Sunday, October 13, 2019


 Visit #1216, Sunday 13 October 19, 7:40-11:20AM, 5.1 miles, 15.6lbs. of litter.
Temps in the low 60's, sunny and pleasant.

Last week I noticed a lot of spray painting on the road from the park, around Merimere Reservoir. Most of this is the result of charity running/walking events. While I understand the intent, the more the painting accrues, the more it becomes an eyesore.

I took it upon myself to paint over the markings this week, but found spray painting over other spray painting was ineffective. I'll probably return with a better approach in a few weeks.

I'm going to suggest to the city they tell event organizers use removable signage or chalk for their route markings.

Here I tried using gray spray paint over the existing marking. It did not blend in the road to my satisfaction. Besides, I ran out of paint...

Along the road I found this exhaust pipe. Rather than leave it for someone to pick up later, I carried it for the rest of my hike as sort of a workout exercise.

This seemed to be the week to find artistic rocks. I have found similar artifacts in the past.

My other goal today was to clean up litter tossed into the spillways at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. I had to wait until the spillways were dry, which occurs maybe once a year.

 I picked up the trail and hiked up toward Castle Craig. Along the way, I found a tree fallen across the trail. This means next week will be a Power Tool Weekend!

Aurora lost her goldfish. I set them free.

Reaching Castle Craig, I cleaned up the parking lot then followed the trails down. At the Halfway House I found yet another painted rock, this one in the form of that awful sweet, candy corn.
Clever, but yuck!

At the south end of Merimere Reservoir on the main trail I found another fallen tree. You can see from the photo how close it is to the road. I had forgotten about the high winds we had last week. This fallen tree extends far to the left of the photo.  A second fallen tree makes it easier to justify carrying the chainsaw next week.

 I can't wait for next week's chainsaw filled revelry!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Peace and Quiet

Rain would be a threat all day Sunday, but it came to nothing.

Visit #1215, Sunday 6 October 19, 9:20AM-12:10PM, 5.2 miles, 19.6lbs. of litter.

I was craving some peace and quiet on Sunday, so I chose a hiking route that would take me far from the noise and commotion of urban life. Hubbard Park has many trails that can fill my prescription, and yours.

I gathered my gear and quickly hiked over I-691, distancing myself from the drone and rumble of highway traffic. I hiked up to West Peak,  where I covered over some graffiti a couple weeks ago. I wasn't satisfied with the color I had at the time, so I returned with spray paint that was a better match.

It will dry to a flat finish and be almost indistinguishable from the pre-existing brown.

I picked up trash around the area then headed to a much quieter trail. So quiet, you could hear the remnants of the Big Bang.

On the way down, I came across some rare, Woodland Oysters. As oysters migrate south for the winter, they will make stops along the way when they get tired of flying and want to bed down for the night. Problem is, while resting they are subject to predators as this unfortunate flock discovered.  😏

Just before reaching the road, I found this stool on the trail. How it got there or why, I don't know.

It was light enough to carry back, but now I had both hands full.

Further on, I found this slug picking up some vegetables at the farmer's market.

Back to the noise of civilization, I quietly dropped off my trash for the day.

P.S. Did you get your Halloween candy yet? I did, and if I keep sampling it to ensure its quality, there won't be any left for the trick or treaters!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Great Fall Weather, Continued

Even the geese knew it was a great day to lounge on the grass.

Visit #1214, Sunday 29 September 19, 7:20-9:10AM, 2.8miles, 19.2lbs. of trash.

Temps in the 60's, sunny and dry.

For the second consecutive week, Meriden enjoyed perfect fall weather: clear skies, and temperatures tempting you to bask in the sun, like our wise buddies above.

I started early so my chainsaw wouldn't annoy too many people. After my work two weeks ago,  rerouting a trail, I wasn't satisfied I had blocked the original trail enough. The brush I piled there would surely rot and shrink in short order. I brought my chainsaw to cut up a log and place it where I didn't want hikers to pass.

I cut the log into four pieces and placed them with my existing pile of brush.

It still needs to look more convincing; I'll work on it.

I returned to my vehicle and dropped off the chainsaw, then broke open a trash bag and went looking for litter.

This week, it truly paid to look for litter.

Since I was on-call this week, I didn't wander far, and in order to fulfill my self-imposed two hour minimum in Hubbard Park, I walked around the playscape and parking lot, picking up trash as well as on the trails. Done for the day, I was going to join the geese above, but I wasn't going to share my dollar.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Just-What A Beautiful Day

Just where were YOU on this most perfect, late September day? I was in Hubbard Park, enjoying mild breezes, temps in the 60's and climbing, and lots of sunshine. Thank goodness this wasn't a weekday, otherwise it would have been wasted on all us working stiffs!

To quote Nathaniel Hawthorne, who knew what I was talking about; "I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house."

Visit #1213, Sunday 22 September 19, 7:30-9:45AM, 5.5 miles, 8.8lbs., of trash.

