RVing the Blue Ridge Parkway: A Perfect Place for First Timers and Veterans

By W. Lynn Seldon Jr.

I recently tried RVing for the first time. My little tent is sure going to get lonely during future forays into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As a long-time tent camper and fan of Blue Ridge Parkway road trips, the idea of trying an RV for the first time on one of America’s prettiest roads had some definite appeals. The ease of driving the Parkway made maneuvering a big ‘rig’ less daunting, while the conveniences of camping with a mobile bedroom, kitchen, and other modern amenities seemed like an ideal way to enjoy all the Parkway has to offer.

RVing is exploding in the U.S. and it’s not just with the retired set. Annual new RV shipments tend to total around 275,000 or more and the past five years have seen many records. “These robust numbers confirm that RV travel has entered a new era of growth,” says David Humphreys, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “The industry is now benefiting from an influx of baby boomers into the RV ownership ranks.”

Being a baby boomer myself, those figures were enough to convince me to give RVing a try (but on an easy stretch of road like the Blue Ridge Parkway). In researching how to try RVing, my first discovery was that renting is a convenient and ideal way to try RVing.

Several national companies offer rental options, as do many local dealers. The nation’s largest rental company, Cruise America, has more than 100 centers throughout the U.S. Dozens of local dealers in the rental business carry fleets of five to 50 vehicles, while a growing number of campground operators now offer on-site rentals.

We opted for a Shasta Travelmaster mini motorhome. Their 28-foot version features a queen-sized bed in the rear and a double bed over the cab, as well as additional fold-down sleeping for larger families or groups. There’s a full bathroom and separate shower, as well as standard features like: a stereo; a dinette; a fully functional kitchen three-burner stove, refrigerator, and microwave; a monitoring system that tells you everything you need to know about the RV’s numerous functions; and an incredible amount of storage. The Travelmaster and other models are available in shorter and longer versions, but this was an ideal length for us to try.

Shasta is owned by Coachmen, one of the legendary names in RVing. Of course, Coachmen and other well-known companies like Winnebago feature a wide choice of offerings, ranging from ‘conversion vans’ and folding camper trailers to giant buses that are complete homes on wheels. We learned about all of the options by a visit to a local dealer, which is a great place to start.

This initial dealer visit and a few test drives led to our cruising up Afton Mountain to the start of the famed Parkway. Within minutes on I-64, I became comfortable with driving this yacht on wheels. It handled just like a car, though it took a bit of time to get used to the length when changing lanes.

The powerful Ford Triton V10 engine had no trouble getting us up the mountain, which bode well for the climbs to come. Once on the Parkway proper, it became obvious that this was the perfect place to try RVing in a non-threatening atmosphere. The lower speed limits (35 or 45 mph) and limited traffic made it easy to grow more comfortable with driving an RV and pulling off for the numerous overlooks and other attractions along the way.

Perhaps unlike any other road in the world, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers one of the ultimate road trips for RVers of all experience levels. It meets all of the prerequisites in resounding fashion: only two lanes of traffic; historical interest; friendly and interesting people; great scenery; and many places to stop for the night.

Since its inception, the Blue Ridge Parkway has been called America’s favorite drive. It was authorized in the 1930s as a Depression-era public works project, but was a half-century in the making. It was the nation’s first (and ultimately the longest) rural parkway. It connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (the Skyline Drive) with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The total distance is 469 miles, making it an ideal three- or four-day trip in an RV (though campgrounds make it easy to take longer).

The Blue Ridge Parkway drive officially starts at Rockfish Gap, where you find the 0 Milepost marker. These markers become the welcome signs of your location on the drive and run progressively each mile southward along the Parkway.

The first major stop is indicative of what the drive has to offer. The Humpback Rocks Visitor Center is often the first taste of the Blue Ridge Parkway for southbound drivers and it’s a great place for an RVer to stop.

The visitor centers, camping facilities, and concession system on the Parkway are excellent, with services varying with the season. They offer great places to get maps, ask questions, and learn about campfire talks, nature walks, slide programs, and much more.

The Humpback Rocks area features an interesting self-guided tour through a reconstructed mountain farmstead. The short, but steep, hike up to Humpback Rocks (at Milepost 6.1) is well worth the heavy breathing for a breath-taking view of the area. It’s only 3/4 of a mile to the top.

Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the views begin. One of the beauties of RVing is that the driver and passengers generally sit higher than they do in a car, thus providing much better views of the surrounding landscape.

Some possible stops along this stretch include: Ravens Roost, featuring vistas of the Shenandoah River and Torry Mountain); Sherando Lake, a recreational lake in the George Washington National Forest; Whetstone Ridge, which provided the mountain folks with a fine-grained sharpening stone; and Yankee Horse Parking Area.

Between Mileposts 58 and 64, Otter Creek runs down the Blue Ridge, following the road to the James River. Otters don’t play along the creek anymore, but lots of people do. This section of the drive features a year-round campground, a visitor center, a self-guided nature trail, a restored lock and canal system, a restaurant, a gift shop, and the lowest elevation on the entire Parkway (649 feet).

Otter Creek has the first of nine developed campgrounds along the Parkway (if the one you select is closed or full, there are many more just off the road). All of the campgrounds have tent and RV sites (no water or electrical hookups, so first-timers quickly learn about using the generator). Later, we learned how simple it is to hook your RV up for water and electricity, which most commercial campgrounds provide. Otter Creek does have RV sewage stations and we learned how easy these were to use (trust me, it’s not nearly as bad as you may think).

The campgrounds are generally open from early-May to late-October, depending on the weather. They don’t take reservations and they’re not usually needed (except on summer holiday weekends and fall foliage season, when first-time RVers should avoid the Parkway anyway).

Peaks of Otter, Roanoke Mountain, and Rocky Knob are the rest of the Virginia camping options, with the number of RV sites ranging from 24 to 62. In North Carolina, the first option is Doughton Park, followed by Julian Price Memorial Park, Linville Falls, Crabtree Meadows, and Mt. Pisgah (the southernmost and highest elevation campground). Our favorite camping night was at Doughton Park, where the campground host told us about the “Honeymoon Suite” (isolated campsite T9, where the sunset was stupendous and we were alone with the Parkway and our RV).

Once established in a campground for the night, we established a ritual of a short hike, followed by a fire (the campsites typically have fire rings) and some quality time outdoors. Then, we headed inside to our home (and kitchen) on wheels for a gourmet meal. One of the beauties of RVing is the ability to place provisions in the refrigerator, freezer, and ample cabinet space. The stove, oven, and microwave made virtually any meal a possibility.

Our next stop along the Parkway was popular Peaks of Otter. Along with great camping, the Peaks of Otter area accommodates with some serious hiking to lose a few of the pounds gained cooking gourmet meals in your RV.

The Parkway continues south and the spectacular views roll by continuously. Look for the Appalachian Trail Overlook around Milepost 100. The famed Appalachian Trail is a 2,100-mile hiking “path” along the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching from Maine to Georgia.

Mabry Mill is just down the road. This often-photographed waterpowered mill was operated by E.B. Mabry from 1910 to 1935. The self-guided walking tour includes his gristmill, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and other outdoor exhibits. Nearby, the Mabry Mill Coffee & Craft Shop offers refreshments and stoneground cornmeal.

Once in North Carolina, the Tar Heel State features some spectacular scenery and sightseeing of its own. Some of the best views in the state include Fox Hunters Paradise, Doughton Park, The Lump, Linn Cove Viaduct, Linville Falls, the Mt. Pisgah area, and Richland Balsam Overlook (which, at 6,053 feet, features views from the highest point on the Parkway). Along with these pulloffs, North Carolina hiking options include the Tanawha Trail, the Craggy Gardens area, Graveyard Fields, Devil’s Courthouse, and Waterrock Knob.

History also abounds in this rugged area. The Cone Manor House and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park provide one of the most interesting stops on the Parkway. This huge and historic estate features old carriage trails that are now ideal for hiking, as well as a well-run Parkway Craft Center, where you can buy crafts and watch occasional demonstrations.

South of Asheville, there are a ton of tunnels (heights are clearly marked, but even the tallest RVs make it through them) and some of the highest points and pulloffs on the Parkway. After Richland Balsam, the drive haltingly descends to 2,020 feet and the end of the Parkway. Just after the end, RVers can head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on US 441 and another great drive.

But for my money, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the perfect road for both virgin and veteran RVers. We loved our rental Shasta and hated to return it. But the experience made us hungry for other RV adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just look for us in another big rig at some campground in the mountains.


