Sunday, July 15, 2018


Thursday yielded perfect weather to spend some quiet time at West Peak.

Visit #1147, Thursday 12 July 18, 6:30-7:15PM.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and dry.

Visit #1148, Saturday 14 July 18, 6:30-11:30AM.
Temps in the high 70's, sunny and humid.

I took a mountain bike ride up to Hubbard Park on Thursday to spray paint over some of our stubborn, persistent Bible quoting vandal's work which I found last week.


On my return leg on the Yellow Trail, I came across a fallen tree. I'll remove it in two weeks along with another tree that's fallen across another trail, which I found on Saturday.

As I stopped by the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I noticed the No Trespassing signs I reported vandalized in June had been replaced with new signs.

While I was there, I rode to West Peak to check out the rocks as there is a continual problem with graffiti there as well. Unfortunately, I wasn't disappointed.

The brown paint you see was from my previous attempts to cover graffiti.

"This World Is Ours" was a repeat of graffiti found in September 2016. Same artist? Who cares; it's got to go.

Problem was, my car was at the shop being serviced so I had no transportation this weekend. What to do?

Well; I combined my two hobbies and on early Saturday morning, packed my backpack, pumped up my tires, and rode my mountain bike to Hubbard Park to paint over the graffiti and pick up trash. I figured I'd be done in time to watch the end of Saturday's stage of the Tour de France.

I left the house at 6AM, arrived at Hubbard Park at 6:30, and rode up to West Peak. I donned my coveralls, cracked open the paint can, and went to work.

After painting over everything, and some little spots, I removed the coveralls, ditched my bike in the woods, and walked a trail down from West Peak to the bottom of the road climb. Starting the trail, I came upon a real mess of trash. Since I'd be returning to that trailhead on the way back to my bike, I left it to be picked up on the return leg.

I took the trail down to the bottom,  then walked back up the road, collecting litter along the way.

I stopped by the fork to East/West Peak and dropped off my first bag of litter.

My Find of the Week was this pack of electrode patches from perhaps, someone's Holter Monitor. I'd love to hear the story behind them.

Back at the start, I cleaned up the trailhead. Those logs, which were meant to keep vehicles from driving down the trail, out of sight, have been rolled out of the way. I'm working on a plan to reinstall them at their original location with more permanence.

I returned to the West Peak parking lot, and as I was cleaning up the parking lot, I met a mountain biker riding early to avoid the heat.

As we were chatting, Glen said he was told of a particular trail, which he was looking for. For the sake of park ambassadorship, I decided to curtail my litter pickup duties for the day and show him the trail. I left two trash bags at West Peak for later collection by the Meriden Parks Department.

My job as tour guide for Glen was going just fine, UNTIL we neared the end of the trail by Merimere Reservoir.

Ooops; I flatted. That's not a big deal because I carry spare tubes and a patch kit. EXCEPT I forgot to pack them with the paint, coveralls, trash bags, etc. and they were in my other, bike specific bag !

Turns out Glen didn't carry any spares either. But he offered his cellphone to call his wife to pick us up.

Time for Pete's Sermon: A cellphone is no substitute for carrying spares while riding. Can I get an Amen, brother?!

If I used his cellphone to bail myself out, there would be no lesson learned; I needed to suffer through this problem. So I stubbornly refused his offer.

As I began to ride across the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I saw they were setting up a water stop for whatever charity run/walk was being held. Because of my pride/shame, I couldn't bear the thought of riding past dozens of people looking at this knucklehead riding a flat tire by them at 5mph, so I decided to leave Hubbard Park via the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

What would be the odds of meeting another cyclist who might be able to dig me out of my hole with say, a patch kit for my tube?

Today was my incredibly lucky day because, as my Lotto winning luck would have it, as soon as I pushed my bike through the gate, here came another cyclist!

I'd previously met Dan Roman hiking with his wife in Hubbard Park. Dan is a Meriden resident and former state champion wrestler when he attended Maloney High School. Now he uses hiking and bike riding for exercise.

Dan was my winning Lotto ticket, as he had a patch kit I could use to repair my tube.
My experience has been these self-adhesive patches work nowhere near as good as the real thing, but I was in no position to be choosy. So I accepted his generosity and stuck two patches on my tire, pumped it up, and with no more shame and pride to worry about, rode south past Merimere Reservoir with Dan.

The tube didn't appear to be holding air despite the patches, and Dan offered to give me a ride home.
But remember; I said I was stubborn. So like a dope, I declined someone's help for a second time thinking I needed to learn a lesson.

As soon as Dan and I parted at the south end of the reservoir, the tire went flat again, and I was resigned to riding all across Meriden on my flat tire.
As I turned onto Charles Street, I came upon Eversource performing road work, and two police officers directing traffic; one Meriden officer and one from Southington PD.

In my shame as I rode by, I tried to make light of the situation and jokingly asked the cops, "Hey, do you have any spare tubes?!" To which the Meriden cop caught me red-handed and rightly shamed me joshing, "You've got a full backpack and no tubes in there?!" 

Can you blame him?

Believe it or not, the Southington cop offered to give me a ride home, but I explained I MUST learn through my pain, and once again stubbornly refused help. 

Needless to say, I arrived home too late to watch the end of the Tour de France, and in need of a new tire and tube.

'Til next week, maintain.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Passing On

After my weekly duties in Hubbard Park, I attended a memorial service at the Hubbard Park bandshell for Dwight Needles. At the service, I learned he was quite the Renaissance man, as well as being liked by all.

