POTA Activation #5 - George Washington Memorial Parkway (VA) (3/6/2022)

I have recently become a member of the Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club (MVARC) which has many members who live close to my QTH. It has been fun getting to know other hams in the area, attending club meetings and events, and taking part in the different nets they hold every week. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Gersohn, KO4IUK both on the air and in-person. We talked about many things, including POTA and operating outside and he suggested we get together sometime and setup our stations at Belle Haven Park on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It sounded like a great idea to me. When he suggested getting together on Sunday 3/6/2022 I was on-board.

Right before our meet-up I went to the 59th annual Needlework Show at Woodlawn Plantation along with my family and some friends. Our friend Deb, who co-leads my daughter's Girl Scout troop with my wife, is an active participant in the group that runs the show, Nelly's Needlers. She gave us an amazing tour of the beautiful works on exhibition as well as the main house of the plantation. It was a great start to the day. After grabbing a quick lunch on the plantation grounds, I hopped into the car and called Gersohn on the repeater to let him know I was on my way. Another member of the club, Nick, KO4SRO asked what we were up to, and decided to join us down at the park as well. Felix, W4WMD, also chimed in and asked what frequencies we'd be operating on and said he would look out for us in the spots -- and he did as I got to work him later in the afternoon.

The three of us made it down to Belle Haven Park on the George Washington Memorial Parkway at almost exactly the same time and made our way to a picnic table down by the banks of the Potomac River. The park is a very popular spot on a pleasant day and there were many groups running their grills and enjoying a picnic together. From its vantage point you can see across to Maryland and the District of Columbia and also to Jones Point Lighthouse which served as the point where DC, MD, and VA met. Additionallly, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge can be seen making the connection between MD and VA on Interstate 95.

Gersohn and I set up our equipment and did a bit of show and tell to each other. Gersohn had a great portable setup capable of running at high power in a Pelican case that made everything pack up in a flash. His Yaesu radio was paired with an Alpha Antenna vertical that was a sight to behold with a gleaming aluminum tripod and very high quality components that look like they could withstand a hurricane without a care. It was very impressive.

I decided to use my Buddistick Pro, so I wouldn't have to worry about dangling wires getting walked-into by the many people at the park that day. Surprisingly, we only had one group ask us what we were doing -- I believe they asked Gersohn if we were scientists. Using my RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer I was able to quickly get the Buddistick Pro to resonance on 40m and I hopped on 7.240 MHz and began calling CQ after spotting myself on the POTA network and the pile-up came fast and furious. Nick plugged into my headphone splitter and helped me with logging and we were getting contacts one after the other. It was hard keeping things up-to-date on the electronic log, so I stuck to paper until things slowed down enough to get caught-up. Nick didn't have a lot of experience on HF as a Technician and I think he enjoyed the excitement of the pile-up with me. When things slowed down a bit, he and I even made a park to park contact on 2m, so he could log his first activation attempt in the park as well on 2m.

After a breather for some socializing and talking about our equipment, I decided to tune up to 17m to see if I could get any contacts, but it was pretty dead for me, so I went back to 40m, this time to 7.245 MHz and then proceeded to have a whole other run of contacts with another mini pile-up. Two pile-ups in one activation was a lot of fun. While Gersohn didn't do a POTA activation this time, his higher powered setup made an impressive array of contacts, including one on 17m down to Barbados. We had a lot of fun.

In the end I made contact with stations in NJ, PA, NY, NC, MA, OH, MI, NJ, VA, Ontario, Nova Scotia, KY, WV, SC, CT, and MD for a total of 49 contacts with 10 Park to Park contacts. It was great meeting up with friends and playing radio. Looking forward to doing it again.

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • Buddipole Buddistick Pro
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Jackery Explorer 500
  • Sony Headphones
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite Tablet
  • Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil