OK... I think I have a plan. This is my first real contesting experience and I'll be roving. I've read as much as I can find on the subject and have formulated an operating plan and driving route. I've even pre-run portions of the route to find where the parking lots are.
Icom IC7000. This is mounted in my truck now and I have installed an auxiliary cooling fan that works very well. It puts out 100 watts on 6 meters, 50 on 2 meters and 35 on 432.
I also have an Icom 746 Pro that I could bring, but I don't know if its needed. It doesn't have 432, but will do 100 watts on 2 meters
There are two masts mounted to a cargo divider in the bed. I have reinforced the poles and they will survive the drive. The first mast is 8' with stacked 2 meter and 432 halos. The total height above ground for the 2 meter is 11' for the highest halo. The other mast is a 6' with a single 6 meter halo. These omni directional antennas can be used while driving. I've become accustomed to tuning and talking while driving. I will have a passenger in the truck to handle logging chores.
In addition to the omnis, I have an Elk log periodic for 2 meters and 432. When testing it, it seemed that the stacked loops did just as well on 2 meters, but on 432, the LP made a huge difference. I am also about to buy a small yagi for 6 meters. These will be attached to the masts only when parked. They can be extended 16' above the truck and with the bed of the truck already 3' up, that's 19' above ground.
The operating schedule:
The plan is to start in the mountains. I want to build up the multipliers by operating at 4000' on Skyline Drive in FM08. I figure on operating here for 3 hours or until I get bored. From there, its about a 4 hour drive to Virginia Beach. I'm taking a slightly circuitous route so I pick up a corner of FM07. I only need a single contact to open it for a multiplier and since I'll be in it for less than 10 miles, that's all I'll have time for.
Once in VA beach, I've found a parking lot that has good beach access without the hotels getting in the way. The lot is open until midnight. This is in FM26 which I understand to be a difficult one to get. I will have a straight shot up the coast to NY and New England and with any luck, I'll get some ducting.
Sunday will have me on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel (CBBT). The bridge crosses 3 different grids. Island 1 has a restaurant and is in FM16. Island 3 and 4 are in FM17. Neither of these are rare grids, but the location is great and surrounded by water and I figure about 2 hours in each. Finally, there is a scenic overlook at the North end of the bridge in FM27. That is a rare grid. I plan on spending some time here. I figure on being done with the CBBT by about 5:00 PM.
I'll then drive North through the Eastern Shore of MD which will have me in FM28 and FM18. K8GP is going to be in FM28 in January so it will not be hard for anybody to get that one. Just before I hit the Bay Bridge near Annapolis, I can make a short detour into FM29. That's not a rare one, but it is only a couple miles out of my way and there is a rest area with a good parking lot. Its proximity to Philly and NJ could make for a healthy number of contacts last in the day. I'll be there by 7:00 PM and will stay until I'm not getting a lot of contacts.
From there, I'll start the drive home to Woodbridge in FM18. The drive will take me through a corner of FM19 for about 8 miles and again, I just need one contact to get the multiplier. I'll finish the night at a park and ride lot near my house which has as much elevation as I can find in this area and its in an urban region to get a good number of last minute contacts.
Overall, its 10 grid squares and 542 miles of driving. I know its ambitious, but with only 3 bands, I figure I should be able to get a respectable score this way. I'll work on adding bands in the future, as well as more power, pre-amps and antennas. My budget and experience can only handle so much for this first one.
I'd appreciate any suggestions based on this plan. I had originally decided to skip the mountains due to the distance and the risk of bad weather. An experienced VHF contester talked me into adding it. I'm open to all comments. If you know of good places to set-up or anything else, let me know.
Here's the proposed route on Mapquest. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=10230709997768688362,38.626728,-78.322638%3B3953695024119519478,37.978290,-78.212830%3B6410003316534577153,39.078519,-75.977830%3B16191966500674749177,38.677704,-77.276674&time=&date=&ttype=&saddr=Skyline+Dr+%4038.626728,+-78.322638&daddr=Culpeper,+va+to:orange,+va+to:US-15+S+%4037.978290,+-78.212830+to:Rudee+Inlet,+United+States+to:Easton,+md+to:US-301+N+%4039.078519,+-75.977830+to:38.858959,-76.961975+to:VA-641+W+%4038.677704,+-77.276674&mra=dpe&mrcr=6&mrsp=7&sz=11&via=7&sll=38.853612,-76.843185&sspn=0.365752,0.63858&ie=UTF8&om=1&ll=38.099983,-76.690063&spn=2.485441,4.405518&z=8