The Fun Continues at Alafia River State Park

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is Thursday, December 28th, the fifth day during my winter-break Florida POTA trip. The day began way too early. The rain was forecast to be a steady downpour where we camped. We woke at 3:30 AM to the light pitter-patter of rain on the tent fly and decided to get on the road before conditions worsened. Before heading to bed, we had put the bulk of our stuff already in the car. It wasn’t long before we had everything packed and were headed north.

Google Maps

I’ll admit it is an obsessive compulsive behavior that I like everything neatly organized. Because it was raining while we decamped, I had hurriedly bundled up the tent & fly and dumped them into the back of the car. That wet tent sitting back there really bothered me. About twenty minutes up the road, I found a shopping center with a covered area just begging to be used to repack that tent neatly as I desired. Now we could resume our trek northward.

Due to the early hour of our departure, we arrived at Alafia River State Park (K-1829) much earlier than time for check-ins. We found our tent site and while driving by, noted the two individuals in it were attempting to do what we did at 3:30 AM. We twiddled our thumbs in the car until 10 AM, grabbed our check-in tag, and headed to our site. Though it was still drizzling a bit, the tent was up and we were installed soon after checking in.

The rain was the harbinger of a cold front headed through Florida. With no sun to warm us, we bundled into our sleeping bags and Daisy into hers and fell asleep for an hour or so.

As I traveled through Florida, I asked myself, “Are there any of these parks to which I’d return?” Alafia River State Park is one for which I’d say “Yes.”

Alafia River State Park is a former phosphate mine, particularly for pebble phosphate.  Because phosphate is found relatively close to the surface in the state, Florida is a leader in phosphate mining.  The mining at Alafia River State Park created the topography making the park an awesome mountain biking destination with 17 miles of trails from beginner to advanced. The park also offers hiking and equestrian trails.

The campground in this park was the nicest we’d encountered. The sites were well spaced apart and, if so inclined, one could even glamp at this park. The bathrooms were sufficient though from our site, we had to walk the furthest to reach them. However, having that little bit of exercise was good for us and the walk pleasant. The park felt so open because of the topography but the high grasses characteristic of the area also gave the landscape a sense of privacy. The park was not crowded like other locations we had visited.

Bathhouse and Picnic Pavilions
Glamping Accommodations

After our brief siesta, I was ready for some ham radio! There are large power lines running right through the park. The lines are not adjacent to the campground but close enough I figured today was a day for the dipole. Bring out the big gun for the big lines!

I’ve never installed a dipole in a tree. I had the mast and hitch mount with me, but I’ve become so used to putting antennas in trees, I prefer that arrangement. The park rules prohibit ropes in trees except for hammocks. After explaining I’m a ham radio operator, that I’d use arborist line, and whatever I put up would be promptly removed, an employee gave me the approval to put my antenna in the trees.

I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d secure the center of the dipole to the arborist line. Then I remembered the small attachment for the SOTABeams mast in my kit. The arbor line would fit through the small hole in the top of the attachment and a S-carabiner would hold the attachment for the coax. Viola! The dipole was up in less time than I anticipated.

I began on forty meters and had two contacts. Then….crickets. Maybe something was interfering with my signal because forty meters was lacking at this location.

I moved to twenty meters and the fun began! In an hour and 20 minutes, I received 39 contacts. A few ops would contact me, then it would get quiet. I’d call CQ and bam – a few more contacts would respond. This happened over and over during the period I was on the air. And, whenever it was momentarily quiet, I enjoyed the gorgeous view from my Helinox chair.

QSO Map for Alafia River State Park

One thing I’ve not done much is hunt other activators. I’d rather run a frequency than search-and-pounce any day. However, so many ops support me, including those whom I know that also activate like Brian K3ES, that I feel I should respond in kind when time permits. Today I was in no rush so I found Paul NA9M, activating Capital City State Trail (K-9773) in Wisconsin. There were a few other CW ops activating on 20 or 40 meters but he was the only I could hear well enough to respond. We had a nice exchange. Afterwards I had a warm, fuzzy feeling as it was nice to help someone else out, one of the best parts of our hobby.

Though the day didn’t play out the way I expected, it was a pleasant day with a great activation. Tomorrow I originally had no activations planned. But, wanting to get as much out of the trip as I could, I scoured the POTA website for parks close to the route of our next destination, an Airbnb in Umatilla, Florida. I settled on two – Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve (K-5330) and Lake Apopa North Shore (K-8353).

How would those activations go? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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4 thoughts on “The Fun Continues at Alafia River State Park”

  1. I’m really enjoying your series. Keep them coming.

    I’m in the woods on the side of a mountain in NC. We had a power failure the other day and my Generac kicked in so I decided to see if it had an effect on my noise level. My testing revealed an S1 noise level on 40m and 20m. I knew power lines generated noise but I was surprised how quiet it got when almost everyone is without power and all the junk in there isn’t generating QRM.


  2. Yes! I found “my” dot on your QSO map. Thanks for that contact and letting all of us follow your POTA rove via your posts!
    73, Nat, N4EL

  3. Hi Teri,
    Please continue reporting on your adventure. We have camped in GA and FL and enjoy your activation series (have activated some of these places also!!)

  4. I’m greatly enjoying the POTA Babe diaries. I hope to follow your example in the future, taking my dog and traveling to tent sites and great POTA entities. I too prefer QRP CW Ops over any other mode.
    Looking forward to your future posts!

    73 de NG9T gary

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