Tag Archives: Travel

An amazing QRP POTA ATNO at the Manicouagan Uapishka Biosphere Reserve in Baie-Comeau, Québec!

This spring, as we planned our two months of travel in Québec, Canada, I jotted down one location in particular that I wanted to visit: Baie-Comeau.

Baie-Comeau is located about 420 km (260 miles) northeast of Québec City on the north shore of the mighty St-Lawerence river. It’s a small city with a population of around 21,000 and is pretty darn isolated. For many travelers, Baie-Comeau is the last major stop before a long, lonely road journey north to Labrador City or further northeast along the St-Lawrence.

I’ve always wanted to visit Baie-Comeau and my wife and daughters were game to make a proper trip out of it!

While in Québec, we plotted the details of our trip to coincide with a good weather opening.

We packed our gear, left the home base near St-Anne-de-Beaupré on July 13, 2022, and drove up the St-Lawrence, crossing the Saguenay River by ferry, and on up to Baie-Comeau with a few stops along the way.

Les Escoumins, Québec (click to enlarge)

It’s a beautiful drive.

We reserved lodging at the Hôtel Le Manoir Baie-Comeau (an excellent hotel, if you ever find yourself overnight in Baie-Comeau). We’re frugal travelers, so this was a bit of a splurge, but the stay coincided with our 20th wedding anniversary, so why not?

I was very happy to see that the Manicouagan Uapishka Biosphere Reserve was on a hill only a short drive from the hotel. It was approaching dinner hour, so I didn’t want to fit in a late afternoon activation with the family; we had other plans that evening. My wife suggested instead that we check out the park and walk the trails before dinner which would allow me a bit of time to scope out an activation site.

Manicouagan Uapishka Biosphere Reserve (VE-0054)

We discovered that Google Maps doesn’t have the trailhead marked very well. It led us to a neighborhood street a short walk from the park. I remembered reading a note from a local (online) mentioning there was ample parking at “the church” so we drove to a beautiful church nearby and immediately spotted the trailhead. If you ever find yourself in Baie-Comeau, here are the coordinates for the trailhead.

Turns out, the church is no longer a church, but has has been converted into the headquarters for the park which is a part of the Jardins des glaciers.

There are some brilliant views of the St-Lawrence from the parking lot.

We quite easily found the trailhead of the sentier which led into the biosphere reserve. I used my GPS to confirm when we were well within the boundaries.

We enjoyed a scenic hike that evening.

As I mention in my activation video, this is one of the amazing things about doing POTA during travels: you discover so many incredible parks that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. My family truly appreciates this particular aspect of POTA. It opens the opportunity to find spots only locals might otherwise know about.

After our hike that evening, I had a pretty good idea where I could set up in the morning. We made our way back to the hotel and enjoyed dinner and a movie.

Morning activation

So that my activation time wouldn’t interfere with family plans that day, I scheduled an early morning activation for July 14.

Continue reading An amazing QRP POTA ATNO at the Manicouagan Uapishka Biosphere Reserve in Baie-Comeau, Québec!

Choosing the right QRP radios for an extended road trip

As I mentioned in a previous post, if all goes according to plan (and we never take that for granted anymore) our family is plotting an extended road trip into Canada this summer. We’ve got most things lined up: a brilliant house sitter, an  home base in Québec, a doggy “summer camp” for Hazel (my kind father-in-law), and, oh yes, a list of parks and summits I hope to activate.

What I’m still sorting out is the radio gear.

Let me be the first to admit that I’m blessed with a number of field radios (so be warned: this is going to sound very much like a first world problem) and there are aspects of each one that I appreciate. On a road trip like this, though, space will be at a premium.  I can really only justify two compact HF radios and their associated accessories. I plan to bring at least one of my Bioenno 3Ah 12V batteries and charger as well.

Fortunately, I can take a few antennas. We have a roof top Thule cargo box that is actually perfect for my CHA MPAS 2.0, MPAS Lite, and TDL–they’ll fit on the floor of the box and essentially take up no room in it. Otherwise, the cargo box will be dedicated to all of our bulky camping gear.

My HF radios will have to fit in the car trunk/boot along with food, clothes and other supplies.

I already made a decision about one of the radios that will come with me. In fact, it was a bit of a no-brainer:

The Elecraft KX2

I’ve taken the KX2 on all of my major road trips since 2016. It’s incredibly compact, feature-rich, and can handle any situation I throw at it.

In fact, as with two previous years in Québec, I’ll use it to do a little shortwave radio listening (always an important aspect of my travels) and record the BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica.

Indeed, recording this particular broadcast has become an annual event over at the SWLing Post. It’s one of the highlights of my summer and always falls on my birthday.

The other thing about the KX2 is since it has an internal ATU, I can pair it with any antenna: resonant or not. If the need arises, I can also build an antenna from speaker wire, computer/phone cable, or pretty much anything that conducts.

And, of course, if I pair the KX2 with my low-profile AX1 antenna, I can operate anywhere. I do have a number of urban parks in Ottawa and Québec City that I plan to operate super low-profile and on foot.

The KX2 batteries require that I bring the rapid battery charger and that does take up a little more space (almost the same amount of space as the radio itself!).

As for a second radio…

I think I can get away with packing one more radio. That way, in the unlikely even I have an issue with the KX2, I would have a backup. Plus…hey…variety, right?

I don’t have the room to take my Mission RGO One, Icom IC-703 Plus, or Ten-Tec Argonaut.

I’ve even excluded the KX3 from the list because it wouldn’t offer me much more than the KX2 (just 160 & 6 meters, plus a little extra power output if needed it). The radio I choose needs to be one of my more compact, lightweight, and efficient models.

I’ve also left out the QCX-Mini because I want more than a mono band radio.

Hmmm…then again, the QCX-Mini is so extremely small, I could throw it in my glove compartment and no one would be the wiser [shhhh…let’s keep this between us, shall we?].

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the radios I’m considering and why: Continue reading Choosing the right QRP radios for an extended road trip