Daily Image: Curved 14 June 2024

I wonder what happened to this old pine. Shot with the Fuji X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 at f/8, straight out of camera.

We walked up near Spooner Summit in the national forest this morning. It was a lovely morning and the hike did both of us good.

On the way out, I noticed this old pine has an odd curve where it enters the soil. I wonder what happened to it to make it grow this way? It made for an interesting image and a welcome pause as I hiked up the trail.

When we arrived back at the 4Runner, there as a pickup parked next to me with the ramp down. I rounded the back of the 4Runner and a young man was sitting on a granite boulder. Surprised, I muttered…

“Well, hello! You startled me.”

“Hi. Sorry, I’m waiting for my uncle. He took the bike and rode on up the trail. A woman and a child rolled off the trail.”

I listened to the story and the accident must have happened while we were on the trail because there was no emergency equipment at the trailhead when we arrived. (Note: There was equipment when we left.)

I gave Sera some water and took some myself. The uncle returned. The folks were OK if a bit shaken. Apparently, the woman drove her 4Runner off the trail and it tumbled down the slope into the ravine.

I am glad they were not hurt. I remarked “There but for the grace of God go I.” It could have happened to me.

I never know what I will find when in the field.

I am grateful. Life is good.

Daily Image: Scramblers, 20 March 2024

A new favorite breakfast restaurant here in Springfield, MO. Capture with Fujifilm X100V and Reggie’s Portra 400 film simulation, SOOC.

A week ago DiL took me to breakfast at the subject venue. They produce solid American Diner food and the breakfast was good. I had an appointment to drop off the 4Runner for maintenance and the shop is only a couple of miles from Scramblers. So I decided to treat myself to breakfast.

They were not busy at 0700h this morning so I was seated quickly. Coffee was at hand shortly thereafter. I made my order and working on an image to post to Vero. My food appeared before I finished my edits.

Once again, the food was good and priced reasonably. I enjoyed it, put a little bit in a napkin to pay the dog tax, and then finished my edits and posted my image to Vero while finishing my coffee.

Then it was off the Christian Brothers Auto to have the 4Runner serviced. There is a long list of scheduled maintenance to do. I was on the fence about keeping my 2013 Fifth Gen 4Runner or trading for a new one. My rig has 200,000 miles on it, but has no known mechanical issues.

I have decided to try for another 100,000 miles. So, I am going to clean up a few minor issues and keep running the mileage clock.

Pi Day 2024

Light-Up PiPi Day was a relatively uneventful day here in Ozark, Missouri. I slept a little late, but still managed to send off Older Son and DiL. I then made a coffee and sat down at my desk to start the day.

I am working on a hydraulic model and it is not being completely cooperative. I sorted most of the wrinkles Wednesday, but had a couple more left to deal with. So I worked on some bathymetric conditioning and then made the needed adjustments to the boundary conditions. I set off a model run and left the desk to let it run.

I warmed a Braum’s banana nut muffin with some butter for a light breakfast, finished my coffee, and got The Girl out for an outing. We walked our normal route near the house, where we encountered a young man preparing to run a small topographic survey. I stopped for a chat before heading on.

I had three trading sessions back-to-back around the noon/early afternoon hour. I worked through those, with the last one producing no trade. At least, there was no official trade. One of my trading services does a once per week one-day trade on the SPX Index. The approach is to choose a put or call spread that is near enough to the trading price to produce a profit but far enough away to reduce the overnight risk.

But it depends on the trading action at the end of the day. The coach did not like the action during our session, so he called it for the week. After the session, I continued to monitor the price action and it turned not long before closing. So I put in my order and it filled at my price. So, now I wait for the theta decay to work its magic and expect my good-till-cancel closing order to execute on Friday’s open.

After all that, I was hungry, so I took The Girl and we drove over to the B-29 Cafe for a sandwich. It was threatening rain but I thought I might be able to beat it.

