I now have a dedicated ham radio website, KE4WMF.com. See this article and more, starting HERE.
A few weeks ago, I shared an update which shared recent amateur radio activity as well as my plan to attend more car shows with my communications exhibit. Eurofest at Maggie Valley, NC was easily the largest VW show on my schedule. Its distance from my home was far enough to warrant extending the trip to add other destinations along the way. I added a run on the Tail of the Dragon as well as three Parks on the Air (POTA) activations. My only concern about this trip was a weekend forecast with rain and thunderstorms. I decided to take a chance!
The Tail of the Dragon (TOTD) has long been a favorite destination for me. Although closer and less expensive ways to get road-going photos of my car exist, TOTD is a favorite because professional photographers stage along the 11-mile stretch of road and shoot everything that passes through. Their hope is that enough drivers will buy a photo of their drive on this destination road to make their presence worthwhile. I’ve made plenty of passes on TOTD over the years and always purchase a few photographs. Sometimes, I drive out of my way just to hit the road for a new photograph of an updated look to my car. This time, I drove the Tail to get updated photos of my communications setup. This photo was taken by 129Slayer.com.
I usually make my drive-thru on a weekday morning when traffic is light. As I approached the first photographer, I remember wondering, “What’s he doing?” He was just sitting there with his camera in his lap and watching me approach. My quiet exhaust might have said “Not an enthusiast” and left him unmotivated. But then he snapped up and started shooting, almost as if he suddenly noticed the antennas and decided to play catch-up. “Too late, Pal! No sale for you!” None of the photos from any of that particular vendor’s stations captured the entire car and antennas. Killboy.com’s photos were among the best, as always! Here is one of their images.
From there, I visited Fontana Dam Basin. I had taken some photos there in 2021 and decided to go back for more. While I was there, I drove to the top of the dam and did a POTA activation, a “two-fer” with Fontana TVA Dam National Recreation Area (K-8005) and Appalachian National Scenic Trail (K-4556). Some may say that it’s actually a “three-fer” with Great Smoky Mountains National Park (K-0034). However, that’s incorrect because the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has its own boundary and is legally separate from the national park. Therefore, I moved to the other side of the dam, which leaves TVA property and enters the park, and then did another two-fer by activating K-0034 along with more contacts from K-4556.
Afterwards, I drove to a town near Maggie Valley for an early check-in at my hotel and then unloaded my car for a quick cleaning. I visited a nearby coin-operated car wash for a rinse and wipe-down. As mentioned earlier, the chance of rain was fairly good. I hoped to at least get the car to the venue and in position before any rainfall. After all, a clean car in the rain has beautiful water beads on the paint while a dirty car in the rain is just a dirty car. I took this photo and then spent the night. The car was perfectly dry the next morning… no rain YET! The 30-minute drive to Maggie Valley was peaceful and DRY. The line to enter the venue was long and slow-going. I could see why that was the case once I was inside. The venue is quite large and there were A LOT of cars on the field, even before I was in place.
I spent some time setting up the car and my new displays. In the past, I had mounted my Scorpion antenna on the hitch with the hatch open. However, I wanted to be able to quickly close the hatch if a rain shower erupted. So, I created a mount that allowed me to display the Scorpion beside the car (photo below). Ironically, the forecast rain did not come, not until after the show field had cleared and I was almost to my hotel, anyway. Moreover, it was about 10 degrees warmer than expected and the skies cleared in the afternoon. I even got a sunburn!
There were 540 cars on the show field, 35 vendors, and ~2000 spectators. This may have been the largest car show I’ve ever entered. I’m not sure how it compares to VAG Fair in York, PA or the old BugOuts in Virginia. Regardless, I knew that getting an award was off the table with so many fantastic cars on display! HAHA! Still, I cleaned the car and put on my best show. It may have done well at a show with classes broken down by model. On the other hand, my GTI is a bit of an oddball at any show!
The car saw a lot of curious visitors with plenty of questions. Compared to my first two communications exhibits, I heard less “Why do this?” and more “What can this do?” One of the most popular questions I get at Maggie Valley and elsewhere is “Are you a storm chaser?” The answer is no, but even if I get certified by SkyWarn, ARES, and CERT, I’m more likely to be a “storm spotter” than a “storm chaser.” I like my car too much to subject it to flying debris or trees near a hurricane or tornado. Remember: I have a cargo trailer. If a strong hurricane heads our way, we’re packing-up and LEAVING!
I was scanning the FRS band all day, including during the drive out of Maggie Valley. I heard two separate conversations. One said, “Hey, there’s StealthGTI.” I started paying attention. Later, another pair of drivers approached from behind, one driving a silver GTI (my twin) and the other in a blue Subaru. “Hey, I think that’s StealthGTI.” “Nah, that guy had a ginger beard.” “Yeah, he looked older, too!” Huh? I’m clean-shaven. What were they vaping?! 🤣 I AM getting older, though. 🤫 Maybe another GTI with antennas was in town? 🤓
Overall, I think the show was a huge success, both for the organizers and for me. I will certainly plan to return next year. See their website with links to their photo albums HERE and their official event video HERE. My drive home was uneventful, perhaps even a bit boring since I drive the speed limit with so many antennas flying above the car. Now I get to clean out the car and get it ready for the ARRL’s September VHF Contest!
Churning the Air,