Sunday, April 27, 2014


Visit #867, Wednesday 23 April 14, 7:15-8:50AM, 1.3 miles.
Temps in the 50's, light rain.

Visit #868, Saturday 26 April 14, 2:10-4:45PM, 6.5 miles.
Temps in the 50's, partly sunny.

With the Daffodil Festival looming, I was INSPIRED to re-clean part of the park I'd originally cleaned a mere 6 months ago. On the perimeter of the road around the playground outside of the fence line, I spied 3 bags of empty cat food cans that had been strewn about many weeks ago. With festival goers wandering around, it would look like crap, so I circumvented the fence and went to town. It's quick work other than cutting brush that's between me and the trash. Six bags later and I was done.

Included in the mix was an empty bottle of ever-so-frequently-heard-in-the-news Oxycodone (patient name redacted).

Back in September 2013, I did some work, walking from Castle Craig down the road and back. What I didn't report is, I found 3 car tires in the woods in various locations and placed them by the roadside. I planned to pick them up after retrieving my truck and driving down. Well, in the 45 minutes or so it took me to return to my truck, someone  who couldn't keep their hands off the tires decided to roll them down the hill into the unknown. I couldn't find them and wasn't going to bother. I expected they would turn up in the future.

While mountain biking in Hubbard Park on Friday, the tires reappeared in ditches in separate locations. I placed the first car tire over my bike's seat and walked it over to the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. I would return on Saturday to retrieve the other 2 tires.

On Saturday I avoided the Daffodil Festival and parked at the north end, outside of Hubbard Park and hiked in. First thing I found is between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon someone had broken one of the gates blocking park access at the north end.

I'll notify the Meriden Parks Department.

Retrieving the remaining tires along with picking up trash was going to be a pain because it was going to require multiple return trips up the road toward Castle Craig and therefore some considerable mileage.

Just as I started walking, I met a man walking a Jack Russell terrier that was both blind AND deaf. With the park road closed during the Daffodil Festival, we were the only two people out here. We'd met once before and I'd remembered his dog. We chatted briefly, he thanked me for my work and we parted. For the next half hour or so we would leapfrog each other and he saw me picking up trash and dragging the tires out of various locations. At some point I turned around to check on his whereabouts and he, and his dog, were gone.

Well, to make a long story short, he must have been INSPIRED by my work and saved me a ton of mileage for, even with a blind and deaf dog in tow, he managed to bring both tires back to the spillway, a distance of at least 3/4 of a mile. I added my trash to the pile and will contact the Meriden Parks Department to pick up the collection. Hopefully this time itchy fingers won't cause the tires to disappear.

During my travels on the road, I found a couple spots where trees and large branches have fallen into the road:

Surprise trash find of the week. Amazing how cheap this technology has become as it's now virtually a throw-away item.

But the REAL find of the week required powers of observation sharper than a CIA drone.

While walking down the road from Castle Craig, I looked about 100 feet into the woods and spied this:

Actually, there were 2 of these taps on separate birch trees, both equally filled.

By the time you read this, the Daffodil Festival will be over and it will be time for the road to Castle Craig and West Peak to be open daily. If you want to enjoy the quiet I experienced Saturday, you'll have to be an early riser.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag

Visit #864, Good Friday, 18 April 14, 10:05AM-12:20PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the 50's, partly sunny.

Visit #865, Saturday, 19 April 14, 6:20-8:05AM, 3.6 miles.
Temps in the mid-30's, sunny.

Visit #866, Easter Sunday, 20 April 14, 6:20-7:10AM, n/a miles.
Temps in the mid-30's, sunny.

James Brown has hair.

He can sing.

He has more moves than a chess board.

I lack all three.

The only thing James and I may have in common is our "Brand New Bag". I have a new bag-backpack, that is. My existing backpack which you've all come to know and love through my weekly reports, is in need of repair. While it's out in Seattle, my Camelbak will substitute in the photos.

On Good Friday I hiked from the park to the south end of Merimere Reservoir, then to Castle Craig via the trails. Once at the castle, I cleaned up the parking lot perimeter and some of the surrounding area, depositing 2 bags of trash.

I then followed the road to a trail which would take me down toward I-691.

While enroute to the trail, I picked up trash on the slope adjacent to the guardrail, and made my find of the week:

From what I can tell, this license plate is from the late 1930's/early 1940's. How cool is that?!

I returned to the park and dropped off my 3rd bag of trash.

I returned to Hubbard Park on Saturday morning because during Good Friday's outing I saw some minor trail maintenance which needed to be tended to and a holiday weekend was the perfect excuse to tend to it. Besides, my substitute backpack won't fit my lopping shears which I'd normally have on hand, which would have saved me a trip to the park.

Before and after photos:

I made this return trip productive by hiking trails I didn't hike on Friday, and collected more trash.

