Tag Archives: Tufteln 9:1 EFRW Antenna

A Glancing Blow for the POTA Babe

by Teri (KO4WFP)

by (Wednesday, May 15th, Glenn W4YES and I decided to activate a new park for me – Sansavilla Wildlife Management Area (US-3773), a wildlife management area (WMA) along the Altamaha River next door to my last activation – Penholoway Swamp WMA.

Google maps

We arrived at a decent hour (9 AM) and ahead of schedule. The entrance is off Highway 25 and across the railroad tracks. After passing a church, the road changes from pavement to dirt and the fun begins!

Sansavilla WMA Map – source: Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
Morning band conditions. source: https://hamradiofornontechies.com/current-ham-radio-conditions/

We drove down what is Sansavilla Road almost until it dead-ends as I hoped to set up close to the Altamaha River. However, along this road ran a good set of power lines. Given I would run QRP, it was time for Plan B.

Road into the WMA
power lines running along Sansavilla Road

We backtracked, took a right onto River Road and then a right toward the river. This road dead-ends at a public boat landing inside the WMA. There is a pavilion with concrete benches and tables. A short distance beyond the pavilion is the landing to which we drove for a quick view of the river whose current moved at a rapid pace.

route to boat landing
credit: Glenn W4YES
boat landing. credit: Glenn W4YES
Altamaha River

Glenn joined me this activation and, given the last experience, we made some changes to his set-up. Instead of using my Yaesu FT-891, he brought the Yaesu FT-991A in his possession with which he familiarized himself over the past week. He dialed the power down from 75 to 5 watts. (Yes, he’d be working QRP!) He also switched antennas from the Pacific Antenna 2040 trap dipole to the Chelegance MC-750, hoping the set up would be easier and give him the flexibility of changing bands. Continue reading A Glancing Blow for the POTA Babe

The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Now that life has settled down, it is time to return to my 60 new-to-me park activations goal for 2024. I currently stand at 24 out of the 60. For #25 on the list, I chose Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (US-3767) outside of Jesup, Georgia.

This park is a one-and-a-half hour drive from my QTH. I set out around 8 AM this past Wednesday, May 8th for my activation. Rather than drive Interstate 95 most of the way, I opted to drive through rural Georgia which I prefer. The route took me through the communities of Hinesville (just outside of Fort Stewart, home of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division), Ludowici, and Jesup.

As I entered Jesup, I encountered a sizable manufacturing plant next to the Altamaha River. Owned by Rayonier, the plant is the largest speciality cellulose plant in the world, producing 330,000 metric tons a year.

Paper mills are big business in Georgia. According to georgiagrown.com, the state of Georgia accounts for 21% of all US exported pulp and paper (both newly milled & recycled products). I found a 2015 Georgia Forestry Commission report noting there are 22 pulp and paperboard mills in Georgia resulting in $12.5 billion in revenue.

Rayonier cellulose plant

Paper mills often produce a smell like rotten eggs or cabbage. In Savannah, there was the Union Camp paper mill (later purchased by International Paper) on the Savannah River. The joke I remember while growing up in Savannah was that when tourists asked what that smell was, you would reply “the smell of money.” The Savannah mill is still operating and produces a million tons of paper product every year which eventually gets made into cardboard boxes.

Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a 10,500+ acre property near the Altamaha River with hunting opportunities. The WMA contains lots of pine stands including several stands of longleaf pines which are maintained by prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. As I mentioned in my Oliver Bridge WMA trip report, longleaf pine areas are important habitat for threatened species such as the gopher tortoise and indigo snake.

evidence of a controlled burn

I thought I would set up my station near the kiosk at the entrance. However, there was not much room and what little there was didn’t offer much shade. Looking at the map I printed from the GA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, I decided to drive down Post Road to where it dead-ends into Hinson Road near the Altamaha River. Maybe that section of the park would be more secluded and offer some shade.

park entrance off River Road
Entrance area with kiosk
pine stands in the WMA
a road off the main drag (Post Road)

Sure enough, the section of Hinson Road off to the left of Post Road went a little way before being blocked off by a gate. Oaks, pines, and other trees created a canopy over the road and looked like a perfect QTH off the beaten path.

