Monday, October 17, 2011

Yesterday's little DXpedition to the water tower

I am seriously thinking of doing one of two things with my little PRC 320 forays. Either restrict them to places out in the woods somewhere or just keep letting things happen.

Yesterday a young Marine reservist and I decided to ake the 320 up to the water tower and try our luck. He's got a lot of technology with him so doing things like looking up call signs would be a snap. We could also fish for people to yak with via the web.


We whipped into the parking lot and noticed there were an awfull lot of cars on one end so we looked up at the lodge house and saw quite a few people. It took a second but it registered;there was a wedding going on.

We figured that if we stayed on the fringes of the parking lot we'd be all right.

Out cane the slingshot and I tried to snag a line up to the top railing of the water tower but it was about three or four feet too high. A cursory check saw there was a monster steel door keeping us from going up the stairs to the top.

Of course, the pair of us figured out how to defeat the door in about six seconds but decided against it as we had no rope save some 550 paracord.

Over to the nearest tree. Blap! the first try netted a pretty good place for the antenna. We spooled out all 46 meters of it and tied the other end off to a fence. We backed the truck up to the end of the wire set up the 320 and attached the antenna. A quick tuning of the antenna for 40 meters and we were now on the air.

I looked toward the lodge and noticed that there were an awful lot of people lined up and it looked like pictures of some sort were being taken.

Seeing we had an audience there was no use letting it go to waste. Sergeant AJ had not emptied his truck completely since last weekend's reserve meeting so I snagged his flak jacket and K-pot and donned them.

Right about then I got a pretty solid QSO from a ham in Missouri which is a state I need for my 'worked all states' project. Cool! When I told the 'Show me' stater there was a wedding nearby he laughed and said something to the effect 'it really isn't a whole lot of fun unless someone gets wierded out'. Sergeant AJ and I laughed at that one.

I also switched the set to low power and Missouri reported little change in signal. QSO with Missouri using only 3 watts! Outrageous!

As I was yakking with the man from Missouri, I noticed something that made me realize that even though we were well out of the way we really should not have set up.

We were a distraction.

While every set of female eyes were aimed at the photographer to insure the wedding pictures came out all right, every single set of male eyes were focused on us. The wedding pictures were probably going to show this.

I seriously doubted that any of the guys were going to break ranks and walk over to see what we were doing as their womenfolk would raise holy hell. However there was an off chance that perhaps the mother of the bride or someone might come over and say something. I mentioned this to AJ and he asked me how to handle it.

"If she comes over and tells you we have crashed a wedding, simply say something like 'Cool! Got any good stuff to eat?'"

We laughed.

While we were not in the way of the wedding I suppose we were a minor distraction and possibly a welcome one from the point of view of the menfolk who generally hate weddings anyway. I suppose had I been at the damned wedding I would probably be going nuts trying to figure out what two guys were doing out in the parking lot. I'm no different than any other guy.

Then again, this is a public park and these people had probably been warned that although they had rented the lodge there was the possibility of an overlap of activities so there was really nothing we should be worried about.

Still many of the menfolk were curious. We could tell that from as far off as we were. They were looking at a guy a couple weeks shy of 60 with a winter beard half grown in wearing a K-pot and flak jacket running an obviously military radio set. It was obvious that he was communicating with someone somewhere and their natural curiosity was killing them.

Something had to give.

There were a couple of cars nearby and something did finally give. One of the men cracked and found some kind of excuse to sneak back to his car. The curiosity had gotten to him and he just had to check out what was going on.

As he neared his car I turned off the rig and picked up the handset. I spun the tablet around and looked at it.

As he got within earshot, I put the dead handset to my ear.

"Danger, close!" I said into the dead handset. "H.E. fuse quick. The lieutenant will adjust after this. Tell him he's got a golden ass bringing 155s in this close to his position!"

I listened for almost a minute.

"Roger that." I said. I looked at the tablet. "Next. There's a cave at three O'clock. That's the one... When you get a chance have an air asset stuff a couple into it and I'd just bet you'll get one hell of a secondary out of it. You guys are going to have to quit yanking me out of retirement. I'm getting too old for this! I shoulda resigned my commission instead of retiring it!"

Mister Nosy must have had an infantry background of some sort and decided to fall back on Rule One of basic survival. It is doesn't directly concern yoy, leave it alone. He opened the door to his car, grabbed whatever it was he came there for as an excuse and fled back to the wedding.

AJ looked at me. 'What are the cances of the cops showing up?"

I thought a second. "Slim to none. I think he took the bait hook, line and sinker. If it was a she instead of a he, I'd say we ought to unass the A.O. because women panic, but I think the guy figures we are something legit like a National Guard training exercise or something along those lines."

"He'll go inside and tell his wife who will tell everyone else and it'll settle everyone's curiosity." AJ said.

"Yeah, and in ten years with the retelling and retelling they will be talking about how two guys during their wedding won the war from outside in the parking lot." I said. He grinned.

"Hey," I asked."What would you have done if the guy came over and started running his mouth?"

AJ grinned. "I would have told him that my Uncle Pic's Agent Orange disease was kicking up again after he ate six hits of acid." he said. "Happens every year about this time. Just leave him alone and he''ll get over it."

"Good thinking," I said.

AJ is going to make a pretty good QRP partner with thinking like that!

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