I should have written to the members of the PAPA System and thanked them months ago.
On a cold early spring night in 2005, I was driving the whole family to spend the weekend at a little Motel in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, CA. When we were around four miles from the town of Running Springs the alternator on our Suburban failed. This is a very windy road with very few places to pull to the side safely. We were fortunate to be near a place with space on the side of the road. I pulled over and turned off the car. I knew immediately that it was the alternator since the lights when dim when it happened. It was the bearing in the alternator that had seized.
Both my wife and I pulled out our cell phones. I tried to call the auto club but the call would not go through, my wife tried as well and her cell phone could not make a call. I already had my Kenwood D700 (Amateur Radio VHF/UHF transceiver) turned on and tried a few repeaters. It was 11pm, I tried one repeater set in the radio memory, no one was there. I tried the next memory setting no one there as well. The next memory channel I had set was one of the PAPA System repeaters. I switched and there was a conversation taking place. I waited until the person was finished talking, they politely allowed time between transmission and I announced myself. They quickly responded and I explained the situation. They called the auto club for me to arrange towing and transportation. The car broke down at 11pm, our tow truck did not arrive until after 1am. These members of the PAPA System stayed on the radio until they new for sure that we were taken care of. I had my wife and two children with me and we felt comforted that someone was there making sure we were alright. I hope the two PAPA System members will see this message. In all the events that happened, we did not write down the names and calls of the two that helped us.
Since then, my wife (also licensed) has stopped complaining about my radio gear and is now asking me when I’m going to install a transceiver in her car.