Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pre-Halloween Fun

Fall colors are peak in Hubbard Park right now. This early morning photo doesn't do it justice.

Visit #1042, Sunday 30 October 16, 7:30-9:00AM, 3.0 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, rising to the 60's, with rapid clouding and rain forecast for the afternoon.

I stuck close to the park this week because I was on-call.

Considering the cold mornings we've been having lately, Sunday dawned just downright balmy and sunny; perfect for hiking.

In last week's post, I found a heavy winter coat and promised to have it dry cleaned then donated to Goodwill. I made good on my promise.

But at fifteen bucks a pop for dry cleaning, I hope I don't continue to find winter coats on the trails; I'll go broke!

I picked up trash on all the trails on the south side of I-691. At one point I found a hub cap so I had to switch to a larger trash bag to accommodate it. I then returned to the park and more colorful foliage.

After covering the trails I walked a loop around the Soap Box Derby track and the retention pond, picking up trash on the roadside.

This week I dropped my trash bag off at the Parks Department maintenance facility because I also found a traffic cone which I'm told was used on Saturday for a running race. Someone tossed the traffic cone over the fence. I retrieved it and left it in front of the dumpster, where I imagine eventually it will find a proper home.

Actually, I should have kept the traffic cone. It would have made a great Halloween costume. If only I could fit inside it...

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Miner's Island on a raw, rainy Saturday. Meriden is in need of increasing its water supplies and, while the rain is welcome, it's far shy of what's needed to bring us back to parity. City residents were recently asked to conserve water.

Visit @1041, Saturday 22 October 16, 9:15-11:15AM, 4.1 miles.
Temps in the low 60's with a raw rain.

I woke up at 6AM with the intention of riding my bike to the barbershop for an early morning haircut, and avoiding the rain. I checked the forecast before I left the house for the 20 mile round trip and it said "Rain will begin in 112 minutes." On the trip home there was a little drizzle, then it stopped.

And I stopped thinking about the weather. Dumb.

Thanks to Paul Bernier, who joined me today in getting wet while keeping Hubbard Park's trails clean, and not complaining.

I parked the car outside the north end of Hubbard Park and we walked in. We crossed the north end of Merimere Reservoir and picked up the Blue Trail toward Castle Craig. This trail rarely needs any attention for trash or other trail maintenance but I'd felt I'd taken care of all the other trails so well in the recent weeks that I could take a break and hike this trail to enjoy the view, as you see above.

It was barely raining when we reached Castle Craig, intending to walk down the road back to the reservoir and back to my car. In the few minutes it took to walk to the fork in the road to East/West Peak, it began to pour.

We continued to pick up trash as we walked down the road, but we neglected some spots we wouldn't avoid if it were dry; they would have to wait until drier times.

However, I DID take the time to stop and photograph 2016 Season of the Missing Glove Exhibit #20.

I didn't even photograph the bags of trash until Sunday, when it was sunny and dry. Common sense or wussiness; you decide!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Goodbye To An Old Friend, Hello To A New Friend

It's prime hiking season. The leaves are in technicolor mode and crunchy underfoot. With mild temps and sunny skies, it doesn't get any better than this.

Visit #1040, Saturday 15 October 16, 11:30AM-1:20PM, 3.9 miles.
Temps in the mid-60's, sunny and dry.

My backpack finally died. Maybe 15 years ago, certainly pre-blog, I bought my backpack from L.L. Bean. I put some serious thought into my purchase. I needed a top-loading backpack to hold my chainsaw when  working on the trails in Hubbard Park. A top loading backpack meant no strain on zippers, and it would hide most of the chainsaw from the public, making my forays into the park a little more discreet. I wanted external bottle holders for easy access to drink. Lots of pockets was a must. The L.L. Bean fit the bill.

When 2 zippers began to fail a couple years ago, I spent $100 having them repaired. I liked the pack so much I didn't want to give it up. But one of the zippers failed again, and I knew it was time to let her go.

So today you'll see my replacement. It doesn't quite have the same features as the L.L. Bean but it DOES hold a chainsaw albeit externally. The benefit is I don't have to wait for it to cool down before I store it. The maker, Dakine, has a cool video about it


Like two dogs sniffing each other's butts, I have to get used to this pack; break it in and familiarize myself with its features.

Well, I didn't need the chainsaw today but the backpack's capacity came in handy.

I covered all the trails below East and West Peak, looping back and forth to ensure I didn't miss any. Up near the beehive fountain, I came upon my Find of the Week.

The women's fleece had a Salvation Army emblem on it; the coat was a Ralph Lauren pea coat.  Definitely not cheap stuff.

Inside the fleece I found a pair of gloves.

Inside a pocket of the pea coat I found this card.

A short distance away I found this hat. I'm inclined to believe whoever wore the hat wore one of the jackets.

