Staying on the Warm Side of the Door

We’re in Kannapolis NC, home of the fabled textile giant, Cannon Mills. This morning we awoke to 11 degrees Fahrenheit!  We aren’t here for the weather, right? Very cold, dry days are great for some things, but we’re not here for those.

We have a fun backpacking book entitled Pleasure Packing.  The author, Robert Wood, strongly makes the case to daydream your way through the difficult segments of a hike by thinking of your favorite places. We’re trying just that, thinking of warmer times past and future.

I started this morning to complete posting about our nice warm sunny trip to the NC Outer Banks this past fall.  We traveled south on the Outer Banks to Ocracoke, had a neat visit, and no one has heard further about the the trip.

This cold morning seemed so appropriate to think and write of warm places I’d rather be.  Until our mail arrived.  Then I wanted to talk about the cool package from perhaps colder places than NC. I’ll get back to the warm, sunny coastline of NC another post.

We received an envelope this morning from the QSL Card Processing of American Radio Relay League.  QSL cards are the written confirmation of a radio conversation between two amateur radio operators, or hams.  We receive cards infrequently, maybe once a year, and we receive between three and five QSL cards.

QSL cards don’t describe text of the conversation, only the date, time, what radio band we used, and how well we could hear each other.  The cards are often colorful and usually from across one of the oceans although sometimes from USA or Canada.

The Bulgarian card is a special card dedicated in honor of Bulgarian Saint Kozma Zografski. It is probably the prettiest QSL card we’ve received. It also was the most enigmatic, and prompted me to try, unsuccessfully, to learn a bit about Saint Kozma Zografski.


The special call sign LZ1323SKZ, by the Blagovestnik Radio Club in Voinyagovo, Bulgaria, (near Sofia, 43 degrees Fahrenheit today) is part of a program their club does for “All Bulgarian Saints” award and for another award as well. Here’s the map showing their location:


The three cards this morning are from last March 2013 and are from some talking I (Jim) did from a county park in southwest Miami from our trailer.  The two Ukraine ones are from Alexey and Yarik, individuals I spoke with at their respective home stations.


The icy-looking card is from UW7LL in Kharkiv Ukraine (7 degrees today).  You can see where his station is in this picture, below:


The other Ukrainian card is from UR5GDX in Nova Kakhovka (14 degrees F)  along the  Dnieper River in southern Ukraine.


Nova Kakhovka was built to house workers for the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in the 1950s.  Nova Kakovka seems most similar in intent to Boulder City Nevada.  Both cities were intended to be model cities built to house workers in clean, attractive, safe communities.  Nova Kakhovka became known as The Pearl of Lower Dnieper and The Monument of Architecture.


Full time RVing has vastly improved our knowledge of North American geography.  Amateur radio has done the same for my knowledge of places across the globe, if their amateur radio operators talk to me.  (e.g., none so far from China, Kazakhstan, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Iraq, or Egypt, among many I have not reached)  I would automatically have figured Bulgaria and Ukraine were much colder than we (in North Carolina).  Maybe it’s the “any given day” rule.  I’ll just have to check back in with these guys, see how’s the wx!

People often ask us about our Airstream trailer, “Do they still make those?”   Similarly we get the question about amateur radio, “Do people still use those?”  Two good yes answers are these: There are more licensed amateur radio operators in the USA than ever in its history; and I have spoken to amateur radio operators in every European country, several Russian countries, Israel, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, a couple in Central America, and several South American ones.

And I am a casual radio operator, often just getting on the radio a few times a month.  Yes, amateur radio is still both effective and fun.  For more info see this link about ARRL, the Amateur Radio Relay League.

As soon as we get back to “our house” I will dig out my QSL cards and mail one to each of these guys.  Hopefully it won’t take ten months for them to receive.  Ham radio, at the speed of light, is much faster than the mail, eh?

See you down the road!

Jim N5RTG and Debbie N4RTG
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6 responses to “Staying on the Warm Side of the Door

  1. how do you work your postal mail? Do you just keep changing your address or do you have a “base”

    • DJ,
      Our mail sits forlorn in Livingston TX while we gallivant all over or sometimes just hang out with friends and family. Every couple of weeks we notify the mail forwarding company, Escapees, to please forward to the campground or nearby post office. You can see all the details about this at our web site’s FAQ page here


  2. Jim, your posts about communicating with people in Bularia and the Ukraine was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the cards you got from them. Do you commuicate by voice or morse code? Do you communicate in English, or go through a translator? I am just beginning to see why amateur radio might be enjoyable.

  3. Richard,
    It is all voice for me still, I’m just not getting my ears and brain connected enough yet to hear morse code adequately. English seems the predominant language on the radio, followed perhaps by Spanish, German, then Italian, of the long distance stations I hear.

    Last summer while in South Dakota, I had a ham radio conversation with two men from Kuwait, each at their respective home radio stations. Not always, but often these folks I talk with seem to speak better English than I do, regardless of what country they hail from. I also reached a couple of fellows near Moscow, Croatia, southeastern Spain, you name it.

    Funny parallel — Debbie and I were in southwest Miami a year ago and went for a haircut. The gal was Cuban, I struck up conversation in her language. Her English was better than my Spanish ONLY so long as we talked in the vocabulary of hair cutting. In that, she was fluent.

    When she answered the phone she fluently addressed, in English, the caller to make the appointment. As we discussed Deb’s “modified wedge”, she was right on this, understood and responded fluently. As long as we stayed on the script, her English was practiced

    But when I asked her, in English, what did she miss most about Cuba after nine years living here, she didn’t understand “what did she miss most”. Just couldn’t translate it, nor many other “off-topic” words and phrases. So I switched to Spanish.

    And so perhaps with the foreign ham radio operators. At worst, they know enough to make short contacts with English-speaking stations, and can avoid venturing into untried vocabulary. And often, they are quite fluent.

    Anyway yes! Ham radio is fun, interesting, and adds to our continuing education. No incremental fees or expenses either — except you will have difficulty finding a ham operator who doesn’t still need “something” from the ham store or hamfest. It’s what I save my spare change for, too.

    Your wonderful resort has a very active ham radio club station and many fine folks involved. They offer classes and license exams too, I think. Check with your fellow residents: Wag W9WAG, Jo W9MAB, Russ W9RUS, Jackie W9JKE, Jamie KJ4JK, Susan KI4NSS, Ernie N1AEW, Madalyn N1JRG, Jim N2MJC, Jean W2JHM, or Joe KC2RAR, just for starters.

    Signing here,
    Jim N5RTG/4, in Kannapolis one more week

  4. Thanks for the suggestion. I know some of these folks, but never “talked radio” with them.

    • You are in such a great community, I was sure you would know some of them. We’ve made a lot of friends with TR folks over the years, all wonderful people. Really makes a community feel like home, right? We’re glad you two are there.

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