I first got my license in 1983 with the Novice call sign KA5TLK. The following year I upgraded to General with the call N5HEI. Over the years, I’ve been in and out of ham radio. There were a couple of long stretches where I lost touch with the hobby altogether. Each time I’ve come back to the hobby it’s been an interesting experience, to say the least. Eric Guth, the host of the QSO Today podcast, has described this experience as feeling a little like Rip Van Winkle awakening from his long sleep. I can relate.

Last fall I decided to clean out the garage, as I knew we’d be moving the following Spring. I had intended to go through my old radio gear, most of which had sat there untouched for almost 10 years, and get rid of a lot of it. I started going through all of the boxes, dragging out each piece of gear one by one and testing it. It felt a little like Christmas — this wasn’t cleaning house, it was a treasure hunt. Not long after that that I had a makeshift station put together in the garage and a portable antenna in the backyard. I didn’t set out to do this, honest. Somehow, it just happened all by itself.

Fast forward a couple of months. I’ve moved the shack from the basement and have taken over part of the guest bedroom. (Fortunately I had the XYL’s blessing and help on this, and she even helped me decorate, christening it the “chic shack” in the process.) A brand new Kenwood TS-590SG is sitting on the shack desk. Sounds of CW echo down the hall. QSL cards, mostly old but now even some new ones, line the wall. I couldn’t have predicted this when I started cleaning out the garage, but somehow it just happened.

And after many years of “I’ll get around to it someday,” earlier this year I finally got around to that Extra Class upgrade. Now I even have a new call sign to go along with it: WK5N. What started out as little more than idle thoughts of cleaning out the garage has has broken out into a fresh case of the ham radio flu. And a pretty severe case at that. I guess it’s worse when you don’t see it coming.

So it’s back into the pool for me, and I have to say I’m having more fun than ever. All of those doom and gloom predictions of ham radio’s demise with the rise of the Internet have been massively exaggerated. Ham radio is a big pool, and there’s plenty of room for everything and everyone. So here’s to the next chapter, and I hope to be reading the fun and fascinating book of Amateur Radio for a long time to come.