Sunday, November 11, 2018

Say Goodbye... my boots, that is.

Visit #1166, Sunday 11 November 18, 11:50AM-2:50PM, 6.2 miles.
Temps in the mid-40's, sunny and breezy.

My hiking boots have served me well. Two years ago I bought a replacement pair, then got the goofy idea (and I'm cheap) I would wear the existing boots until something failed or I wore a hole in the sole. You can see I came pretty close to the latter! The soles were so thin I could feel every pebble; they were more slippers than hiking boots.

Where they failed was the hole through the leather on the outside of the right boot, in the photo. Water loved to find its way through there.

But the shoelaces are still good so I'll save them-I told you I was cheap!

The new pair, exactly the same brand/model as the deceased pair (Don't mess with what works!), has been sitting in the box for two years; next weekend will be their debut.

This was a welcome sign, for with the road closed for the season it can be enjoyed by foot traffic of all kinds. People took advantage of the closure and the cooperative weather as I saw people all along its length.

I walked the road north around Merimere Reservoir and at the beginning of the road's tilt upward I diverged onto a trail paralleling the west side of the road. I was looking for storm damage from the recent rains and wind. It didn't take long to find something.

This was easily swung out of the way.

The rest of the trail saw mostly small branches down, which I cleared. Nearing the top I found one fallen tree I couldn't move so it will have to be a future project.

I emerged from the trail near the radio towers, and followed the road downhill, essentially retracing my steps around Merimere Reservoir when I reached the bottom of the climb.

But before I hit level ground again I encountered our compulsive Christian graffiti vandal.
This is Exhibit #12 since September 2017.

I think I'll remove it next weekend because I'm itching to try my new technique. Stay tuned.

It was nice to return to the park and see many people taking advantage of the sun and reasonable temps to enjoy the park.

As I approached the gate, I came upon my Find of the Week, which I found as you see them.

I think those are paint scrapers, with the blades removed.

I dropped off my collected trash for the week; my boots will get a PROPER burial, however!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Daylight Standard

High winds and rain brought down a lot of leaves on Saturday but did nothing to diminish the fall color.

Visit #1165, Sunday 4 November 18, 7:50-9:40AM, 3.9 miles.

I brought my chainsaw with me this week as I wanted to cut back a tree which had fallen across the main trail on the south side of I-691 sometime in early October. But I chose to hike the long, counterclockwise route to reach it.

I started at the Soap Box Derby track and hiked up to Merimere Reservoir and on the trails to the Halfway House, where I discovered our Christian graffiti vandal was at it for the 11th time.

But I was prepared, and took some sandpaper to it.

The rising sun was feeling pretty warm right about now, prompting me to shed my fleece layer.

Further on up the trail I found a tree which must have succumbed to yesterday's high winds and rain.
Fortunately I was prepared with my chainsaw.

Unfortunately, I had a Daylight Standard Time Brain Fart (You did remember to set your clocks back, didn't you?) and forgot to take an After photo.

I moved on, crossed over I-691, and reached my original objective.

Nothing major; I just cut it a little shorter so hikers wouldn't bump in to it.

I returned to the parking lot to drop off my bag of trash and set out to enjoy the warmth of the first Daylight Standard day of the season.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Season's End

It's a little bit late in the season for this guy to be hanging around; don't they fly south for the winter? ;-)

Visit #1164, Sunday 28 October 18, 12:30-2:10PM, 4.1 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, cloudy and drying up after a day long rain on Saturday.

After the last two weeks of graffiti on the walkbridge over I-691, I was dying to see if this was going to be a trend. So I started my hike from the parking lot and headed straight for the walkbridge.

Good thing I headed in that direction. I found a newly fallen tree across the trail.

I wrestled it off the trail; no tools needed. That's my litter bag in the photo.

The foliage was in peak form, as you'll see. It's even better if you get out there and immerse yourself in it.

Good news; the bridge had no new graffiti. But next time it shows up, I've got a new trick up my sleeve to deal with it. I won't reveal the surprise until then.

I turned myself uphill, to the road near Castle Craig.

At the road, I took a trail down to Merimere Reservoir. I don't usually find much if any litter on this trail so I was just going to enjoy the leaves and the quiet.

It was pretty much like that all the way down. I could hear rain runoff from distant brooks discharging after all the rain we received last week, but that's about all the noise you'll hear on this trail.

At the trail's end, I found these bikes locked to a tree. A parent must have ridden with their children to the trail head to take a hike. What a great idea.

Now I would be walking the road around Merimere Reservoir to return to the parking lot. There was a CONSTANT stream of cars in both directions, which made the hike suck, period. The good thing is, this is the last weekend the road will be open to traffic for the season. And if the trees can hold their color until next weekend, it will be truly enjoyable for those who don't venture onto the trails.

