Talk about a beautiful day! That’s exactly what I had on Sunday (2023-08-13)! It has been a bit since I’ve been able to get out and play some radio at a park but so glad I was out yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve been to Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge for either radio or just to hike the park. I’ve driven by it quite a few times and always wanted to go but just never seemed to be the right time to stop. It’s this small park that feels like an oasis in the middle of an suburban area. This time out it was me and the family (KB8OGP, KF0GHP and KF0GHQ) which was a great outing. The two ponds has some great walking paths that are not long but has some good views of the park. The landscape slopes up from the ponds so as you’re walking the paths you have views down to them. There were grasshoppers, butterflies and lot of other life like birds around. A great way to feel like you’re really immersed in nature.
The other really nice part of the park is there is a pavilion just a short walk inside the park. When we were there playing radio only one person walked by for better or worse (always fun to talk radio with passing people). I was able to set the dipole up just outside the pavilion and I was a little worried that the metal flashing on the roof would cause some issues but my SWR was fine and based on the distance of contacts I can honestly say I was over worried. I’ve been worried about the antenna having issues with surrounding long runs of metal (wires or flashing) in the past as well. Just to be clear I don’t get close enough to anything that carries power or utilities as I like to be a 100% non crispy human entity. Looking at my contact distances it’s obvious that I am, in fact, completely over worried. Really goes to show that it’s good to just throw up an antenna and get on the air (still make sure power/utility lines are not close enough to make contact if something were to fall).
The activation went really well this time. I tried to change up how I activate a bit this time. To start I got everything setup and then went through the POTA (parks on the air) spots and made as many P2P (park-to-park) contacts as I could. The last few activations I was more focused on going through finding a frequency and calling CQ. Made a few P2P contacts this way which was really nice. I then found my frequency and started calling CQ. A short while after calling CQ made a couple contacts and then had a quick burst of people calling out to me which is always fun. Getting into the small pileups on POTA hits that flow state with me where I’m so focused on the radio that time and the world slips away. Mind you I’m talking about a pretty small pileup of two to three people calling consistently. 20m has felt kind of slow but looking forward to hitting a park when the band is really open one of these times. I also made sure that once I went QRT I went back through the POTA spots and made some more P2P contacts. Overall I feel this was a good way to go through an activation and have to keep this flow up and see how it continues to work.
After the activation I packed the radio gear up and hiked through the park with the family. I will definitely be back to activate K-0227 again and would be excited to just go there for a hike or a picnic as well!