I ordered a BLT with an added slice of American Cheese. This is the BLTC and I really like this sandwich. It is relatively light but has enough protein and fat to keep hunger at bay. The B-29 fries are also excellent and part of them (usually half) go to pay the dog tax. While enjoying my sandwich, a tornado warning sounded. The B-29 proprietor informed us they have no safe area in the building, but the bathrooms/halls are the best reinforced.

Most elected to finish their meal and stay alert. No tornado appeared, but I finished up my meal and cleared my bill quickly. I wanted to beat the rain back to the rig and The Girl.

I did. And I paid the dog tax before the rain started. But, we drove home in a heavy shower that blew the rain and trees about.

we were able to sneak into the house between bouts of rain.

I have been careful with The Girl to not let her get frightened by thunder. This one seems nonplussed by loud noises and I do not make a deal of them. If anything, I get more playful with her during storms and when there are fireworks.

I ended my day with my son. We emptied the back of the rig so I can take it for service Friday.

The Waffle House

An iconic American diner, the Waffle House. Shot with my Contax TVS on Kodak Gold 200. Exposure details not recorded.
Some decades ago, probably in the 1980s, my practice of long road trips began. They were mostly associated with traveling from where we lived to visit family in Missouri. However, with time (and age), they have morphed into long travels for a variety of reasons. I still visit my family, but have added to that list old friends. Then there are trips added to visit work sites and just because I want to go.

What I found is the Waffle House. I have eaten breakfast at these places all over that part of the country that the franchise serves. The food is decent. It is not bistro-quality, but the short-order kind of food. I really like the waffles, the batter they use is very good. And I found that pecans in my waffle is an added tasty treat.

There is a Waffle House a few miles north from Ozark, Missouri. I am here visiting with my kids and waiting for the camper to be repaired after the blown tire tore s#*$ up. The parts are in and the camper is in the shop. Before the next leg of my trip, it will be good to have the little house restored. I really prefer sleeping in my own space.

My most recent bout of GAS1 I wished I had brought along a couple of my film cameras. Specifically, I had a Nikon FA kit partly assembled and the Pentax 645 kit was mostly assembled. But, I ran out of time to get everything done before I needed to leave. So, I left my film cameras behind.

This I regretted enough that I bought a Contax TVS point-and-shoot. It is a little Vario-Sonar zoom based 35mm camera that is very good. I wanted the T2 version, but the wannabees have driven up the price of the prime-based Contax that they are no longer reasonable. The TVS is a kind of sleeper that makes solid images at some cost to control. It is a point-and-shoot, after all.

I have always wanted a mechanical Nikon camera. When I was a young man, I wanted a Nikon Photomic. It was a tool of the professional, with prices accordingly. I could not afford one. I can now, so a F2AS joined my inventory along with a couple of lenses that are not in my collection.

I have lusted wanted a Hasselblad 500-series camera for a very long time. They were always out of my price range. I might have been able to buy one four- or five-years ago, but then the prices were driven up because of the Hasselblad reputation, I suppose. I have a couple of the V-mount lenses in my collection. I suppose it is now time to sell them… because…

After substantial research, the Bronica S2A is an acceptable substitute for the 500-series Hasselblad. No, it is not the equivalent. But it is close, close enough. It will provide the 6x6cm experience (and challenges). The Nikkor glass for the camera is quite good. It is a mechanical camera that should run the rest of my life. If it needs repair, it is repairable.

One wandered into my life a few days ago. I still need to introduce it. I will.

So, now at the end of my mental wandering, the image can be explained. I was running a test roll through the Contax TVS and saw this scene. So I turned off the flash and made the capture. I love having access to a Waffle House from Ozark. I am often up early, so I can get out for breakfast at a favorite place. It can be an interesting place to make a few captures as well.

I like it. Life is good.

1Gear Acquisition Syndrome, an affliction of lust that many photographers succumb to that causes an increased load and a reduced bank account.

Daily Image: 23 January 2024 — Books

One of the stacks at Dixon Books in Fayetteville, AR. Shot with Fujifilm X100V 23mm f/2 at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation.

