Saturday, May 25, 2013

Channeling Chuck Norris

Visit #799, Saturday 25 May 13, 7:55-10:20AM, 3.9 miles
Temps in the high 40's, raw with light rain.

I was going to awe you this week with how tough I am by performing my weekly duties in the rain. But, like Chuck Norris, I'm so tough that rain fears me. Well, almost.

Need a refresher course on Chuck Norris? Look no further:

How Tough Is Chuck Norris?

See, by the time I stepped out of my truck at Hubbard Park, the steady rain had eased vs. stopped completely. I'm working on it.

I was on-call and couldn't stray far from my truck. I planned this week to stick to the trails on the south side of I-691. With the rain weighting down the foliage, it would be a good opportunity to prune back branches and such.

Trails like this:

Are easier to navigate now:

And so it went. Snip, trim, cut.

After navigating the trails, I walked the Soap Box Derby Track toward the retention ponds and found this mallard channeling his own Chuck Norris, braving the rain.

Frequently, I'll find those tiny ziplock bags used to package illicit drugs, although I've yet to find any with printing on them or with cocaine residue inside. This week was no exception:

My trash for the week:

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Entertainment In Abundance

Visit #798, Sunday 19 May 13, 10:45AM-1:45PM
Temps in the mid-60's, intermittent rain.

While mountain biking in the park earlier this week, I spotted some discarded bottles on a trail I don't visit often when I conduct Adopt A Park operations. I chose to return to this trail on foot to pick up the trash.

I made my way from the parking lot to the south end of the reservoir, up to the Halfway House, to the Castle, then down the aforementioned trail.

First thing I spied uh, almost stepped on, was this tiny little buddy:

After he escaped the giant size 10 Vasque Shadow of Death, I encountered several other of his family, who all lived to tell the tale of the Eclipse on a Cloudy Day.

Further down the trail, nowhere near a tennis court or a dog park, I found this:

I can't explain this stuff; just report on it.

In my 30 Sep 12 report I alluded to a "special project" I was working on in Hubbard Park, but I was not specific. The details are/were: some mountain bikers had taken it upon themselves to construct a ramp on one of the trails in the far reaches of the park. Think "Evel Kneivel" catch air type of ramp and you'll get the idea. Certain subcultures of  mountain bikers are taken to this kind of freeriding. Problem is, they're constructing these features on park property. They defile the natural beauty of the trails and turn the parks into their own little freeride courses. It's also a liability issue, no doubt.

While I'd previously reported on discovering renegade trails being constructed in the park and making the effort to dismantle them, this ramp was the first feature I'd encountered. On 30 Sep 13 I dismantled the ramp.

This ramp was on the trail of today's route. When I stopped to inspect my "work" I found this calling card:

What it says is, "That is f&^#ed up! If you have an issue with features (sic), call me." There's a name and phone number. The other side is a business card for a Berlin shop that sells skateboards and mountain bikes. I called the number but the voice mail is not set up.

I was told that the individuals who built this ramp stopped in to a local bike shop recently and told the staff they "had permission" to build this. I learned this directly from the staffperson they spoke to.

I find their claim highly dubious. I will continue to try to contact this person throughout the week and see how it goes.

I don't believe Hubbard Park should be turned into a mountain bike freeride park and I'll continue to disrupt any similar activities.

While on this trail, in the middle of "Peace and Quiet Nowhere" I could hear the sound of a fire truck's siren as if it were heading to the Castle. As I emerged from the trail onto the road at the north end of Merimere Reservoir, I saw the fire truck, and an ambulance, stopped just shy of the north end. I could also see a crew of young people fishing off the bridge:

The firemen politely read the fishermen (and woman) the Riot Act, explaining to them it was cheaper to leave than to wait for the FD to call and have the PD arrive. The firemen were REALLY cool to me; they thanked me for my work and even offered me cold bottles of water. I did not take them up on that offer, but I turned around and asked them to take my first bag of garbage, so it wouldn't be an eyesore on the road. They eagerly did so. Thanks to the Meriden Fire Department!

By the way, the firemen were responding to a call of a woman who was walking on the road around Merimere Reservoir, tripped and fell, and injured her ankle. During her fall her cellphone flew out of her hand so far she couldn't even crawl to reach it. PUSSY! (Just kidding.) Passersby called for help.

I opened another bag and took the road back to the park, picking up trash on both sides as I went. Along the way, I found a hospital bracelet:

At least Rafael wasn't attached to it.

 I encountered more people fishing at the south end of Merimere Reservoir as well. I wonder why so many people think fishing in the reservoir is okay?

Back at the park, as I was photographing my bag of trash for the week, I encountered a man with a little boy. The man was picking up little bits of trash WITHIN THE PARK and bagging them. He says he does this every time he visits Hubbard Park and he's trying to teach his son to do the same. This guy's a hero in my book.

And finally, my second bag of trash:


I've been a cyclist for over 35 years. I started mountain biking in 1984, during the sport's infancy, and cut my teeth on the trails in Hubbard Park.

All was well in Hubbard Park until 1998, when some eco-terrorist wannabe started blocking the trails with branches, logs, and rocks, making them impassable. This was occurring on an almost daily basis.

For 10 years I made it my personal mission to keep the trails clear of this vandal's work. In 2008 the Meriden Conservation Commission began an Adopt A Park program to help maintain the city's parks. I volunteered to adopt Hubbard Park so I could bring attention to the city's leaders what was occurring on the trails.

In 2011 I purchased 2 surveillance cameras and caught on video the man responsible. He was charged and plead guilty in March 2013. Since his arrest in 2011, the trails have remained clear.

Even though I've achieved my goal, I continue to maintain the park's trails on an almost weekly basis. To discontinue my work would be selfish and I owe a debt of gratitude to the City of Meriden for their assistance in putting a halt to this crime.

This blog is a continuation of the weekly reports I have been filing with various city authorities since 2008.