It felt like July here today in Central New Jersey. I'm not sure what the high temperature was; but I think I heard 86 Degrees being bandied about on the local FM broadcast station.
Unfortunately, HF propagation was nowhere near as "hot" as the ambient air temperature. As planned, I spent a little time at Roosevelt Park in Edison, NJ in the vicinity of the fountain that was constructed as part of the WPA during the New Deal, in accordance with this year's QRP To The Field theme.
It was me, the K1 and the PAC-12. My wife and kids came along; but they meandered off to the main part of the park. I set up under a shady tree and commenced being disappointed. It was a good thing that I have used all the equipment in the past few weeks to my prior satisfaction, because if I had used everything for the first time today, I would have been convinced that something was broken.
Process of elimination tells me that if I know the equipment is working; then the bands must have been "broken"; or perhaps I was just in an RF black hole. I've never operated from this park before; so I can't say for sure that it's a good location.
I only heard a few stations. I heard K7TQ on 20 Meters and I heard WA9S on 40 Meters and KJ4AOM on 40 Meters also; and that was about it. I tried working each with no success. From KJ4AOM, I got a "sri"; so I know he heard at least something! And what was really strange to me was that I could not hear Bob N4BP. He's always on during these contests and he's always 599 here in NJ. If I can't hear Bob, then something is definitely "up".
I brought along my BlackBerry from work; so I could keep an eye on QRPSPOTS. I should have known conditions were bad when I saw no postings there, whatsoever. Then, I came home to find mixed results being posted on the QRP e-mail reflectors. Some guys seemed to have good outings and others seem to have been skunked, like me.
So maybe it was the ionosphere; maybe I was in an RF pit. Whatever the reason, the silver lining is that I was out in the fresh air for a while on beautiful day, enjoying (even with no contacts) the greatest hobby in the world. You can't beat that with a stick!
And to borrow (and modify) an old saying about fishing:
"A bad day of Ham Radio is better than a good day at work!"
73 de Larry W2LJ