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Re: [FFMA] K7BV Grid Trips End...for now

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  • Jim Kennedy
    Well, I can only echo Paul’s words. It was a great great summer with all the “Grid Expeditioners” that were out motoring around. It seemed every morning
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 1 12:27 PM
      Well, I can only echo Paul’s words. It was a great great summer with all the “Grid Expeditioners” that were out motoring around. It seemed every morning there was someone in a new grid. In fact my “New
      Grid” cup is overflowing. . But, I must say one of the highlights of the summer was a chance to visit with Dennis at the Idaho State Convention in Boise while he was out on his first grid trip and then later on in the summer having breakfast with Tim K7XC right here in Twinkie Falls. Thanks to all of you who expended the effort, Mac, David,  Dennis, Barry,  Tim--- You guys rock.
      Jim W7OUU
      Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 8:07 PM
      Subject: Re: [FFMA] K7BV Grid Trips End...for now

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks to you and the other guys who activated all those grids, I got a bunch of new grids when I thought I wouldn't have a chance to get more than one or two. You gave me DM63 which turned out to be the last FFMA grid that I needed within meteor scatter range. That was definitely a milestone for me. Thanks so much!

      73, Paul K7CW

      From: "aa7vb@..." <aa7vb@...>
      To: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com; ffma@yahoogroups.com
      Cc: K7bv@...
      Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 3:58 PM
      Subject: [FFMA] K7BV Grid Trips End...for now