WMA Map. source: https://georgiawildlife.com/penholoway-swamp-wma
a shady location

Before I left the house, I checked the GA DNR Hunting Regulations booklet as to what might be in season for this WMA. Turkey is currently being hunted, though I didn’t expect on a weekday to run into many hunters. Either way, I made sure to don my blaze orange hat and vest as well as put Daisy’s vest on her before setting up my equipment. Continue reading The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal

The POTA Babe Gets a Partner!

Those of you that read the final article for my spring-break Florida POTA trip know that I recently reconciled with someone dear to me. This man, Glenn W4YES, has moved to Savannah, Georgia and we are in a relationship. He is a CW op and the person behind CW Innovations’ Comprehensive ICR course. He knows how much I love POTA and joined me Friday, May 3rd for an activation.

I could have resumed my quest for 60 new-to-me parks. However, I figured we had enough “new” stuff going on with a new activator and a different set up for Glenn. POTA tends to throw the unexpected at you already and the more variables you add, the more opportunities there are for mistakes (er, learning opportunities) and/or hilarity to ensue. So I chose to return to Evans County Fishing Lake (US-7464), a site already known to me, for our dual activation.

photo: Glenn W4YES

What a gorgeous day! Sunny skies and 71 degrees! The drive is a short (about 50 minutes) and easy one to this park.

Given Glenn would use QRO equipment and didn’t have a chair or knee board like myself, I chose one of the few spots with a picnic table. The site looks out on Bidd Sands lake. We could have shared my QRP set-up but decided to activate at the same time which necessitated two sets of equipment.

road in the park. photo: Glenn W4YES
boaters on the lake

I chose familiarity over reinventing the wheel when it came to picking equipment for Glenn – I grabbed my Yaesu FC-50 tuner and Yaesu FT-891 rig from my ham shack and the Pacific Antenna 2040 trap dipole antenna and SOTABeams travel mast from my equipment stash. This was the set-up I used for POTA before I went QRP with the KX2 and Tufteln EFRW last May. It wasn’t long before a station was set up on the picnic table for Glenn. However, the antenna was another matter.

Glenn’s set up

When I grabbed coax for the antenna, I forgot the connector is a BNC connector which is why I have a coil of RG-174 in my stash. Instead of grabbing that RG-174, I grabbed my 50’ coil of RG-8x. (Doh!) That coax is extremely heavy for the SOTABeams travel mast and, after adding an adapter for the BNC to SO-239 connector, the antenna was hanging over precipitously. It just goes to show how well-made and durable the SOTABeams travel mast is. I was mortified as I like the best possible arrangement for my antennas but Glenn wasn’t. He knew what we had was good enough for contacts (see his QSO map down below) and his thinking turned out to be correct.

20-40 Pacific Antenna

While Glenn finished getting everything in order for his activation, I began setting up for mine. I know this park allows antennas in the trees so it wasn’t long before the trusty Tufteln EFRW was installed. Daisy and I chose a shady location near the antenna, got comfortable, and began my activation.

attaching throw weight to arbor line. photo: Glenn W4YES
granny swing to snag the branch I want. photo: Glenn W4YES
getting down to business! photo: Glenn W4YES

As Glenn was running QRO (the power I usually run on my Yaesu FT-891 is 75 watts) on 20 meters, I began working other bands. I initially wondered if I would have any difficulty running a QRP station so close to a QRO set-up, but I didn’t. Continue reading The POTA Babe Gets a Partner!

The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 1

In pursuit of my 60 new-to-me park activations, I headed back to Florida for six days the first week of April. The weather forecast looked promising – high temps in the upper 70s falling to the upper 60s by the end of the week. Rain might dampen my spirits on Wednesday but otherwise, the sun was likely to shine during my journey.

