Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just To The East

Someone forgot to tell the weather man that the temperatures they called for in the city of Calgary did not extend very far east of the city. I had left home with the temperature indicating -5 Celsius on my truck thermometer, but by the time I exited the city, the temperature had dropped to -13 Celsius. I realized as I headed east on highway 1 just after 6:00am, that I needed gas and asked myself why had I not filled up yesterday. I made my way over to Conrich, located northeast of Calgary, that is nothing more than a few houses clustered around a four way stop. However there is a gas station located on the corner that includes a card lock, and this is where I fill my truck when I'm out this way. Once I had filled my truck, I pulled out on to range road 250 and drove the short distance over to highway 9, where I headed north to the 564. I then headed east on the 564 with dawn breaking nicely on the eastern horizon.

As I drove along, I tuned the vfo on my hf radio, and on occasion I would pick up the mic to my radio and make a call to hams who also were working 80 meters. The bands had not been all that great lately, however they were in fair shape on this morning as I drove eastward, with contacts made to guys along the west coast of the US that included California and Oregon, as well as several contacts in to Washington state. Lately, I had made a several modifications to my prototype multiband antenna mounted on my mobile, and I was pleased with the way that the antenna was performing with the changes that I had made. I have been running tests with my new multiband antenna going on 8 months now,and I now feel that I have a antenna that performs to my satisfaction, and believe that there is no more work to be done to the design. With the testing done, I will order up enough material to construct a initial run of six antennas, and later on in the year as we go back in to the winter months, I will spend time in my machine shop machining the parts required to complete the first six antennas based on my prototype multiband antenna.

As I drove east on the 564 the temperature continued to drop until it had bottomed out at -18 Celsius. The skies appeared clear on the eastern horizon when I had left home, however as I drove east on the 564, I realized that there was fog lying further east in the area of the 817 that runs north through Rosebud. The winds had picked up, and they were causing drifting snow that was blowing across the road creating poor visibility in places. The wind chill was making for bitterly cold temperatures when I stopped on occasion to shoot photos outside of my truck. At one point I used my Kestrel 3500 handheld weather station to check the wind chill temperature, based on a temperature indicated on the instrument of -18 Celsius and with the winds gusting between 20 and 30 kph, the wind chill temperature was -28 to -30 Celsius. Yikes!
I was glad that I had left with a full tank of gas, and that all my cold winter gear still resided in the truck. Upon reaching highway 56, I decided that I did not want to drive any further east, as I was not sure what condition the roads would be in as I made the descent from the Wintering Hills down through the badlands in to the river breaks along the Red Deer River. The road through that area is little more than a trail bladed through the prairie, and today with the weather I was experiencing, it was no time to be testing my luck. Besides, I had left home without eating any breakfast, and I was thinking that I would make that happen upon reaching Drumheller.

Once I had turned turned north on to highway 56, the winds blowing out of the south, now provided my truck with a helping hand. As I drove along, I realized that I had never been on this particular section of highway 56. I found that hard to believe, considering that there are not many backroads within two hundred kilometers of Calgary that I have not driven before. The drive north on highway 56 proved to be quite a interesting drive, and although the lighting was not great, I realized that I would be back to drive it on another day when the light was co-operating. Still, I did manage to stop and shoot several interesting photos, including photos of a wonderful church that begged to be photographed in better light, and I promised to return in the summer months. I soon was dropping down through the badlands on the descent into Rosedale, located just to the east of Drumheller. Upon reaching Rosedale, I turned west towards Drumheller, and as I drove the last few kilometers, the rumbling in my stomach told me that breakfast was the next order of business before I headed home. Still, it had been a fun morning out and about just to the east.

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