Who would forget this kind of clothing? I have some conclusions in my head; I'll let you form your own.

Fortunately, all the items fit in my new backpack. I washed the fleece, hat, and gloves last night. I'll have the jacket dry-cleaned then donate everything to Goodwill.

On the Yellow Trail, I found a fallen branch which needed cutting. The Dakine pack is taller than my old one; it carries both my loppers and hedge clippers with more room to spare.

Further on, I found this rock on a tree stump. Jed has tried to immortalize himself.

I returned to the park to drop off my trash. And here's the debut of my Dakine backpack. The external lopper sleeve is trick!

But wait; there's more!

Earlier in the week I'd read in the Meriden Record-Journal that there would be a food truck festival in Hubbard Park on Saturday. With that knowledge, I initially planned to enter the park early Saturday morning to guarantee parking and avoid the crowds. Alas, I had a colossal brain fart, putzed around on Saturday morning, and forgot about the festival.

Fortunately, I managed to grab the last parking spot near the playscape when I arrived as the festival was just opening. After my weekly duties in Hubbard Park I was hungry, so I braved the crowds and grabbed some food truck food.

Last October my day in Hubbard Park coincided with a food truck festival. I tasted the poutine, and I SWEAR I'm still burning off the calories from that bomb. This year was no different.

These are fried parmesan cheese balls with a side of sauce.

Gotta have dessert. Full disclosure; I only ate ONE of the donuts with the meal. I exercised extreme self-discipline and saved the other donut for Sunday breakfast.

My pedometer indicated that, after my work in Hubbard Park, I burned approximately 390 Calories.
Something tells me that after eating at the food truck festival, I'm not running a caloric deficit...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Embracing The Suck

A steady rain fell over Meriden for most of Sunday.

Visit #1039, Sunday 9 October 16, 7:25-10:05AM, 5.3 miles.
Temps in the mid-50's, rain.

Dress right, generate some heat, and the rain isn't so bad.

Tip: I wear latex gloves under my work gloves when it rains. Keeping my hands dry keeps them warmer.

Rain kept the park mostly devoid of visitors. Anyone I saw gets extra credit for being outside on such a day as this.

I hiked up the Soap Box Derby track, behind the water tank, up to the Halfway House, and on to Castle Craig, where I cleaned up the parking lot. In the process I found a broken mirror. I left my first trash bag next to it so the parks crew can easily locate both. I'll contact the Parks Department to pick up everything and suggest they bring a broom.

Leaving the parking lot, I walked the road until I picked up the Red Dot trail, which dumps out at the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

The tranquility continued as I walked the road back to the park, collecting trash as I went.

When I finished my hike and dropped off my last bag of trash it was still raining.

Overall, a nice day to either stay inside, or embrace the suck and enjoy a hike.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The End of The Spoiling

Pigeons outnumbered people in Hubbard Park on a rainy Saturday. This is the first rainy weekend I can remember for this year. We're certainly in need of water but we've been spoiled with dry weather for so long. Well, the party was over this weekend.

Visit #1038, Saturday 1 October 16, 9:40-11:10AM, 2.4 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, with a light, steady rain.

As promised, I planned to work on the graffiti I found last week on the walkbridge over I-691. The rain would make it a mixed blessing; there would be vastly fewer people on the trails so I would less likely be "caught" while removing the graffiti, but the rain would also mean I couldn't take the easy way out and merely spray paint over it.

During last week's work,  I noticed some organization had placed route arrows on the pavement and elsewhere in Hubbard Park. I almost removed them but with background knowledge of the organization and the event, I realized the event had not been held yet and I should give them a chance to benefit from the arrows then assume they would remove them post-event.

Alas, a week goes by and a least one route arrow was a real eyesore.

Bike Walk Connecticut was holding their annual Discover CT Bicycle Tour and it was the 50 mile route which went through Hubbard Park. I removed the arrow above and sent Bike Walk Connecticut an e-mail asking them to please remove their route markers after any event.

Onward, I hiked the trails to the walkbridge and set down to work on the graffiti.

In refining my technique for removing graffiti on the bridge, I bought a sanding block which made work on the large, flat surface much easier. Roughly 15 minutes later...

... it was a good arm and shoulder workout at the same time.

I packed up and turned myself toward the West Main Street end of the trail, across from Belmont Avenue, where I found suspiciously Bent Tree #14.

Lacking anything to cut it with, I would have to leave it for next week.

I picked up trash around the area, then checked the lock on the gate.

While all the parts were in place, the hasp would not lock. I'll notify the Meriden Parks Department and see if they can replace the lock.

On the walk back to the park, I ran into my Find of the Week.

Rare, inland clams. ;-)

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

Of course, Bent Tree #14 was bothering me, and I didn't want to return to that spot next week, so I stopped by Hubbard Park on Sunday morning and quickly took care of it with a bow saw.

Until next week, maintain.