Day 1 of my April 2024 Florida Trip

Daisy and I packed up the car and headed out early Sunday, May 31st. It was an easy journey – three and a half hours south down I-95 and then southwest across Florida. Of course, we stopped at the Florida welcome center and got our picture snapped, this time just the two of us.

Here we again in Florida!

We arrived in Branford which actually did look like a nice place to live. Lafayette Forest Wildlife & Environmental Area (US-6315) is just outside the town. Unlike the wildlife management areas in Georgia I’ve visited, this one looked more manicured. The road into the park could have been the entrance into some genteel Southern plantation.

Not far inside, we found a fenced-in parking area and kiosk. I figured this would be the easiest place to set up. Checking the kiosk, I confirmed we were out of hunting season though we would still wear our blaze orange items for our walk after the activation. (Before we arrived at the park, we actually saw a turkey crossing the road.)

Map of Lafayette WMA

I opted to use the Chelegance MC-750 on the tripod mount because I need more practice with it. That proved to be a good choice as I had to re-read the instructions to set it up – hi hi. This is what happens when you don’t use equipment on a regular basis.  Continue reading The POTA Babe Goes Back to Florida – Day 1

K3ES Travels: Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

Ocracoke, NC, home to this iconic lighthouse, was our destination for a week of relaxation.  Ten days of QRP operation was a happy consequence.

Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

by Brian (K3ES)

At the end of a hard (or even a not-so-hard) winter, Becky and I really enjoy the opportunity to spend a week at the beach with friends.  Even with the cooler and more unpredictable weather late in the off-season, it provides welcome relief from the cold and snow that we often get in northwest Pennsylvania.  This year we chose to visit Ocracoke Island, at the southern tip of the North Carolina Outer Banks.

While driving down and back, I fit in Parks on the Air (POTA) activations at parks in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Each of the activated parks was new to me, and  so were their states.  My time at the beach also included daily POTA hunting.  I knew that my radio activity would all be conducted using CW mode, and low power.  All of my contacts on this trip were made with 5 watts, except for a brief stint where I increased power to 10 watts to fight band noise during a longer QSO with my code buddy.  What I did not expect was that all of my contacts would be made using antenna configurations that were less efficient than normal.

At each of the activated parks, I paired my Elecraft KX2 with a brand new Elecraft AX1 vertical antenna.  While it proved very effective at making contacts, the 4 ft high AX1 vertical definitely compromises gain to achieve its tiny form factor for HF operations.  Once we moved into our rented house on the island, we knew that storms were expected.  In fact, gale warnings were issued for our area twice during our week-long stay.  Besides cutting off ferry service to the island, I feared that high winds would bring down any antenna mast that I might try to use.  So, I deployed my shortest wire antenna in a low configuration that I hoped would resist the wind, yet still enable some contacts.  I certainly did not expect it to perform like it had many times before when deployed in vertical or inverted V configurations, but proof would be in the contacts.  I will avoid suspense by saying that this installation was unaffected by the high winds that were predicted and received.

Gear

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Monocacy National Battlefield – US-0705

Monocacy National Battlefield, US-0705, is located near the junction of Interstates 70 and 270 at Frederick, MD.

Our trip south took us close enough for a visit to our 3-year old grandson and his parents.  Truth be told, any distance would have been close enough, so even though greater-Baltimore is slightly off the direct path, that was the destination for our first day of driving.  On the way to Baltimore, we also passed within a couple of miles of the Monocacy National Battlefield, near Frederick, MD.  So, we spent a couple of hours exploring interpretive displays at the Visitor Center, and of course, activating the park.

As a Civil War history buff, I knew of the Battle of Monocacy, but little about its details.  Briefly, in July of 1864 a small Union force faced off against a much larger Confederate Army led by Lieutenant General Jubal Early.  The Confederates were moving against Washington, DC in an attempt to take the pressure off of the defenders around the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA.  While the battle was a tactical defeat for the Union, it proved to be a strategic victory, because it delayed the Confederate advance for two crucial days.  In that time Washington’s defenses were strongly reinforced, so the Confederate Army withdrew back into the Shenandoah Valley without accomplishing its mission.  More on that later.