My kids and I took a day trip down to Rogers and Fayetteville, Arkansas on Sunday. Despite the cold, winter day (but not as cold as it has been), we had a blast. We visited a Duluth Trading Company bricks and mortar store. There I bought The Girl a jacket for our cold outings (and to keep some of the rain off). I bought myself some gloves as those I have are insufficient when it gets this cold.

We drove into Fayetteville for a Mediterranean meal and the headed downtown to Dixon Books. I love used book stores and carried a camera inside with me.

Dixon Books is one of those rabbit-warren bookstores that has lots (and lots) of bookshelves and stacks of books with small aisles to traverse the stacks. I love it.

I carried the Fujifilm X100V in my hand and made many captures surreptitiously of other wanderers of the stacks. A couple of those might be worth sharing. I also carried the Nikon F2AS, but decided that it is a bit noisy for that environment. A quite rangefinder was just the trick. (The X100V is nearly silent.)

I did not buy any new books, not having a list with me. But, I hope there will be another (perhaps many) trips back to Fayetteville and the next visit I will have a list with me.

After the bookstore, there was coffee at Doomsday Coffee, just a couple of blocks away.

It was a good day. Life is good.

No Service

If you know, you know… Shot with the Contax TVS using Kodak Gold 200. Exposure data unrecorded.

Not long after I arrived here in Missouri, I made my first trip to Bedford Camera & Video in Springfield. I decided to see what the camera store here was like and whether it would be a good place to buy film and have my processing done.

My first experience was positive. I bought some film for my new-to-me Contax TVS point and shoot camera. It is a premium 35mm point and shoot with a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens. The zoom range is not large, just two times. But the focal lengths are useful even if the lens is relatively slow.

The clerk loaded the battery for me (a CR123A) and I loaded a roll of Kodak Gold 200. The camera wound the film onto the take-up spool just fine and announced it was ready to go. I added a few more rolls of 35mm film to my order, checked out, and headed back to the rig.

I paused to make an image of the store front and then The Girl and I headed south towards home. I was hungry and decided to stop for a bit.

The first food I came across was the Burger King on South Campbell. I pulled into the lot and walked inside. There I waited at least five minutes without acknowledgement. None of the workers greeted me. None offered to take my order.

I shook my head and walked back to the rig. Clearly they are not interested in my business. I will not be stopping there again.

We drove south a few more blocks and found a Steak & Shake. I have always liked their food, so I parked and walked into the store. I was greeted fairly quickly and then seated. Although it took a few minutes for one of the staffers to take my order, they got it done. My food was delivered hot and was tasty. I really like the fries at Steak & Shake.

I took some with me, along with a bite of my sandwich, and gave them to The Girl. She was expecting a treat, as usual. And, she got one.

I was satisfied with my outing and determined to shoot the roll of film to complete my testing of the new camera.

A few days alter (yesterday), Older Son and I decided to get out of the house and check some of the pawn shops and thrift stores for film cameras. The first pawn shop we stopped at asked “Do they even develop film anymore?”

“Yes, they do.” I responded.

He suggested we visit the Springfield Trading Depot (STD) because all of the pawn brokers are only dealing in digital cameras now. We thanked him and headed out.

STD (yes, that is the acronym) was interesting enough, but there was nothing there I was interested in. It made an interesting photo opportunity anyway. I still need to download and process those images.

I had finished my roll of film, so we headed to Bedford to drop it off for processing, I bought a few rolls of 120 black and white film, and we headed off to pick up DiL. I wanted an early supper and a trip to Bass Pro to replace her collar. The transmitter finally failed after I repaired the rotary control one time. So, it is time to replace it. She sometimes needs it to stay out of trouble. She remains an impulsive Girl.

We took her into Bass Pro (they are dog friendly) and it is such a HUGE place. There were a lot of people there (and quite a few dogs), but she really behaved well and barked at other dogs only a couple of times.

