The funeral time was confirmed on Sunday evening (Oct 1), so I made all of my travel plans that night. I decided to leave early Monday morning and drive to Myrtle Beach where I’d reserved a hotel room for one night. I’d then attend the funeral the following day and drive back to my home in the mountains. Round trip, this would amount to about 12 hours of driving.
This, of course, was a pretty somber reason to take a road trip–although it would be nice to spend time with my SC family. I wanted to make the most of my travels and fit in a little “radio therapy” along the way. I glanced over the POTA map for a park that might make for a nice break from travels.
Before hitting the sack Sunday evening, I remembered that many months ago Keith (KY4KK) told me to give him a heads-up anytime I planned to pass by Florence, SC. I knew that Florence would be a simple detour on my journey, so I reached out to Keith and asked if he and his POTA buddies Tommy (N4GS) and Steve (W4JM) might, by some chance, be available for a quick POTA activation. Of course, this was very late notice.
Keith wrote back and recommended that I activate Lee State Park–he and Tommy were both available but, unfortunately, Steve had other plans.
Monday morning, I hit the road and arrived at Lee State Park in the early afternoon.
Lee State Park (K-2905)
I pulled into the park driveway and was greeted by a number of Halloween displays. Evidently, the park staff loves decorating for holidays.
I pulled into the visitor’s center parking lot and immediately met Keith and Tommy.
After a quick greeting, Keith said, “Thomas, our job here is to get you on the air as smoothly as possible so you can continue your trip.”
Herein lies what I love about amateur radio and POTA specifically: even though Keith, Tommy, and I had only just met in person, they were instant friends.
I must say, Lee State Park is the perfect POTA park; there are loads of tall trees, covered picnic areas, open spaces, ample parking, and ham-friendly staff. It just doesn’t get better than this!
I agreed without hesitation!
Unlike me, Keith is adept at using a slingshot to deploy his antennas.
As I started setting up the radio, Keith aimed his slingshot and snagged a really high branch on the first go. This 40M EFHW was being deployed as a vertical!
I decided to bring along my Penntek TR-45L on this trip. I’m glad I did: it was ideal for this sort of POTA activation!
I prepared my logs and asked Keith if he wouldn’t mind logging for me. Both Keith and Tommy (and Steve) had POTA planned the following day, so they just wanted to support me as I activated Lee State Park during my road trip layover.
One thing I noticed right off the bat was something vibrating inside the TR-45L when I had the volume cranked up. The last time I’d taken it to the field, I heard this but forgot to open it up and find the nut that needed to be tightened (this is a kit after all). I had to simply ignore the buzzing during the activation–I didn’t want to open up the front panel in the field. Later that week at the QTH, I fixed the problem!
- Penntek TR-45L
- CW Morse CNC Machined Paddle
- KY4KK’s 40M EFHW, Feedline, and Slingshot
- GraphGear 0.9mm 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
- Rite In The Rain Top Spiral Notebook
- Camera: original OSMO Action Camera (the OSMO 3 is the current version) with Sensyne Phone Tripod
On The Air
I hopped on 20 meters, started calling CQ POTA, and was happy to hear that the band was very much alive.
We had proper pileups during this session–I was not expecting this on a Monday afternoon. Within eight minutes, I’d already logged the ten stations required for a valid park activation.
I continued operating for 44 minutes and logged a total of 47 stations in that time. I was pleased to work OH1MM in Finland–that’s a country I don’t often work in the field!
I’d planned to head down to 40 meters as well, but simply ran out of time. I needed to hit the road–I was contemplating activating at least one more park (Myrtle Beach State Park) in the late afternoon.
Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click to enlarge):
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.
A welcome break
Keith and Tommy: thank you so much for the amazing hospitality! I enjoyed meeting you in person and I’m grateful for all of the assistance making this POTA activation so successful and so fun!
Again, this little layover really brightened this otherwise somber trip. It was proper radio therapy!
As I left the park, I drove some beautiful back roads. Eventually, I did hit serious congestion on the highway between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Not completely unexpected.
Still, I did manage to activate not only one, but two more parks that evening. I recorded them as well, so look for those field reports soon!
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me! And an amazing week!
Cheers & 72,