a day off DXing. We'd heard that the Palos Verdes Sundancers had lost a bit of their enthusiasm in the last few months, and the flux was dropping as a result. This happened a number of times before, usually following an 11-year pattern. As soon as the Sundancers could be coaxed back into action, the flux shot back up again. Some of the more scientifically knowledgeable QRPers argued this was nonsense, and that the flux was a direct result of solar activity. We had found the easiest way to counteract this was to ask which came first. And if the QRPer was especially persistent, we'd refer him to Sunspot Louie, and his cousin Red-Eyed Louie. No one knew propagation and DX activity better, and this usually put an end to the end of the argument.

We were contemplating all this on the veranda when one of the more senior QRPers came around the turn and beat his way up the hill. He was still in good shape in spite of his advancing years, and hardly broke a sweat as he stomped up the steps and sat down beside us. He glared at us with his beady little eyes and started right in, "Why do DXers go on DXpeditions?" he demanded. We looked back at him for a moment. We'd never really thought about it.

After a bit of thought we replied "Because they want to." It seemed the obvious answer. "No!", the QRPer said, pointing at us with his finger, "No, not at all. That's what I used to think, but a few of the fellows at the DX club set me straight. They go because they want to hand out a new one to the Deserving! They go because they are tough, and because they can handle the heat or cold, or whatever else they might have to put up with. Some of these remote locations have snakes and spiders and all kinds of things like that too! How would you like to be camped out in a jungle in Burma or some place like that? They don't like it. They go so they can give us a new one for DXCC!"

"Are you sure?" we asked, staring right back at him. "Of course I am", he retorted, now jabbing his finger back and forth directly at us. "It's easy for you to say they like it, but think of all the money they have to spend, and of all the planning and risks they take! And if that isn't enough, once they get on the air, everyone is screaming and working them three or four times on the same band. If they show up on 20, someone will ask them to go to 15. And if they show up on phone, someone will demand they switch to CW or teletype or satellite. This goes on for days, and once they finally get the pileups worked down, another bunch are complaining about the on-line logs. And even before they get back, still other ones are whining about not having their QSLs yet! These fellows are heroes, the top echelon of DXers, and they are there to give us new ones!"

We decided the finger pointing was effective, so we tried it ourself, only this time we wiggled our pointing finger from side to side as we spoke, "If it is so terrible, and requires so much money, and if they have to put up with all this abuse, why do they go? Just to hand out a new one? No. They go because they like it." We looked at the QRPer with a slight smile as we said this. It was a mistake. He jumped to his feet and bellowed, "No they don't like it! They hate it. They go because they want to help us with our DXCC totals, but they don't like it one bit. Any one in their right mind can understand this! You work every group that goes anywhere new, just like the rest of us. They are there to help us! Why are you so ungrateful?"

Son of a Gun! What could we say to a QRPer who'd missed seeing the elephant? Sometimes it is better not to argue, but we tried one more time. "Look at it this way. These fellows you say who go to all these horrible locations, and hate every minute of it . . . why do they usually find another spot that's just as bad or maybe even worse, and go back again if they don't like it?"

The QRPer jumped to his feet and drew himself up to his full five and a half feet and glared at us. "They go because they are heroes! They go because they are tough! They go so we can work them, and make Honor Roll. But listen, buster, they sure as heck don't like it! There is no sense talking to you!" And with that he stomped down the steps and down the hill, arms swinging and glancing back at us in contempt. We scratched our head, for we really weren't sure what had just happened. We finally decided the QRPer hadn't told us the whole story. We'd found in the past that some of the Local QRPers usually had a hidden agenda when they were so adamant and indignant. When a QRPer like this gets so worked up, as the Old Timer had often told us, "Leave them alone. They will figure it out sooner or later. And for some, it will be a lot later. A few will never get it. DX wisdom is not always measured in years, or even in terms of on air experience."

As we watched the QRPer disappear around the bend, we decided this must be the case. Either he'd understand or he wouldn't. We stood up, shrugged and walked back into the shack. The latest WWV numbers had just flashed across the cluster screen and the flux was inching up. Maybe the Palos Verdes Sundancers had a change of heart and were back at it. We flipped on the rig and began tuning 20. As Lord Baden-Powell, the Hero of Mafeking so often advised, "Be prepared!" And we were. Maybe we'd find a bunch of DXers camped out on some obscure rock, handing out rapid fire QSOs to the Deserving and despising every moment of it. Then again, maybe they might be having fun! DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX (QSL via VE1YX)

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