June VHF Contest 2001
Subtitle – Rover Rover Rover
Sub-Sub Title – An Exercise In Sleep Deprivation
Rob Daniels (No Call Yet) and Matt Butcher take on 1,000 miles of highway, 16 grids and more dogs (rovers) than we can count. Little do we know what is in store for us in the two days to come…
Friday June 8, 2001
2200 it’s time to leave DC! Is it a mistake to leave so late? Who knows now, but Rob and Matt are ready to go so let’s hit the road.
2300 Brian (ND3F) and Larry (KC7MYE) are broken down in Harrisonburg have to pick them up when we get there. Rich (KD4DSX) and John (KA1TB) can’t fit them in the Land Rover.
Saturday June 9, 2001
0100 Across from the Family Dollar in Harrisonburg we find two stranded rovers. Brian and Larry seem happy to see us! Now it’s time to go over the mountain on 33.
0200 No one at the Franklin Hotel, no rovers, not K8GP operators, no night clerk!!! We keep driving, going to the Hill (Spruce Knob)
0230 Wild dogs can’t keep us away from Spruce with this great road up the mountain. Just as we leave the pavement a dog rushes out and chases us ½ mile! It’s our first rover rover encounter!
0300 A very good time to get to Spruce! Boy are we tired though. Larry and Rob sleep in the van, Brian goes to crash somewhere, Matt tucks his sleeping bag under a bus incase it starts to rain very comfy!
0700 Time to rise and shine!?!? Already!?!? Oh well, we can sleep when we get to the first grid corner. The busses and towers look great. As the operators start to stir we check out 24 GHz and do some final preparation for the contest. Maybe it’s time to see if the equipment in the van works. But first let’s take a group picture, everyone have their red hat?
1000 Everything works. Let’s go to Belington! We’ll drop Brian off so Bill (W3IY) can pick him up. Larry will stay and work on the mountain.
Matt & Rob, Ready for action!
1100 Who would have guessed you could buy a Jolly Roger on the roadside! But at one of the mountaintops on 33 a guy was selling flags. Let’s go Grid Pirates!!!
1200 We are in Elkins with plenty of time to spare. Let’s try Scotties Dinner. It looks good and they server Breakfast all the time. Rob gets the enormous Worker for $4.50 and Matt splurges for the Steak and Egg $5.50 (medium rare of course). There are lots of kayakers (Matt’s other hobby) there and Matt’s jealous as the Tygert river is running at a fun level. Oh well, can’t do everything!
1300 John and Rich are working away at getting things running nothing like last minute rover work. Does anyone have a patch cable? Brian and Bill are set up and working and Russ (W3RST) and Jim (K9SP) are soon on the scene.
Everyone pitches in to help!
1400 – 1545 em99 it starts at the 30mile corner – Uh oh, how do you use this logging program? Matt swears it worked back home There are no dogs present but 2 horses are watching very closely and asking if we have any apples hanging from our antennas. This is a great path to Spruce.
1500 What do you mean you can’t hear us on 2304? It seems our PA isn’t working. A few hundred feet is fine, but it’s real hard to go 30 miles!
1545 Let’s make some road time – off to fm09 for Matt and Rob.
1600 – 1630 fm09 Audra road isn’t the best place to operate, but we don’t get the van stuck in the mud, so that’s OK.
1700 Getting through Elkins – Where will we find a spot in FM08??? It will just have to wait.
1730 Matt’s getting some sleep as Rob drives to Black Mountain (Ominous?!?!?)
1906 – 1946 em98 Black Mountain: will we ever find the right place to stop? Oh, the silly pull off on the east side of the road!!! I’m glad Brian and Bill are here. John and Rich couldn’t figure it out either. Unfortunately this is a very poor path to Spruce, but it does have a great view to the west. But now the second dog sighting, three enormous dark hounds in the back of a pickup truck Satan’s gate keepers? Next we run into a pickup with cages of hound dogs and one hound pacing around on top of the truck! As they are driving down the road!!! He didn’t look too happy.
