Had not gotten back to my own post!
If that be the case, meaning it normally is SSB and CW, is a horizontally polarized antenna also more of the norm? I have built a new dual band J-pole for 2m and 440 but of course it is a vertical.
Yes horizontal is the norm and very few if any mess with FM during a contest. If there are multiple ops, perhaps one may monitor the calling freq as mentioned but being a single op single radio station, I surely don't mess with it as I haven't the time too.
You would probably be much better off to use a small multiband mobile like a FT-100/FT-897/IC-706 or such as a portable if you planon going out to a park. But then for UHF you'd be limited to 70cm at that rate.