Sunday, September 27, 2015


This guy and his dog had the right idea on a quiet Sunday morning, walking across the north end of Merimere Reservoir under perfect weather.

Visit #974, Sunday 27 September 15, 7:45-1000hrs, 5.0 miles.
Temps in the low 60's, sunny and dry.

I returned to Hubbard Park this week to fulfill last week's promise to remove a tree which had fallen across the Blue Trail leading to West Peak.

In hiking a clockwise loop to reach the fallen tree, I encountered this bent over tree. I've run into them too many times in the recent past with no obvious reason why they would be bent like this. I really think someone is being malicious.

Fortunately, today I packed my chainsaw and easily removed it.

 I took the walkbridge over I-691 to the Blue Trail and the fallen tree. The job didn't take but a few minutes and the trail was restored.

 I then doubled back and hiked another trail up to the fork to East/West Peak. After walking the road UP for the past several weeks I was looking forward to some enjoyable payback and walking the road DOWN.

First Find of the Week was the remnants of a wedding.

Another reason I wanted to walk the road for the umpteenth consecutive week was, I rode my bike up the road during the week and noticed unusually large amounts of trash accumulated in the space of a week. Since the road was going to be open later than usual on Sunday for night viewing of a full moon and lunar eclipse, I thought it would be nice to try and make the road look presentable.

One strange item I found was an empty bottle of liquid laundry soap.

Another was my second Find of the Week:

Yes, florescent light bulbs. I fashioned a carrying strap from a piece of rope and prayed I wouldn't break them while carrying them.

I dropped them off along with a large bag of trash at the water treatment plant.

This little buddy was enjoying some warm pavement.

Back at the park, I dropped off my second bag of trash.

It's now 9:30PM and I'm heading outside to watch the lunar eclipse myself!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"To Do" List

The low cloud cover made for a humid morning but was impressive to look at. At least the temperature was reasonably comfortable.

Visit #973, Saturday 19 September 15, 7:45-11:05AM, 7.2 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, overcast with moderate humidity, expecting to clear up in the afternoon.

This is the third consecutive week I've walked the road from Hubbard Park up to East/West Peak, as I spend the majority of my time on the trails. But I had a list of things to accomplish and the road was the path to completion.

Shortly after I began walking up the road I had a brief interruption-

-get it; "brief"?! Such sophisticated humor... But seriously, how many of you have tossed a pair of underwear out your car window and onto the road? I'm sure there's a story behind (get it, "behind"?!) them but I guess we'll never know it.

To Do #1 was a tree which had fallen and was hanging low, extending into the roadway up to East/West Peak. It was actually lower to the ground than the photo depicts.

I took the bow saw to it. It took all of 4 minutes to drop it to the ground but it was too heavy to move. Two more cuts enabled me to clear it properly. Total time, 10 minutes. You can see the two cut ends in the lower left of the photo.

Almost reaching the fork to East/West Peak, I found this empty multi-gallon jug of spring water. It would fill my bag so I had to leave it at the concrete blocks.

I proceeded to my next To Do activity but I can't tell you what it was because it is classified. I only tell you it was my next To Do activity so it would help fill out the title of this week's post!

Anyway, I walked to Castle Craig and cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area. Due to time constraints I wasn't as thorough as I'd like but something is better than nothing.

While cleaning up the area, I noticed the aluminum flagpole. Prior to that flagpole, the city of Meriden had a habit of using fiberglass flagpoles. One of the previous fiberglass incarnations was turned into swiss cheese by lightning. I know this because I carried the broken flagpole in pieces back down to the Hubbard Park maintenance facility. I also wrote an editorial to the local newspaper then suggesting future flagpoles be metal and properly ground or the city could expect more swiss cheese. I can't say whether the current flagpole is the result of my suggestion, or whether it's currently properly grounded. Time will tell.


By the time I returned to the fork in the road, I had enough trash to drop off a second bag.


Next I traveled to West Peak and my last To Do item, which I CAN tell you about. Last week I told you I discovered a second gate which I found unsecured, a gate that surrounds the radio towers. After reporting to the Meriden Parks Department that I found the first gate open, they secured it with tyraps. Well, what's good enough for them is good enough for me. I think I spent more on tyraps than they did, however.

I did cut off the loose ends when I was done. If these are quickly breached, I have a Plan B, using the Arnold Schwarzenegger TyRap.

Just after I completed securing the gate, I turned around and was confronted by a group of jihadists plotting a massacre in Meriden.

Not to worry; I disarmed them with a sharp glance .

Seriously, they were filming a movie called, The Outbreak. Says so right here:

As I hiked back to the park via the Blue Trail, I found something I had to ADD to my so briefly completed To Do list.

This tree has fallen and needs to be cut out of the trail. Even my sharp glance would be no match for it, so I'll return next week with the chainsaw.

Back at the park, there was a Soap Box Derby competition in progress.

By the time I deposited my last bag of trash, the morning fog had lifted.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Planets Aligned

A foggy start to Saturday morning's work.

Visit #972, Saturday 12 September 15, 7:45-10:50AM, 6.9 miles.
Temps in the 70's, with high humidity.

Last Saturday I was only able to pick up trash for one-half the distance from Hubbard Park to East/West Peak. I wanted to complete my policing of the road for two reasons.

First, there was a running race scheduled for Sunday and I thought it would be nice to have a clean road presented to the runners. Second, I wanted to admire my work of Labor Day last week, and clean up the West Peak parking lot since I didn't do so on Labor Day as I was too busy trimming trees.

