The 50th State!

I finally worked my 50th state (KL7J) early this morning in Soldotna Alaska!

I had all but given up on my WAS award because of the “odd” distance Alaska seems to be from me here in the valley of West Virginia. My nearest contact, for many years, was a brief encounter with KL8DX on twenty meters, but although I could hear him clearly, he could not hear me well enough to repeat my entire call correctly.
Phil (KL8DX) and I have exchanged several e-mails over the years, and always listened for each other, but conditions were never exactly right for the contact. Unfortunately he moved recently and I thought all hope was gone. 
On the West coast, I imagine Alaska and Hawaii are easy catches, but not so here in the East coast. 
In May of this year I was able to work my 49th state with a contact on twenty meters to KH6LC in Hawaii. That contact left me with the “lone” contact to Alaska. Although I’ve heard stations in Alaska several times this year, they were not strong enough to work with a QRP signal. 
I woke up last night with back pain (just enough to wake me for an hour or so) and wandered into the radio room and turned on the radio to scan around for an occasional DX station. I’ve done this many times this year because of problems with my back, and I’ve worked a lot of DX while doing so….
When I tuned up on 30 meters, I heard the distinct KL7 call and double checked the cluster to make sure he was in Alaska. To my astonishing surprise, he responded on my first attempt. Also to my surprise, there was a quietness on the band and he was working VERY few stations despite all his efforts. 
My first contact was at 04:44 Z and just for fun, I made a second contact at 04:51Z and added “QRP @ 3 watts. (would not have done this in a big pile up). He repeated it back to me with a QSL VRY GUD. 
I’ll soon be putting my log book together for my Worked All States Award from my favorite QRP club. I’ll have some other comments concerning the North American QRP CW Club shortly. 
I’ve had SO much enjoyment with this group, it’s time to start giving back, and sharing with others this great low power radio mode. I’ve been a Ham now for nearly 25 years, always operated QRP, and always in the stealth mode. 
Persistence pays off and the joy of portable operations is something which should not be missed because of antenna restrictions. There’s tons of fun to be had with 5 watts of power and a simple wire antenna. 
John Smithson, Jr., N8ZYA, is a regular contributor to and writes from West Virginia, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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