Click on image to view gallery
Now that I have achieved the first level of repeat visits to a park at Kwomais, I have moved to Campbell Valley to continue the progress. Campbell Valley has a lot of different areas where one could go to operate but the one that is almost ideal for radio activity is the Old Orchard area. This is a small section of the park that is reserved for group activities. When a group books the area, the park staff open up an extra parking area for it. The full area includes the parking, a large grassy field, and a group of covered picnic tables. There are a few more amenities for cooking and a nearby pit toilet as well. It is a nice self-contained area.
The area is often only used on summer week-ends, so the rest of the week and year it is virtually empty. The covered tables and nearby open grass make for a perfect combination for me to spread out the antenna and then a nice table to operate at. It will even work in more questionable weather! Though the area’s parking lot is locked, the main parking lot is still quite close by so the walk from parking is fairly quick. Two other benefits of this area over Kwomais are the reduction in road traffic getting to the park, it is much faster and being rural, the noise on the radio band is much reduced so one can hear weaker stations.
I set out for the park around 12:30 and soon I was at the park where I checked to ensure the area was not reserved. It wasn’t, so I packed up the cart and walked to the shelter. I picked the far end where the field is widest and scouted out the best way to set up. I soon had the antenna in place and I was scanning the bands. The noise level was way down at S1/S2 compared to S4 at Kwomais – so nice. The one challenge here was the lower cellular coverage and my phone would often drop connections, I found that setting it to use 3G only solved this problem of hunting for the weaker LTE signal. So, first off, I configured the phone and now I could use the spotting page for POTA without difficulty.
I quickly scanned the 20m band and worked an activator in Minnesota followed by another in Illinois. I could hear a few more but they were weak and had a number of hunters trying to reach them so I decided to move to the 15m band and start calling, there were no other parks listed on 15m but the band report looked good so I thought I would try it. It took only a few minutes but then I had a steady stream starting with a station in Delaware, New Mexico, Indiana, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsavania … It was going well, I got the next eight contacts in five minutes giving me the needed ten.
By the half hour point I had 19 stations logged and I decided to move up to the 12m band for some variety. I soon had a Virginia station logged followed by Ontario, Tennessee and Ohio, West Virginia, and Texas amongst others. Things quieted down at that point so I moved to the 17m band having tried 10m unsuccessfully for a few minutes. 17m got me a California station followed by Arkansas, and Montana. I had over 30 in the log so I felt is was time to shutdown the station. I did a final pass across the 20m band and picked up two more park activators. I had 36 contacts logged in about and hour twenty of operating. Not my best but it was a good show.
Done with the radio activity, I grabbed a few photos of the set up and then packed away the gear. After loading it into the trunk I went for a short walk with my camera to gather a few photos of the area. I won’t be doing write-ups for every trip to this site as they would become repetitive but today being the first in a series of visits, it was a good place marker for my activities. We will see how the site holds up in the colder weather! I might yet just stay home and warm. Done with the park, I took the quick drive home. The big negative of this park is that lack of a nearby Starbucks. But there is the corner store at 8th and 176th that likely has coffee and perhaps lattes. I guess I will need to try something different for a change. Well, that will be for the next visit. Today I felt good about the site and the band conditions and I look forward to my next adventure.