Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chasing The Germans, Chasing the Lower 48 And The Beginning Our Next Life Chapter

QSO Party & SKCC's WES @ Radio KL8DX
It seems we encountered yet another weekend in which the sun flexed its solar muscle and put a damper on some of the weekend operating. It started out okay and by Saturday, I was thinking we may be safe. As luck would have it, by 0600z on the 14th, the ionosphere got its bell rung by the sun. The impact was reported by spaceweather dot com showing the hit around 2255z on the 13th. But at that time, I was still hearing stations strong and the bands were favorable. I was slightly optimistic that the predicted BIG lower 48 auroral event would not happen. My backup plan was to photograph the aurora (assuming it was going to happen) but even that comes with a challenge these days. I'm a morning person and now that spring is returning to Alaska, we have daylight up through 2200 local. To experience complete darkness, we need to stay up pretty late. I charged the camera battery anyhow, just in case I had insomnia.

5W0M QSO's for KL8DX logged in ClubLog
My activity this weekend was going to be exclusively Search & Pounce (S&P). I was going to chase those in the New Mexico QSO Party, the Georgia QSO Party and finally the Montana QSO Party. I was also going to continue my quest of chasing 5W0M on Samoa. Anything in the Pacific is pretty easy for my little station as there is not much between me and most of the large mass of ocean. Well, one BIG mountain does make a few locations in the pacific tough for me, all 20,320 feet of it! But the Samoa group is sounding great here in the Interior and they are doing a fantastic job as far as DXpeditions go. I wanted to support my fellow SK'ers by getting on and chasing a few SKCC Weekend operators during their monthly WES (Weekend Sprintathon). My Navy Flameproof has felt neglected I'm sure. 

The bands were tough for most of Sunday but by Sunday afternoon, propagation started to return. I stuck pretty much to CW on 20 meters, the only real propagational band for me. The Georgia QSO Party appeared to have the most activity followed by the New Mexico QSO Party. I worked only one station that I found CQ'n in the Montana QSO Party. But, there was a large group of SKCC'ers on so I knew that my limited time on the radio should yield some contacts. I'm dividing my time between a few home projects and radio on the weekends. Auroral events make it much less stressful when trying to decide which to do, radio or work on home improvement projects. 

Secret Weapon at KL8DX. She sniffs out Mults & New Ones
By the time the weekend closed out and the bands feel silent on Sunday afternoon, I added only about 43 QSO's to my logbook. Again, all S&P and when I had a few minutes to park myself in the shack chair. I did have a visitor a few times. When "mom" is gone, she tends to keep me company. She does not mind the sound of CW and I think it actually puts here to sleep. She is 13½, so it does not take much to put here to sleep these days. At times, I will even get a visit from the family feline but that's normally during those very early morning hours when the rest of the household is still asleep. The cat and I are the only ones who normally catch the sunrise. 

©KL8DX Sunrise as seen from my shack window
So, with only a limited number of sunrises left here in Alaska, we begin planning the next chapter of our life. It won't be long now before we begin our journey that will take us over 4,600 road miles east, to our next assignment. That's the beauty of the National Park Service, lots of beautiful places my wife and I would like to experience during the 2nd half of our careers. But don't worry, we have plans of returning to Alaska but for now, our career path takes us across our great country. I have to admit, it will take some time to adjust to traffic, people, driving only a few minutes to the local grocery store and having something I order from HRO (Ham Radio Outlet) delivered to my doorstep. I'm still not tired of the 2 hour drive (one way) to get groceries, to see doctors and get our truck worked on. I have lived the dream and it's a dream I will live again. My activity level will take a short break in the coming weeks but then, my faint signal will once again be heard. The only difference is, there will be a /W1 after my callsign when I'm operating. More on that later but for now, our family beagle has awoke and has decided she wants to venture outdoors. Something tells me she was not dreaming of bass fishing, but I do! What say you, Martin? 


  1. Sounds good... Throwing the poles in tackle box in the back of the pick up :o)

  2. Wow. That will be some move but I'm sure you will acclimate to civilization and (slightly) better propagation that comes from being "down here". Leaving paradise has got to be rough though, it will be interesting to see how much you miss it in the coming months and years. Looking forward to reading all about it.

    73, Jeff KE9V
    SKCC #3383