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WD9EWK's 19 April road trip (long)


I haven't done a road trip like I did on Saturday in a long time.
I woke up early, left Phoenix before sunrise (5am local/1200 UTC),
was part of an event with a radio club 90 minutes north of the city, 
and then proceed to put a bunch of miles (456.5 miles/734km) on my 
truck.  In all of this, I was able to park in 4 different locations, 
putting a total of 4 different grids on the air during 4 AO-51 and 
2 AO-27 passes and making a total of 65 QSOs with stations in the 
continental USA, Canada, Mexico, and Alaska.  Through my fuel
purchases, I also made a small boost in the economies of some 
oil-producing countries.  

The primary reason for the trip on Saturday was to help the Yavapai
Amateur Radio Club with their activity at an event in Prescott AZ, 
about 100 miles/160km north of Phoenix.  I added to that a loop 
through northern Arizona that would allow me to operate from 4 
different grids, and in particular put a couple of unusual (for 
satellite ops) grids on the air: DM35 and DM45.  These two grids
in northern Arizona are rarely on the satellites, unless someone 
driving on I-40 decides to stop and work passes from up there.
I can probably count on one hand the number of passes I've heard
stations from both of these grids in the last 2+ years.  

First stop... 1410 UTC, about 85 miles/137km north of Phoenix, 
west of the I-17 freeway in grids DM34xm and DM44am at 4455 feet
(1358m) elevation:


This was a pass to my east, and the only time I would be on the
air from DM44 during the day.  Lots of activity, and I was able 
to log contacts with 12 stations in Canada, Mexico, and the US.
I have operated from this spot off and on in the past year, and
this time I had an "audience" - some cattle, roaming through this
field just inside the Prescott National Forest.  In this area, the
national forest has very few trees.  It is more high desert than 
forested area.  

After this pass, I made the 30-mile/50km drive west to Prescott.
The event I was helping with would be in the public library in 
downtown Prescott, grid DM34sm:


The event was only for 2 hours, between 10am and 12 noon (1700-
1900 UTC), and its location on a hill prevented me from working
any eastern passes unless the satellites were above 40 or 45 
degrees elevation.  I was able to do a demonstration on one AO-51
pass to the west at 1548 UTC, logging contacts with 9 stations 
from Alaska to Mexico.  The event, primarily focused on astronomy,
was a good one.  The Yavapai Amateur Radio Club had a table with 
general information on amateur radio including details of a local 
school's SAREX contact in 1994 and another table with information 
on radio astronomy, along with my table with satellite-related 
information.  Thanks to Ray W1OTH, Terry KB7TRE, Bob WB6ODR, and 
the others with the radio club and the Prescott Astronomy Club for 
your assistance.  

After the event wrapped up, I grabbed some lunch and drove 35 
miles/56km north to a spot east of Arizona route 89 in grids
DM34tx and DM35ta near Drake AZ (25 miles/40km south of Ash
Fork and the I-40 freeway):


This was a very nice spot, again just inside the Prescott 
National Forest in the high desert (4735 feet/1443m elevation,
per my GPS receiver).  I had a great view of the sky in all 
directions, no hassles from people driving on the road, and was 
able to work a pair of AO-27 passes.  I made 10 QSOs on the 2121 
UTC pass to the east, and 8 more on the 2302 UTC pass to the west.   

After those passes, it was time to pack up my stuff and move on
to the last spot I wanted to reach.  After a 45-mile/72km drive
I reached a spot on old US 66 west of Parks AZ in grids DM35xg
and DM45ag:


No more high desert here.  I was in the Kaibab National Forest,
and this actually looked like a forest with lots of tall trees.
I had gone up in elevation, up to 7128 feet/2173m.  I had almost 
90 minutes before the first AO-51 pass of the evening, so I tried 
to find a good spot that would still put me on the DM35/DM45 
line away from the road.  No luck with that, so I parked on the
side of the road and prepared for the first pass.  

When I started to hear the satellite come up from the southeast,
it was already jammed with stations from all over the USA and 
Mexico.  Despite the crowd, I was able to make quick contacts with
15 different stations during the 0120 UTC pass.  Between that pass
and the 0259 UTC pass to the west, I drove around the area again
to see the sights while there was still sunlight.  I returned to 
the same spot for the 0259 UTC pass, and made 11 more contacts with
stations from Mexico up to Alaska to wrap up my satellite operating
for the day.  After I dismantled my station, I drove to Flagstaff 
for dinner.  Then a quick look around that city, before driving down 
the I-17 freeway to go home.  

If anyone who worked me Saturday wants a QSL card for the contact(s), 
please e-mail me.  If I already have a QSL card from an earlier 
satellite QSO with you, there's no need to send me another card.  If 
we have not worked before, I would appreciate receiving your QSL card.  
If you didn't work me and would like to hear DM35, DM45, or some other 
unusual grids in Arizona on future satellite passes, there will be 
other opportunities as summer approaches.


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK 

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