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Unread 03-09-2014, 07:29 PM
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NEJ NEJ is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
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Hamming it up in Clark Valley

This last weekend was windy every place north, so I went to Clark Valley in Anza Borrego State Park where it was supposed to be calm. It was not windy, but not calm either, which was a good thing, because when the breeze wasn't up, it was hot. I had multiple shade tarps deployed and wished I had brought more.

I set up well off the main road in a nice flat place. My favorite spot where I normally camp wasn't exactly taken, but there was a large trailer close enough near the spot, that I decided to camp somewhere else. It turned out to be for the best. Both Friday afternoon and. Saturday morning the lake bed was full of model airplane people with their noisy gas powered planes. My regular camping place would not have been very private or quiet. I erected my ham antenna and worked the 40 meter band Friday afternoon. The antenna is a multi-band vertical with a 9 foot brass whip that is put together from 18" long segments. It has a tuning coil at the bottom and I have made a radial system for establishing a ground plane. These antennas have a terrible reputation for being temperamental at best and a complete waste of time at worst. I can see where people could have trouble. Without my "Rig Expert AA-54", I would never have found the sweet spot. Even with the antenna analyzer, it takes some fiddling around, but there is a narrow bandwidth that is very usable at around 1.5 - 2.5 SWR and acceptable load characteristics. I had the radio working on 80, 40, 20, and 15 meters. Friday afternoon I talked to a ham in Idaho and then heard people talking in Germany, Spain, and Italy.

The dogs did okay with the heat and it felt good to have a bit of summer weather this early in the year. Saturday afternoon, I started watching Caddyshack on my 12 volt flat screen TV. Every fifteen minutes the wind would come up and I would need to go outside and add ropes and poles to my shade set up. The gusts came harder and harder and I added ropes until every grommet on my main tarp had a rope. Then the big blast came. The whole thing failed at once in one big crash. One of the poles broke, a tent stake bent in half, three of the four corner grommets on the tarp pulled out, two tent stakes yanked from the ground, other grommets pulled out of the sides of the tarp. Both Gunner and Ted jump up and raced out of the tent. Fortunately, the tent held, although it did bend way over at one point.

I never did get to finish watching my movie. I spent the next hour packing up gear and straightening the mess left over from the collapse of the shade tarps. I almost gave up on the camping, but as I wrapped up the ham gear, the TV set up, and the solar panel, I noticed the wind gust were not as strong or often. The sun had started to slide down in the sky toward Coyote Mountain, and I figured it my not be that bad to try and get up my shade again for the last hour or two before sunset.

The National Weather Service had predicted wind all week long, but on Friday morning, they changed the forecast to calm. They were right the first time---wind. But we survived and had a great weekend. I do need to replace my tarp though.

NJ

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Last edited by NEJ; 03-22-2014 at 12:10 PM.
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