For general information, contact the RVIA and Go RVing Coalition at (888) Go RVing or visit their website at www.gorving.com. For specific information about rentals and rentals in your area, contact the Recreation Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA) at (800) 972-1074 or visit their website at www.rvra.org (where you can search for a nearby RV rental location). For further information about the Blue Ridge Parkway, call (828) 298-0398 or visit their website at www.nps.gov/blri.


An RV offers an ideal way to see fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway and elsewhere. The generally higher vantage point and ease of maneuvering on the Parkway and at pulloffs make it popular with both first-timers and veterans. We can’t wait to rent another RV this fall (and we might even have bought one by then).

But because of this popularity with RVers and car drivers, the Parkway can get crowded during peak leaf peeping periods. RVers would do well to time their trips for weekdays, rather than weekends, when the Parkway and campgrounds are much less crowded. It’s also generally less crowded during the end of prime viewing times, when the crowds have decreased but the colors are just as dramatic.

“W. Lynn Seldon Jr. has spent the past fifteen years covering all aspects of travel writing and photography. His specialities include travel within the Southeast US and the Caribbean, outdoor and adventure travel, eco-tourism, cruise ship travel, boating, scuba diving, hiking, mountain biking, golf, beaches, resorts, cities and countryside. From complete travel information, including sightseeing, lodging and dining to outdoor adventures to hidden locales, he can cover the world or your backyard. Author of the Country Road Series of books and numerous others.”

©Copyright 2001 W. Lynn Seldon Jr. Richmond, Virginia, All Rights Reserved.

Camping DXpedition

Thinking about renting an RV and going camping. Fort Eustis has some great deals, I’m checking to see what’s available:

Super RV 35’……………………………………………………….$135.00
Super RV 31′ & 29’………………………………………………$110.00
RV Luxury 29 Foot……………………………………………….$125.00
RV (Double slideout) 29 Foot Independence……………..$140.00
Super RV 27’…………………………………………………………$95.00
Pop-up Camper …………………………………………………….$40.00

Note: $200.00 Deposit is required on all other RV’s & Campers. A $20.00 charge will be assessed to all rental cancellations. Cancellations made inside 72 hours will result in loss of deposit for RV’s & Campers. RV’s may be reserved up to 6 months in advance. There is a two (2) day minimum rental on RV’s and Campers. Mileage fee – 1st 750 miles per rental period are free .20 cents per mile thereafter. Does not include any amneties such as pillows, blankets, etc.

While you are thinking about making plans for your next family vacation make them with one of our RVs. No special licensing required to operate any of our RVs, and with an inventory of seventeen different sizes we can accommodate even the larger families. We still offer the very best deal in town. We are the only MWR facility in the area that offers a complete line of RVs at very low rental rates. We also offer Pop-up campers, log splitters, enclosed and open trailers, gas and charcoal grills, dunk booths, and much, much more. Stop by the rental office for a brochure and price listing and make your reservations now! Our most popular rental time is the NASCAR circuit and you may reserve six months ahead. .Make sure you visit the MWR web site at www.eustismwr.com to review our rental prices and any advertised specials.

Bldg 828 Kells Drive
(757) 878-2610/2565/2259

Hours of Operation
Pick up hours for rental equipment are 0900-1130, 1300-1630

Pick up hours for rental are 0900-1130, 1300-1530

No pick up on Sundays

All Rental equipment must be turned in by 0900 on the day of return.

Lazy Sunday

Knocked out some more QSL cards and certificates for the W4M special event station. It’s fun going through all the QSL cards. Two QSL cards stood out from this morning, one from Washington State near Fort Lewis and the other from Sierra Vista, AZ… near Fort Huachuca. Each QSL response has the W4M folded QSL card, the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse (USA 567) QSL card, the W4M US Army Amateur Radio Society special event certificates, and sometimes a picture or two from the actual event.

The US Army Amateur Radio Society is picking up more members. We’ve been able to identify more hams downrange as well as hams getting ready to go – trying to get them their reciprocal licenses as soon as possible. Also identified some folks in Korea, to include a POC to help with licensing. I need to start looking at Germany as well… I’m sure there has to be quite a few Army hams in Germany.

