When I looked at the weather going up to the weekend, I thought that the weather would be cold with a touch of snow, perhaps, and that would drive people out of the park. Which park? Any park. Tinker’s Creek State Park [K-1997] looked like a great place to try. I’d never been there before, so why not give it a shot?
When I arrived, I quickly noted that I was right about park attendance. But there was no map to really study beforehand. There is one shelter and it’s nowhere near a place to put an antenna in a tree. I loaded up my pack and headed around the trail. I walked most of the way around the lake that is in the center of the park area and found a wide spot in the trail. There were no tables, so I put my pack on the ground and got to work.
The only real success of the day was that I got the line in the tree at the perfect spot at absolutely the right place on the first toss. With the antenna up and the radio tuned up, I got out my tablet and stood on the trail hitting FT8 hard. I got four contacts very quickly.
The weather went from light snow to freezing rain to something wetter than freezing rain. It was far too much water for a tablet and I was concerned about the amount of mud building up around me. Sadly, I called it a day. I packed up quickly and got back around to the Jeep. I was a bit too muddy and a bit too wet to consider throwing up an antenna from the Jeep. It was frustrating, but that’s portable operation, right?
When I got home, I got to thinking about what I did wrong. I think part of it was making sure that I had something to throw up from the Jeep. I did have the Chameleon whip with me, but I wasn’t confident (and I was pretty muddy, cold, and miserable – also out of coffee). Sitting on the couch, I decided to get the Chameleon whip extension from DXE. Again, nice to run out and pick that up same day.
Sunday, it was even windier and snowier. There was a touch of whiteout and we got about 3″ of snow. This is NE Ohio in March, I suppose, but I was in no mood to sit out in that. I pulled the Jeep into the driveway and threw the whip and extension up on the Jeep mount. The tuner found matches quickly. Everything looks good for a one-man deployment. It takes up no space in a parking lot aside from a counterpoise wire on the ground around the Jeep.
Much like there’s no bad day fishing, there are no failures when it comes to portable operation as long as I’m outside with my radio. There are plenty of opportunities to learn things about how the world works when radio meets the great outdoors and I definitely learned a lot. Not that I wasn’t disapointed when I didn’t activate the park, but the activation is just an excuse to get out and keep score. It’s a chance to tune the station and I definitely did that this time out.
Fingers crossed that the snow leaves us alone for a bit and we can get out more as spring becomes a real thing!