We got what we came for and were looking at the toys when we heard THE SQUEAK. She knew exactly what she wanted.

We played with that for several minutes, all four of us laughing. So we gathered up a couple of new toys for her and headed to the check out line. She was a very excited Girl.

We stopped at a Korean restaurant on the way home for a bibimpap bowl. I had not had one before and it was very good. Win! While there, I received an email that my film had been processed and my scans were ready to download. Win!

We retrieved DiL’s rig and then stopped at Andy’s Frozen Yogurt for a treat and then on home.

Yes, The Girl got a pup-cup.

When I got home, I downloaded my scans. I have a couple of keepers in the lot. That is not bad.

It was a good day. Life is good.

New Years Eve 2023

My campsite at Lake Texoma — The Johnson Creek Recreation Area that is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Shot with my iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Today we mark the end of another year. There will be celebrations tonight and probably fireworks. The Girl is not particularly bothered by the fireworks, which is a good thing. So I will not have to be worried about her. When they happen, we will just play around it and she will ignore them.

I am here in Ozark, Missouri with Older Son and DiL. It has been a good visit. He has a couple of days off and will work a short week so we will have a couple more days, and the weekend, to spend together. The weather is cold, but not hard winter (yet). We are able to get The Girl out for walkies and play.

Yesterday we took the cassette from the camper and dumped it. While at Camper World, I asked about a repair for the camper. This is a long story.

The short version is that just west from Albuquerque, NM I blew a trailer tire. It was sudden and unexpected. I had checked them the day before and they were fine. I did not notice anything that morning when I recovered the camper and did my walk-around. One Interstate 40 eastbound, a passing motorist honked just as I noticed the camper was listing to starboard. A glance into the starboard mirrors determined that I had a flat and I watched (as I pulled to the shoulder) the carcass shed from the rim.

This was my first catastrophic tire failure, ever. Fortunately, I brought both a floor jack and a bottle jack along. The floor jack is preferred because it is more stable. But it took a lot of effort to get everything to work.

And then there is the lug wrench. I bought one of those cheap Chinese #$*t cross spinners from Harbor Freight. The sockets are too thick to fit properly into the alloy wheels of the camper. It took a lot of work to get the lugs loose as they were very tight. The jack had to be reset several times and I had to use blocks to get the rim off the ground.

But I got it loose. I retrieved the spare and checked it (again). I had to use a shovel to dig so I could mount the spare. Then I struggled with the lug wrench (again) to get everything tightened up.

This required an hour to get done. I was spent when I finished. I checked the pressure in the tires and then drove to the next exit. I had also discovered that the carcass had ripped the quick disconnect for the exterior grill from the supply hose, so I had turned off the propane (which serves the refrigerator).

I made a few calls looking for a propane repair house. I found one in Albuquerque and headed that way. The tire remained to be dealt with. The clerk at the propane house could not (both physically and by order) get under the camper. So, once again I wriggled under the camper, loosened the hose from the copper supply line, and retrieved it for him.

He went searching for a blind cap while I had the workers refill the propane tank. It took four gallons of fuel. The clerk gave me a fitting that would permit me to turn the propane back on.

I think picked a repair shop from the map and made a phone call. Phil said he was going to run some errands and would come retrieve me.

I waited about 20 minutes and called again. Just as I got off the phone with his office, a big white pickup pulled in and I was greeted by Phil. He led me to their shop and we started looking at the damage.

The wheel tub was gone. One of my spare boots was gone. One of my house shoes was gone. All of the electrics in the starboard side cabinet (where the wheel well was located) were gone or wrapped around the axle behind the brake drum.

In other words, I was F*#$($D. I had no heater, no hot water, and the igniter for the range was out. But, the pump was working so I had water and the range and refrigerator were still working, even if I had to light the range with a match.

Phil and Larry worked very hard to clear the electrics (so I would be safe) and fabricated a temporary wheel tub to keep things dry inside.

