I did a search on your callsign on the K5EHX web site and it came up with 25 repeaters in your area. At least one of them is in the town you're listed in and it's on UHF. I see quite a few UHF repeaters in the region, though the two meter ones outnumber them. It's hard to say where you might find more activity. The UHF machines tend to be newer, and the groups that run them typically are, too, though that is a pretty broad generalization. In some areas, the old timers are on UHF.
If you do any travelling, I'd spend the extra money on a dualbander. I find lots of places with more action on UHF than on 2 meters.
A SSB capable radio would open up some more possibilities for you, but I don't want to oversell it. I think it would probably take a pretty impressive station to make many contacts on VHF SSB from there, except for 6 meters during a band opening. I think where you're located, getting on HF would be the best option.
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