A picnic table near a wood line outside the visitor center made a perfect, unobtrusive location to activate US-0705.

For the activation, I set up my station at a picnic table.  A table top tripod supported the AX1 antenna, with a short piece of RG316 coaxial cable connecting it to the KX2.  I operated CW mode with 5 watts of power, and completed the activation with 11 contacts in less than 15 minutes.

The entire station, including table-top AX1, took up less than half of a picnic table.
Logging contacts…
Cannons overlooking the battlefield…
Map of contacts from US-0705.  Home QTH for one station is located at the south pole!

Operating from Ocracoke Island, NC

A week at Ocracoke…

We arrived on Ocracoke on the last ferry run to the island before a Gale Warning shut down service for two days.  We counted ourselves fortunate to be on the island, but gale force winds complicated deployment of antennas.  Except, that is, for the AX1. Continue reading K3ES Travels: Ten Days of QRP with Compromised Antennas

Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 2

(Note: I cut my Florida POTA trip short as I needed to take care of some personal business. I apologize for the change of plans and the inability to communicate that to y’all. I appreciate everyone’s support of the trip and the QSOs of those who hunted me. Articles will be forthcoming for those activations in the near future.)

Those of you who have followed my journey on QRPer know that I wrote an article about my kit for the trip I took last summer to Nova Scotia. Since then, what ham radio equipment I take with me has changed, partially because I am not flying to a different country far from home and partially because of my experiences with what I generally do and don’t need. I thought I’d share what my kit currently looks like for the spring-break Florida trip.

Here is a photo of what ham radio-related gear I am taking on my Florida POTA trip. We’ll first look at what I have in each section of the Elecraft bag I take with me and then a few items that do not fit in this bag but are still along for the ride.

When I purchased my KX2, I also purchased the Elecraft bag. Though the bag is bulky in its profile, it was a worthy purchase due to the amount of stuff it can store in one place in a well-organized manner.

The bag has three compartments.

In the first compartment is my main man, Craig, my KX2. He is the rig I use for all my QRP adventures out and about. I do have a protective cover I purchased for him but haven’t installed yet. I have a fear of messing with electronics and, though installing the shield isn’t rocket science, the project seems overwhelming enough that I haven’t tackled it yet.

Also in this first compartment are my throw bag containing an arbor line and throw weight, some S-carabiners, my homemade radials for the AX1, the tripod mount for the AX1, and a pencil and earbuds. I find I copy CW much better when I have a headset of some sort.

In this compartment, I used to have a back-up key. However, in its place is a new single-lever paddle from CW Morse [QRPer affiliate link]. I am using this key because it is wired to be a cootie or a paddle via an internal switch. I discovered my KX2 doesn’t balk at using this key like a cootie unlike when I use the CW Morse SP4. I desire to use QRP for more than POTA, specifically for SKCC and calling CQ for ragchews. SKCC requires a mechanical key and, as the cootie is my favorite key, this new key should fill the need  I discovered the last time I visited Skidaway Island.

In the second compartment, I have the AX1 and the Tufteln EFRW antenna. Those of you who have read my articles know I generally deploy the Tufteln EFRW antenna. On this April Florida trip, I plan to use the AX1 and the Chelegance MC-750 more often in preparation for my summer POTA trip. I anticipate I’ll be limited by terrain and park rules from deploying an antenna in a tree so more experience with verticals will be helpful.

In the third and final compartment are some odds and ends: neon pink flagging tape, an allen wrench for adjusting my CW morse keys, some twine, a short length of wire with an alligator clip on the end, two shock bungee cords, the cord for my CW Morse single-lever key, and a splitter for the headphone jack. I’ve used all these items (except the cord for the new key) at one time or another so I don’t want to leave the house without them.

Here are items I am also taking that don’t fit in the Elecraft bag.

