|I made it! Cagles Mill Lake at Lieber State Park|
This past Wednesday I traveled down to Cagles Mill Lake at Lieber State Park after work. The park is located about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis just outside of the small town of Cataract. This is a decent size lake measured in at just over 1,400 acres and home of a very well known bald eagles nest. I operated from this park last summer and I was excited to return again to attempt to activate the park for Parks on the Air. You can find out all about Parks on the Air by visiting their website, just CLICK HERE.
The weather on the way down was awesome! Sunny skies, temperatures in the low 60s and a light breeze... perfect for a quick trip to the lake right? That is what I thought too... There is an old saying around Indiana that goes something like this: "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes". Well, I was about to find out what that saying really meant on this adventure!
Several minutes after arriving at the park clouds started building, the temperature started to drop fast and the wind started gusting 20-30 mph. The weather was deteriorating quickly, but I kept reminding myself of how nice it was down by the lake and how much I was looking forward to operating on the lake shore. Mother Nature however was not done surprising me on this trip though. Once I arrived to down to the lake shore area I had planned on operating from I quickly found out that it was completely under water due to the recent heavy rains we had (see below). My perfect operating location, under 6 feet of water. You win this round Mother Nature, but I'm not giving up yet!
|This was the area I had originally planned on operating from. Unfortunately it was completely under water.|
After escaping the flooded lake shore and making my way up to higher ground I began to come up with "plan-b"... looking for another place to operate from that still had a decent view of the lake. After driving around the park for several minutes I came across a large picnic area with several tables and a nice view overlooking the lake. Not the best location, but it was still better then being surrounded by the four walls in a ham shack.
|Plan-B... this will have to do!|
|The view from my new operating location overlooking a corner of the lake.|
I was able to park the car pretty close to the picnic area and start unloading my gear. I had the entire picnic area to myself due to the weather I am sure. Since the winds were continuing to increase with the incoming cold front I decided to leave the dipole in the car and go with a simple vertical antenna instead. My vertical antenna was made up of a 40m hamstick with several radials laying out on the ground. Not a perfect antenna by any means, but thanks again to Mother Nature, it would have to do.
|My simple hamstick vertical antenna for 40m.|
The rest of my portable station consisted of my mcHF SDR QRP radio, American Morse company mini CW paddle, dell laptop computer, and a lead acid battery for power. I found a nice picnic table to set everything up on and within 5 minutes I was on the air sending "CQ POTA".
|My operating location for Parks on the Air adventure #1|
|"CQ POTA CQ POTA de KQ9RP"|
The temperatures were continuing to drop, it was getting very cold very quickly! If only I had left work early a little earlier in the day I might have been more successful. I was able to squeeze out 4 QSOs, 6 shy of the required 10 needed for a successful activation before Mother Nature finally won the war. I quickly wrapped everything up and retreated to the warmth of my car. The funny thing is that on my way to the park from work it was warm enough that I had the air conditioner on in the car and now less than two hours later I am rubbing my hands together attempting to get warm with the car heater on full blast. Good ole Indiana weather!
Feeling defeated by Mother Nature I called up my friend and elmer Ivin W9ILF to see if he wanted to meet me at a local McDonalds on the way back home so that I could share my story with him and bury my sorrows in an order of Chicken McNuggets. Ivin and I have discussed doing several activations together this Summer and I am really looking forward to those adventures. I have learned a most everything I know about QRP and operating CW from Ivin and I always have a blast operating together with him. Stay tuned...
This activation may have not been a success, but any time I can get a chance to spend a little time outdoors it's a win for me! The icing on the cake was the beautiful sunset I was able to enjoy when leaving the park, it made the entire trip worth it in the end. I pulled the car over and took a quick photo so that I could share the sunset with you here. It was a great reminder for me to be thankful for what I have and the time I get to spend doing what I really enjoy doing, like ham radio outdoors!
|The highlight of my evening, enjoying this beautiful sunset while leaving the park.|
Cagles Mill Lake, Lieber State Park... I will be back! And when I return it will be a whole new adventure complete with a successful Parks on the Air (POTA) activation.
Please take a moment to leave me a comment and tell me what you think about my first POTA advenutre. Do you have a funny POTA story to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Until next time, 72 de Mike KQ9RP