Sunday, May 19, 2019

Early Rising

Early morning at Hubbard Park. Was I the only one awake at this hour?

Visit #1193, Saturday 18 May 19, 6:25-8:35AM, 4.6miles, 3.9lbs. of trash.
Temps in the low 60's, sunny.

I wanted to get an early start this week because I was going to use some spray paint and I wanted it to dry before anyone could step on it. Also, I had a personal To Do List and by getting my weekly fix at Hubbard Park done early I could free up the day for other duties.

I left the parking lot and shortly picked up the trails, leading me to the Halfway House.

How that slender tree wound up where you see it is a mystery to me, but I did toss it back into the woods.

I hiked up toward Castle Craig, and to the rock which I spray painted a couple weeks ago, to cover some graffiti. I wasn't satisfied with the gray paint I used then, so I brought some brown paint with me this week.

Not a good match, but it got the job done.

The brown paint will look more discrete once it dries and loses its sheen.

Reaching Castle Craig, I made a somewhat pleasant discovery. A park bench has been installed at the base of Castle Craig.

I think this was a great idea. SOME thought was put into it, because the concrete pad elevates the bench just enough to take in the view over the surrounding wall.

Here's the view.

However, I question HOW MUCH thought was actually put into the project. To improve the bench's appearance, I could see the concrete pad embedded with the same traprock used on Castle Craig and the surrounding wall. The rock was free as it could have been harvested from the talus slope on the trail below.

But that's a minor, subjective complaint. Where I really think the project went off-the-rails was here:

Man, that looks cheap.  If some local person received permission to install the bench and the concrete pad, and it was presumably a gift to the City of Meriden and Hubbard Park, they could at least identify themselves in a professional fashion. The mysterious initials, and date haphazardly engraved into the concrete are nothing more than graffiti in its present form. Quite frankly it looks like a turd, and an unpolished turd at that.

Adjacent to the bench is an electrical outlet, most likely convenient for Christmas lights on Castle Craig.

However; I'm sure people will be disappointed there's no USB socket in the outlet so they can keep their smartphones topped off 😏. Expect the masses to be charging to the mayor's office with their tiki torches lit, demanding free USB ports on those outlets!

I left Castle Craig and returned to the trails. The scene through the woods was peaceful early on a Saturday morning.

Near the bottom of the trail, I discovered another hemlock has fallen across the trail.

This means next week will be a Power Tool Weekend®, when I remove the tree. Woohoo!

I returned to the parking lot while it was still early, and dropped off my bag of trash for the week.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


The daffodils look a little worn out after working overtime for the Daffodil Festival. No surprise there. Time to call it quits and pack it in 'til next year.

Visit #1192, Saturday 11 May 19, 6:40-8:40AM, 2.3 miles, 31.1lbs. of litter.
Temps in the 50's, sunny.

As pal Jeff and I suited up for last week's escapades, he suggested that instead of my weekly trail maintenance,  we clean up West Main Street, west of Hubbard Park, where he noticed a lot of trash. Being a "stick to the plan" sorta guy, and because West Main Street was out of my scope of duties, I declined.

In retrospect it would have been a good idea, because last week was the Mayor's Community Cleanup Day  and we would have fit right in.

So this week I decided I'd honor Jeff's suggestion, picking up roadside litter from the west-most entrance to Hubbard Park up to the small parking area across from Belmont Avenue. Besides; I was on-call and didn't want to stray from my van should I get a service call.

I started early because there was a children's fishing derby scheduled in Hubbard Park on Saturday; I wanted to ensure I would find parking, and by starting early I would avoid the surprise of getting hooked by some back-casting youth a treble hooked lure!

As I made my way up the roadside picking up litter, I was surprised to come upon this landmark tucked in to the brush, but I have no idea WHAT it marks.

I reached the end of the property and turned around to head back to my van. As I walked, a white sedan slowed as it passed by. From the sound I could tell it had stopped. What was going to be my next surprise?

Surprise; turns out it was Mayor Kevin Scarpati! We'd never had a one-on-one meet, so it was basically each person meeting "The Man, The Myth, The Legend". Until then, I'd only seen photos of him in the paper; he might as well have been Elvis or Salman Rushdie in hiding. As for me, he only knew me from my blog; for all he knew I could have been an invention of someone's imagination. In fact, I sometimes think that of myself!

Here, the mayor violates a city parking ordinance for the sake of a photo op! As you can see, he's struggling to lift my trash bag, which is why you should leave the heavy lifting to professionals like me!

