Tag Archives: coffee

Sunday Morning Field Day

I got up around 5am and started the generator up. Decided to try 80M. I’ve been impressed by the FT-817. I have the basic radio with no additional filters or audio upgrades/enhancements…. and it does a great job. 80M was buzzing with activity, but you could tell most of the ops had stayed up all night and were ready for some relief. Lots of contacts on 80M, there was even a 22A station. I’m trying to picture what a 22A station would look like…. probably like the V Corps Main Command Post during the ground war in Iraq….. antennas everywhere! Glows at night just from the RF.

Time for some coffee and breakfast and then back to the ham shack.

Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee

Dodge City, KS – Memphis, TN
Daily Mileage: 749
Total Mileage: 7219
Total Number of States Traveled: 29

Nendels Inn
2523 E Wyatt Earp Bl
Dodge City, KS 67801

I got out of Dodge Friday morning and continued east, dropping down to US54 passing through Greensburg, Brenham, and Wellsford. I got on a local repeater and talked to Larry, a retired teacher who taught High School in Cunningham and now works for the Department of Agriculture as an inspector. He had the day off and was running some errands in Pratt, located at the crossroads of US 281 and US 40. We talked a little about the war in Iraq, Larry had former students who’d served over in Iraq and was dubious of the press coverage and concerned about what was happening over there. Larry also recommended filling up in Goddard, as opposed to waiting until I got to Wichita to get a cheaper price.

While approaching Wichita, I realized I had forgot (again) to load my required maps onto my Pocket PC. I found a Starbucks on the western side of Wichita where I refilled my coffee mug and pulled out the laptop and Pocket PC to get my maps squared away. But something went terribly wrong… the map loading program just kept going, and going without completing. I tried a few times, but I was loosing daylight and knew I still had many miles before Memphis.

I kind of panicked – I’d been relying on my Pocket PC/GPS combo the entire trip… giving me turn by turn instructions and almost always getting me exactly where I needed to go. I’d purchased a US road atlas way back in North Adams, MA before I’d developed full confidence in my Pocket PC/GPS system. Now I had to use a paper map. I had to actually know where I was going, instead of blindly relying on a computer.

After a little confusion on the I-35 Kansas toll road (entering the toll road and heading north rather than south – having to get off, pay 25 cents and get back on the other direction) – there was a lot of cursing on my part during this process. Heading south on the Interstate, I picked up my speed quite a bit, down into Oklahoma, getting on another toll road (US 412) towards Tulsa. It seemed like it took forever to pass through Tulsa and make my way south east on the toll road heading for I-40.

Meeting I-40 and continuing east, I crossed into Arkansas, through the down of Fort Smith as dusk approached. While Kansas was as flat as everyone says, Oklahoma started into some rolling hills, becoming much more pronounced traveling through western Arkansas. Up, down, turn and twist as I made steady progress through Little Rock and on to Memphis. I had a nice conversation with a ham that had been traveling from Wichita Falls, TX to Little Rock, AR – Steve is an instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base and was formerly a crew member for both EC-130s and AC-130s, spending some time in Tucson previously.

I was really missing my Pocket PC/GPS when I rolled across the Mississippi into Memphis. It was around 11:30pm and the motel I’d booked was on the east side of Memphis in an area called Cordova. My paper map provided little detail and I had to pull over, break out my laptop and fire up the Microsoft Streets & Trips software. After an hour, I finally found the day’s destination.

California & Nevada

Sunnyvale, CA – Ely, NV
Daily Mileage: 571
Total Mileage: 5483
Total Number of States Traveled: 23

Great day and wonderful weather. Topped off the gas tank ($2.54 a gallon…. what kind of craziness is that?) and headed towards Tahoe. I picked up US 50 on the outskirts of Sacramento and continued east, climbing into the mountains. Stopped by In-N-Out Burger in Placerville for my Double-Double fix. I found a plateau just outside of Placerville where I was able to talk to KD6EUG back into the valley. The drive into the Sierras was gorgeous – the roads were great, some snow. Pulling in to South Lake Tahoe I realized I hadn’t loaded the Nevada map into my Pocket PC… which would prevent my GPS from talking me through Nevada to Ely. Seeing a Starbucks, I parked and hauled in my laptop along with my coffee mug and loaded up the maps.

I’d only been to Lake Tahoe once before (when I was in the 5th grade) – what a beautiful place.

