Sunday, January 13, 2019

Keeping Ahead of Things, 2nd Edition

Winter teases Merimere Reservoir with a thin rim of ice.

Visit #1175, Sunday 13 January 19, 11:25AM-1:45PM, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the 20's, mostly sunny with a light breeze.

For the second consecutive week I walked the road around Merimere Reservoir, keeping tabs on clean it was and keeping it that way for next week's Tradition Run.

Except this week, I would hike it in reverse, descending the road from West Peak.

I headed west and over I-691 and up to the Blue Trail toward West Peak. Shortly after picking up that trail I came upon a hemlock across the trail.

The tree was much longer than the photo suggests and it took some wrangling to the pull it downslope and off the trail. Much like bringing your cat to the vet.

While I was successful (you can see the tree's roots in the left foreground of the photo), there was another hemlock immediately behind it, as seen in the background of the photo. It wouldn't budge, and will have to wait for a Power Tool Weekend for me to remove it.

I reached West Peak and cleaned up the area as well as the parking lot, then walked the road down and back to the parking lot.

Up at West Peak, it was surprisingly calm and warm in the sun. Remember; the days are getting longer and the sun's coming back north!

Next week: "The New Metric". Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Keeping Ahead of Things

The early morning start was slippery as there were spots of black ice on the road. But conditions improved as the morning went.

Visit #1174, Sunday 6 January 19, 7:35-10:10AM, 5.3 miles.
Temps in the 30's, cloudy to start, then increasing sun.

Every year in late January, Hubbard Park hosts the Tradition Run, which is held along the road from the park to Castle Craig. When weather aligns with my trail plans, I try to clean up the road from start to finish in advance of the event. This year I got a head start, several weeks in advance, on sprucing up the route.

Early on as I walked the road, I found some new graffiti, which wasn't there as recent as two weeks ago.

It took me a few hours to figure out the last one represents a cross-eyed face.

I moved on, pondering what to do about the graffiti.

At the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I checked on the gate and found the Meriden Parks Department had replaced the missing lock on the gate.

I walked all the way around Merimere Reservoir and up to Castle Craig, where I cleaned up the parking lot, then hiked the trails down.

Along the way I found Season of the Missing Glove entrant #5.

 Hiking the trails back to the park, I found Len is back in the park after a long absence, and placing wood across the trails again.

I removed everything, including some branches that fell on their own.

 Back at the park, I deposited my trash collection for the week.

But that graffiti; with some precipitation forecast for later in the week, and winter in general upon us, today's weather would be my best, guaranteed opportunity to do something about it.

So I returned later on Sunday, just after 3PM when it was slightly warmer and drier, to take care of business.

In 40 degree temps, the paint would dry slowly, but they were the best conditions available to me.

Only after painting over it did I realize how beneficial it would be for the Tradition Run, as well as day-to-day park users, that not only the route be free of litter but free of graffiti as well. Let's see if we can't continue to keep ahead of things in preparation for this year's event.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mop Up Operations

It was still dark when I entered Hubbard Park Saturday morning.

Visit #1173, Saturday 29 December 18, 6:15-9:00AM, 4.6 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, unseasonably mild, sunny with increasing clouds and dropping temps.

Considering the day-long rain on Friday, "mopping" could be an appropriate term for Saturday's work.

On December 10th, a motorcyclist traveling west on West Main Street by Hubbard Park, was struck by a car turning left into Hubbard Park. Unfortunately, the motorcyclist died of his injuries.

While certainly tragic, I found the roadside memorial created at the location of the collision in very poor taste.

What do people think gives them the right to claim public land for their personal memorial spot? How long will it exist? This belongs in a cemetery, not on the street nor at the entrance to Hubbard Park.

Considering it was at a highly visible location (Hubbard Park), made more so by the holiday lights, this eyesore would be seen by many people.

I didn't feel it was appropriate, so I entered Hubbard Park early Saturday morning to avoid scrutiny and remove it. And as this memorial included beer bottles, I think I did the right thing.

The cross contained a solar powered LED.

Now to wait for the repercussions...

It was still dark when I was done. I then drove to the north end of Hubbard Park, near Merimere Reservoir, and walked the road toward the peaks, to address some graffiti.

Graffiti similar to this kitty has appeared several times since November 2016.

The sign was too high off the ground to reach without getting creative. I got creative.

I stood on the log, hugged the tree, and used multiple techniques to  clean the graffiti from the tree without falling.

The sun was just rising at Merimere Reservoir when I turned around and walked back to my vehicle, and RETURNED to the park in better light, to perform my typical litter mopping operations.

Back at the park, I mopped up all the trails on the south side of I-691. My Find of the Week was a Little Tykes swing.

I also found Season of the Missing Glove entry #4, My Little Pony edition.

I returned to the park to drop off my last bag of trash for 2018.

And as is customary for me this time of year, I extend this invitation: If you'd like to be removed from my distribution list for this blog, please contact me, otherwise you'll have another year of "trash talk" from me.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

WTF! (With The Flu)

My flu treatment supplies.

The beer-it's a joke, okay?!, it was NOT part of my flu treatment!

Visit #1172, Sunday 23 December 18, 9:30-11:40AM, 4.7 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, sunny.