We had a great chat, which was cut short when a state trooper drove by, stopped, and asked if we needed help. At least the mayor didn't get a parking ticket.

I returned to the park but hadn't filled out my self-imposed two-hour minimum work session, so I headed to the parking area at the northwest corner of Mirror Lake to pick up more litter.

Enroute, I took a glance up at Castle Craig. I know the picture is poor, but can you see what I see?

 Here; let's zoom in:

Surprise; that's not one but TWO meatheads standing on top of the crenellations of Castle Craig.

I got my last surprise of the day when my work phone rang, beckoning me to a service call in West Haven. Time to leave as the sun was beginning to provide a great day for fishing at Mirror Lake.

This week I brought the bags of trash home with me for disposal.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Mayor's Annual Cleanup Day

 Grey skies and frequent rain are filling up Merimere Reservoir. Fortunately, we were able to avoid any precip' while out and about in Hubbard Park on Saturday. The rain would come Saturday night.

Visit #1191, Saturday 4 May 19, 8:40-11:10AM, 4.2 miles, 23lbs. of litter.

Temps in the mid-60's, cloudy.

I was joined this week by pal Jeff, who met with me to return my copy of The Traprock Landscapes of New England, and contribute some labor. The book was written and photographed by a couple local individuals, and includes photos and some history of Hubbard Park. If nothing else, buy it for the photos, which are extraordinary.

The City of Meriden holds an annual Mayor's Community Cleanup Day, with Saturday being the date. Jeff and I, while doing our own thing, contributed to the effort.

We traveled clockwise, toward the I-691 walkbridge. Some distance away from the walkbridge entrance, I spied what I presume is a survey marker of some sort, but I don't know why it would be located there, on the trailside, not really near any landmark. Big mystery.

Jeff and I hiked up to the road splitting East and West Peaks, where I set him to work sanding away some graffiti from our infamous Bible Verse Graffiti Vandal, example #13.

Jeff fancies himself an amateur bible scholar, so I tested his mettle and asked him to recall the Bible verse mentioned on the pole. I got some drool and glazed over eyes, but that's about it. He did a better job with the sandpaper.

 It was while Jeff was at work that a long procession of cars drove by enroute to Castle Craig. This was surprising, and disappointing, because it was only 9:20AM and the gate at the park doesn't open for traffic until 10AM. We were hoping for some peace and quiet.

I later learned from someone in the parking lot at Castle Craig that the event was a memorial service for someone. How touching that the location meant enough that the site was chosen for the service.

While Jeff and I were quietly cleaning up the parking lot during the memorial service, I came across the 8th Wonder of the World, the mystery of the man who forgets to put his underwear back on. The next step is Alzheimer's.

We hiked the trail down from Castle Craig and encountered some more graffiti.

 First, I tried the sandpaper left over from the Jeff's Bible Verse erasure.

Then I realized I had an ace up my sleeve, a can of spray paint in my backpack. I would have preferred a better matching-brown, but that can was at home. I may return for a color change.

 Jeff and I returned to the park, having avoided the rain, and dropped off our haul of trash for the week.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Weather Dictates

The weekend's gloomy weather impacted everything, including the Daffodil Festival and my weekly activities in Hubbard Park.

Visit #1190, Saturday 27 Apr 19, 5:10-6:40PM, 3.3miles, 16.3lbs. of litter.
Temps in the low 50's, cloudy with blustery winds.

Sorry for the late post; Friday night's thunderstorms disabled my internet, and it took until Monday afternoon for Frontier Communications to restore my internet service.

Besides affecting my internet, the weekend rain put a damper on attendance at the Daffodil Festival, and dictated when and what I could accomplish in Hubbard Park this weekend. Since Sunday's forecast was worse, I chose to venture out on Saturday.

To avoid the crowds, I parked outside the north end of Hubbard Park and hiked in to the north end of Merimere Reservoir. The amount of water breaching the spillway was impressive.

Due to the weather and early darkness because of the clouds, I this week's activities relatively brief. I walked the road up toward Castle Craig, planning to reach all the way to the parking lot. But when I reached the turn to East Peak, the road was cordoned off with tape.

I already had a heavy bag of trash (10lbs.) so I left it, hoping someone would take the initiative and pick up the bag when they removed the tape.

While tying up the bag, I noticed Hubbard Park's bible verse graffiti vandal has come out of hibernation with entry #13.