Ahhh… We found the true path, thanks Bill and Brian!
2130 em98 still. The mast was totally up! Matt forgot to take it down at Black Mountain. Glad there were no low branches, or power lines! Rob says stop worrying about power lines at the abandon house we stop in front of as gunshots and hounds barking seem to be getting closer! We just can’t find a good path to Spruce.
2230 – 2357 em97 Hopkins Mountain is one of our favorite spots. It’s got a cool picnic area at the top of this long dirt road. The path to Spruce looks good, but we haven’t been able to connect on 5GHz or above yet. Some day we will, given enough effort. On the dirt road to the mountain we ran into the Satan’s gatekeepers dogs. Are they following us? or following John and Rich who were at the top when we got there?
Sunday June 10, 2001
0155 Rob drove all the way to 81! Matt slept. We had an interesting time at the truck stop; another late night driver wouldn’t let Rob near the coffee. He wanted it all to himself!
0215 Round Mountain: as we were heading up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, passing through Vesuvius, we saw dogs and guys with handheld direction finding antennas!!! We caught up with Rich and John coming down, they said dogs and guns were at the top! We tried to go up the road to Round Mountain but a gate soon stopped us. On to the Devil’s Knob overlook.
0300 – 0350 fm07 Devil’s Knob Overlook: no dogs great DX, the view from this place is incredible and the 60 mile path to Spruce is great. Q5 copy on 10GHz.
0420 – 0445 fm08 on the way down the Blue Ridge Parkway near JJJ mountain at another overlook this is another great place to work Spruce from. We also work into the Midwest on 6m.
0500 Matt’s driving, Rob’s sleeping. Great! Let’s go to Louisa and the fm17 / fm18 corner.
0600 – 0658 fm18 We looked at the Elks Lodge and still don’t like it, a white dog chased us away. The auto repair place on 33 right at the boundary is pretty good; there are 6 Dogs in every house! This is where we operated from but it looks like a little west down the side road might be better for fm17. It would also be good to try Louisa County / Freeman field or possibly the train tracks 4 miles east of town for fm18.
0708 – 0738 fm17 keep working them k8gp through 1296
0745 Looooong drive to VA Beach. Past Richmond Rob had to take over as Matt was wavering.
1200 Arrive in VA Beach and head to Baltic Ave, there were apartments if not hotels there. We were sniffed by two dogs with tags and felt safe, but it was a poor place to operate from. We headed North into the high rent district where two dogs were getting the shake down by a woman cop. We didn’t feel welcome there! But at 64 street park we pay $3 but it’s a good fm16, almost fm26 site. Dogs are here and everyone is boating after church. The Fort Story story fm26/16 spot open to public with dogs on the beach having a great time. Just East of the Beach is the place to go for fm26.
1233 – 1300 fm26 k8gp through 1296
1330 – 1345 fm16
1400 Rob and Matt spend time at the beach since we are here.
1500 – 1555 fm17 The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the place to be. Just stop at the restaurant! An old lady was not nice but her boxer was! We pass Bill and Brian on other bridge island. Sleep deprivation starting to take it’s toll what grid are we in?
I’m not tired!
1713 – 1745 fm27 Wise point is just north of Fisherman’s island: It’s another great spot but it takes a lot to raise k8gp out here! This is where we see 70 mph dog, sticking out of a car window!
2000 The Pit Room is BBQ north of Salisbury on 13 The food was good, the tea sweet, but the art questionable.
2230 – 2240 fm28Ruthsburg Maryland is where bugs attack. Mosquitoes the size of crane flies full of our blood!!! This is a decent site, right at the corner of fm18, 19, 28, and 29.
2242 – 2300 fm18 It really pays to sleep more! There are two more corners right here! And we have already been in fm18!
2315 It’s a long drive home. Matt drops Rob off at Midnight, and drives safely back into Arlington