Northeast Ohio has always been grey and nasty through the winter. At least that’s been the case as long as I’ve been here. There’s not really any point in being down about it. It’s the state of things. When the weekend rolls around, sitting in the house feels like the opposite of what I want to do. What happens? POTA!
On Saturday afternoon, there was a good opportunity to get out. The kids were distracted and my wife wanted to take a solo hike (the puppy is off for a bit of camp/training). It was dry and there wasn’t much wind by the time we decided to head out, so off to Cuyahoga Valley National Park – K-0020 we went!
The tables were all pretty wet. The snow had turned to a bit of rain overnight and it showed. Carrying around a tarp and a cushion has turned out to be the best change to my operating gear because it allows me to make use of the wet stuff. Even if I had to set up on the grass, I’d have enough room for my radio and still enough to sit on. There I go shilling for Big Tarp again!
I went with FT8 because I wasn’t convinced that I was going to have a lot of time and the bands were kind of all over the place. I shouldn’t have worried so much. I managed to bag enough contacts pretty quickly. California to Florida and over to Spain! Not bad.
Here’s what the map looked like:
On Sunday, the weather was worse. It was a mist to light rain to heavy rain mix. Sitting in the low 40F range and windy, it made for a tough sell to go sit outside. But! Over at West Branch SP – K-1999 there are pavilions and picnic tables that would be dry. I worked at a spot last week that would be perfect for the current conditions.
The shelters and the toilets were simply gone. Even the grills scattered about the area were pulled up.
What does one do? Well, head down the road to the next picnic area and hope for the best. There were still shelters standing though some red plastic around the bathroom gave me pause. What there wasn’t there was even a sign that there had ever been picnic tables. That’s fine for me. I keep my portable table and chair in the Jeep. I deployed the Chameleon and got things moving.
With everything in place, I sipped at some coffee and looked at the weather. The wind was picking up and I didn’t feel like guying out the antenna. My hope was that I’d be done with the activation before it got too crazy.
This activation was exciting. I started on 15m and never left. The first contact to come across was from France! This has been pretty rare for me working from the park. The contacts kept coming. West Coast U.S. was hot and I managed to get a pile of contacts from Europe. 15m was simply on fire. I got some additional confirmation from friends online that they’d seen the same thing. Other bands weren’t nearly as good on that particular day. I’m glad I rode that wave.
Here’s what it looked like on the QSO map:
It was good weekend to be outside. The weather wasn’t the best, but that’s the hand we’re dealt in January. Having the park shelters disappear? Well, that added a bit of entertainment value, I suppose. I’ll have to poke around see what they have planned for that space as we move through toward spring. In the meantime, keeping the table an chair in the Jeep is a good idea.
One parting thought that I had. I changed up the way I lay out WSJT-X on the screen. I put the waterfall on top now. I think the first time I ever launched the application, it put the waterfall underneath the main window and I never questioned it. What I’ve found recently is that having it on the top is a better view into what’s happening and makes more sense visually – especially on a smaller screen.
Here’s what I mean:
Maybe I’m alone in that, but I’m finding that it works a lot better for me in the field. If nothing else, it’s a reminder to shake things up even a little bit sometimes to see if it could be done better.