That took the remainder of the day and into Thursday morning. I was delayed a day.

But Phil took good care of me. He got me back on the road and I had a workable, if crippled, house. I spent the night in a Hampton Inn and headed out late Thursday morning. We spent the night at the Amarillo, TX KOA (recommended) and proceeded on to Mead, OK on Saturday.

I was able to spend the holiday with Younger Son, DiL, and her family. It was a good visit and well worth the trip.

I spent a couple more days there, got some work done, and then headed for Ozark, MO on Thursday. The goodbyes were hard, as usual. But, God-willing, I will be back for another visit.I got away late, so it was just getting dark when I arrived. We unloaded the few things I needed to sustain us that night, and went inside.

So, here we are in Ozark, MO. I filed an insurance claim and hope that the insurance company will pay for part of the repairs. I was going to do it myself, but in looking at it decided that it might be better to have a technician make the repairs because it looks like diagnosing the electrics might be a challenge and I have plenty of paying work to do.

There is the backstory. The image I captured was of the camper at the JCRE campground. We are safe, warm, and loved here in Ozark, MO. We will celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another with family.

Life is good. I am grateful.

Daily Image — 29 October 2023

One of my favorite places along the Carson River — Mexican Ditch Trail on the Silver Saddle Ranch. Shot with the Fujifilm X100V at f/8 with the Portra film simulation. #SOOC

For the last number of weeks, my daily walks have mostly been on the job site in El Dorado National Forest. By the end of the day, I was pretty much done and getting in a half-hour walk for The Girl was about all I had left in me. I sometimes carried a camera, but the creative juice just was not there.

Now that I am recovering from that slog, I have time and energy to play a little radio, work a little in my house, and do something with a camera. I am also walking an hour or so for both The Girl and I. We love those times together.

Today was a treat for a couple of reasons. First was the image above. An irrigation structure on the Mexican Ditch often returns flow to the Carson River at this location. The flow crosses the road and I love the sound and sight that it makes. With the colder temperatures of the last few nights, the cottonwoods are dropping their leaves as the color leaves them. The sight this morning made me pause for a couple of captures. I like this one.

On the way back to the rig, I was keeping an eye out for other walkers/dogs and heard a whistle behind me. For a moment I thought of the Mockingjay whistle from The Hunger Games movies. That caused me to pause and I looked behind us.

Sera came to attention. When Timber and Lisa started calling her I said “Go! See you peeps!”

She blasted off, of course and I heard Lisa call “Watch your knees!” as she blew in to greet them. Sera was all wiggles and soft looks as she interacted with some of her favorite people.

I walked back to greet them and retrieve The Girl and we walked back to my rig. We paused to visit for a few minutes. I so enjoy them and it was good to spend a few minutes catching up.

The capture was made with my Fujifilm X100V and its lovely 23mm f/2 lens. The capture was made at f/8 using the Portra-400 film simulation. I am running a light diffusion filter on the camera, which provides a more filmic look.

It was a good day. Life is good.

A SOTA Weekend

The Girl passing by my KX1 station while we were on Hot Springs Mountain for a SOTA activation.

I wrote this over a year ago, but never got around to posting it. I am not sure why. Perhaps I set it aside to look for a photograph for the header. Or, perhaps I simply forgot about it. Nonetheless, it is not a bad story so I think I will tell it.

This weekend was a study in contrasts. Saturday, a friend and I drove up to the activation zone of Prison Hill, at the south side of Carson City. The trail to the top is no challenge for the 4Runner and I’m not a hard driver.

So I had the luxury of computer logging, full output power from the KX3, a table to work from, and a nice chair. The antenna was a kit-built EFHW in inverted-L using a SOTAbeams 10m travel mast. It was a fun afternoon with a friend and my dog, although neither of them participated in the radio fun (the friend is licensed; the dog is not).

This morning I decided I had so much fun yesterday that I would do it again, this time Hot Springs Mountain. It was just doggo and me. I attempted an approach from the west side, but the last half-mile was a rough trail of scrabble and I did not think the 4Runner would traverse it.

