KK4Z: The Happenstance Rove

Many thanks to Scott (KK4Z) who shares the following post from his blog KK4Z.com:

The Happenstance Rove

by Scott KK4Z

Happenstance: a chance circumstance.

That is how it started out.

I recently sold one of my radios and, for giggles, I thought I would check out QTH.com to see if there was anything I just had to have (Danger Will Robinson). I stumbled across a nice IC-7100 and thought I could install it in my truck to make quick POTA activations a little easier. The ad looked good and the call sign sounded familiar. I checked the seller out on QRZ.com. I do this with every ham radio transaction to reduce the opprtunity of being scammed.

Low and behold! the seller John KX6F, is an old army buddy of mine. We served together in the 101st Airborne Division in C/158 TF 160. That was 40 years ago and I hadn’t seen him in at least 15 years. John is a good guy and was a major influence to me becoming a ham. I served with him from about 1980-1983 when I was transferred to Germany. Life and stuff took over and I was finally able to get licensed in 1995.

I sent John an email asking if I could pick up the radio in person and take him out to lunch. He told me that he suffered a severe stroke a couple of years ago and that dining in would be a better option. No problem. On Monday 04/22, I asked when would be a good time to come. He said Tuesday would be good. I had one night to plan a trip. He lives about 5 hours away from me so I thought I would turn this into a rove. I decided on two nights of camping and 5 parks in 5 states. The XYL had a hip replaced so I hadn’t been out in a while, it was time to stretch my legs.

Here is a map showing the stops.

Blue is day one, red is day 2 and green is day 3 and the trip home.

#1 Clarskville, TN. First stop was John’s. We had pizza for lunch and reminisced about old times. John looked good and was as jovial as ever. I was glad I made the trip. He and his wife were very gracious. After about an hour and half, I could tell it was time to go. The radio is in great shape and I am sure I will enjoy it.

KK4Z with KX6F
My new radio at the QTH

From John’s house I drove to Lake Barkley State Park (US-1284 and #2 on the map). I spent the night there in a very nice campsite. Right at dusk, a Barred Owl flew into my campsite. He was less than 20 feet away from me at eye level. Once we made eye contact, he flew off to another perch – silent as a ghost.

All the states on this trip were new activation states for me so I made sure I had enough contacts for a valid activation. I was prepared to do either CW or FT8 but due to band conditions, it looked like FT8 was going to be the weapon of choice. I made 20 contacts and managed to work Australia, Canada and France.

Wednesday morning I broke camp and headed toward Ft Massac State Park (US-0993 and #3 on the map) just over the line from Kentucky. It was a nice park inside of the town of Metropolis. I found a spot with clean restrooms nearby and enough room for my truck and camper. There were a lot people using the park to exercise. I used FT8 to make 20 contacts on 30 and 10 meters and the only DX was Canada.

From Ft Massac State Park my next destination was Big Oak Tree State Park (US-1749 and #4 on the map) in MO about 1 1/2 hours away. Along the way near the town of Omstead, IL, I spotted a Bald Eagle having lunch with Vultures at the roadkill cafe.

The park is located in rural MO. and surrounded by farms. There was no cell service here but the park and the views were great. I set up near the picnic area. Ten meters was hopping. DX stations included: Hawaii, Belize, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Sardinia, and Spain. I was running 25 watts. I made 20 contacts before packing it up and moving to my next park.

Stop #5 and my second overnight was Mississippi River State Park (US-1102). This was a very nice park and I managed to reserve a campsite on the water. It also had zero cell service, even my cell phone went SOS.

My money band was 10 meters again making DX contacts with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand. Ten meters acted like 20 meters, and 20 meters acted like 40 meters. I ended up with 33 contacts total.

Thursday morning had me heading toward home with Georgia on my mind (I even heard the song on the radio). I made a stop at Trace State Park (US-2554 and stop #6) just outside of Tupelo, MS. I stayed long enough to make 20 contacts and one DX into Canada.

I got home about 1600 hrs eastern Thursday afternoon. I worked 5 parks in 5 states: Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, in 2 days. I crossed 4 major rivers: Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi (twice). I added 5 new states to my POTA activations.

It was a good trip considering I only had about 2 hours to plan it. I learned some new things about my equipment and I have plans to make things better for next time.

My first rove proved to be a lot of fun. Usually I drive to a park, spend a couple of days and then drive home. I am hoping to try another rove before the year is out.


See the YouTube video below. Until then — 73 de Scott

6 thoughts on “KK4Z: The Happenstance Rove”

  1. Great POTA report and an even better story on how you got your new rig and reunited with an old friend. We have seen time and time again how we build a network of friends, past and present on our ham radio journeys. This is a great hobby for so many reasons and on so many levels. I am happy to call you a friend and part of my network, through our shared experience at CWI!

    GL es 73 de KC1FUU

    PS Glad to hear your XYL continues to mend from her recent surgery. I know she is doing well as you would not have gone on that sojourn otherwise!

  2. Very cool! You definitely can camp at Fort Massac! If you visit again, set up next to the river and you can also count the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail and the Trail of Tears National Historic trail for a threefer. (Check the official websites for those two trails for more information.)

  3. Great report, Scott!

    Nice to see a former classmate out roaming around & having fun!

    Glad to hear your XYL continues to improve.

    73, Vic KB7GL

  4. Scott,

    I to was in the 101st, but a few years before you and when it was in Vietnam. I was with C troop of 2/17 cav recon (helicopters) 8/70 to 11/71. When they left Vietnam they deployed to Ft Campbell, but I was reassigned to unit in Vietnam.

    I know of Clarksville, went to Austin Peay for couple years, my uncle was administrator for the hospital there for 30 years. Another uncle graduated from Austin Peay. It has changed a lot as with most places. I still get the Austin Peay booklet every so often. I graduated from Tenn Tech Univ in 1975 with BSEE.

    Good to see you hook up with Army buddy with him being a Ham also.

    I have not done any POTAs in TN, I live in FL and do one each month here. But TN is big on the out doors with all the water so plenty of parks to work out of.

    73, ron, n9ee

  5. What an outstanding article! The details were great, and as a retired vet myself, I could relate to seeing old shipmates from so long ago. Thanks! It makes me want to plan a trip and activate some parks.

    Sean (AI5IZ)

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