Sunday, August 25, 2013

Anti-Vandalism Vandalism?

Visit #816, Sunday 25 August 13, 8:40-11:45AM, 7.7 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny, dry, and wickedly pleasant.
In last week's post, I proudly reported how I covered over a large mural painted on the water tank within 24 hours of the vandalism appearing. I figured I saved the city some time and money with my "good deed". I guess I was wrong.

My grey paint job must have been as offensive as the original graffiti because Meriden Water Department personnel painted over MY anti-vandalism work between Monday and Thursday with water tank matching blue paint. How do I know it was the water department that did the deed? I met "park regular" George on Sunday who told me someone from the water department stopped him one day last week and asked if he knew who painted the water tank grey. George gave him the low-down on me and the graffiti and that was that. I think the Meriden Water Department should be reading my blog, then they'd be
better informed. ;-)

I didn't think my paint job was unsightly but I guess the water department thought otherwise. I promise not to help keep the water tank clear of graffiti anymore.

This week I needed to clear a hemlock from a trail so I carried my chainsaw with me. My route followed the road from the  park almost to West Peak, then down a trail which parallels the road to the Castle, meeting back up with the road at the bottom of the climb.

I picked up trash along the road and deposited my first 2 bags of trash along the roadside of the climb.

I started another bag and, along with some garbage I found in bags stashed in the woods, deposited 3 more bags on the roadside just before reaching the parking lot at West Peak.

The trail I planned to hike down, and to my objective, is seen on the right.

I found my fallen hemlock and promptly cleared it from the trail.

Once I met up with the road again, I walked the road all the way back to the park and collected my last bag of trash. Enroute, I was stopped twice by people asking directions to the Castle. Both were thrilled when I handed them maps with the marked trails on them.

There is still more chainsaw work to do on the trails. Expect to read about it in the upcoming weeks.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Man On Fire

A slug makes its way across the road in Hubbard Park. He certainly wasn't on fire.

Man on Fire is a 2004 movie: "Hard-drinking, burnt-out ex-CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington) has given up on life--until his friend Rayburn (Academy Award winner Christopher Walken) gets him a job as a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning). Bit by bit, Creasy begins to reclaim his soul, but when Pita is kidnapped, Creasy unleashes a firestorm of apocalyptic vengeance against everyone responsible."

In the movie, Rayburn says of Creasy; "Creasy's art is death; he's about to paint his masterpiece."

You could say I was a Man on Fire, or maybe I painted a masterpiece this week in Hubbard Park.

Visit #813, Tuesday 13 August 13, 3:00-6:10PM, 6.1 miles.

Visit #814, Friday 16 August 13, 7:20-10:10AM, 5.6 miles.

Visit #815, Saturday 17 August 13, 8:30AM-2:00PM, 5.5 miles.

I was on fire because I made 3 trips into the park this last week. Tuesday and Friday saw me walk the road toward the north end of Merimere Reservoir to reach the Leiner and Anderson properties on the eastern boundary outside of Hubbard Park to clean up the trails there. Except for some chainsaw work on some large wood, the trails are clear. On both days I did my duty WITHIN Hubbard Park and picked up trash along the road as I went.



If you remember from my post, Doling Out The Thanks, I wrote of the giant marijuana leaf painted on the water tank and the quick response in covering it by the Meriden Parks (Water?) Department, and how I emulated their effort by covering over some other graffiti on the overpass support columns for I-691. That was only 2 weeks ago and I noticed while walking the road on Friday that someone had already defiled my work:

The English translation is, "I don't speak Gringles." I'm sure that doesn't help many of you (or me) because I don't know what "Gringles" means. Urban Dictionary to the rescue!

Now my weekly agenda in performing my duties would include covering over the "Gringles".
Not quite MY masterpiece but as you'll see, it was a warm-up.

On Saturday morning as I left my truck and walked toward the gate across the road, I was intercepted by a Hubbard Park "regular", Tom. Tom excitedly told me the marijuana leaf the city workers had so promptly eradicated from the water tank had been replaced by something on an even grander scale. Sounds to me like we've got a serial graffiti artist on our hands and they are persistent at trying to immortalize themselves.

I hadn't seen the work but if it impressed Tom, it likely was going to impress me. I told Tom I just happened to have a gallon of paint in my backpack this morning and if I think it's possible I might just undo the cretin's work.

First, I had to restore MY work on the bridge support:

Then it was up the road to the water tank where I had to say, WHOA-I'M IMPRESSED!

You can easily discern the fresh blue paint from the city's work just a couple weeks ago.

Since I was in the park Friday morning and didn't notice it, and Tom said he passed by the water tank Friday afternoon around 4:30PM and didn't notice it either, we can conclude the work was done later Friday afternoon-the paint was already dry when I reached it Saturday morning.

Well, I decided to make our serial artist's attempt at immortality quite temporary; less than 24 hours worth of immortality. I saved the city some labor; it took me about 45 minutes and a half gallon of paint with a 3" brush.