After circling counterclockwise around the southern part of Lake Tahoe, I crossed into Nevada… with all the casinos. Heading east, I approached Spooner Summit and the downhill ride into Carson City. On a local repeater I had a great conversation with Jo Anne who was down in Carson City. I told her I was planning on taking US 50 out to Ely and she gave me a few tips – watch out for wild horses on the highway! She also described how her local ham club provides communication support to the annual reenactment of the Pony Express that spans the length of Nevada. I passed the Nevada State Capitol and headed east out of town.

I made it to Fallon by sunset, refueled and continued east. It’s hard to say what Nevada looks like after Fallon, because once the sun set – it was pitch black. There were about a billion stars out – but only three trucks passed during the next five hours. Austin, Eureka… and finally Ely. For some reason I imagined Nevada would be flat – but I was up at 7,000 feet, rolling up and down a zillion summits.

Ramada Inn & Copper Queen Casino
805 Great Basin Blvd
Ely, NV 89301

Washington – Spokane to Tacoma

Daily Mileage: 291
Total Mileage: 4014
Total Number of States Traveled: 20

I departed Spokane fairly late, knowing the trip to Tacoma would be one of the shorter legs of the trip – staying in the same state for the whole leg as well as using an Interstate (I-90) instead of the slower (aka scenic) US routes.

It was raining (of course) as Spokane slid away in the rear view mirror… the terrain was fairly arid and flat with only small hills as I-90 passed the towns of Sprague and Ritzville… and the rain slowly tapered off. I stopped in Moses Lake for gas and a quick cheeseburger and was surprised to find a Starbucks. The coffee stop was busy with families traveling for Easter – some wearing Sunday best, either coming from or going to a family function, church service, or both. Passing through George and Vantage was fairly scenic. George is known for it’s Gorge (The Gorge at George) where they have concerts overlooking the Columbia River. The views are really impressive and I regret not stopping to snap a quick picture. Passing through Ellensburg, I started to climb the Cascades and the rain picked up. There was a little bit of snow here and there on the ground. The rain really started to come down as I passed through Cle Elum and Roslyn (where they used to shoot the TV series Northern Exposure). I checked the weather station and the only warning was to watch for standing water. Finally summiting I-90 at Snoqualmie pass I could hear some of the die hard skiers using their FRS radios on my Bearcat scanner.

Coming off the summit, I stopped at North Bend to get a coffee refill and stretch the legs. Not much further west, I took Washington’s Highway 18 south east towards Tacoma. I’d driven WA 18 a number of times and the construction that was going on 10 years ago was still underway. I imagine with all the rain, it’s hard to get a project finished. WA 18 made for an easy drive (still raining) into Federal Way, connecting with I-5 and heading a bit south into Tacoma.

New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts

Cape May, NJ – Hyannis, MA
Daily Mileage: 411
Total Mileage: 608
Total Number of States Traveled: 8

It was a pretty dreary day – rain in the morning and it lasted up into New York. I got my introduction to Toll Roads in New Jersey. I was driving along and all of a sudden – BOOM – cough up 35 cents. Luckily I had a good pile of change. The Toll Booth Lady on the George Washington Bridge called me “hon’” – I felt like a local.

I crossed into Connecticut and had originally wanted to drive by Yale (there’s a Starbuck’s with WiFi), but was running behind schedule – so I just blasted on through. I stopped in Rhode Island for gas and food then headed toward Cape Cod. Had a nice QSO with N1KO while driving through Providence.

It was dark by now and I had just made it into Hyannis when my Belkin’s Bluetooth GPS ran out of juice. The Econo Lodge I’m staying at is on 58 East Main Street – I’d plugged in 57 West Main Street… so I ended up going in circles for about an hour until I figured out I was on the wrong side of Hyannis. I finally got turned around and found the place. Frustrating end to a long day.

Fully Caffeinated

I’m posting from one of the Starbucks in Newport News, VA that has WiFi access. I’ve set up my Belkin’s GPS in the truck and it gives directions verbally – it’s worked well on a test run… we’ll see how it does tomorrow.

Overall a productive day – I got a cell phone, P.O. Box, and finished the loan paperwork with the Toyota dealership.

I’ve been using my scanner to listen in on the amateur nets, but I haven’t made a contact yet. I’m going to hook up my mag mount antenna tomorrow for the trip.