that's cool... and I'll admit one of the selling points for me for the whole hobby was being able to reach home from the trail/camping, or giving home a way to reach me, particularly when out of cell range which should be the goal of every weekend IMO.. but I digress... .
One huge enhancement to the setup would be a 2m antenna on your chimney, even a home made one. I have been able to talk 40 miles on simplex (Broomfield to Evergreen) using 5 watts and a homebrew antenna before.. and the repeaters are full quieting. The rubber ducks are neat for the trail and camp but I've been disappointed with them at home, even in the city... they still require that "sweet spot" to get the good signal, even with better than stock antennas.
Were you trying to hit the 145.130 on the Colorado Connection? or 146.850? or the 147.225/145.460? I have heard C. Springs guys from both of them from up north here..
82 fj40, 99 uzj100, 06 gx470
05 525EXC, 01 XT225, 07 TTR90, 07 CRF50