The Tufteln kneeboard, POTA flag, and a notebook. I really like using pencil and paper for my POTA logs. I hold my key in the left hand and send with the right. For some reason, juggling that with paper is more manageable to me than logging in my phone or a laptop. The one thing I miss out on by doing that, though, is not knowing people’s names except those I’ve encountered many times. (And even then I forget names in the busyness of an activation so if I do, please forgive me.) I like to thank people by name at the end of the QSO rather than just their call sign if I know their name. I learned to do this in SKCC exchanges and I think it is a respectful and genteel practice. The one advantage I see to using a logging program is that I could do that with every QSO.

In a Tom Bihn bag, I have my RG-316 coax in three lengths (10’, 20’, and 50’), a short bungee cord, a stereo connector, and a newer version of the SP4 (aka The Minion).

Also coming along for the ride is the Chelegance MC-750. [QRPer affiliate link]

The last pieces of equipment I am bringing are for the first park I will visit – Lafayette Wildlife Management Area. In areas that allow hunting, Daisy and I wear blaze orange, even in the off season. Though as hams we try to be law abiding, we need to remember there are others out there who are not. When it comes to areas in which hunting is allowed, it is wise to wear blaze orange year-round because hunting violations due happen.

There you have it – the POTA Babe’s current QRP kit. I have one last question to address in this series – how I plan my trips. To find out, stay tuned…

Bird Dogging POTA in Augusta, Georgia

As I had no appointments scheduled for Monday, February 26 during the day, I planned a POTA outing in the Augusta, Georgia area which is a two-hour drive from my home QTH. The destination: Spirit Creek Educational State Forest (K-4654).

Source: Google Maps

Apple Maps routed me west on I-16 and then northwest through Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University (the Eagle Nation). On the drive, I passed acres and acres of farmland, some of it for cotton. I noticed a few of the fields had a reddish tinge and were full of a plant I had not seen before. I did some detective work once back home and  think the plant is red sorrel, a member of the buckwheat family that is native to Europe. I am guessing the red sorrel is a cover for the field between crops.

Source: https://1000logos.net/georgia-southern-eagles-logo/

Red sorrel?

Apple Maps also routed me through Waynesboro which is the “Bird Dog Capital of the World.” The city hosts the largest field trials in the world. Field trials are a competition to evaluate a dog’s ability to find and point coveys of quail. Waynesboro is bird dog crazy; even the town’s water tower is decorated with a bird dog. Wow – the interesting stuff I learn about my home state!

Source: http://thetruecitizen.demo.our-hometown.com/wp-content/uploads/images/2006-08-23/008p1_xlg.jpg

However, we aren’t here to discuss bird dogs but POTA. After sitting longer than I usually drive to a POTA destination, I arrived at my destination. The 570-acre property is surrounded by private land with the entrance tucked between two residences. The road through the forest appears decently maintained and is easier on which to drive than my previous forays into such properties.

Not far into the forest was an open area for parking and a kiosk with hunting information. Upon checking the kiosk, I read the only thing in season right now is small game and knew I’d be unlikely to come across anyone on a Monday morning hunting. However, to be on the safer side of things, I set up in the parking area rather than somewhere else in the forest.

Source: https://georgiawildlife.com/spirit-creek-forest-wma

Speaking of hunting, Bob WK2Y who lives in Atlanta, reached out to me after my Hiltonia WMA article. He emphasized the need for ops to wear blaze orange in such places whether in hunting season or not because of hunting violations which are more frequent than I realized. (I plan on addressing that topic in a future WMA article.) Because of this, I now always keep a blaze orange vest in my kit for Daisy and me. I’ve ordered a blaze orange hat as well as purchased hot pink magnetic decals for my car. (The website said “hot pink” though I think “bright pink” is more like it but close enough.)

In the parking area was a pine tree perfect for my EFRW. Continue reading Bird Dogging POTA in Augusta, Georgia

The POTA Babe Goes Fishing (Sort of)

Parks on the Air offers a diversity of properties. In addition to those that commonly come to mind like state parks, forests, and national wildlife refuges, there are wildlife management areas (WMA) about which I’ve written and fishing lakes. This past week the POTA Babe visited Evans County Fishing Lake (K-7464) here in Georgia.

Source: Google Maps

The drive to the property was pleasant and relatively quick. On the way, I drove through the town of Pembroke. According to Wikipedia, this small community was a railroad town and turpentine shipping center and named after an early resident, Pembroke Whitfield Williams.

I took to heart Thomas’ advice in his recent post “Building Positive Park Relations” and contacted the office managing the property before my visit. I spoke with an employee who confirmed they had no problem with me putting a temporary antenna in a tree at any of the properties that district office manages. I also made a point to introduce myself to the DNR employee on site when I arrived. As soon as I said the words “ham radio operator”, he responded that they love having ham radio folks on the property! (Kudos to all those who have activated there before and were good ambassadors for our hobby.)

park office

Fisherman enjoying the gorgeous day

As I did for the Hiltonia WMA activation, I checked the satellite view of the property on Google Maps beforehand. There are three lakes with Bidd Sands Lake being the largest. (Bidd Sands is named after a beloved member of the local community who gave his life in Vietnam  in support of the men he was leading.) At the east end of the lake is a dyke. That seemed a great place to set up, partially because of the openness but also I was likely to not be in anyone’s way.

Source: https://georgiawildlife.com/evans-county-pfa
Source: Google Maps
Close-up view of the dyke. Source: Google Maps

It was still rather chilly despite the sunny sky overhead so I chose to operate from the car rather than set up my Helinox chair and be out in the open. At the end of the dyke was a large oak tree just begging for the Tufteln EFRW antenna. I had the new Chelegance MC-750 with me but I’ve grown partial to putting antennas in trees. I love the flexibility of effortlessly changing from one band to the other without adjusting a whip and/or counterpoise as you have to do with a vertical. Continue reading The POTA Babe Goes Fishing (Sort of)

The Georgia Wildlife Management Areas Continue to Deliver

After my last activation at Oliver Bridge Wildlife Management Area (K-3764), I considered heading to South Carolina for park #16 toward my 2024 goal of 60 new-to-me parks. However, after looking at the weather forecast, I reconsidered. I’d need to activate earlier in the day due to my schedule and, given the chilly weather, I’d prefer to sit in the car for the activation. That would not be a good option for the park I considered.

So, I began looking at more wildlife management (WMA) areas in Georgia not far from home. I chose Hiltonia WMA (K-8794) which is an hour’s drive for me. This WMA is 500 acres mostly of hardwood and long-leaf pines and is owned by the State of Georgia. The property offers hunting of deer, turkey, dove, and small game.

I did not know before my visit that longleaf pines existed on the property but figured it out when I discovered their needles while walking with Daisy after the activation. You know longleaf pine needles when you see them because they are much longer than other pine needles. In fact, they have the longest needles of the eastern pine species and can grow up to 18”. The needles I found were 14” in length!

Longleaf pine forests are special because they are rich in bio-diversity and provide habitat for the threatened gopher tortoise, a keystone species because it provides burrows in which other species, like the threatened Indigo snake, live or shelter. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker is another species that benefits from longleaf pine forests because it lives in the cavities of mature longleaf pine trees. The species dwindled when many of the old-growth longleaf pine forests were felled and/or replaced with commercial forests of loblolly or slash pine in the southeastern US.

Gopher Tortoise. Source: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/forestry-wildlife/celebrating-the-gopher-tortoise/
Indigo Snake. Source: https://www.oriannesociety.org/priority-species/eastern-indigo-snake/?v=400b9db48e62
Red-cockaded woodpecker. Source: https://ebird.org/species/recwoo

You access the Hiltonia WMA via a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. The property has an information kiosk right near the entrance with a map giving you the lay of the land. I usually look at whatever maps are available online from the state of Georgia or Google beforehand. For Google maps, I usually use the topographic layer as this is the default and shows me roads to access the property. But before this trip, I played with the layers setting and discovered the imagery layer will give me a better idea of what is forested and not. Hence I could easily locate an open area to set up my antenna.