So I drove around to the south side and up a sand wash. The sand had a little moisture from the last snow and I was able to stay on top of the sand by keeping up my speed.

I expected the sand ravine near the top and there it was. I was sure I could get down to the bottom of the ravine, but figured that’s where I would stay.

So, I got out my KX1 kit (shack in a small Pelican box), a bottle of water, a 3Ah LFP battery (gives just a little more output power from the little KX1 and will run forever), and the SOTAbeams mast.

The SOTAbeams travel mast leaned up against a rock cairn atop Hot Springs Mountain. An end fed random wire is affixed to the top of the antenna for the activation.
Doggo has four-paw drive, but not so this old man. She sprinted back and forth urging me on while I trudged up the remaining quartile mile of trail, pausing now and again to catch my breath.

There was a cairn in the activation zone and I found a way to stabilize the mast against the cairn with a Voile strap I brought along, just in case. I stretched the wire I carry in the kit along the mast and threw the second bundle of wires I use for a counterpoise on the rocks.

The radio matched the antenna readily and the 40m noon net (7.2835MHz) NCO heard me. So I knew I had a working station.

Over the next hour and a half I worked 17 stations on 40m, 30m, and 20m, including a couple of summit-to-summit operators. Doggo sat patiently next to me, enjoying the sun and the view.

I was on 20m when the antenna was blown over by the wind a second time. It had come up near the end of my operation.

I finished landing the fish I had on the line and announced my QRT, followed by a post to the SOTAwatch portal. It only took me a few minutes to tear down and head back down the hill.

I should mention that I used the backup key for this activation. The key I had been using failed during the first part of my activation. Fortunately, I keep the factory key in the kit as a backup. It’s not my favorite key, but it is a working key.

The contrast in the two ops is striking. Saturday was what I’ll GLOTA (glam-SOTA), with all the luxuries one could want in the field. Today I earned my contacts the hard way — by humping up the last, steepest, part of the hill.

Both days were good. Today was better. I’m whupped!

Another Weekend, Another Two Mountains — AAR

It’s not the best image, but it conveys the feel of looking out over the trail breakover on the way down from the Oreana Peak staging area. Sometimes these views give me the willies!

After another long week, I spent some time Friday afternoon looking for a summit to activate. Both Mt. Siegel (W7N/TR-003) and Oreana Peak (W7M/TR-004) were on my list from a previous search. Because of their proximity, they looked to be doable in a single trip.

So, the stage was set for a twin activation on Saturday morning, 13 August 2022.

I loaded up a few things to take with us, mostly water, a snack, and checked that I had radio equipment. I roused The Girl into the rig, locked the front door of the house, and we headed out. We made a quick stop at McD’s for a bite, a coffee, and a water and then headed south on US395. I stopped in Minden to refuel the rig and buy a sandwich.

We continued through Gardnerville and then took Pine Nut Road east for a few miles. I missed the turn and found myself at the transfer station, but that was not a big deal as it was only a quarter of a mile. We continued on an increasingly rough road to the Public Lands access. That road went on another mile or so and because Lone Pine Canyon Road.

That is, if it can be called a road. It is really just a two-track trail that varies from packed soil and sand to some rounded cobble to boulder size rocks. The pace declined to under ten miles per hour.

Yet, the trail was not particularly difficult. It was just rough. We continued to climb up the valley, in and out of the drainage, picking our way through the rocks when necessary and driving over them as needed.

We entered a burned out area, the Manzanite standing skeletal with burned bark and bare white limbs stretched to the sky in a dying supplication for mercy that did not come. The grasses were already returning, but the shrubs will be a long time before they grow again.

This part of the drive out was just a slog. I stopped a couple of times to let The Girl out to sniff and pee. I will say I took advantage of the stops a time or two myself. I guess the coffee was working.