I had not been up to West Peak in a while so that's where I headed from the parking lot on Sunday morning. I did stop briefly to admire my work from last week, and generate some ideas regarding the site, which I hope to implement next week.

On the trail, nearing West Peak, I found a pair of prescription glasses.

 I tried them on and things went all fuzzy; that's how I know they were single prescription lenses. Unfortunately, they suffered some damage to the optics so in the trash bag they went.

What were YOU doing at 8:15 on Sunday morning; still inspecting your eyelids? I was at West Peak, savoring the early morning warm sunshine, and the view.

Unfortunately, the entire view wasn't as pretty. I found some new, offensive graffiti over other graffiti I'd previously painted over.

I had to look up the meaning of "carceral state". Seems like Tatum has a real chip on his shoulder. The Goof Off I carry for such cases wasn't working fast enough on the graffiti so I left.

I cleaned up the West Peak parking lot then followed the road back to the park.

The Meriden Parks Department has been busy patching the road around Merimere Reservoir, as well as to East and West Peak.

A heron checks out the breakfast menu at the Merimere Diner. Hard to believe such a skinny neck can swallow a frog or a bluegill whole!

At the south end of Merimere, I found someone had tossed this photographic reflector into the reservoir. I retrieved it and dropped it off at the water treatment plant.

I dropped off my trash for the week, thinking I was done for the day. But I wasn't.

 I hated to waste such a spectacular day weather-wise, and I knew I wouldn't be able to return to West Peak for at least a couple weeks to take care of the graffiti, so late Sunday afternoon I saddled up the mountain bike and enjoyed a ride up to West Peak to cover over the graffiti.

I wiped off the Goof Off with a spray bottle of alcohol, then used the closest color of spray paint I had on hand. I'll probably return in a couple weeks with a better match.

Here's hoping the weather next weekend is just as enjoyable. Until then, maintain.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


The "alligator" in Merimere Reservoir is visible; the water level is low.

Visit #1211, Saturday 14 September 19, 10:15AM-12:45PM, mileage and trash n/a.
Temps in the 60's, cloudy with showers threatening in the afternoon.

Visit #1212, Sunday 15 September 19, 8:20-10:45AM, 4.3 miles, 9.1lbs. of trash.
Temps in the mid-60's, sunny and dry.

I entered Hubbard Park today to reroute the trail around the tree which I discovered last week had fallen over the trail close to I-691.

Removing the leaning tree was out of the question so I had to think of an alternative. The alternative was to reroute the trail AROUND the tree, but there was another leaning tree in my way. Let's see how this worked out.

I came armed with a quiver of weapons. I wound up breaking the "Craigslist Bargain" orange handled rake. That explains why there was so much electrical tape on it.

I raked a partial path and used the comealong to remove one fallen tree lying in the way of the new route.

I didn't bring my chainsaw because I thought felling the smaller leaning tree would be dangerous. So, I hooked the comealong onto it as well. The bottom ten feet of the tree broke off and fell spectacularly. Then I winched it to the side of the new trail.

That left a "widowmaker" hung up in the tree, but it's not a danger to any hikers.

I dug up the roots of any bushes, and raked the area smooth. On Sunday, in sunny weather, I returned to admire my work. Years from now, when I'm dead and gone, people may wonder when that tree fell and who cleared a path around it. I kind of feel I will have become part of the history of the trails in Hubbard Park.

By the way, I plan of piling more brush under the leaning tree to persuade hikers to use the new path. But if that leaner ever drops I'll probably try to restore the original route.

Roughly a week ago I received an e-mail from someone inquiring about the possible whereabouts of a beehive fountain in Hubbard Park other than the well known fountain on the main trail below West Peak. He was able to provide a very old photo of what he thinks is the fountain in question.

Cool, huh? Well, by myself I wasn't going to solve this mystery, so I enlisted the help of a friend who does a lot of off-trail adventuring in Hubbard Park and together we came up with a pretty good explanation.

The slope of the dirt road, its straightness, the slope of the hill behind the fountain, and the shape of the rocks comprising the fountain all lead us to believe the fountain was located HERE, on Percival Park Road:

Somewhere along this stretch of pavement leading up to the south end of Merimere Reservoir is where we think the fountain was located.

The next clue is, there is a perpetual spring running just off the right side of the photo, which possibly fed the fountain. That's not just a puddle but year 'round running water.

Of course, with the construction of I-691 in the 60's, the terrain underneath the overpasses was significantly changed. One has to wonder, if you waited until the foliage died and did some scrounging around, would you find any of the original stone or the fountain itself?

Walk further up the road and you'll encounter this stone wall with blocks that have a much similar, sharp-edged shape to those of the old fountain.

If not near the puddle, we think the fountain was located somewhere between there and roughly the stone wall above. All the stone used in the fountain had to be what could be had lying around.

Here's a photo from Sunday of the familiar beehive fountain; note the different, smooth round stones used here.

An interesting part of the history of Hubbard Park.

After briefly investigating the area of where the fountain might have been located, I walked the road around Merimere Reservoir and up toward the peaks, taking the trails down and over I-691 and back to the park.