POTA Activation #65: A Commute-to-Work 2-fer in DC (DC) (8/4/2023)

It was a cloudy morning with some intermittent light rain, but somehow I willed myself to get up a bit early with my alarm and the promise of a delicious morning espresso. It had been a while since I had done a morning activation before work and I was definitely feeling the itch to hear the symphony that is a CW pileup that comes when you active Parks on the Air. Thankfully the dreary conditions encouraged other commuters to stay nestled in their beds, so I had almost no traffic as I drove into the District of Columbia. I listened to a few ragchews on the way into work and could tell that the 40m band was working well, so I decided that would be my first band of the day. I also had seen that several of my LICW friends were already up and enjoying their morning coffee and playing radio across the globe, so I was excited at the prospect of getting some of them in the log.

I rolled up to my usual spot and found that Hains Point was closed due to "unsafe conditions". Presumably the recent precipitation had caused some flooding along the drive. I did not despair, as I knew of another spot, not far away, that would allow me to activate another 2-fer along the banks of the Potomac. This time at Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT and the Potomac Heritage Trail NST. This spot would not be free -- I had to pay a couple bucks to feed the meter -- but with my nominal fee paid to the US Park Service, I sent out a "QRL?" on the empty frequency I had been monitoring, spotted myself on the POTA.app site, and notified my LICW friends that I was about to get on the air.

After a few CQ calls, I heard from a station in Tennessee followed by another in Virginia and then another in North Carolina. Then, clear as a bell, Mike N2PPI came in like he was in the passenger seat from New York, making my first LICW contact of the morning and putting a big smile on my face. Next up, working just a bit up in frequency was super-hunter Dan, WD4DAN who was a solid 559 in Georgia. Always good to get him in the log. Next I heard from Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. Then I got some more LICW magic from my friend Chris, N8PEM in Ohio. He also had a big signal and I was excited to get him in the log. Everything was off to a great start. Next I heard from Indiana, North Carolina, Michigan, North Carolina again, New York, and finally just up the road in Maryland.

The crowd had thinned and I still had some time, so I decided to try a second band to see what I could do. I set up camp on 30m and called CQ, and for a while heard nothing back. Eventually, I heard from Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Florida once more. The band definitely seemed noisy though, and some of the signals were down in that noise, so after another lull I thought I would give one more band a try.

With just a few minutes until I would have to head in to the office, I started calling CQ on 20m and initially didn't hear all that much. After keeping me guessing for a bit I heard from Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Florida again, and then I heard a call that initially threw me as it had 2 digits in it ... after a resend I realized it was a station in Belize! Nothing like some DX in the morning! Finally, I got a call from my most prolific hunter, none other than Paul KJ7DT in Idaho, who got in the log for 46th and 47th time! He and I are only 3 QSOs away from an Activator Operator to Operator award. As always it is great to get Paul in the log and I look forward to us hitting that milestone soon. After his call I looked at the clock and realized that I had to call it an activation and get into the office.

After 42 minutes on the air I ended up with 32 QSOs in 2 parks on 3 bands. A great result and a whole lot of fun. Sometimes the early bird really does get the proverbial worm.

Activation QSO Map: Green Pins = CW / Green Lines = 40m, Orange Lines = 30m, Blue Lines = 20m

Gear used in this activation
  • Yaesu FT-891
  • Yaesu ATAS 120A Antenna
  • Begali Magnetic Traveler Light Iambic Key
  • 2006 Honda Accord EX V6
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
  • HAMRS Logging App