The dirt road to the park
https://gadnrwrd.maps.arcgis.com/
Google Maps – imagery view

Just past the information kiosk is a dove field and it was there my Subaru Crosstrek Kai and I set up shop. What a gorgeous day! Crisp air under clear, blue skies. Daisy explored and sniffed to her heart’s content while I installed the Tufteln EFRW antenna in the perfect pine with one toss!

The perfect pine tree!

It was not long before Daisy and I were installed in Kai and ready to get the party started. And what a party it turned out to be! Not long after I called CQ on 20 meters, Joseph KB1WCK responded. After we finished our QSO, I was buried under a massive pile-up. However, pile-ups do not intimidate this POTA Babe! I did the best I could to pick up bits and pieces and work through it. Did I make mistakes? Sure I did, but there are no CW police and this is how we learn, through challenges. Continue reading The Georgia Wildlife Management Areas Continue to Deliver

A Hasty Activation in Georgia

by Teri (KO4WFP)

As many of you know, my personal life has been tumultuous these past five months. I thought maybe it would settle down after the first of this year but no such luck. My son and I moved into a townhouse the third week of January. While I appreciate my parents upending their lives to accommodate the two of us during my divorce, there were too many people in too small of a house with too much stuff. Also, my son needed a room of his own which he didn’t have at their place.

Moves are never convenient and this one was no exception. I needed to be packing the Sunday prior to my early Monday morning move. However, I had already committed to and scheduled an activation at Oliver Bridge Wildlife Management Area (K-3764). The weekend of January 20th and 21st was the winter Support Your Parks weekend and, as a POTA Babe, there was no way I would miss the event!

Support Your Parks information on POTA website

Thankfully, Oliver Bridge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is only 40 minutes from my parents’ home. That meant another pleasant drive in rural Georgia on GA Route 17 through the communities of Guyton, Egypt, and Oliver.

Google Maps

This WMA consists of 1,560 acres and offers hunting for deer, small game, and turkey. Checking the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Hunting Regulations guide, the only item in season this particular weekend was small game. I would make sure to take the blaze orange vests for both Daisy and me again.

The WMA is bounded on one side by the Ogeechee River, one of the few free-flowing streams in Georgia. This blackwater river runs southeast 294 miles to empty into the Atlantic Ocean at Ossabaw Sound near Savannah. It played an important part for trade and commerce as well as was a source of freshwater and food for communities along its banks. In present day, kayaking and canoeing are popular pastimes on the river as well as fishing.

https://gisgeography.com/georgia-lakes-rivers-map/

Daisy and I arrived at the WMA a little before 11 AM. We took River Road in the park to find a place for the activation. The road was in rough condition in some spots and was another one I’d not want to drive immediately after a heavy rain. I was thankful, once again, for my four-wheel drive Subaru Crosstrek nicknamed Kai. (My family has a funny habit of naming all our cars.)

On the map, there appeared to be a clearing about two-thirds of the way down the road. Tall, skinny pine trees lined either side of the road, not great for getting an arborist line into them. Thankfully, the canopy opened up for a small clearing as I surmised from the map and it was here I decided to set up.

Because of the opening, the pine trees near the side of the road had some lower, reachable branches on them. After a few tries, I snagged the branch I wanted and began hoisting the Tufteln EFRW antenna with the arborist line.

In past activations, I would usually get the antenna up however I could. But, at this point in my POTA journey, I am beginning to think how I want the antenna oriented with propagation in mind. I wanted it to run at a diagonal – northwest to southeast. To do that, I’d have to get it across a wide ditch that was partially frozen due to the cold temps. However, if I just tossed the line across, it was light enough it would likely end up in the ditch where I couldn’t easily retrieve it. Continue reading A Hasty Activation in Georgia