Yesterday, “da-Judge”, KX4MI, and I went out and attacked a five park POTA activation plan. By the time I returned to the QTH, the odometer read 205 miles. This wasn’t an ordinary mission to accomplish. You see, “da Judge” doesn’t particularly like to POTA beyond line of sight of his QTH. However, using reverse lawyer tactics, I cajoled him out of his comfort zone and with heels dug in, he reluctantly boarded my vehicle for a day of adventure.
Even before backing out of his driveway, I felt like I was sitting for a deposition. “Do you have extra batteries”…yep!” “Do you have your analyzer…yep!” “Did you bring your coax…yep!” “Do you have a spare antenna mast…yep!” After 10 minutes of heavy inquiry, to replenish my energy, I requested a 15-minute nap before departing the driveway. “da Judge” granted said relief.
Finally inbound to our first park, Poinsett State Park (K-2910), about 100 miles beyond “da Judge’s” comfort zone. We set up my Wolf River Coil on its tripod on a beautiful elevated knoll. Within 16 minutes we logged 21 QSO’s, packed up and dispatched to the next park.
Manchester State Forest (K-5486), was our next target of interest. I say “target” because part of the forest is designated a bombing range for the F-16’s based out of Shaw AFB. As we scurried about setting up the WRC and tripod…suddenly we heard “roar…rip…rip…rip!” “da Judge” stood straight up with eyes agape and said, “What the hell is that, a tetradactyl!” (Thank John, KK4JS for planting that seed.) I calmly unwrapped “da Judge’s” arms and legs from around my neck and torso, let him down gently, and replied in my most professional airline captain voice, “Sir, that is the sound of freedom. You are witnessing a series of F-16 Fighting Falcons discharging, unlike your 3 round deer hunting shotgun, 6,000 rounds per minute gatling-gun into those practice targets!” For once in the “da Judge’s” esteemed career he was speechless!
Next stop was Hickory Top Wildlife Management Area (K-3901). Remember the deposition I had to take…I either perjured myself or discounted the wisdom of “da Judge”. I committed two (actually three) tactical errors on this activation. First…after setting the WRC with tripod up for the third time…the tuner would not tune the antenna…suddenly high SWR! We came to the conclusion the problem was in the feed line. “da Judge” smartly commanded, “Dispatch the SWR meter and we’ll analyze the gremlin.” “Yes sir!” I replied…to only discover my battery in the analyzer was dead! I was then smartly commanded to install the spare SWR meter battery. “Yes sir!..ops, where the hell is my spare battery!” “da Judge”, not deterred by this setback, authoritatively said, “Swap out the coax!” But Judge I said, “I ain’t got no spare coax!” Monitored evil eye directed my way! With knees shaking and head bowed in shame, I sheepishly said, “I do have a diamond antenna mount on my hatchback.” You see, judges don’t like mistrials. “da Judge” was overwhelmed with this newbies blind luck. “da Judge” was just about a heartbeat away from filing charges against me for incompetence, but since I held the keys to the car, the charges were reduced to misdemeanor. We subsequently made 10 QSOs in 9 minutes then moved in solemn silence to our next objectives.
Hard to believe, but the final two activations went according to plan. Santee National Wildlife Refuge Area (K-0521), we registered 11 QSOs in 7 minutes followed by Santee Cooper Wildlife Management Area (K-3910), with13 QSOs in 17 minutes.
- Activating parks is fun
- Never assume you have everything you need
- Activating parks is fun
- For serious activators…4-wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended
- Activating parks with a partner or two is even more fun
- If you are not doing POTA, why not? Please join us!
73, Tom W4ID