I turned around, and walked down the road back toward the reservoir, focusing my attention on the opposite side of the road for litter.

I made it back to the car without getting rained on.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Egg Hunt

Daffodil Festival activities take a break on Sunday to observe Easter. Good thing too; the rain would, wait for it- dampen attendance!

Visit #1189, Easter Sunday 21 April 19, 6:35-9:05AM, 4.4 miles, 24.0 lbs. of litter.
Temps in the high 50's, cloudy with periods of rain.

I started this week's hike very early because I mistakenly wanted to avoid the crowds of any Daffodil Festival activities but I later learned none were scheduled due to the Easter holiday. I promised myself I would take a nap when I got home to make up lost sleep.

With the parking lot occupied by the festival tent, I had to park in the far northwest corner of Mirror Lake, so I started my work there. I quickly filled one bag of trash and left it by my car, and started another one.

I found Season of the Missing Glove 2018/19 entrant #8.

Shortly thereafter I found these containers for marijuana joints. I expect to see more of this as Massachusetts' legal pot continues to make its way down south.

I find the vaguely descriptive, innocent name of the product misleading-much like cigarette brands. Seems like legal pot vendors are following the same advertising methods used for vaping products.

On the other side of I-691, I found the brook flowing strongly down toward the highway due to the recent rains.

I followed the main trail to the Halfway House, and roughly 100 yards past it, I came upon my Find of the Week.

In 20 years I've never seen a passenger car on the trails, only emergency vehicles. I was surprised to find this wheel cover.

Down near Merimere Reservoir I found this tree leaning over the Yellow Trail.

It took some wrestling but I managed to remove it.

Just as I reached the reservoir, it began to rain. Fortunately I packed a rain jacket.

The Meriden Parks Department has temporarily placed concrete blocks in front of the pedestrian gate to deter motorcycles from passing through, when the road is closed to traffic. Unfortunately, I think they placed the blocks too far away from the opening to be effective. I know permanent repairs are planned, however.

I dropped off my second bag of trash and ended my day having not spent too much time in the rain.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Ahead of the Race

Visit #1188, Sunday 14 April 19, 6:00-8:45AM, 5.4 miles, 28.4lbs. of trash.

Daffodil Festival activities kicked off this Sunday, starting with the Rotary Daffodil 5k Road Race.  I thought I'd try to make the road race course, and parking areas for the runners, look nice by picking up trash prior to the event.

That meant an early start to this week's adventures. I started at the gate leading up the road to Merimere Reservoir, picking up trash as I walked.

By the time I reached the water treatment plant I'd filled up one bag and left it there for water department personnel to pick up later.

 It was so early the sun was still casting a shadow of South Mountain on the slope of East Peak.

Further up the road I came upon Season of the Missing Glove 2018/19, entry #7.

Rumor has it when scientists revealed this week they had for the first time, photographed a black hole, they discovered it was composed entirely of those single socks and gloves that get lost in the dryer. That's likely where the companion to the glove above has also gone.

I reached the north end of Merimere Reservoir and the sun was still slow on the uptake.

I continued on until I reached where the road begins to tilt up, then turned around, picking up litter from the opposite side of the road as I walked back toward the park.

As I reached the water treatment plant on the return trip, a water department employee named Dan pulled up in his truck and offered to take my second trash bag. He also said he would collect the first bag I left hanging on the fence. Thanks to Dan; he represents the Meriden Water Division, and the City of Meriden, well.

As I walked down the Soap Box Derby track, I spied this lonesome daffodil, far away from his homies. That daffodil marches to his own beat.

Okay, so now I was done with cleaning up the road race course. Next would be parking for the runners.

Since the festival tent occupied  most of the parking lot, I walked the road around the parking lot and playscape, and picked up litter.

Find of the Week was this unopened bottle of Guinness Extra Stout.

You have to be pretty drunk to dump a perfectly good bottle of beer; that's akin to leaving ONE piece of pizza in the box. Like you couldn't finish it after scarfing down the other seven slices...

I filled up a third bag of trash, and started a fourth.

With this last bag, I walked around roughly three-fourth's of Mirror Lake, tidying up both sides of the road so the runners would have a favorable impression of the park.

As I did so, I learned ducks think they have an exemption from using crosswalks.

I finished well before the runners arrived, and went home to watch the exciting finale of  Paris-Roubaix and see who came out ahead there. For the uninitiated, that's 150+ miles with over 20 sectors of cobblestones!