Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Edition, With Costume!

Leaves blanket the trails of Hubbard Park.

Visit #908, Saturday 25 October 14, 11:30AM-2:50PM, 7.0 miles.
Temps in the 60's, sunny and pleasant.

A big bucket of thanks to Paul Bernier, who joined me this week helping to keep Hubbard Park clean. With his help we really performed a top notch job.

I took advantage of Paul's presence this week and tackled what I know is the most frequently trashed area of Hubbard Park, the road to East and West Peak.

We barely walked a quarter mile before Paul chanced upon the Find of the Week.

What we have here are 2 wigs, a wrapper from a pack of Camel cigarettes, and a crack pipe. There was also one nylon stocking and a lot of lipstick smeared on napkins. If this was all part of a Halloween costume, then I can't figure who or what they were masquerading as.

I'll guess the collection didn't belong to a woman because I've never known a woman to smoke Camels. Any woman who smokes Camels is tougher than a three dollar steak and someone I wouldn't want to arm wrestle with, if I enjoy keeping my forearm intact.

But if it belonged to a man-2 wigs? Isn't one wig enough? Let's see...

One size fits all!

Alright, nothing to see here; move on people.

Traffic on the road was ridiculously heavy as everyone drove to Castle Craig to enjoy the autumn views. Considering how few people we met on the trails today, I wondered if anyone walks anymore.

Paul and I reached the fork to East Peak/West Peak and left our first pair of trash bags.

Enroute I found this Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup. After looking at the order, I could only imagine the cashier incredulously asking, "Would you like coffee with your cream and sugar?"

There was no way Paul and I wanted to head toward Castle Craig today and contend with the mob, so we pointed our trash bags toward West Peak instead. We cleaned up the parking lot and the surrounding area.

We found the remnants of what must have been some party-33 beer bottles and cans.

I also found this rare, sneaker edition Chia pet. It was never a best-seller...

The beer party put our bags over the limit so we left a second pair at the end of the West Peak parking lot.

Paul and I walked down to the trails below West Peak and Castle Craig, and down to Merimere Reservoir. The unusually low water level  exposed much of the shoreline. As we cleaned up the area around the south end of the reservoir, I unearthed this old fence post and left it in a spot for the Meriden Parks Department to hopefully cart away on Monday.

Back at the park, I found this abandoned sign. Either the Meriden Democrats are not environmentally conscious or some Republicans wanted to rain on the Democrats' picnic.

Paul and I deposited the last of our trash.

You've got maybe one more week of colorful foliage so don't say I didn't warn ya'; get out there!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Ever-Changing Trail

The rain held off long enough on Saturday to complete my duties.

Visit #907, Saturday 18 October 14, 8:40-11:05AM, 4.1 miles.
Temps in the 60's, cloudy with developing showers.

After the last 3 weeks with focused agendas, I felt lost as I had no specific intentions for Saturday; just pick up trash. But I'd forgotten that there's always something that makes each outing unique, and provides purpose, and today would be no exception.

When I started my clockwise loop I quickly fell into an unplanned routine of cutting thorn bushes, particularly on the trail behind the bank of daffodils. They grow like the national debt, and it's near impossible to keep up with their progress. Now I was chopping them down at the roots with my hedge clippers and lopping shears.

I reached the White Trail near the parking lot in the northwest corner of Mirror Lake and found a tree had fallen across the trail.

I initially tried to saw it into pieces but this wood was too old, dead, and dry. Instead I managed to pick the tree up and swing it off the trail.

I continued cleaning the trails on the south side of I-691 all the way to the West Main Street end across from Belmont Avenue. It was there I'd found someone dumped a bag full of trash. I cleaned up the area and left 2 bags of trash. I'll contact the Meriden Parkts Department for pickup.

I performed an about face and made my way across I-691 via the walkbridge. Further up the trail just past the wooden walkbridge I found another tree had fallen, with its crown poking into the trail. I trimmed it back, preserving the trail.

I pointed my feet in the direction of the Halfway House and down to Merimere Reservoir, then back to the park, where I deposited my last bag of trash.

I leave you this week with yet another photo showing off the impressive fall colors in Hubbard Park.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rain-Third Time's A Charm

Visit #905, Saturday 11 October 14, 8:15-11:25AM, 6.3 miles.
Temps in the 60's, steady rain.

Visit #906, Sunday 12 October 14, 6:55-7:15AM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 30's, clear.

After my last two work sessions in Hubbard Park, held under rainy skies, you would think I'd have smartened up and stayed home.

I walked the road from Hubbard Park up to the fork to Castle Craig/West Peak, picking up trash along the way. My major objective was a hemlock which had fallen along the roadside,  slightly sticking into the roadway.

I didn't walk more than 100 feet before I found a Find of the Week, the first of several...

Here's what Joan Rivers, Botox "expert" had to say on the subject: “I’ve always been open about what I do, because I want [women] to be able to get Botox and not look like a Sharpei." I don't know about you, but six hundred bucks for only temporary relief from wrinkles?

Past the north end of Merimere Reservoir,  I spied this sign which had long since been obscured by trees.

A sign does no good if you can't see it and since I had my chainsaw with me, I could fix the problem.

 The rain weighs down the leaves, and exposes trees with low hanging branches that are made even lower when wet. This tree's branches hung so low a passing SUV would surely hit them. Since I couldn't reach the offending branch to just prune the tree I had no choice but to remove it.

