Many thanks to Teri (KO4WFP) for the following guest post:
The Final Fling at Grand-Pré National Historic Site
by Teri (KO4WFP)
If you read my four previous articles, you know my family and I went to Nova Scotia for eight days. At this point in my trip, I had three successful POTA activations and three unsuccessful. Tomorrow, July 6th, my family and I would head back to the States. I hankered to attempt one more QRP POTA activation before that happened.
For our final day in Nova Scotia, we opted to drive back from our Airbnb in Middleton on Highway 101 to Halifax. The night before, I looked at the POTA website for parks along the route to activate. I had learned to avoid urban parks if possible due to the noise level and limited space for the EFRW antenna which I preferred to deploy. One park seemed to fit the bill – Grand-Pré National Historic Site (VE-4839).
The morning of Wednesday, July 5th was overcast and rainy. Despite the dreary and less-than-optimal conditions, we drove toward Grand Pré. To buy myself a bit more time in hope the showers might abate, we grabbed a bite to eat at the Just Us Roastery and Café outside the town.
After a quick breakfast, we arrived at the site around 12:45 PM. Given the rainy conditions, I would need to stay in the car. Too bad because the site looked inviting and I would have enjoyed setting up on my jacket like I did at Fort Anne.
The limitation of operating out of my car meant staying close to the parking lot. The trees in the main parking lot were all shorter than I preferred. And, as I learned at other sites, the main lot didn’t give me any buffer from people walking into my antennas. However, at one side of the property was a separate small lot for two or three RVs. Two trees on the far side of it were tall enough for my antenna and, better yet, no one would be walking into them. We pulled into this lot parking on the grass at its edge so I would be out of the way of any RVs.
You could see it had been raining as the soil was saturated and my sneakers paid the price as I slipped my way through the sodden grass. (You can see the difference between the sneakers, one cleaned and other not.)
After four throws, I finally snagged the branch I wanted and had the antenna up quickly. (The branch is the tallest one on the right side of the tree in the photo.)
But then how to support the feed-end and counterpoise? I used my windshield wiper trick from the Halifax Citadel. I clipped the S-carabineer for the antenna to the metal arm of the wiper. Before the trip, I had a spare piece of wire to which I added an alligator clip thinking it might come in handy. Well it did. With the wire, I made a loop and attached the S carabineer for the counterpoise to it and the alligator clip to the rubber part of the wiper blade. Now, with the feed-end and counterpoise suspended, they wouldn’t touch the metal of the car.
Conveniently, there was a tree just the right distance to attach the counterpoise to one of its branches. The coax I ran in through the passenger window, cracked because it was raining again. Finally a set-up that fell into line easily. Even my OM remarked the set-up went fast.
There wasn’t much room in the the front passenger seat but I made it work. The laptop went on the dashboard and my rig in my lap. Good thing I was somewhat familiar with holding the key with one hand while sending with the other as there was no place to set the key on a level surface and use it in that manner with this setup.
Everything was in place – now to pick a band. I considered 20 but it had noise S3-4 from some local source, maybe the power lines by the road. The propagation report suggested 17 meters would be a good place to start and, given that band had proven to be a safe bet most of my trip, that is where I headed. The noise level on 17 meters was better – only S1-2. It wasn’t long before I logged six QSOs. But then I heard nothing. I later learned some noise appeared on the band and covered up my signal at that point in the activation.
I, then, thought to give 20 meters a try. The noise was still there so I began playing with the filter settings. The signals I heard were strong enough I could engage the filters and still hear who was calling me. Yes, this activation continued to fall into line! And it wasn’t long (45 minutes total) before I had plenty of contacts for a valid activation.
As much as I would have enjoyed staying on the air awhile longer, it was time to think about the men who took this trip with me. Patiently waiting for me to finish my activation, my husband sat in the driver’s seat looking through photos on his phone and my son lay on the backseat listening to whatever gamer feed he had downloaded. It was time to call QRT.
I enjoyed so many aspects of this activation – the ease of set up, the relaxed pace of the day, and, that for the entire activation, I was in my comfort zone. But best of all, I heard from people I know – Glenn W4YES, Jon KC1FUU, Chris N8PEM, Thomas K4WSL, Steve N2YLO, and Brian K3ES. And every time I heard someone’s call sign I recognized, I smiled. And then there were ops who had hunted me at multiple Nova Scotia parks – Julia N1XV and Jeffrey N4RKK. This is not a solitary hobby. It takes both activators and hunters to be successful and I appreciated all those who hunted me and essentially took this journey with me.
And what a journey it was. Seven activations over eight days. All QRP far from home. I’d grown as an op, gaining experience and new skills. Putting up an antenna in a tree was now no big deal. I survived the challenges presented to me and persevered until conditions out of my control forced me to capitulate.
I am a “POTA babe” through and through. I love this hobby and will continue to search for more challenges and opportunities to grow. Where will they take me? Who knows? As I’ve said at the end of these articles, stay tuned…
Onward and upward…Teri KO4WFP