…. and I even had a 40M CW QSO today! Had about a 40 minute ragchew with AA4TB who is down in Summervile, SC (near Charleston). Tommy put up with my horrible CW skills and kept it slow. I need to find the time to do some serious work on my CW. I wish I could find somebody I could establish a regular CW sked with… like two or three times a week. I think this would really help me improve. Plus – on air practice is a lot better than working one of those CW computer programs.

I have grand plans for a new antenna. The Radio Works is a local company and produces quality antennas. I have two Radio Works G5RVs – one of which I bought from a local ham. The antenna was originally purchased back in the 1980s, but unused. I used the antenna for the W4M special event station – still looked like new and worked like a champ. My current antenna is a B&W end fed inverted vee. Although it has omnidirectional properties, it has a N/S orientation. My plan is to put a Radio Works Carolina Windom 160 Special with a E/W orientation. I intend to use it as a flattop, 133′ in length. I have nice pine trees in the front and back yards, I think I can get the Window up about 50′ or more. Just waiting for my CSV17 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher!

Saturday… having fun

I had an interesting morning with a trip to The Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum. What a wonderful place! They had an elaborate model train layout that was based on Suffolk back in 1907. Also had an old telegraph key on display with a Morse Code dot and dash chart. Interesting to note…. it showed American Morse Code, not the international Morse.

The rest of the day has been spent working on QSLs for the W4M special event station. I will have all cards/certificates sent out by Monday to those who had sent me a SASE. In addition to the special event QSL card, I’m trying to include my special QSL card for the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse (USA 567) (http://www.ni0l.com/usa567/)… as well as the certificate. I think the certificates turned out nicely.

How MARS Came to Afghanistan


By Captain Jeff Hammer, N9NIC

It all began in the spring of 2004 when the 76th Infantry Brigade of the Indiana National Guard was notified that we would be going to Afghanistan.

As a 13-year Amateur Radio Operator and National Guardsman I wanted to make use of my skills and do something unique. I decided to establish a MARS station for my Command in Afghanistan. The first step was applying for a MARS license, and it came through before we deployed. C-130 transports flew us to Kabul in July. We began to occupy Camp Phoenix while the unit that had been here for eight months was preparing to move out.

In my case there was a particular motivation to get MARS up and running. Although a few contacts had been made in the past with Special Forces in Afghanistan, no one had successfully established a fixed MARS station here accessible to the troops generally.

I would soon find out why.

Speedway, IN, near Indianapolis, is where I grew up and where my father, grandfather, and great grandfather all called home. Around the 5th grade I started to take a big interest in electronics. My father and grandfather had grown up using CB radios. I got one and joined the Circle City (Indianapolis) Radio Emergency Assistance Communications Team (R.E.A.C.T.) In 1990 I went off to Purdue University hoping to become an electrical engineer. During the first year I joined the Indiana National Guard. At the same time I was going through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program. After graduation I took on a military intelligence assignment assisting law enforcement in Northwest Indiana I had never planned on joining the military, but Operation Desert Storm sparked something inside me. My father served as an Intelligence Officer and a Military Police Officer and retired after 26 years in the Army and National Guard. My grandfather and great-grandfather both served in the World Wars. There was a lot of family history and pride that continues to drive me to this day.

Basic Training started in the summer of ’91 and it was then, at Red Stone Arsenal, AL, that I decided to get my Amateur Radio license. I studied every night for two months. One November day I walked six miles into Huntsville (after spending a long time convincing my drill sergeant that it was a good idea), took the test, passed, and enjoyed the six mile walk back thinking of all the new radio equipment I wanted to buy.

Back home in Indiana, the fact that I had a full-time job as a military intelligence officer supporting law enforcement and a part-time job as a police and fire dispatcher at the Speedway Police Department didn’t leave a lot of time for play. However, I earned my General Class license in 2001 and got heavily involved in the new world of HF. In Kabul there were all sorts of regular military priorities involved in getting a military post functioning as opposed to just setting up a field site.

Task Force Phoenix, which is made up primarily of the 76th Infantry Brigade, arrived in Afghanistan in mid July. It took about two months to get the MARS station operational at Camp Phoenix. Our SGC SG-2000 PowerTalk HF transceiver, PowerCube amplifier and SG-104 antenna were going to have to wait because there was no place to put them until the previous unit moved out.