I performed a proper job of cutting it up and tossing it aside before I continued on my way up the hill.

 You can see the adequate set back of the foliage from the road at this spot. Unfortunately it's encroaching upon the roadway in too many other places. A proper pruning of the roadside would maintain the tree canopy which is part of the attraction, while still providing good side and overhead clearance for passing vehicles. This should be done by someone with an eye for maintaining the aesthetics of the road; you don't want wholesale cutting here.

Further up the hill was the main reason I carried the chainsaw today.

This didn't take nearly as long as the other tree. Look in the distance and you can see how hard it's raining. You didn't need to tell me...

 I reached the fork in the road and hiked the trail down, making my way to the Halfway House, down to Merimere Reservoir, and behind the water tank. My route had me chance upon 2 more Finds of the Week.

This is the second time I've found Suboxone wrappers in Hubbard Park, the last time being in July. I found Saturday's wrapper at the Halfway House and I'll hazard a guess that it's from the same person who left the other wrapper by Echo Point. Why? Because I've seen people sleep overnight at the Halfway House just as I found the campsite near Echo Point, and there were remnants of a McDonald's meal at the Halfway House, indicating they likely ate then slept there. Also, I can't imagine more than one opioid addict visiting the trails of Hubbard Park. That's enough of my sleuthing for the week.

Lastly on the Interesting Find of the Week hit parade:

I don't see the association between the leaf and the product-a leaf isn't exactly reliable protection, is it?!

Returning to the park, I had to smile.

The Meriden Parks Department had taken it upon themselves to cap off the top of the hollow gate post.

In March of 2013 I reported outside of this blog that someone was using both posts at this gate as their personal trash can as the posts conveniently became a receptacle for their empty coffee cups. I deviously rained on their parade by filling both posts with expandable foam.

While the foam did a good job of keeping the coffee cups out, people were picking at the "muffin tops". Nice to see the Meriden Parks Department implemented a more permanent solution.

I dropped off my bag of trash and went home to wring myself out.

I returned on Sunday, sharing a bike ride with some work. When I reached the road intersection of Castle Craig/West Peak on Saturday, I spied some longstanding graffiti on a metal pole that I'd mostly forgotten. Armed with my new superpower (re: sandpaper) I donned my superhero costume (my lycra cycling garb) and rode there early Sunday morning. My superpowers defeated the villain in a paltry 8 minutes.

 I have concluded that a bicycle is not a suitable means of travel for a superhero; my cape keeps getting caught in the spokes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Double Down in the Rain

Saturday's steady rain and clouds didn't deter visitors to Castle Craig.

Visit #902, Monday 29 September 14, 5-5:15PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the low 70's, clouding with developing showers.

Visit #903, Tuesday 1 October 14, 5:00-5:45PM, 1 mile.
Temps in the low 70's, light rain.

Visit #904, Saturday 4 October 14, 12:00-1:15PM, 2.3 miles.
Temps in the 60's, steady rain.

In Four-Peat Pete, I had a face-off with various methods of removing graffiti I find. Afterwards, pal and frequent visitor to this blog ;-) Elmer suggested I might try a cordless drill with an abrasive wheel. I decided to take him up on his suggestion but would have to wait until new graffiti appeared.

During last week's escapades, I discovered some new graffiti on the walkbridge over the highway and vowed to return for Face-off II.

Monday I was on-call but gambled my work phone wouldn't ring, so I rode my mountain bike to the park for Face-off II. My bike and I almost made it when I lost the gamble-my phone went off as we reached the skate house. After answering the call I decided I'd come too far to turn around without at least a peek at the possible results, so I continued on to the site.

My test piece was this garden variety tagging:

I gave the contender 5 minutes before leaving to fulfill my work obligations.

I returned on Tuesday after work. With the light rain falling, I figured I would be able to continue Face-off II without many passersby wondering what I was doing.

My battery wasn't dead yet so I proceeded to Round II.

I was about 2/3 finished with this when the battery finally died. I then started Round III and used the sandpaper to finish it off. Notice the large, flat patch on the right side.

I then turned to the next piece of graffiti and let the sandpaper tackle it alone.

Sandpaper did such a clean job on this. It was no contest; the sandpaper is light, easily packable, does not die in the middle of the job, and leaves a nice smooth spot. It is moderately faster than the abrasive wheel although not as fast as I would like. It also provides a little pectoral/shoulder/arm workout!

Before leaving, I had to address another piece of graffiti I discovered on Monday, right around the corner from the walkbridge. Neither the abrasive wheel nor sandpaper would do here.

I first tried my patented Wirebrush Technique® with no effect. Out came my own spray paint.

Trust me; it'll blend in better with time.

As I reported last week, I was told both the East and West Peak parking lots were looking pretty shabby. Since last week I tackled West Peak, this week would be East Peak/Castle Craig.

Sticking with the theme of this week's title of course, IT HAD TO RAIN. I drove directly up to Castle Craig, cleaning the parking lot and surrounding area. Then I walked the road over to West Peak just shy of where I turned onto the trail last week, then turned around, cleaning up one side of the road then the other side. I threw both bags of trash into my van and carted them away.

If people can brave the rain to visit Castle Craig or pick up trash, you can surely visit on a sunny day and enjoy the view. Now get on it while the leaves are reaching their peak!