I didn't set up here at all, but for anyone planning a future activation this would be a cool place to set up - it has a decent little parking area, after-hours there's not much traffic so you shouldn't be pestered too much, and it isn't too far off the beaten path. Just gas up before you start, because the closest gas stations close early in the evening!
So, Tuesday night, I managed to head to the location I initially planned. Right on Alligator Alley (Route 75) there are a couple trailhead parking area's and rest stops. I set up at one of the trailhead parking areas. This was a decent place to operate, but not the most scenic in the world. For me it was decent though - I set up my buddipole mast for a center support, and ran my 40 meter wire dipole parallel to the fence along the parking area, and tied the ends off to fence posts. As far as ham radio goes, it worked well, but a word of caution - bring bug spray! Right around dusk the swarms come out for a feeding frenzy. It doesn't last long but it's awful while it lasts!
In addition to this visitor, one of the other visitors was an actual person - another tourist that stopped by and asked about my set up and what I was doing - he thought it was pretty cool, and even said "That's awesome!" when I told him I was making contacts with the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Puerto Rico. We may have a new convert to the hobby!
The location I chose for the second night was actually just down the road a little bit from the tiny post office. There is a roadside park called "HP Williams Roadside Park" that has a decent parking area, some benches, a small boardwalk for viewing, and even restroom facilities (but no running water, so no promises on what they might smell like in the heat of the summer!)
For night 2 I wised up and set up my station inside the back of the rental car (A jeep compass) and ran the wires through one of the windows, open just enough to let the wires through. I stuffed the opening with a spare t-shirt for good measure. I then spent the early evening operating from behind the vehicle with the tailgate up, and then when the swarm started coming I just jumped in and closed the tailgate, and kept operating until the feeding frenzy ended.
My only disappointment from this activation was that I didn't get into any CW like I had planned. Cell phone reception at this location was in and out, and I had to pack up and leave so that I could be back into an area with cell coverage before my nightly FaceTime call with my kiddo's at home (this is a tradition when I'm traveling - we do our bedtime stories and everything just like we would if I was home.)
With that, I'll wrap it up and leave you with a couple tid-bits, and some pictures:
- For a northerner, Florida in winter is awesome - 70 degrees vs. the 20-30 at home!
- While driving in-and out check out the Everglades Radio Network on FM Broadcast 107.9. They share all kinds of cool info about the swamp, the ecology, restoration efforts, etc.
- Eat Cuban and Latin food! It's waaaaay better in FL than in most area's of the country!
- Don't get scared by the Panther crossing signs - the population is very small and they are trying to help them recover. If you do see one, send us all pictures - they're pretty elusive!
- If I didn't mention it before - bring bug spray!!!
Till next time!