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I visit Campbell Valley Park most days of the week to walk my dog but have only been once to operate my radio. The park is quite big and offers many different areas of interest. The main loop trail along the river is the main place I visit but sometimes it is nice to see other areas and despite many visits over the years I still have seen only a few areas of the park. Today I decided to visit with my radio and set up where I hoped would be a pleasant spot far from population-based noise.
I drove to the main south entrance of the park and picked a stall in the almost empty parking lot. I then grabbed my camera and set out to explore the immediate area. This section offers a number of intertwining trails that wander through some hedges and around a small pond. There are some very scenic spots around the pond that I quite enjoyed. I also spotted a bench facing the pond and under a lovely shade tree. There was an open grassy area behind it and it would be a great spot for my station. I continued south across the road into the farmhouse area and there I spotted another shaded bench in the middle of the field; it would also be a good location.
I returned to the car and loaded up my cart and returned to the first bench I saw. It was unoccupied so I claimed it for my station. I then went about setting up the mast in the open area behind the bench. Soon I had the radio on the air and started scanning for activations. I noticed that the cell reception was a bit weak here and my connections were not steady. I was able to get through enough to use the spotting list fortunately. My first contact was with a station in Tennessee. I could hear a few more activators but they weren’t able to pick me up. So having scanned the band I selected my own frequency and started calling.
It didn’t take very long until I had my next contact in the log, that was followed by a pair of hams calling from another park. I continued making calls and getting responses from the mid-west and west coast but nothing from the east coast today. After operating for around an hour I had 14 contacts and decided to try the 17m band for a change. I soon had another 6 stations logged including a chap in Denali Park in Alaska. The bands were doing much better than on Tuesday but still not that good. After around 15 minutes on the second band I decided to pack up the station having reached 20 contacts. It had been a decent run, better than many of the more recent activations.
While I was packing up two of the park rangers came by to see what I was up to. I explained the program to them and gave them a trifold brochure. They seemed to be quite amazed at the program and where one can reach. They said they saw another chap recently with a simpler set up doing the same thing but my more elaborate gear drew them in. They were also concerned about any fire issues that may be caused by a battery but when they saw that I was spread out on the gravel patch they were quite satisfied. The park was just placed into the extreme fire conditions level and they are very concerned about sparks setting off a fire. I told them I would be back before long but first I had to complete 9 more visits to Kwomais Park.
The day was a great success though the cell coverage is going to be an issue. I suppose I need to invest in a cell booster as my next POTA investment. The pieces just keep adding up! But that is what makes the whole thing so much fun. Lots of interesting technological issues to deal with that are always changing. The location is a very scenic place to operate at and I quite enjoyed my visit. I will likely try different locations in the park but this spot will likely be one of my favourites.