It was a Friday afternoon. I took half the day off to deal with a few things that were time sensitive. They were taken care of well ahead of when I thought they would be, so I found something to fill the hours between where I was and dinner. That something was, naturally, a POTA activation.
It’s getting to be nice out here in NE Ohio, so I know that Cuyahoga Valley National Park – K-0020 will be full of people soon enough. But on this particular Friday afternoon, the park was practically empty. The ride there on my bike was peaceful as the bike trails were deserted. It was the best kind of ride. Sunny, but enough cool breeze so that there was no real sweating involved. A perfect ride to meditate a little and focus on being outside in The Big Blue Room.
I got to the park and headed to my usual station at the picnic table by The Octagon shelter. Setup was quick.
I got one quick contact on 40m FT8 and then it was quiet. Very quiet. I moved bands a little and settled in on 20m. Usually, 20m on FT8 in the middle of the day is quite crowded. It really wasn’t seeing a lot of use in that moment, and I couldn’t really blame it on the fact that it was the kick off of Hamvention weekend (more on that in the next post!). The bands were not cooperative.
I stuck it out on 20m and got my 10. The big contact for the activation being XE1ACA in Mexico. The OP gave a signal report of -24 so we just barely squeezed that one out.
I was really wondering how bad the bands were, so I pulled out my mic and, after spotting myself, started calling. I called for a good 10 minutes with no one coming back. I found KD9OBF out operating Lowden State Park – K-1008 in IL. I called park to park and someone other than the OP heard me and called it out. We struggled to make the contact. I’m pretty sure he was running more than 10 watts, but I certainly felt like I was screaming into a pillow. We did complete the contact and that’s what matters.
I unplugged the mic and, before I could talk myself out of it, plugged in my key. I spotted myself and started calling CQ. Just as I was about to pack it in, WB8DTT came back to me. It took me FOREVER to decode that callsign for no good reason that I can find other than jitters. The letter “B” just wouldn’t come to me! But with consistent, patient repeats, we got there. I was so happy to get back “RR” that I almost didn’t grab the time of the contact. The contact was sucessful, but everything seemed to close up after that. I called for a bit, changed bands, called again, and nothing. Sometimes, propagation is going to be like that.
Any day outside is a good one. Even with rough band conditions, a little time at the picnic table in the sun is a good time.
Here’s the QSO Map:
This does check a box for me. I wanted to do an activation where I used Digital, Phone, and CW. Granted, I was hoping to do 10 contacts on each mode, but this was a pretty good start toward proving I could do it at all. I learned things and it was fun.
It was a great way to start Hamvention weekend. More on Hamvention in the next post!