Concerned that the trash bags I left at Castle Craig on Friday might be picked over by critters during the long weekend, on Easter morning I rode my mountain bike up to the castle with a couple spare bags just in case. Fortunately, the bags were gone, presumably taken away for proper disposal. A nice Easter surprise.

The Daffodil Festival will be in full swing this coming weekend; don't eat too much!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bringing Out My Inner Artist

My canvas.

Visit #860, Thursday 10 April 14, 7:15-7:45PM, 0.5 miles.
Temps in the 50's, clouding up.

Visit #860, Friday 11 April 14, 4:50-6:10PM, 3.0 miles.
Temps in the high 50's, intermittent showers.

Visit #861, Saturday 12 April 14, 8:05-9:45AM, 1.0 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, sunny.

Visit #862, Sunday 13 April 14, 6:55-8:05AM, 1.0 miles.
Temps in the low 50's, mostly cloudy.

Last week I reported painting over some graffiti in Hubbard Park. This week I utilized the full palette of my painting skills.

On Thursday I stopped in Hubbard Park to conduct some covert operations. While waiting for the cloak of darkness, I walked a brief loop around the Soap Box Derby track and the road from Castle Craig and put myself to good use. The result was a bag of trash.

Picking up trash was going to eat into my time at the "easel" this weekend, so when the opportunity arose to return to the park on the way home from work on Friday, I seized it and walked the road from the park to the north end of Merimere Reservoir and back, picking up trash.

That trash bag is blue because, while driving from work to the park, I realized I had no trash bags in my truck, so I stopped at the supermarket to pick some up.

With the trash duties out of the way, I turned my attention to the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

Last fall and winter, I reported of some persistent graffiti being painted on the jersey barriers above the spillway. By being persistent in covering it up, I reasoned I could deter the vandals. Well, it worked-sort of.

It appears they gave up on the highly visible real estate of the jersey barriers and relocated to the less accessible reaches of the spillway.

The graffiti on the right is only a couple weeks old; that on the left has been there for years.

So, on Saturday I grabbed my supplies and parked at the north end of Hubbard Park for the short walk to the site, hence the paltry 1 mile listed above.

I was also low on paint, and REALLY scraped the fumes from the can trying to cover all of the above. Needless to say, I wasn't satisfied.

Before I left, I took advantage of the dry spillway area and picked up trash, which I carried away to my truck.

Included in my haul were the graffiti artist's tool of the trade.

Off to the paint store I went, to restock and prepare for Sunday.

Early Sunday morning I picked up where I left off, and covered most all of the graffiti on the spillway. Anything left will wait until my next commissioned piece of art.

While all this was going on, I can hear and see a city owned vehicle driving by, which I thought odd.

When I finished, I poked my head up to road level to discover a table and chairs set up on the road just past the spillway. It took me a couple minutes to figure out the Meriden Rotary Club was hosting a road race in Hubbard Park and the turnaround for the 5k race was near the table and chairs.

So my cleaning of the road on Friday coincidentally benefited the city, the Rotary Club, and the runners. How cool is that?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Springtime Housekeeping

Unique find of the week; a frying pan with bullet holes in it.

Visit #858, Thursday 3 April 14, 6:20-7:30PM, 2.7 miles.
Temps in the high 50's, greying skies.

Visit #859, Saturday, 5 April 14, 8:40-11:45AM, 7.2 miles,
Temps in the low 50's, sunny.

During last Saturday's activities, I'd spotted some graffiti that was on a rock I'd previously painted. I stopped by Hubbard Park after work on Thursday and re-covered it.

I unloaded my painting gear and went to work.

I was hoping the gloss and the stripe effect would mellow out once the paint dried. When I checked back on Saturday, it was fine.

Just up the trail was another rock similarly decorated. I covered it as well, but in my haste to beat the daylight, I failed to take a "before" photo.

I hiked a clockwise loop and made it back to the parking lot in the dark. Nevertheless, I managed to pick up some trash during my brief trip.

On Saturday I had the benefit of the assistance of Paul Bernier, who partnered with me to pick up trash and clear some of the trails from fallen trees and branches.

After picking up trash for a few hours you can get a little loopy and the talk always turns toward litterers and trash. It's enough to cause one to, wait for it, MAKE A COMMERCIAL! This was all Paul's idea ;-)

Our route took us from the playground to the north end of Merimere Reservoir via the road. Enroute, we filled 2 bags and left them by the roadside for the parks department to collect later.

At the north end, we consolidated 2 more bags along with a hub cap, and left them as well for Monday collection.

 We picked up the Blue Trail and hiked all the way to Castle Craig, down, then over I-691 and back to the park. Winter had dropped some things across the trails that needed removal, and a chainsaw was called for. Here's a collection of before and after shots.

Back at the park, we dropped off our last bag of trash for the day. Thanks again to Paul Bernier for his company and assistance.