As we turned south along Buckeye Creek, there were places that the trail crossed old flood outwashes. These could be trip-enders with very angular (and sharp) outcrops of rocks. They could tear a sidewall easily. I took care crossing through these areas and worked to keep my head clear of the usual woolgathering I do when driving boring roads.

The trail up to Mt. Siegel is obvious in this image. That trail was not bad, but care was required to protect the tires.

I hit the intersection of the trail to Oreana Peak and paused. I could see the trail up to Oreana Peak and it looked easier than the one up to Mt. Siegel. Given how far out I was, I wanted to do both peaks on this trip.

The trail up to Mr. Siegel was not too bad. The 4Runner crawled up just fine. But I was very careful to watch for rocks. It would be easy to tear a sidewall on this trail. There were just enough loose rocks that the rig slipped a bit now and again. A torn sidewall would have been a very bad afternoon.

Oreana Peak is on the far right. I think that is Smith Valley in the background.
There is a small staging area at the top of the Mt. Siegel trail. I found a place to park the 4Runner off the trail and paused for a look around. This gave The Girl an opportunity to sniff around as well as a chance for me to catch my bearings.

I might have been able to drive the 4Runner up a bit farther. I decided to hike it.
The Girl and I headed up the two-track toward the summit. I had my pack that contained my station plus water for both of us. The sun was quite hot even if the air temperature was moderate. That, combined with the altitude (about 9,200ft) had me puffing a bit as i worked my way up the slope.

I looked around a bit and noticed the 4Runner down at the staging area. That called for a pause for an image. So I made it.

Yep, that is the 4Runner down at the staging area.
We walked around the rock-pile summit and I found a place where I could set up the station. I used the Elecraft KX2 and an end-fed random wire antenna to a very light six-meter carbon fiber mast. I had the station setup in a few minutes. I then gave both of us some water.

My cell service was a little iffy, but I did get a spot out for my location. I started calling and made a number of contacts right away, including a few summit-to-summit contacts. It was not difficult to get my quota.

But, I noticed that running my iPhone with the screen bright and the lock time set to five minutes was a problem. The sun shining down on us was overheating more than The Girl and I — it was overheating my iPhone. Given I log my contacts on my phone this could be a problem.

As happened during my activation of Chickadee Ridge, my phone was turning down the screen brightness to reduce heat. Given I had my quota, I decided to call it and get ready to do the other peak.

Here’s the Elecraft KX2, the factory key, a microphone (yes, I did operate phone), and the water bottle. The yellow wire is the antenna.

I gave The Girl some more water and we headed back down the two-track. It was not a long hike, but care was required as the trail was fairly steep and rocky. A fall would not be a good thing.

While working my way down the trail, I paused to capture an image of Orean Peak. The trail to Mt. Siegel is in the foreground. The trail to Oreana Peak is in the midground with the peak in the background. It is quite breathtaking.

The Mt. Siegel trail is in the foreground. Oreana Peak and its trail is in the midground and background.

At the Mt. Siegel staging area, I looked out over Carson Valley and saw that someone had put up a cross. I did not check to see if it marked a grave.
I put The Girl and my gear into the rig and climbed in myself. I knew the trip back down the Mt. Siegel trail would require care to protect the tires.

I was not disappointed. The rig skittered and slid a bit on the way down, even in low-low. I had to work the brakes a bit and be careful to avoid a slide-out and tire damage. So I took my time and was very careful.

I made it down with no problem. I made the right to the Oreana Peak trail along Buckeye Creek (not much of a creek at this location) and headed back up.

When we got up to the Oreana Peak staging area, it was clear this was another bare summit with no shade. There was not enough rock outcrop to make shade. And the sun was just miserable. And, I was getting tired from the required focus, the altitude, and the heat.

So I put up the antenna, setup the radio, and made my contacts. The Girl was so hot she was crowding me trying to get into my shade. That wreaked a bit of havoc on my sending. I do not need help with that, particularly with the Elecraft key!

I kept the iPhone in my shade and that helped keep it from overheating again. I now carry a notebook and a pen in a cargo pocket. I can always log contacts on paper.

