I was operating FT8 mode on 40m one evening and noticed a special event callsign W6B on the waterfall. Curious, I went online and looked up the call on QRZ.com. The page said the station was part of a Route 66 on the Air special event and included a link to their club’s main page. A web search brought me to the event’s main page on the Citrus Belt ARC site. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it turned out to be the eighteenth year the event was being held.
The latter site noted that twenty-one special event stations with calls W6A through W6U would be operating in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Victorville and Barstow CA, Kingman and Flagstaff AZ, Albuquerque NM, Amarillo TX, Elk City, Oklahoma City and Tulsa OK, Riverton KS, Joplin, Lebanon, Springfield and St. Louis MO, Wilmington and Chicago IL, plus two rovers based in Arizona.
I found W6C was also on 40m FT8 that evening and worked it. The next day I worked W6P on 20m FT8.
Well, I had three of the twenty-one stations operating that week, so I ought to go for it, right? It seemed that most of the stations were not operating digitally (at least on my waterfall), so I was off checking spots and chasing down other stations on SSB (mostly), CW (two) and FT8 (only one more). The sideband operations were crazy with pileups on them. Once in a while an operator would work “by the numbers” to reduce the QRM which is very helpful except if they point a beam at NY/NJ to get the “2” calls!
The first few days were pretty productive and made it look like it would be possible to get them all. There was also some frustration as several seemed to be sticking to bands that were not conducive to the path between me and them and several others weren’t being spotted at all. Why be part of a special event if you’re not going to operate?
One evening, when spots were just for stations I’d worked or not within propagation range, I tuned around 40m sideband and found W6S, one of the rover stations in Northern Arizona. I worked him and he requested a spot since he had forgotten to bring his login info with him. I spotted him via DXWatch.com and went off to see what else I could find.
With no further luck, I tuned back to W6S to see if stations were coming to him. He was in QSO with none other than W6T, the other rover! I only caught the end of their chat. I waiting until W6S wasn’t getting calls and called him back, asking if W6T mentioned where he’d be operating. He hadn’t been specific but said he’d be down the band a little bit. A little more tuning found W6T calling CQ and I worked him also.
Soon I was down to three stations needed. W6Q in Chicago had pileups that were difficult for me to penetrate. I had not heard W6D or W6L yet.
I finally got W6L on 20m SSB and the next day W6Q.
It is a weeklong event and I was running out of days. Finally W6D was spotted. The station was operating on 75m and here I was without an antenna for the band. I know my K3 tuner can get my inverted vee (lowest band 40m) to get a match for the rig, but I also know it works very poorly on 75/80m. But I just had to get a signal to California. After calling the 59 station for a while, I finally got through and received a 53 signal report (which was probably generous). But an RS of 53 is still a QSO! I’d contacted all the stations!
I’ve sent QSL cards with SASEs to all of the stations. I have received some back, but am still short most of them at this time.
Today I received this certificate in the mail showing my “clean sweep” of the event. It was fun to get them all worked.