So I patiently (not really) waited for the day to come when we completed taking over Camp Phoenix. That day came and went and still no luck finding the time or place to install the station. There was no place to put the radio in the command post yet, so I started coming up with a way to rig it up in our living tent.

Now the problem was where to put this 90 foot antenna. I climbed up a lighting tower behind the command center and installed the antenna in an inverted-V configuration. It didn’t work too well because of the nearby antennas for all the traditional military communications. I had to find a new location.

I moved into my permanent living quarters (a very nice plywood hut that I share with 7 other officers). I worked with the Signal Officer to get approval for a location that would not interfere with the existing military communications equipment and provide me with a suitable location for the MARS station. Next I got with the engineers to build two temporary masts with the only material we had—two-by-fours (see the picture titled The MARS Antenna). We cut two holes in the top of each two-by-four and ran the cord guy lines through them. The base of the masts is held down by sandbags. The antenna only sits about 25 feet high right now, but when I went back into my hut and fired up the SGC 2000 and started spinning the dial, I heard the call sign UA4FER on the 20 meter amateur band. On my first transmission I made contact with UA4FER loud and clear and in Russia! Not bad for a 150 watt radio some 2,250 miles away.

The next night after some coordination with the MARS European Gateway in Germany, I made contact on the first try with AEM1USA near Heidelberg, Germany.

Unfortunately that was the last time I heard of AEM1USA. The Army had decided to shut the gateway station down to save money. This caused communications problems for many stations throughout Europe and Asia. For those of us in faraway and remote locations it was especially devastating – like being able to hear one day and becoming deaf the next.

I turned to Amateur Radio to continue testing the system by making as many contacts as possible to get feedback on signal strength and quality. So far I have made contacts in Russia, Germany, Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Iraq, and the Faroe Islands. Each has reported great signal quality. I look forward to the day when I can make contact directly with the United States.

The fall of 2004 was the season of the antenna moves. Our 90 foot folded dipole required a lot of real estate and as construction projects moved around the camp, my antenna had to keep moving with them, or rather, away from them– eight times in all. I had 200 feet of a special version of super low-loss RG-213 coax manufactured by The Wireman and needed every bit of it.

The antenna currently sits about 25 feet high with half of it hanging over a road inside the camp. One day as I was getting ready to do my first linkup on digital a truck filled way too high with something caught the antenna and snapped it. I managed to get it fixed and restrung in about half an hour and made that contact. After a long winter of almost no activity on the HF bands due to poor propagation and weather conditions, the approach of spring brought new hope. I started hearing faint voice traffic during the nightly net. Voice still doesn’t work as of March, but AEM6AA and I decided to experiment with digital. (That’s Mike Woolverton WB0ZPW, a U.S. Air Force retiree living in Athens, Greece,) PSK31 was the first try and it went pretty well. We had reliable enough digital communications to pass two MARSgrams back to the states.

It wasn’t long before a lot of interference appeared on the frequency. PSK31 wasn’t cutting it. AEM6AA and I decided to try some other modes. The one we have settled on as of March is MFSK16. It is much more reliable and breaks through the interference where PSK31 wouldn’t.

MFSK16 was the mode I received my first MARSGRAM, a reply back from AAV5MK. That’s Mal Lunsford W9MAL, the Indiana MARS traffic manager. He was letting us know the first message had been delivered. It had been addressed to Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, the Indiana state Adjutant General, announcing that our station was operational. We have found that a military frequency near the 40-meter Ham band was the only one that worked for MARS contacts. I use the SGC PowerCube linear most of the time because it is practically impossible to make contact without at least 200 watts. MARS is an extra volunteer duty for me so I conduct it primarily in the evening after I am off shift, between 1500Z and 1800Z. There is still a lot of testing. Conditions are anything but perfect when your site is in between mountains and 3,000 miles away from the nearest station. There are plans to add PACTOR capability and raise the antenna higher in an effort to improve signal quality. My ultimate goal is to establish phone patches. For the Command, I feel that establishing a MARS station that is ready to support the troops is a major milestone. For me personally, I am proud to be part of a network of volunteer communicators that support the troops and the military’s mission. Doing it in a combat theater is just that much more satisfying.