      I rolled into Irvine, CA at 4 AM this morning a happy camper after another really fun and satisfying Grid Trip; my fourth and last as the Es season now seems to be fading fast.   During these trips, I was on the air in 96 grids driving nearly 11,500 miles; sometimes with terrific openings and others times with not one QSO logged.  6 Meters will always be an exciting “who-knows-what-you’re-going-to-get” Box of Chocolate.  I hit a lot of semi-rare and rare grids so it was fun to stir up a lot of 6 Meters, FFMA, and WSJT meteor scatter activity.
      My rig was a Yaesu FT-450AT into the driven element of a 6M7JHV yagi mounted about 2 ½ feet above the luggage rack of my Saturn SUV.  When I stopped to set up for an extended operation, I had a 3el M2 Starter Series 6M3SS up 20 feet.  This little antenna proved to be an awesome performer and an easy to put together perfect grid trip antenna.
      I did put up my 7el 6M7JHV on the mobile tilt up mast once, but that proved to be a bit more than my muscles and nerves could take.   Being a certified ham radio obsessive compulsive kinda guy, I had to try it, though, since one of my mottos is “Anything Worth Doing, is Worth Overdoing.”  However, my primary motto is “True Adventure Requires an Uncertain Outcome” so I did need to give it a try!
      The four trips have been such good post-Cancer therapy for me.  I am so grateful that I am a ham and have this hobby and my many friends in it to assist me find myself and “engage” in life once again. 
      A Commitment
      The initial source of my interest in grid trips was generated last year at the Central States VHF Conference - before I knew I had Cancer, of course.  I sat with Mark KM0A, a meteor scatter friend of many years, and his wife at the conference banquet. After learning of Mark’s FFMA quest, I decided to commit to activate all of his remaining grids during the 2011 summer Es season.  When the news of the Cancer diagnosis hit me, I recall thinking it was going to squash that commitment. I guess I was too dumb to worry more about my life than Mark’s FFMA!  It turns out that commitment was the core focus that put me behind the wheel of four incredibly therapeutic grid trips after many months of successful Cancer chemo and radiation treatment in the last 6 months of 2010 extending into the first months of 2011
      First Trip – Idaho, Nevada, Oregon – 15 Grids
      The “excuse” for this trip was a hamfest in Boise. The trip up to Idaho was incredibly difficult for me because my mind and body muscles were a total mess after the many months of chemo and radiation therapy.  While the last treatment was in mid-February, the recovery that included 3 times a week physical therapy had been slow and at times painful.  What I needed was a reason to work my body and this first grid trip was the perfect excuse to get me out of bed, the house and a bad mental outlook. 
      The 3el yagi was strapped on the luggage rack so taking it down and getting it up 20’ or more into the air was an agonizing experience that often meant groans of pain and a wet eye from time to time.  But, I was doing what I love most; doing ham radio stuff. The challenges were easily justified in my mind and proved just the right medicine to begin the process of rebuilding my body.
      This trip occurred in late April and early May so nearly all QSOs were via meteor scatter because the Es had not yet fired up for this summer.
      My wife joined me for this trip – she was still needed to keep an eye on me as I struggled to find my many new “boundaries”.  This first trip, however, proved to be too much for her watching me struggle along so she opted out of the rest of them this summer. While I missed her company, her decision allowed me to put my ACOM HF+6 amplifier in her passenger seat that, combined with a loaner Honda 2K generator, proved to be an excellent Grid Trip travel companion!
      KM0A needed DN00 that was covered with a full two days of effort without successes...sigh.  He was too far for meteor scatter and the Es did not appear.  Thankfully, he scored this one a month and one half later.
      Second Trip – California, Oregon, Washington– 16 Grids
      The second trip centered on a hamfest I needed to attend in Seaside, OR.  I used what I learned from my first trip and had a pretty good trip now that the summer Es had begun in earnest.  I was more aware of the FFMA Leader Board needs now and focused heavily on trying to score them some new ones.
      I made it my mission to sit for a couple days on the CN77/78 grid line far up in WA to see if I could take that one down a few notches with a particular determined effort to make sure that Mark KM0A logged these two grids that were on his very short Short List towards achieving FFMA….a mission that was happily accomplished.
      Third Trip – CA off shore grid CM93
      CM93 was one of the grids KM0A needed when I made my commitment last year to activate all his Needed Grids.  I confidently made that commitment knowing I had some good contacts in the United States Power Squadron – an international group that has over 400 hams in its ranks.  I did make just the right contact with a great guy who had a new 36’ motor cruiser.  As I began my recovery this Spring, I renewed the contact and received a positive response to do the trip out to Santa Rosa Island.  I asked my buddy Barry KS7DX to join me on the trip since it was obvious this trip was going to be too much for me to do by myself after deal with the Cancer crud.
      We did the grid “cruise” mid-June. We decided to do the operation entirely from the boat anchored off the island due to the regulations and logistics that make it almost impossible to run a KW from the island itself. Despite nasty weather and seas that cut the trip time in half, we did work two-thirds of the people listed on the FFMA Leader Board needing this Rarest of Rare grids thanks to some double hop Es that extended until 1AM for us. 
      This grid no longer occupies the top of the Need List – a fact Barry and I are very proud about.  Now…to do the same thing to DM02 next year :)
      Fourth Trip – Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming – 64 Grids
      In the movie, “Forrest Gump”, he starts running and almost doesn’t stop.  During this trip, I started driving….and almost didn’t stop!  The trip started as a run up to Montana to attend the Glacier-Waterton Hamfest but was soon extended to attend the W0DXCC meeting in Kansas City the following weekend.  I saw some beautiful country and experienced weather below freezing all the way up to 117 F.  What an adventure from the Canadian border to the Mexican border…the ultimate grid trip, indeed. 
      Over 1,500 QSOs generated a huge pile of QSL requests waiting for me upon my return this morning.  The stories of encounters with the local citizens, Police, Border Patrol, TSA agents, deer, road runner little animals, Javelina pigs, low flying birds, a steer and a donkey will feed my humor for years to come!  After numerous unsuccessful times trying to explain why I was stopped and had that fun antenna thing in the air, I just agreed with whatever they wanted me to be including a Storm Chaser and an Air Quality Inspector…it was just easier that way!
      KM0A is now the proud holder of FFMA No.4 and others are much closer partially due to sharing these really fun trips with me.
      I thank all of you old and now many new friends for the fun.  Your patience easily exceeded mine numerous times as the sleep deprivation, hot weather, humidity, and hunger pangs controlled my mood at times. I find myself now significantly advanced with my mental and physical recovery and pretty much ready to re-enter the mainstream of life thanks to these great adventures with you. 
      I cannot wait for the Es to appear once again next year!  Again, Thank You.
      73 Dennis K7BV

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