But I didn't finish the job because my stumpy 5'6" self couldn't reach the flying saucer at the top of the painting. That bugged me. A lot. Now, I REALLY was a man on fire. I wasn't going to stop until that job was finished...but how?

While I pondered my next move, I continued on, walking the trails and picking up trash. I arrived at the Halfway House and disovered the Halfway House Resident Snake had performed a strip-tease:

For some unknown reason, I poked my head over the wall to see if I'd spot the snake. Guess what; he was poking his head out looking for the morning paper-

What a coincidence!

By the time I finished a counterclockwise loop and wound up back at the park and my truck, I had a plan for the water tank. It involved a side trip to the big-box hardware store, and a stop at McDonalds for lunch.

Like John Creasy, I stocked up on the right tools for the job and finished my masterpiece.

No unsightly flying saucers; I hate when I have that problem!

Oh, and I made myself useful on my return trip to the park and picked up one last bag of trash for the week.

I do interior paint work, too...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The End of Raspberry Season

Visit #812, Sunday 11 August 13, 7:35-10:15AM, 6.4 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny.

How do I know it's the end of raspberry season? Because the wild raspberries are dying on the vine.

It's a little known fact that Hubbard Park's Merimere Reservoir is manmade. One source of its water is runoff from the adjacent hills, funneled from the north via the Maloney Canal, which is also manmade.

The canal is paralleled by a trail which sees the encroachment of raspberry bushes every year. Today's plan was to trim back the prickly branches.

I walked the road north around the reservoir until I reached the trailhead. This trail is not only a treat for eating the wild raspberries, but for its tunnel-like foliage like last week's trail. It must be experienced to be appreciated. Keeping it trimmed enhances the canopy effect.

 Here's what the trail looks like running adjacent to the canal:

Where the trail meets the Algonquin Gas pipeline, Len has been up to his old tricks, but being outside Hubbard Park, there's little that can be done. I carried the wood far away with the hope he won't find it.

 I turned around and retraced my steps, picking up trash I missed on the outbound leg.

I leave you this week with a view from the north end of the reservoir. The Maloney Canal empties into the reservoir about 100 feet or so to the right of the photo. South Mountain is in the background.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Doling Out The Thanks

Visit #808, 809, 810, and 811. (#810), Saturday 3 August 13, 12:20-4:30PM, 6.8 miles.
Temps in the low 80's, sunny.

With Paul Bernier's help, the trails have been swept reasonably clean of trash and all the fallen trees cleared away. I'd been informed that the trails adjoining Hubbard Park, on the east side of Percival Park Road, were neglected and in need of some trimming. I thought now is the time to do it as the Hubbard Park trails won't suffer much and I'll clean Percival Park Road of trash as I walk north.

The Metacomet Trail travels east through Hubbard Park, crossing the north end of Merimere Reservoir and continues east to the Chamberlain Highway, crossing the Elmere Reservoir. It includes some trails on the Leiner Property (more on that later). Technically, these trails are in Berlin. But since they're accessible from within Hubbard Park, many people use Hubbard Park to reach them. So why not touch them up a bit?

As you can see from the photo above, the first 200 yards or so has some tunnel like sections which are quite inviting. I brought lopping shears and worked for an hour on Monday, clearing just the south side of the trail. I found a bicycle in the woods at trailside and dragged it back to the park, leaving it on the asphalt. Sometime during the week the parks crew must have found it and carted it away.

I returned on Wednesday, again with the lopping shears, and trimmed the north side of the trail. This time I brought a camera, and collected more trash.

For visit #810 on Saturday, I brought the chainsaw and removed the big stuff. I worked my way from the trailhead up to the Leiner Property, which is an 11 acre parcel. This sign explains it all:

Here's much of what I cleared away:

Again, I picked up trash along Percival Park Road as I walked each direction.

The trails in that area are far from complete but I hope to finish the work in 2 weeks during a vacation.

I often walk up the road from the park to the trails at the south end of Merimere Reservoir, and frequently glance at the water tank on the hill. When I did so this week, I noticed someone managed to paint a 12-15 foot tall marijuana leaf and slice of pizza on the side. Whoever did this either stood on a vehicle or brought a ladder.

Well, credit has to be given to the Meriden Parks Department because they clearly wasted no time in painting over the graffiti. I didn't have my camera with me the day I spotted the art, I can only post an "after" photo. Click on the photo and you can clearly see the fresh paint. I actually pondered painting it over myself but before I came up with a solution on how to reach 15 feet off the ground, and actually executed my plan, the city boys well did the deed.

Having been beaten to the punch on that and being saved a lot of work and aggravation, I decided to show my thanks to the Meriden Parks Department by taking care of some other graffiti. Many people either walk or drive up the road from the park toward Merimere Reservoir and beyond, and they have to pass scribblings painted on the I-691 overpass support columns. I made the passing less of an eyesore on Sunday, with 30 minutes of work.


Becomes this:

And another, final thanks to the Meriden Parks Department. In last week's post I reported on the lame output of the water fountains at the playground. The parks crew took care of them in a jiffy as well. Here ya' go:

They work like a charm now.