For many if not most of America’s troops overseas, e-mail and cell phones provide a quick link with family and friends back home. But not all service personnel are deployed within reach of these services. Here’s the story of a Ham determined to carry on Amateur Radio’s tradition of handling “morale and welfare” messages via the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS).

Captain Hammer is assigned to the Coalition Task Force Phoenix III as senior intelligence officer responsible for managing Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operations. His duties include fielding a team of more than 400 local interpreters. “Of course,” he says, “I have quality Non-Commissioned Officers who do most of the real work.”

Weekend wrap up

A pretty busy Sunday….

– The recon to Edenton, NC went well. I found the lighthouse without too much difficulty, although you would not run into this lighthouse unless you were specifically looking for it. It’s an old screwpile lighthouse (the only remaining screwpile in North Carolina) that used to be in active use near the town of Roper (across the Albemarle Sound from Edenton). It served as a beacon to guide ships up the Roanoke River towards the town for Plymouth. A former tugboat operator, Emmett Wiggins, purchased the lighthouse in 1955 and had it brought to Edenton, where it was used as a residence. There was an attempt to sell the lighthouse to the Port O’Plymouth Museum (http://www.livinghistoryweekend.com/port_o.htm), but the deal ended up falling through. The museum ended up building a reproduction instead (http://www.roanokeriver.com/news_features/lighthouse.htm). The Edenton Historical Commision is now going to purchase the lighthouse and have it moved near the waterfront/downtown area.

Edenton is a beautiful little town right on the Albemarle Sound. There are two viable locations to conduct an activation. The first is from the waterfront park – the lighthouse is about 400 yards away across the water. The second is in a small park directly across and a bit down stream from the lighthouse. The downtown area stores were closed on Sunday, but I was able to find a restaurant near the waterfront that was open.

– I finished most of my QSL cards from an activation of the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse back in May (http://shedberg.livejournal.com/2006/05/13/). I enjoy filling out the cards and remembering the QSOs that stand out.

Roanoke River Lighthouse USA-694, Edenton, NC

I’m headed out to do a recon of this lighthouse. It has been inactive since 1941. 35 ft (11 m) square cylindrical wood tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 2-story wood keeper’s house, originally mounted on a screwpile foundation. The original 4° Fresnel lens is still mounted in the tower. Originally located near the western end of Albemarle Sound off the mouth of the Roanoke River, about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of Plymouth. The lighthouse was relocated in 1955 to downtown Edenton (on the other side of Albemarle Sound) and used first as a rental property and then, from 1960, as the private residence of Emmett Wiggins. The house has been vacant and deteriorating since the death of Mr. Wiggins in 1995. In May 2005 the Lighthouse Preservation Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts, secured an option to purchase the lighthouse from the Wiggins estate. The plan is to move the lighthouse to a publicly-owned site nearby and restore it as a museum.

….. more QSL cards

– Completed the cards for the Bodie Island Lighthouse (USA-067) activation.

– Knocked out 8x QSL cards for some QSOs with Germany under my old callsign (KD7PJQ). It’s easier to send the cards out when you can get the mailing address.

– Printed out a bunch of QSL cards for Old Point Comfort. I need them for the W4M special event QSLing as well as an activation that I did back in May.

… stamps are going quick.

This weekend with AD7MI

I looked for three special event stations this morning and didn’t find any of them! There was the Anniversary of Moon Landing put on by the Reservoir Amateur Radio Association, Wapakoneta, OH, the Colonial Williamsburg/Historical Triangle by the Williamsburg Area Amateur Radio Club, and the 200th anniversary of Zebulon Pike’s Expedition by the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association (PPRAA). Didn’t hear a peep for any of the three. But – while searching for the above I was able to work Bermuda (a new country!) and also the W1AA out at the lighthouse on Clark’s Point, MA.

I’ve been catching up with my QSLing. I was able to get about 40 cards out the door this morning and have another 40 ready to go.

Cleaned up the workbench in the garage. Set up the trickle charger with my big ol’ marine battery. It’s a Black & Decker – I’ve already gone through one that died on me. I hope this one continues to work.

Had a nasty storm pass through very quickly. Enough to get me wet while BBQing dinner. The local SkyWarn net was up. Thunder, lighting, and about 0.06 inches of rain in about 5 minutes. Also trying to work AA1BU who was on 20M from the Virgin Islands. I think he had his antenna pointed towards Europe, had no luck trying to work him.

