When I moved to the new QTH, I just stood up my Diamond X200 2m/70cm antenna on the fence in the back yard. It works well enough for most FM repeaters I use, but I have not had high expectations for SSB, FT8, or FM simplex.
While working from home, I noticed my 2m radio picking up distant repeaters collocated on the same frequencies as our local ones. I started playing around with 2m FT8 and made several good contacts including WA4CQG in Auburn, AL (176 miles), WN4WDE in Piedmont, AL (126 miles), WB4HIE in Glen Alpine, NC (124 miles), and WB4JPG in Dothan, AL (255 miles)!
I was pretty impressed with those contacts and then the band seemed to die down a bit. I set my radio back to scan mode and went back to work. Later, I heard the radio stop on 144.210 USB. I listened for a bit before giving a call. The station was W4ICU in Marianna, FL (285 miles)! We actually talked for a few minutes before I wished him well and went back to work.
Wow! This was a so much fun and so unexpected due to the less than ideal antennas conditions. I would have loved to work a horizontally polarized antenna up a bit higher and see what I could have done!
73 fer now de W4LSG sk