Yes, she was hot. No, I did not take a picture of the deployed station. I was hot too.

While we were sitting there, resting a bit (and she trying to crowd into my shade still), I heard something that sounded like a pickup scrabbling up the trail to the staging area.

“That’s strange,” I thought, “I did not see a vehicle approaching up the trail.”

Then the wind hit us. It was a strong gust and I was glad that the mast was put away. It might have been damaged. The wind was strong enough to rattle the rocks on the slopes of Oreana Peak.

As I headed down the trail from Oreana Peak to the staging area, I made this image of the rig and Mt. Siegel. Carson Valley is in the distant background.
I reloaded the pack we started back down to the staging area and the rig. Four-legs ran ahead, undaunted. The old man, however, picked his way carefully down the trail. Nothing good would come from a fall at this point in the trip. The view of the rig on the staging area with Mt. Siegel in the background struck me. I made the capture.

It was not long and we were back at the rig. I got out more water for The Girl. I dumped the pack into the rig. I drank water myself. I was gassed… not completely, but I was damned tired.

So I put us back into the rig and we started the long trail back home. It was about two hours from US395 to where we were. It would be about two hours back. And I needed to be focused for the drive.

On the way down from Oreana Peak, this is the trail (after the steep part). Mt. Siegel and its trail are in the background.

But we made it. As were were exiting Lone Pine Canyon, my buddy Greg called. “Are you home yet?”

“Nope. I’m still working my way down the trail. I’m about 15 or 20 minutes from the highway.”

“I thought you’d be home by now!”

“No… it is a long way out there and the trail is pretty rough. But I’ll be home soon. Thanks so much for calling and checking on me.”

We chatted a bit. Then he headed off for supper. I continued the drive.

Before long the trail turned into a road. Then the road got better. I no longer had to be as focused on navigating rocks and other obstacles. The Girl was settled into her seat, after having a couple of bouts with FOMO that there might be critters out there.

As I drove into Gardnerville, I started to think about supper… and the day. It was a learning experience for me. It was a long day. It was completely worth taking the time to do the second peak because of the long drive out there. I was hungry and tired.

On the way home I decided to stop at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Francisco’s. Some hot chow and una Margarita Grande sounded so good. Well, maybe dos Margaritas…

As I continue to activate SOTA peaks, I continue to learn things about operating and the support equipment I need to make this more fun. This outing was satisfying, but not fun.

  • The issue of the iPhone overheating is a problem. It is my primary logging tool for portable operations. I need a way to keep it shaded so it does not overheat. Or, I need to change the way I log contacts such that the iPhone is no longer part of the system.
  • The radio also gets hot. To date, it has not gotten hot enough to shut down. But, it might. That would be a show-stopper. I need to mind the radio temperature. Some shade would keep it a lot cooler.
  • Sitting on a rock is not fun for this skinny-assed old man. I have a foldable chair. It has to go into the pack so I have a place to sit.
  • A (very) small table would make summit operating a lot more comfortable. The portable table I have is to heavy to pack. That is a problem with a solution.
  • The factory key for the Elecraft radios (the KX2 and KX3) does not work well for me. That might be a topic for another weblog entry. Nonetheless, it is a decent backup (for now), but should not be my primary key.
  • The AME key works reasonably well for a field key. Holding it in my hand is not the best answer. The leg strap is better, but not perfect.
  • I am afraid to be strapped to the radio. Sera can be impulsive and I might need to move quickly before she can get into trouble. I am not sure how to solve this problem.
  • Although I really like running the antenna directly from the radio, this has its own issues. If the wind rises suddenly, the pressure on the mast creates a risk of dragging the radio off its perch. A hard landing might damage a (very) expensive radio. I need to think about this problem and develop a solution.
  • Francisco’s is not a bad way to end a SOTA (or POTA) day!
This is a favorite place in the summer. The Girl and I sit on the patio. She is very good.