What IS That Thing?
December in Northeast Ohio is usually marked by leaden grey skies. It’s usually cold, windy, and the days are almost as short as they’re going to get for the year. It’s a time when going outside seems the least attractive but it’s the most necessary. Well, it is for me anyway.
However, on a Friday on the midpoint of the month, the clouds disappeared and were replaced with clear blue skies and the local star made an appearance that lasted all day. A day like this at this time of year is not to be squandered. I took the afternoon off and headed out to West Branch SP – K-1999 so that I might Enjoy a little time on the radio. Shocking no one, I was not disappointed.
Art In The World
The grafitti on this table is getting serious. The artist or artists are upping their game considerably and reminding me of my Trapper Keeper from 1986. What does that have to do with radio? Nothing. It’s not all about radio.
Getting To Business
Though the calendar for the afternoon was clear, I didn’t have forever. And given that it was a Friday afternoon, I decided against bouncing from band to band. I got the IC-705 set up with the AX1 and went straight to 20-meters. That’s where most of the action is under these conditions, so why fight it?
Unlike other recent trips to the park, I saw almost no one this time out. There was one truck that drove through the lot where I park and other than that, nothing. I did see two boats ripping down the reservoir. Again, people taking any chance they can get to enjoy their boats make sense to me. Between contacts, I found myself distracted by just what a beautiful day it was.
I do have to note that toward the end of my activation I was getting a little of that QRM hate that seems to be floating around out there. Someone was sitting right on my frequency and keying up. Not tuning. Just keying up for 10 to 15 seconds at a time. And if I started to call CQ again, they keyed up again. I was followed to 3 different frequencies.
I feel bad for people who have to try to ruin something for someone else to enjoy themselves. While it was frustrating, all I could think was that I’d love to know what is in this person’s head. Why chase someone trying enjoy a trip to the park? POTA isn’t for everyone but the corralary is that it is for someone. It’s a sad person who engages in this kind of poor operating behavior.
That’s all I have to say about that.
I reeled in my share of contacts and toward what would be then end of my activation, I noticed that the tree I was sitting under had gradually developed a cacophony of bird sounds. Occasionally, at this time of year, one will see flocks of birds traveling in enormous numbers. One such flock of hundreds descended on the tree over the picnic table where I enjoy my activations. Slowly but surely, the realization came to me that something would likely be falling from the trees shortly and it would be best if my gear and I were not present. I closed out the activation with 30 solid CW contacts on 20-meters. My only regret is not getting some video of the birds.
After packing up, I wandered down to the shore and walked for a bit, just to stretch my legs. The silence and sunlight were incredible. It was a wonderful day to be outside and playing radio.
Here’s what the QSO Map looks like:
Silly POTA Stats
Turns out this was my 20th activation of K-1999. That makes me an Oasis Activator for West Branch. And the best part? 295 of those QSOs are CW with the remaining 100 being a combination of Phone and Data. That’s progress!
Saturday morning brought with it the best Eggs Benedict I’ve made in a long time. My egg poaching game was at a high point. What’s that got to do with radio? Again, nothing. It’s not all about radio.
Two Days In A Row?
December 16th was going to be a wild ride according to the forecast. Sunny? Temperatures in the 50s? Who stays inside on a day like that? Not this guy! I asked my wife casually if she was interested in taking the dog out to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. She was all in!
We decided on The Octagon area because the trail was likely to be a little less muddy than some of the others. With my wife off with the dog, I got set up on…A BRAND NEW PICNIC TABLE?!? Does it get better than this? I don’t think so!
This new table was in my favorite spot, so I got set up and took it for a spin, so to speak.
The sun was warm and it felt really, really good. The breeze was light and the temperature did indeed hit 50F upon our arrival. I put the 40-meter coil on the AX1 and started there. I got a lot of contacts fairly quickly. In fact, I hit my activation number on 40.
When the pickins got slim, I shifted to 20-meters. I was tempted to try 30, but I knew that my wife wanted this to be a quick hike with the dog. I wasn’t going to get all day, so I’d best make the most of it.
I’ve noticed lately that I seem to be making contacts with new or slower CW operators. There’s a very distinct difference between someone who is tripping over the key trying to go slowly – something in the 12-15 wpm range when they are used to 25 wpm or more – and someone who is focusing and trying to hit 12 wpm. I can hear that now in a way that I couldn’t before because I’m able to listen now. That’s the magic of practice, right?
A Wonderful Comment
After an activation, I will log into POTA.app to mark myself QRT and I like to see the comments people leave when they spot me. This time I got a beauty:
“thanks you were my first full CW with not using stored messages.”
How cool is that?
Super Cool. That’s exactly how cool it is. Super. Cool. I’m glad we made the contact and even happier that the operator felt confident enough to hit the key. That’s just awesome!
Here’s what the QSO Map looks like:
Out And Clear
What a weekend! I had hopes for Sunday, but the rain was just too much. I hate operating from the Jeep and not enough parks near me have shelters anymore. Well, that and there was a lot to do. The holidays don’t just happen or so I’m told. It’s been a great December for radio so far. With a week off for the Christmas holiday who knows what I might get up to.
Thanks for reading along! 72!