Radio continues to be a fickle and rewarding thing.
I spent some time in Brentwood park yesterday. Threw my 20-meter dipole between some trees and tried to make contacts. Due to a national HF contest, there wasn’t much space in the good parts of the band to get a word in edgewise. Eventually, I was run out of the park by some random dude who decided to practice Tai Chi under the same tree I was using for shelter (of all the trees in the park, he picks mine).
So with the heat of the young afternoon and all the confounding factors, I folded up and went home to drink water and not cause a scene.
Due to the excessive heat today, I didn’t get out until near sunset. Lacking any time to do a real setup, I made a last minute scramble and went to Northwest Park which sits in a low-lying area of town (it was a quarry once), where I clamped my poorly-performing vertical antenna to a picnic table, tuned it to 40-meters (because 20-meters was already closed), warmed up my radio, and called CQ.
WIthin a short time, I actually got an answer. I don’t work 40m much, so I’m not used to the higher noise level (especially with the nearby band of thunderstorms). But the one contact I made was with N9LVY in Illinois. We got enough info through the noise to qualify as an actual contact. Worth it.
So the takeaway lesson is that you can make the perfect setup in the perfect location, and you won’t get anywhere. But make a last ditch effort with improbable odds and — by damn — you get a message through.
This affirms to me that radio is exactly like fishing.