Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Daffodil Festival Via The Back Door

The real fun wasn't happening at the Daffodil Festival in Hubbard Park; it was happening a short walk north of the park, along Merimere Reservoir.

Visit #950, Saturday 25 April 15, 7:50-11:15AM, 6.0 miles.
Temps in the mid-50's, sunny.

With the Daffodil Festival in its second week and a parade in Hubbard Park Saturday morning, I sure wasn't going to be able to park there for my weekly expedition. So I returned to the Berlin side of the park and hiked in.

Since last week Paul and I cleaned from the north end of the road up to East and West Peaks, I thought this week I'd walk south from the same start point, all the way to Hubbard Park and turn around. This would result in a reasonably clean road from bottom to top, a good start since the road will open to vehicle traffic next week.

I also thought I'd use the festival time to continue with my Five Year Plan, because with the park occupied by the Daffodil Festival, there would likely be nobody to spook as I ran my chainsaw.

As I walked south toward the park, I found a fallen hemlock lying roadside, which I cleared by tossing it over the guardrail on the other side of the road.

I reached the gate to the park, turned around, and pointed myself north. By the time I reached the water treatment plant, I'd filled my first bag of trash so I hung it on the fence hoping a Meriden Water Department employee would take it away.

When I reached the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I discovered Chris Bourdon of the Meriden Parks Department replaced the cut lock on the gate, which I reported to him privately. Thanks, Chris!

Then it was on to the meat of my operations for the week.

I picked up where I left off, at the jersey barriers, and trimmed the western side of the roadway heading north along Merimere Reservoir. I made one mistake in my preparations today-I forgot to bring my loppers. So I used my chainsaw and performed all the heavy work instead. As a result, evidence of my effort on Saturday isn't readily apparent. I expect to begin the fine trimming during the Memorial Day weekend.

I reached the north end of Hubbard Park and returned to my truck with the second bag of trash.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daffodil Festival, Food Truck Edition

Hubbard Park, as seen from Castle Craig, during the Food Truck event on the first weekend of the Daffodil Festival. It was barely 11AM and the park was already packed with salivating mouths. I swear I could hear the multitude of growling stomachs from Castle Craig-or it was my own stomach?

This is the first year the Daffodil Festival has sponsored a Food Truck event and from the number of cars I glimpsed from Castle Craig as well as newspaper reports, it was an appetital success.

Visit #949, Saturday 18 April 15, 9AM-12:30PM, mileage unknown.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny.

My mileage for this week went undocumented because my pedometer took a ride in the washing machine. After Saturday's activities, I stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up Pedometer 3.0. Yes, that's version 3.0 as 1.0 also took a spin in the Maytag.

Care to guess which one died?

A double thanks this week. First, thanks to the Meriden Parks Department for picking up the mirror I found during last week's jaunt.

Second, thanks to Paul Bernier, who joined me in this week's work. As always, I welcome his company and his efforts to help keep Hubbard Park clean.

In last week's report I rode my  mountain bike to Hubbard Park on Sunday to inspect some lesser used trails. At that time I discovered a hemlock had fallen across one particular trail.

With the Daffodil Festival going on, parking would be near impossible, so Paul and I parked north of Hubbard Park in Berlin, and walked in.

We walked the road from the north end of Merimere Reservoir then diverted onto the trail to the fallen tree.

With Paul's help and my chainsaw, the trail was restored in short order.

Paul and I then turned around and returned to the road, walking up to Castle Craig and collecting trash from both sides as we went. We cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area and deposited our trash bags to be picked up later by a park's crew.

By the time we reached the fork to East Peak/West Peak, we managed to collect two more bags of trash so we left them on the concrete blocks at the intersection.

Next, we headed over to West Peak, cleaning up both sides of the road, the parking lot, and the trails to West Peak itself.

In the process we found something unusual: two bags of trash which I HAD COLLECTED LAST FALL, were stashed in the woods about 100 feet from the road. I can only assume someone intended to return and take the returnable cans and bottles from both bags but their plans were curtailed by this winter's snow. How else can you explain it?

Surprisingly, the bags were still reasonably intact. Paul and I added them to the 2 more bags we collected and left them in the parking lot. Hopefully a parks crew can pick them up on Monday.

Until next week, maintain.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Is Upon Us

Just a little celebration; who'd a thunk I'd reach 100 posts?!

Visit #947, Saturday 11 April 15, 4:40-7:10PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the 50's, sunny.

Visit #948, Sunday 12 April 15, 4:00-4:30PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the mid-60's, sunny.

Last week as I began walking up toward Merimere Reservoir from the parking lot, I noticed some new graffiti on the wooden fencing surrounding the retention ponds. I planned on removing it this week, then patrolling some trails in the far reaches of Hubbard Park to check for downed limbs and trees.

Apparently I wasn't paying attention because there was a lot more graffiti than I originally thought, and it took up a valuable 45 minutes of my time, so I had to change plans.

As I started at the parking lot, I noticed the gate across the Soap Box Derby Track was unlocked. I don't know if it was for Daffodil Festival preparations or vandalism. I'll inform the Meriden Parks Department and let them decide.

