CQWW VHF N1LF/R Rover LP
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Mon Jul 20 11:49:38 PDT 2009
CQ Worldwide VHF Contest
Class: Rover LP
QTH: EL88, EL89, EM80
Operating Time (hrs): 16
Band QSOs Mults
6: 31 26
2: 15 12
Total: 46 38 Total Score = 2,318
Club: Alabama Contest Group
A last minute business trip to attend training in Tampa, FL caused me to
re-think my entire contest entry. Since we would be in Florida on Friday for
the training, my wife and I decided to combine the trip with a visit to her
relatives in Land O' Lakes, FL and then a rover effort during the return trip
The new "plan" was to operate from their home in EL88 on Saturday, allowing my
wife so time to enjoy her family and then leave early (5AM) on Sunday to drive
back through EL89, EM80, EM71, EM61, EM62, and EM63. Unfortunately, plans have
a way of not always working out!
On Friday night after our training, I scouted a couple of "high spots" near
their home, finally finding a nearly 300 foot elevation near Saint Leo college,
near San Antonio, FL. For NFL, this passes as "high". Some test contacts with
N3LL, Bobby and some action on 6 Meters Friday indicated that the antennas,
amp, and rig were working fine.
Saturday morning dawned with a weak, but widespread 6 Meter opening. But
shortly before noon, conditions degraded and went into the tank. To make
matters worse, one of our relatives was sick and could not be left alone. Since
my wife had plans for the day, including tickets to a local event, that left me
with the "watch". I agreed to operate from their flat front yard, but figured
it wouldn't hurt my score too badly.
For the entire day Saturday, I might as well have stayed inside in the air
conditioning. Nearly ten hours of operation brought only six contacts! All with
locals. The bands were basically flat and even contacts out to about 100 miles
were difficult. I had mounted a four element beam for 2 Meters, along with a 6M
dipole up about 20 feet on a push up mast. This complimented the dual 2M KU4AB
loops on the truck, and the single 6M loop.
Sunday morning dawned and saw me up at 4:30AM. My plan was to operate from the
driveway using only the loops until my wife had her coffee and we could get on
the road. But as I made my wife to the front door, I realized that everyone in
the house had been up late dealing with the care of our sick relative. Worse,
the baby monitor had already demonstrated that 6 Meter transmissions were
subject to RFI.
I didn't want to wake everyone in the house, so I poured some coffee and sat
down to read a magazine while I waited for everyone to wake up. Our relatives
are early risers, so I figured an hour at most. I was wrong.
It turned out to be almost 8AM before everyone awoke, and I rushed to the truck
after a few "good mornings". 6 Meters was just starting to open up a bit, and
two meters seemed a little better too.
There was a weak opening on 6, with lots of QSB. Openings to a given area would
come and go quickly, making S&P the only useful technique. Another snag
developed as my wife opted to help out with the home nursing...and our
departure was delayed. I didn't have the heart to reject her request to stay a
bit longer. It was our first visit in over three years....
Instead, I drove solo on I-75 to just above Ocala, FL to get to the EM89 line.
After finding two good parking lots just about 1/2 mile apart, I spent the next
couple of hours playing "grid tag". I'd work a handful of stations from EL88,
drive 1/2 mile, and work them again. Because of the QSB, the technique was not
as effective as it sometimes is...and I was nowhere near a corner, so it was
limited to just those two grids.
After the opening died, I returned to pick up my wife and we headed North again
on I-75, before getting off onto Highway 19 (Coastal route) so that my wife
could enjoy a local restaurant she loves there.
With just about a half hour to go in the contest, we crossed over into EM80 but
then happened onto a traffic accident. A young girl had flipped her car several
times, and we were one of the first cars on the scene. My wife and I have both
been trained in advanced first aid and have CERT training as well. We grabbed a
first aid kit, and rushed to the girl.
She had a broken leg, some facial cuts,and was having trouble breathing. We
stabilized her, and treated her for shock. A volunteer fireman stopped and
assisted us in holding her head and neck immobile until help arrived. We
contacted her parents and advised them of her situation. My wife held her hand
and comforted her throughout the hour that we were on the scene.
When it was over, my wife and I were packing up, and she said, "Oh no, you
missed the rest of your contest". Somehow, it didn't seem very important by
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