The Girl and I finally got outside some yesterday. It the first time in a few days. Both of us need the exercise, but there was so much winter the last few weeks that a nice day was difficult to find.
The mornings have been very cold for here, between 0–10oF. That is just too cold to be out early. The afternoon high temperatures were in the 30oF range, but that was still cold without sunshine.
But yesterday the sun was shining and it was warm enough by late morning. So I took Sera over to the Station 51 park and we walked a couple of laps around the perimeter. She was off-lead part of the time (good to get more exercise) but I called her in when other handlers and their charges arrived. Her energy was way too high and I knew she would bolt to engage.
I just never know how the other dog will react. Confident dogs are great — they will run and play rowdy with her. Dogs without confidence nearly always start a fight and then Sera gets blamed.
After this bit of exercise, during which my front leg slipped out from under me and I took a knee (no harm), we packed back into the 4Runner and headed north. This weekend is a Support Your Local Parks weekend and I knew there would be lots of activators out for POTA.
I stopped at Subway and bought a sandwich to take along. It took only a few minutes to get out to Washoe Lake SP. Access to the shore is still dicey given how much snow is on the ground. So I elected to park in the western staging area and deploy my rig.
I used the Chameleon MPAS 2.0 in a vertical configuration. The stake was driven into the pavement shoulder and I ran the counterpoise to the west. There was enough wind that I did not want to be out long. I thew the coaxial cable through Sera’s window and set up the Yaesu FT-897D on the dash. It took only a few more minutes to connect the battery, microphone, and key. I logged contacts on my iPhone. (HAMRS does the job for me.)
I could tell the North America QSO Party was active on the major bands. The phone section of each band was pretty busy with participants. Nonetheless, there were a few POTA activators spotted, so I started tracking them down. I was able to make my activation (10 contacts) hunting other activators. So I knew that whatever additional contacts I made would just be for fun.
I called my buddy K7ULM during a lull and got out my sandwich. We chatted a bit while I ate and then tried to find a frequency or two to make a phone contact. We finally did make the exchange, but the signal was weak. I think he was in the skip zone for the bands that were available.
I picked a frequency and started running. Dick spotted me and it was not long before a few calls trickled in. By the time we ended the call, I had quite a few calls in my log… more than enough. When I glanced down at my log, I saw the day had turned over on UTC time, which meant I started a new activation.
“Oh, I see that it’s now tomorrow, UTC. I have one contact on Sunday. That will not do — I need to make at least nine more.”
I spent the next hour or so calling on both phone and CW modes to make the second activation. I was blessed with a couple of pile-ups, which are always fun to work. I also had a couple of nice chats on phone with other operators.
The sun dropped behind the Sierras something about 1700h local. I knew it would get cold fast, so I called QRT (I’m done), posted QRT on the spotting website (so other operators knew I had closed shop), and got out to put away the antenna and rig.
This took about 15 minutes. I started the 4Runner to warm up the engine and interior while I stowed equipment.
Before we ended the phone call, Dick asked me “So what will be your reward for this?”
“I have a Cognac and some tiramisu for this evening.”
“Oooh, that sounds nice.” We both laughed.
I reflected on the day as I drove us back home. It was getting a little dark and a little cold. When we got home, I let Sera sniff around a bit while I gathered up some of the gear. The battery needed to be recharged and I prefer to keep the radio indoors when it is this cold.
As always, I learned a few things. I really want to have a better way of operating from the 4Runner. That will take some work to sort out. But it will be worth it. When it is this cold, operating in the open is generally not feasible.