I reached the retention ponds and the graffiti I discovered last week.

"JK" went "bye-bye" with a combination of a wire brush and 60 grit sandpaper.

Any remnants should fade away nicely.

Of course, I then noticed all the other graffiti I wasn't paying attention to last week. I went to town with the sandpaper and wire brush. Here are the Before and After photos.

If you can't make out what the graffit is, they're cartoonish characters. From the sheer number of them, you can see why it took 45 minutes to remove them all.

At that point I hadn't even reached Merimere Reservoir, so I amended my itinerary and chose to scout out the rest of the trails below Castle Craig.

Enroute to the Halfway House, I discovered Len has come out of his winter hibernation and is again placing pieces of wood across the trails.

Past the Halfway House, on the Main Trail, my eagle eyes spotted my first Find of the Week resting on a log.

They were merely drug store "cheaters" so not much money was lost.

Crossing over I-691 I steered myself toward the trail which ends across the street from Belmont Avenue, where I discovered my second Find of the Week.

Is it still a Selfie if I use a mirror?

This discarded tag sale item even retained the price sticker, $12. I'll contact the Meriden Parks Department and ask them to pick it up.

Moving along back toward the park, while stepping off-trail to pick up some trash I found a letterbox.

Returning to the parking lot, I dropped off my trash for the week.

I returned to Hubbard Park on Sunday afternoon by mountain bike to inspect the trails I didn't reach on Saturday due to the graffiti diversion.

I entered the park from the Berlin side. On my ride up toward West Peak, I counted 72 people walking up the road, which is amazing. It makes you wonder how many more people would take up such exercise if vehicle access was more restricted.

 I also counted 5 ATVs  and one dirt bike as they left Castle Craig.

I also came upon the two gentlemen below, illegally fishing in Merimere Reservoir. Yes; spring is upon us...

As I was taking the picture, one remarked to the other that I was photographing them, whereupon one of them remarked loudly, "Fucking faggot!" When I asked which one of them said that, they feigned ignorance. I would have contacted the police but I don't carry a cellphone and there was no license plate on the scooter. I figured taking the photo would be enough to scare them away; when I returned to the spot roughly 20 minutes later, they were gone.

Why is it us lycra-clad cyclists are all considered fags by the general population-superheroes wear tight outfits and no one calls THEM faggots; at least not to their faces!

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Winter is finally starting to fade away.

Visit #944, Friday 3 April 15, 8:40-11:50AM, 2.9 miles.
Temps in the 50's, occasional showers.

Visit #945, Saturday 4 April 15, 10:40AM-1:15PM, 2.5 miles.
Temps in the 50's, sunny and very windy.

Visit #946, Sunday 5 April 15, 6:00-7:25PM, 2.1 miles.
Temps in the 50's, occasional sprinkles.

I've been meaning to find a schedule for adhering to my "5 Year Plan" to trim the roadside from the park up to Castle Craig and West Peak. I think I found it.

I'll earmark holidays solely for roadside trimming. And this past weekend being Easter was the perfect time to implement my schedule.

I started on Friday, and began at the south end of Merimere Reservoir, heading north. The west side of the road needs all the clearing. My goal is to trim back any long term growth to the far side of the guardrail so the vegetation doesn't force walkers into the roadway.

I'm so selective in what I cut; I don't want to spoil the scenery if I can help it-I'm not looking to clearcut my way. Done properly, you might not even notice any work was actually done.

It's actually hard to capture in the photos what I've accomplished.

There was no way I was going to complete this section of road all the way to the north end of Merimere Reservoir in one session. When it came time to end Friday's work, I had to devise a way to mark how far I'd reached. My solution-

I did an about face, whipped out a trash bag, and collected garbage on my way back to the park.

On Saturday I picked up where I left off, which was easy to find with my ingenious marking system.

On the return trip, I opened up another trash bag and in so doing, came upon my Find of the Week, straight from Chapter 90 in the Manual of Obstetrics.

I returned to the park and deposited my second bag of trash.

I fell short of my self-imposed goal for the holiday weekend, to reach the jersey barriers which surround where the asphalt is giving way to the reservoir. So, I returned on Easter Sunday to put a period on that sentence.

While packing up to head to Hubbard Park, I couldn't find my first pair of gloves-I must have tossed them in the hamper-so I grabbed my spare pair.

Upon arriving at the parking lot I got out of my car and walked around to the back to unload my gear, only to find-

-MY MISSING GLOVES! Not only did I leave them in the parking lot, they stayed there untouched for 24 hours and I parked in the exact spot where I left them on Saturday! Time to play the lottery...

I reached my objective, and marked my territory.

I opened up my third trash bag of the weekend and picked up trash on the way back to the parking lot. Enroute I scored a double; my second Find of the Week.

Why this walking pole was tied to the tree is beyond me.

I dropped off my bag of trash and I remembered to take my gloves.

Hopefully I'll continue with my 5 Year Plan on Memorial Day Weekend. In the meantime, take a walk on the road and see if you can spot my I, II, and III. Find and photograph all three, send me the photos, and win a prize!