I ended up making some progress in the General Class study manual, and also spent some more time on the radio. I spent some time on 6 Meters (the only ham band that I have permission to use which really stands a shot at DX (long-distance) communications). I could hear some great stuff, including a strong signal from Illinois (1,000+ miles), North Carolina, and, oh, New Hampshire. The Illinois station practically had a pileup going; I tried to get through, but realized that all we have is a vertical antenna tuned for a different part of the band, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t get through.
I then did some listening down on 17 and 20 Meters. On 17 Meters, I found a nice strong signal coming from Arizona. He was working some people out my way, and I probably could have worked him, if only I were licensed to transmit on the HF bands.
But then, I dropped down to the magical world of 20 Meters, and listened to an a station in the Virgin Islands. Not only could I hear him, but he was S9. (Very, very strong.) Off our vertical antenna. (As opposed to a high-gain directional antenna.) Even more impressive, I was able to hear, at S7, a station in Northern California working him.
Have I mentioned that I really want to upgrade my license to be able to work these guys?