I was home from work with the flu for THE ENTIRE WEEK. WTF?! Too close to Christmas. It would be poor form for me to go to work and infect my coworkers, especially in front of the holiday. I became intimate with my couch, hoping I'd feel better by the time the weekend rolled around.

On Wednesday I visited my doctor, not for a cure-all but for an excuse for my employer.

True story: I said to my doctor, "I'm here for a prescription for a rock; a rock to crawl under until this blows over. I couldn't find any over-the-counter rocks, so I came to you."

She got a laugh over that. I coughed.

Well, the weekend rolled around and I still wasn't quite feeling chipper, but I WAS going stir crazy and my couched kicked me out of the house for a few hours. Hopefully, the fresh air would do me some good.

It didn't do my camera any good; it malfunctioned so I lost most of the photos I took on Sunday. WTF?!

I walked the road from the gate, around Merimere Reservoir, and up to the fork in the road between East/West Peak. I collected so much litter (WTF?!, this was unexpected due to the time of year.) and due to the upcoming holiday, didn't want to leave it at the fork in the road for later pickup by the Meriden Parks Department. So I carried it all the way over I-691 and back to the park.

The hike didn't seem to improve my symptoms but it felt good to get some fresh air and feel some warm sun.

Remember; the days get longer from here on. Happy Holiday!

Sunday, December 16, 2018


It was a dreary day indeed, but that didn't deter THIS person from venturing out to Hubbard Park.

Visit 1171, Sunday 16 December 18, 8:10-10:00AM, 4.2 miles.
Temps in the low 40's with light to moderate rain.

Saturday was cloudy and started rainy, but it dried out enough and was warm enough that I wasn't going to waste it; I went for a bike ride. I knew what I was getting into when that left Sunday for my weekly trip to Hubbard Park.

I walked a clockwise loop from the parking lot, and first thing I noticed was half the lights on the train display were not illuminated. (I couldn't get a photo to better capture the lights.)

Looking closer I see that all the lights were connected to one extension cord, and the junction wasn't exactly uh, waterproof. I'd like to meet the shoemaker that cobbled together that setup.

I wasn't going to touch that in the rain, especially since one leg of that 3-in-1 was live and powering some of the lights on the train.  Makes me wonder if the other displays are adequately protected from the rain.

A simple search on the interwebs results in many ways to protect extension cords in the rain, some of which DON'T COST A DIME, which I'm sure a municipality would enjoy hearing. Here's just one of them:

I moved on, over I-691 and covered all the trails below West Peak and Castle Craig. Nearing the Halfway House, I spied the tall standing, blond grass...

 and the first thing I thought of was...

I let out a "Rebel Yell", continued on and...

... found Season of the Missing Glove #3 for 2018/19.

At the south end of Merimere Reservoir I found the lock securing the gate is missing.

I usually check on it when I'm passing by but can't recall the last time I was aware it was there. In any event, it needs to be replaced.

I returned to a still empty parking lot and dropped off my trash for the week.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Season of the Missing Glove Begins

Winter reminds Merimere Reservoir who's boss.

Visit #1170, Saturday 8 December 18, 10:00AM-1:00PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps barely cracking 30, sunny.

I had the deluxe pleasure of being joined by pal Jeff as official photographer and assistant garbageman on this week's excursion. It was cold to start, but quite pleasant once you were moving.

While cleaning the slope below Castle Craig just after Thanksgiving, I noticed a newly fallen branch lying trailside. It was an eyesore to me and too close to the trail, so this week I brought my chainsaw to remove it.

Jeff and I left the parking lot and walked the Soap Box Derby track, then the road, to the south end of Merimere Reservoir where we picked up the trails.

I shortly came upon 2018/19 Season of the Missing Glove Participants #1 and 2.

I had enough brains to save these rather than toss them in my trash bag. I'll drop them off at Goodwill after washing. That pretty much used up all  my common sense for the day!

Reaching the fallen branch, I went to work.

I may have been able to just pull the large branch downslope, saving time and avoiding the use of the chainsaw, but I already used up all my common sense with the mittens and besides, why would I want to spoil the fun of using power tools?

An "artiste" inspects his work.

When Jeff and I reached the top of the trail, we turned right onto the Blue Trail along the ridgeline and the western edge of Merimere Reservoir. I wanted to follow this route because it's rare I take this lightly used trail, but in the off-chance there was something that needed the services of a chainsaw, I would be prepared and not have to make a return trip.

Jeff admires the view east, while I'm already thinking about lunch...

As we hiked along the ridgeline we came upon these climber's web straps secured to these trees. I can only imagine the rock would be cold to hold onto today. We saw no movement on the straps so we hollered to get the climber(s) attention, but received no response.

Near the end of the trail, my decision to hike this direction with my chainsaw paid off, for we encountered a tree across the Blue Trail.

Wide enough to fit your momma through.

We reached the road and followed it back to the park.

Another reason I wanted to trek this route this week was to see if Hubbard Park's secret decorators had adorned the tree adjacent to Echo Point with holiday cheer. If so, it would be the third or fourth year of this tradition.

Sure enough...take a walk on the road and check it out.

And it seems the Season of the Missing Glove is off to a roaring start, as I found Participant #3 on the first day of the season.

Looks like a relative of Mr. Hambuger Helper. However, I never found the spoon.

Jeff and I returned to the park to drop off our trash for the week. I hadn't forgotten about lunch...