In fact, I found most of the litter I collected today on that very stretch of road. With the road closed beginning next week, it will be a lot easier to keep clean.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Take Me To The Bridge!

I took it to the bridge too, I just didn't do it as cool as James Brown. He's got more moves than a game of chess!

Visit #1163, Sunday 21 October 18, 8:40-11:25AM. 3.6 miles.
Temps in the high 40's, partly sunny.

After cleaning up all that graffiti last week, I had this suspicion our graffiti vandal might return to the walkbridge over I-691. So this week I took it straight to the bridge when I began my weekly hike.

Unfortunately, I was right.

While I continue to develop my graffiti removal techniques, my existing toolbox of tricks served me well today.

Here you can see how the Goof Off, while effective at "softening" the graffiti, clogs the sandpaper.

Nevertheless, I got the job done in better time that last week.


I hiked up the trails to East Peak and Castle Craig, taking some scenic photos along the way.

Yeah; the fall colors look as good in person as they do in the pics. And the only way to really enjoy them is to get out among the colors!

After I descended from Castle Craig, I hiked past the upper end of the Yellow Trail, and spotted this:

Someone thought they were doing the right thing by bundling their KFC into a bag and leaving it on that rock. Believe it or not, that bag must have weighed near ten pounds. I had to open a thirty gallon trash bag so it would fit with the litter I'd already collected.

I continued on past the Halfway House, down to Merimere Reservoir, and back to the parking lot.

Get up! Stay on the scene! Take me to the bridge! (Maybe next week...)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Risks I Take

Visit 1162, Sunday 14 October 18, 8:40-11:30AM, 3.1 miles.
Temps in the high 50's, mostly cloudy.

I've gotten poison ivy, been bitten by ticks, come too close to snakes; all in the name of reporting to you my weekly work in Hubbard Park.

But this week, I took an even greater risk...

Last week I reported our habitual Christian graffiti vandal had struck again, this time at the small brick building near the water treatment plant.

I came to the park armed to remove this work.

I walked the road from the park to the building and, carrying a gallon of paint in my backpack, went to work.

Because the sill was so easy to paint with a clean line, unlike my previous work above it, I did not mind the contrasting color. But if this building continues to be a target of graffiti, I may just have to get matching paint; it's getting to be an eyesore. Either that or eventually the entire building will be Grizzle Gray.

Knowing the history of the Christian graffiti vandal, I expected to find their work elsewhere, so I kept my eyes open the rest of the day.

Hiking up to the Halfway House, I was surprised to see the Meriden Parks Department had mowed the area. Looks nice, and just in time for all the leaf peeping hikers to enjoy it.

I continued on the Main Trail and found this fallen tree.

Fortunately, it was easy to swing it out of the way.

I hiked all the way to the walkbridge over I-691 where sure enough, I found our Christian graffiti again.

Well, it says in Pete 10:2018 "Thou shalt eradicate any graffiti that doesn't belong." So dutifully, I obeyed and removed the Sacred Sandpaper from the tabernacle for holy use.

And as it is written, "Pete saw the result and saw that it was good."

On the walkbridge, the American flags, which are periodically put up by persons unknown, and removed by me when they are no longer serviceable, have been replaced again.

Whether our Christian graffiti vandal has secular leanings as well, I don't know. What I do know is I found A LOT of magic marker graffiti on the bridge and had to empty the tabernacle of Holy Sandpaper to eradicate all of it.

"420" is a number used to refer to marijuana culture.

100 is the grade sandpaper used to remove it.

Gone Wolf.

In case you can't read it, it says, "Work Will Set U Free" ... a reference to the sign over some of the Nazi concentration camps. The correct translation is, "Work Sets You Free".

...but it's followed by a swastika too weak to hold up its left arm. The artist must have been asleep when they were teaching how to draw swastikas in Graffiti 101, or they were under the influence of 420 when they drew it.

Well, I worked to remove it.

Then it was on to our park Trump-hater/gastroenterologist, who has struck before.

I soaked this in Goof-Off while I sanded something else. When I returned to it, it sanded easily.
My technique is improving. First I wipe off the liquid, which would gum up the sandpaper.

Then I quickly finish up with the sandpaper.

One more Trumpism.

I finally reached the far end of the walkbridge and headed back toward the park.

Enroute, a fallen tree had taken some branches down with it. I trimmed them back, and since the tree itself is not encroaching the trail, I won't be in a rush to cut it back, but will do so in time.

Reaching the parking lot, I dropped off my bag of litter.

By now you're wondering-so what risk was Pete going to take that was greater than poison ivy, ticks, and snakes?

In Hubbard Park on Sunday there was being held a U.S. Food Truck festival. For the purpose of reporting on it, I was going to partake of the festival, risking obesity and the unavoidable nap.

Of all the choices, I chose...

... what else but the Gonzo Balls! Oh, and don't forget dessert-Chocolate Cayenne cookies.

Burp! Snore...