I need to bang out a few more QSL cards. Sure would like to finish up WAS and DXCC. One contact at a time I guess.

Night of Nights

From KB6NU’s Ham Radio Blog: In the seventh annual event that has become known as the “Night of Nights”, historic Morse code radio station KPH will return to the air in commemoration of the last commercial Morse message sent in the United States.

Frequencies and reception report information for all stations appear below.

KPH, the ex-RCA coast station located north of San Francisco, will return to the air for commemorative broadcasts on 12 July at 1701 PDT (13 July at 0001 GMT), 7 years and one minute after the last commercial Morse transmission in the US. These on-the-air events are intended to honor the men and women who followed the radiotelegraph trade on ships and at coast stations around the world and made it one of honor and skill. Transmissions are expected to continue until at least midnight PDT (0700GMT).

Veteran Morse operators, including former KPH staff members, will be on duty at the receiving station at Point Reyes, CA listening for calls from ships and sending messages just as they did for so many years before Morse operations were shut down.

The transmitters are located 18 miles south of Point Reyes in Bolinas, CA at the transmitting station established in 1913 by the American Marconi Co. The original KPH transmitters, receivers and antennas will be used to activate frequencies in all the commercial maritime HF bands and on MF as well.

Many of the KPH transmitters will be 50s vintage RCA sets. KSM will use a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15 transmitter will be on its 12Mc frequency. Power output will be 4 to 5kW. The transmitting antennas include a Marconi T for MF, double extended Zepps for 4, 6 and 8Mc and H over 2s for 12, 16 and 22Mc.

KPH will send traffic lists, weather and press broadcasts as well as special commemorative messages, some of which will be sent by hand. At other times the KPH and KSM “wheel” will be sent to mark the transmitting frequencies.

Members of the public are invited to visit the receiving station for this event. The station will be open to visitors beginning at 1500PDT (3:00pm). The station is located at 17400 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and is on the route to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Watch for a cypress lined driveway on the right about a mile past the entry to Coast Guard station NMC.

KPH is operated by the Maritime Radio Historical Society in cooperation with the Point Reyes National Seashore, part of the National Park Service.

Further information may be found on the Maritime Radio Historical Society Web site at http://www.radiomarine.org or by contacting Richard Dillman at +1 415-990-7090 (email: rd@radiomarine.org) or Tom Horsfall at +1 510-237-9535 (email: wa6ope@hotmail.com).

KPH will transmit on 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8 and 22477.5kc on HF and 500 and 426kc on MF.

These frequencies have been made available through the generous cooperation of Globe Wireless, the current owner of the KPH and KFS licenses.

KPH operators will listen for calls from ships on ITU Channel 3 in all bands. The Channel 3 frequencies are 4184.0, 6276.0, 8368.0, 12552.0, 16736.0 and 22280.5kc on HF and 500kc on MF.

Reception reports may be sent to: Ms. Denise A. Stoops P. O. Box 381 Bolinas CA 94924-0381 USA. Denice is a former KPH operator and was the first female telegrapher hired at the station.

KSM will transmit on 426, 500, 6474, 12993 and 16914kc. (Note the addition of a 16Mc channel for KSM this year.) KSM will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:Ms. DA Stoops P. O. Box 381 Bolinas CA 94924-0381 USA


(This information has not been confirmed by WLO at the time of this announcement.)

WLO will transmit on 438, 500, 8514.0 and 12660.0kc. WLO will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to: WLO/KLB 700 RINLA AVENUE MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619 USA or via email to: wloradio@wloradio.com

KLB will transmit on 488, 500, 2063.0, 6411.0 and 12917.0kc. (Note the expanded frequencies for KLB! This year KLB has added MF, a 2Mc frequency and a 12Mc frequency. A tip of the MRHS earphones to CJ of KLB for all the work he has done to bring this about.). KLB will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to: WLO/KLB 700 RINLA AVENUE MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619 USA or via email to: wloradio@wloradio.com

NMC will transmit on 448, 472, 500, 6383.0, 8574.0 and 17220.5kc

NMC will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies).

Reception reports may be sent to:


NOJ will transmit on 416, 470, 500, 8650.0, 12889.5 and 16909.7kc. (Note that NOJ will be operational on MF this year!)

NOJ will listen for calls from ships on Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies).