Saturday, June 29, 2013

Final Approach & Landing

Boston APRS Activity for KL8DX
The final leg of our journey happened today. I have to say, it will take me a while to get used to the city life but I'm happy that it's here in Boston. This area is saturated with history and my wife and I are extremely excited to begin learning what this beautiful city has to offer.  Eleven days and over 5,500 miles brought us to our new home from Denali. The vacation is over and it's now time to get acquainted with our new surroundings, new jobs and make new friends. As a ham, passing two awesome contest stations, W0SD in South Dakota and K3LR in Pennsylvania, put a smile on my face. My wife even commented when seeing both stations. Running APRS, I got to see those around me who also use it. I was impressed with some of the weather warning messages that we received via APRS while driving though and near some strong storms. 

Over the next several weeks, we hope to go from temporary housing to permanent, which hopefully will offer the opportunity to put a small station on the air. I miss the sound of CW and working the digital modes. But as I have written before, that's the beauty of this hobby. It will be there when you get the chance to turn on the rig once again. As I program some local repeaters into the VHF rig, I will enjoy listening to some local traffic. I've had fun operating in several great locations and I'm looking forward to adding yet another to my list. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wrapping Things Up de KL8DX/M, KL8DX/VY1, KL8DX/VE7, KL8DX/VE6...

Wrapping Up
To keep a ham happy, you pamper their tower, right? Well, our moving company did just that. Handled my shack like it was their own equipment and even wrapped my tower sections in thick wrapping paper. Overkill? Maybe but I was a happy ham! It was tough tearing down everything once again and boxing it all up. But like many a ham, I have all original boxes to my equipment and I made sure I had everything boxed up from the shack and ready for the moving company upon their arrival. We had nearly four days set aside for our packing up but this company accomplished it in two days! It was not long before our
Truck Scene
house was empty and there was an echo where there was once none. But, all is safely boxed and wrapped and making it's way to Boston. We had work obligations and things to finish on our house so we stuck around for an additional week. It was time for us to leave on vacation prior to our new assignment back east. We finished packing the remaining items in our travel trailer and truck that we needed to take along and hit the road ourselves. It was a sad day to lock the house for the very last time as we departed what I truly called home. Alaska is all that I had hoped and more. I'm looking forward to returning once again. 

Our travels have taken us through many a remote places along the Alaskan Highway (ALCAN). Anyone who has traveled this road knows that it takes planning and preparation. I do the driving and my girls take care of the navigation. Here you see the family feline, Luna, enjoying the map of Canada and helping us figure out the correct path as we made our way to the lower 48. I have to admit, the girls (cat & dog) have traveled extremely well and I guess at their age, the excitement of what goes by the window is less important than sleep.  I was expecting there to be many more interruptions but so far, so good!

A made mention to some friends that I feel somewhat like a fish out of water. Being back in the lower 48, I see, hear and smell things I had all but forgotten about. As we made our way through the Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta Canada, I realized that there are many beautiful places just like Alaska. I was (am) running APRS as we make our way across many miles of pavement and unpaved roads. I was surprised at some of the coverage in some of the remote places of the Yukon, BC and Alberta! We entered back into the lower 48 through Montana and I felt like I was home again in Alaska. I would not have enough memory cards to capture all of the beautiful landscapes we have encountered on our vacation. Simply breathtaking and so much so, I nearly forgot about playing radio!

Mount Rushmore
We are running on a very tight schedule so there were many places we passed by that we wanted to stop but couldn't. We decided that of all our sister parks we were going to be near, Mount Rushmore was the one we wanted to stop and see. It was well worth the stop and we only wished we had a bit more time to explore more of the area. I, like I'm sure many, was just astonished at the workmanship and likeness to the real photos of our late Presidents. The weather was beautiful and we have no complaints as our travels have gone on smooth and without incident (for the most part). Makes on become very thankful of our freedoms and to those who have made it possible!

Okay, back on track. The things I've forgotten about was fields of cows! Something I did not see in my neck of the woods in Alaska. Also, realizing how polluted our roadsides are with advertising. Thankfully, you don't see that in Alaska as you can actually enjoy the landscape advertising free (almost). Traffic, lots of people and traffic and actually stopping at truck stops. Paying less than $4.00 a gallon for diesel fuel. I did however pay $1.88 per liter for diesel fuel in one location in Canada which cost me $234.02! So that was the most I've ever paid for a tank of fuel! 

Our Ford truck has had the ability to receive Sirius satellite radio but it never worked in Alaska except in a few rare locations. When we hit Montana, I decided to sign up and I might add, listening to the same station across three states is pretty nice! Modern technology is a wonder. 

I write this on the road from our campsite here in Salem, South Dakota. Seeing a big contest station just before our exit had me missing the hobby and realizing how much I will miss contesting from my home QTH. I was pretty lucky to have a nice path to the lower 48 and Europe. But now, it will be a different location and different propagation. I'm not ready for the city life but I will adjust, hopefully. In the mean time, I'm remembering how life was when we used to live down here. We have been treated to the aroma of an excited skunk now twice. And, it's strange to have it dark when it's warm outside. Right now, we would be experiencing the midnight sun in Alaska, 24 hours of daylight. It's strange to experience this again.

As we continue our road travels, I will ponder about my next station location and watch for ham antennas and other hams that I may pass on the road. I've only heard a bit of radio traffic on 146.520 and that was shortly after we arrived in Montana from Canada. But, APRS has been fun and I think our coworkers are enjoying our progress more than we are.