Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Further Evidence I'm Slowly Losing My Mind...

My home QTH is located in a residential area in a 'bowl' at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with no real ability to put up a tower or any kind of significant antenna system. Even the backyard has a a set of utility lines running parallel to the property, bringing power to those who live one street over. (A 'fancy' street where you can't see the power lines, because they run through my backyard!) I do have a Buddipole Vertical mounted on top of a 16ft painter's pole with a single, elevated, extended sloping horizontal radial/counterpoise, and that works okay when there are band openings (I worked RU1A on 20m last weekend out of St. Petersberg, Russia with just 100w)... But there's a ton of QRM and QRN and I like to go tailgating with my K3 (one of the main reasons I got this particular rig was so I could shlep it around easily.)

So yesterday I decide I'll go sniffing around the different mountain roads in the area and see if I can find some good places where I can set up my antenna and do some hilltopping... I throw the K3 in the car and my new 28AH gell cell and my log and mic and coax and take off. I drive around the Los Gatos hills for a while, but can't find any turnouts where I can safely park. I then pull up some maps I found using Google Earth and spot a few paces in the Santa Cruz mountains/Azul Reserve, but while these seem like decent mountain biking/hiking spaces, no real places up high where i can pull off and set up. After a couple of hours I figure, 'what the hell, I'll just head back to Mt. Umunhum road (where I set up Sunday night)...

Now I remember that the Sheriff Deputy and Park Rangers both told me I was parked on the wrong side of the road in a 'Fire Lane', so I figure I'll park on the other side (legit) and then set up a small camp on the opposite side in the open. I take out my MP1 and coil and mast, my tripod and coax and counterpoise cable and then grab my K3 and mic and 28AH gel cell, back and forth across this little road in the middle of nowhere (where the flies are buzzing around like crazy, but its SOOOOO quiet) and I get everything set up and go to plug the Gel Cell into the back of the K3 and that's when I realize I left the power cable back on the kitchen counter.

I -did- try the Penn and Teller materialization trick of opening the trunk to show there was no cable inside, then closing the trunk and then saying the magic words, Klaatu barada nikto, then opening the trunk and Voila!


but I try this a few dozen times, convinced I couldn't have been so 'thick' as to leave the most important piece at home, but yes, thickness was my middle name and i was left with nothing to do but reverse the process, tear down the antenna and drag everything back to the car. and it was at that point I realized the flies weren't buzzing as much as laughing.

C'est la vie

Fortunately I had brought my Canon XTi and a couple of lenses, so I decided I might as well take some photos of the mountains and valley and here's what San Jose looks like from about 2600 ft up Mt. Umunhum

hard to look at this view and think of the trip as any kind of 'waste'. just an excuse to go back and try again.

(maybe tomorrow)

de Robin (W6RDG)

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