Among Dwight's many accomplishments, he created that trail maps of the various parks in Meriden, Including Hubbard Park. I managed to get my hands on a good quantity of them, which I keep in my backpack and handout whenever I see that puzzled, lost look on people, which just so happened on Saturday while policing the trails. They are invaluable for creating goodwill and a positive image for the city. I like to think I'm spreading a piece of Dwight around with every map I hand out. Meriden needs more people like Dwight.

Another thing that passed on, albeit much less important, was my pedometer. This is the 3rd or 4th pedometer which wound up in the washing machine, and came out not only dizzy but not working.
I may be through with pedometers as it's getting expensive every time I brain fart and leave it in my pants.

Visit #1145, Wednesday 4 July 18, 6:40-7:50AM.
Temps in the 70's; very humid and in the midst of a heatwave.

Speaking of farts, on Independence Day I decided to hit the trail early at the behest of my "boss for the week", who doesn't like the heat. Last week I reported on my less than satisfactory attempt to remove some graffiti from a brick building on the road toward Merimere Reservoir. To give my boss a change of pace where we walk, I brought him along to supervise as I took another shot at removing the graffiti.

As you can see, I didn't remove it well enough the first go 'round.

I armed myself with Goof Off, a spray bottle of water, and some persuasion.

This is what it looked like just prior to a proper rinse.

The boss kept an eye on me to ensure I didn't slack off.

Visit #1146, Saturday 7 July 18, 8:00-9:30AM.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

The heatwave wimpered out on Friday with nary a thunderstorm to usher in the nicer weather which Paul Bernier and I enjoyed on Saturday.

As promised, I hauled my chainsaw along to remove a couple problems which cropped up recently.

Here I put the gloves on prior to brawling with the woods. Watch out!

This branch, which had been getting progressively lower and lower, had to go.

As Paul and I moved on toward our next fight, we discovered our Bible-thumping graffiti artist is at it again. Last time I encountered them was 3 June 18. I'll tend to this in a week or two.

We reached the next tree, which had fallen into the trail.

Last, this tree wasn't going to straighten up so I removed it.

Crossing the walkbridge over I -691, I checked on the progress of the weed killer I sprayed on the vines covering the fence. It may not look pretty but it was necessary.

One of the flags on the I-691 walkbridge is torn unserviceable. I removed it.

Paul and I returned to the parking lot to deposit our trash, we parted ways, and I then attended Dwight's memorial service.

I leave you this week with a photo from last week during the heat wave, where the humidity hung over Merimere Reservoir. Enjoy the more reasonable weather this week.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Geese try to stay cool, paddling in Merimere Reservoir in the midst of this heatwave we are experiencing. Smart move.

Visit #11143, Monday 25 June 18, 6:15-8:10PM, mileage n/a. Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

Visit #1144, Sunday 1 July 18, 7:40-9:20 AM, 2.7 miles. Temps in the 80's, climbing to possible record highs in the high 90's, sunny and humid.

As reported last week, I managed to get my chainsaw guidebar stuck in a tree I was trying to remove from the trail. I needed to find a solution to get my guidebar back, and soon, before someone damages it.

My solution was to buy ANOTHER guidebar. Smart move, as I'll sooner or later need to replace the existing bar, and I'll be able to use it to bail myself out next time this happens. I didn't feel like it was a waste of money.

I already had a spare chain, so I hightailed it to the north end of Merimere Reservoir on Monday, assembled my rescue kit, and in mere minutes had my beloved guidebar back in my hands.

Then I finished off the tree which had fallen across the Blue Trail.

On the return trip to the parking lot, I stopped at the water department building and used Goof-Off to try and remove the graffiti I discovered last week.

Rinsed with water, it looks a little better but I'm not satisfied. I forgot to address it this week so it will have to go on my To Do List.

I also used the return trip to collect litter, and dropped off a bag when I was done.

Well, Sunday's weather was entirely different from the perfectly dry, moderate temps of Monday.
It was supposed to be a real scorcher. I may not be the sharpest cheddar in Vermont but I knew enough to get an early start Sunday to attempt to avoid the heat.

I often mention my trail trimming, which few people see. A snip here, a cut there; it all adds up in the long run to maintain the trails and I'm doing it almost weekly. Here's but one obvious example from this week.

As the trail I was on reached Merimere Reservoir, I found this painted rock.

 Nearby, I found another one.

I have found painted rocks before, as recent as October of last year. I'll keep my eyes open to see if this trend continues.

Hiking up the Green Trail, I found this low hanging branch from a tree which had fallen across the trail some years ago. I had cleared the tree from the trail then, but as the tree settled, the branch moved lower. I'll probably remove it next week.

Up at the Halfway House, I discovered the Meriden Parks Department has trimmed the brush back nicely. At first I thought that was solely in response to my prior requests, but then it dawned on me that Chris Bourdon of the Meriden Parks department patiently decided to wait until the 4th of July neared to fulfill my request. I'll bet the fireworks will be launched from the Halfway House, and the brush had to be cleared to accommodate the shells. This was a "two birds with one stone" kinda thing. Smart move.

I followed the Main Trail toward the I-691 walkbridge and found a fallen tree encroaching on the trail. I'll hopefully take care of this next week as well.

Down at the walkbridge itself, I previously noticed the vines growing over the fencing. I brought a spray bottle of weed killer and treated both ends of the walkbridge. It takes a few weeks to take effect, but it works pretty well.

At the other end of the bridge I found a new sticker, which I removed. No idea what it refers to.

Heading back to the playscape, I stopped at the parking area at the northwest corner of Mirror Lake and picked up litter, adding it to my bag.

I end this week with a picture of my sister's Doberman, Henry, who I am dogsitting this week and next. He's the reason why I didn't spend a lot of time in the park this week; not only is he camera-shy; he's emotionally needy!