How Did That Happen?
There were a lot of things stacked against doing an activation on the 27th. First and foremost, it’s my wife’s birthday so she sets the tone for the day. Having a birthday after Christmas isn’t fun. Most people are just celebrated out by that point and no one wants to eat any more sweets. So usually, I make a riff on a steak salad she loves and bake something like bannana bread. It works. And I had acquired the goods for the dinner and even baked the bread while she was doing some things in the morning.
In the afternoon, she said she wanted to take the dog for a hike at Cuyahoga Valley National Park – K-0020 despite the mud and potential for yet more rain. She was the one who offered that it would be a quick hike and if I wanted to go along and radio it up, I could.
Who doesn’t take that deal? Someone who isn’t me!
Water, Water and More Water
There was a lot of rain the night before and that morning. It’s not like I go anywhere without my little tarp and foam seat cover anyway, but I was really glad that I had this as a part of my kit this round because not having them would have meant setting up in the back of my wife’s car and I’ve said many times that I don’t like working from a vehicle. I got the IC-705 set up with the AX1 and got to the sending of dits and dahs.
All told, it was 18 CW contacts. Not too bad. The bands weren’t in really great condition from where I was sitting, but I did get my activation and some extras to spare by the time I got the text telling me my wife was about to be in the parking lot. Timing is everything!
So here’s what the map had to say:
And Again? Is This A Habit?
I rarely post the day that I do an activation but I’m not working this week so I have a bit more time for fun stuff. And speaking of fun stuff, I got out to West Branch SP – K-1999 for an activation while everyone else was otherwise engaged. I am not complaining.
An Aside: The Activator’s Lifestyle
There was a period of time when every day I would sit at my desk before work got going and fire up WSJT-X to get some FT8 contacts. There was one operator who was at a park that wasn’t all that far away. He would start on 80-meters and walk his way up the bands. I would catch him and then move to the next band and listen, hoping that I could catch him again. I made over 100 contacts with him over that period of time. In September of 2022, he stopped. I can see on his POTA profile page that he’s still hunting, but he hasn’t activated since that day in September. A couple of things come to mind.
First, what a way to spend your summer! Up early and at a park almost every day with your radio. Making contacts. Filling that logbook. Maybe observing the shifts in the band conditions over time. Making note of the weather. Who knows what one might do when the routine involves going to a park and setting up a small computer next to a radio.
When I imagine that for myself, I think about having a nice thermos of coffee and a notebook to jot down those stray thoughts and observations. But most of all, it’s a sense of going to a place with purpose and living in a moment. Each contact is a moment. Each log entry is a captured experience. How wonderful is that? Gives me strong incentive to retire.
The other thing that it brings up is that sense of knowing these other operators. I’ve never met this person and I only know what I’ve seen on QRZ or POTA. That said, when you establish a regular series of contacts with someone, there’s a sense that they are now a part of your world. Given the obviously older age group at play in ham radio, it’s not hard to imagine that someone will become a Silent Key and you’d never know it if you didn’t poke around a little. It’s a strange web of connections we make through these contacts. Strange and beautiful.
No, really. There were two of them out there on the reservoir today. I snapped a picture of the boat that is always there when I show up. I get the feeling that it might be hard to believe without photographic evidence.
I got my EFHW into The New Tree and didn’t love the SWR I was getting. I was also struggling with my throwline today. Everything worked out in the end, but it took longer to deploy my antenna than I’d like. That is to say, more than 2 minutes.
With my tarp spread out to keep my radio dry, I called CQ and the contacts started flowing. I was pulling about a contact a minute the entire time I was there. It was a great day for the bands and I was getting plenty of attention on 20-meters. I even made contacts with 3 friends from the Mastodon radio world. Always great to have more of those folks in the log!
I noticed something today that I’d not been conscious of before. When it’s cold out – and it was in the lower 40s while I was activating – my left hand gets cold but my right hand, my sending hand, never does. There’s got to be some kind of psychological mechanism at play there but I’m not going to spend any time on it.
Getting an Alaskan station in the log (even when he gives you a 129 RST) is always exciting. I do love it when the map includes that section of the continent.
Maybe I can keep this streak alive. I don’t go back to work until the 2nd of January. I wonder how many more trips out to the park I can make. Stay tuned to find out..
72 and thanks for reading!