I was really fortunate; Chris Bourdon from the Meriden Parks Department e-mailed to tell me he sent a street sweeper up to West Peak to clean up the broken glass I reported on last week. That saved me some labor. Thanks, Chris!

I walked the road from the park and by the time I reached the fork to East/West Peak I had a full trash bag, so I left it for later pickup.

I walked part-way toward Castle Craig cleaning up some road/some trail and by the time I reached the concrete blocks my bag was heavy enough that I decided to leave it with the first bag, and start a third.

I headed toward West Peak, cleaning up both sides of the road. When I reached the parking lot I policed the perimeter and pretty much expected to fill that third bag. In the process I came across this:

Regular readers of my blog, if there are any (!), would remember I found five similar bottles way back toward the park, on a trail behind the water tank. I wonder if they're from the same thirsty person, and if so, why the change in location?

I also found the second gate surrounding the radio towers has been breached. Since the first one was resecured only with tyraps, I'll bring my own next time and take care of this gate.

I didn't venture beyond the parking lot today but turned around and headed back toward the East/West Peak fork so I could have all three bags in one spot for easy pickup by the Meriden Parks Department. But before leaving, I had one last gaze to admire my handywork sprucing up the West Peak parking lot. It was worth the effort-the trimming, not the gazing!

I dropped off that third bag. As I was doing so, a couple came along and one of them asked "how many more there were in my group (of volunteers)". The look on her face told me she didn't expect to hear the answer "zero".

I headed downhill via a trail and came across my Find of the Week.

Yeah; the box was full but I wasn't about to test the freshness of those flakes.

I returned to the parking lot and dropped off my fourth bag of trash.

On a gamble, I e-mailed Chris Bourdon and asked if he were attending Sunday's running event, would he be able to pick up the 3 bags of trash I left? Although the runners wouldn't be running that far to see them, goers to either peak would, and that would be unsightly. I had no idea whether Chris checks his work e-mail on weekends but figured with the pending event, he might.

As luck would have it he did, and the bags were promptly picked up early Sunday morning. My thanks to the Meriden Parks Department.

Monday, September 7, 2015

It Is Finished

Not the most artistic photo but I wanted to take a break from the usual scenery. This is Merimere Reservoir, looking toward the north end. Apparently Meriden is still using Merimere as its water supply vs. the Broad Brook Reservoir, as Merimere's level continues to drop. I'm sure we're not in danger of needing water, but it's interesting to see the change of the shoreline as the water recedes.

I stole the title for this week's blog entry from The Bible, New Testament, John 19, verses 28-30:

"Later, knowing that all was completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

Of course my work was not so important and I hardly suffered as much, but I felt relief just same.

Visit #970, Saturday 5 September 15, 8:00-10:00AM, 3.8 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny and dry.

Visit #971, Labor Day, Monday 7 September 15, 10:50AM-1:20PM, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 80's, sunny and dry.

I was on-call through Sunday so I didn't stray far. I walked the road from the park all the way to the north end of Merimere Reservoir, cleaning one side of the road. Then I turned around and picked up trash on the opposite side.

Traveling north, I found this tract "explaining" those "chemtrails" all the conspiracy theorists rant about. To save you some typing, here's a link to the web site if you want a little diversion from your typical web surfing. I recommend wearing a tinfoil hat; it protects against the effects of chemtrails as well as those nasty radio waves.

Anyway, I made it back to the park with quite a heavy, full bag.

I returned on Labor Day to hopefully complete my euphemistic "Five Year Plan" which I actually completed in two years. This plan to trim the roadsides to Castle Craig and West Peak was nearly complete; I only needed to finish a portion of the West Peak parking lot. I reserved holidays to exclusively perform this work; if I picked up trash at the same time it would take all of those 5 years.

I threw a stepladder onto my car, loaded up the usual tools and headed out to put a period on this sentence. The object is to clear the foliage back so cars can park against the road's edge and hikers can walk along the edge without concern for oncoming cars and getting hit in the face with branches. Sight lines are improved and overall the parking area and the approach will look nicer.

Here's what it looked like before I started on Labor Day.

I present to you a number of photos because one or two does not well convey the improvement.

I either used loppers or my chainsaw, and the stepladder when needed, to clear back to the far side of the guardrail and improve headroom.

Early on a group of twenty-somethings exited the cars you see in the left of the photo and one of them remarked, "I hope they're paying you good for working on a holiday!" You should have seen the look on his face when I told him I wasn't getting paid at all; he looked like I just took away his smart phone...

There was a very kind couple visiting West Peak on Monday. While I was working, they stopped by and asked if I wanted a bottle of COLD water. While I had already packed enough water for today's work, it was no longer chilled. When I heard the word COLD, I jumped at the offer. I can't say thank you enough to whoever it was. Glug, glug, glug- Cheers!

Now to views of the completed project. My work extended maybe 200 feet and down around the corner to the right of the photo.

Today's work matches well with my work during the July 4th holiday when I began this last segment of my Five Year Plan. Here you can see the opposite end of the parking lot. I only wish I had a taller stepladder.

Done, I took an inventory of the parking area. First, I noticed the lock I reported missing back in July, on the gate protecting the microwave tower had been repaired with tyraps. I'll keep an eye on it because I'm curious how long they'll last.

I also noticed a lot of trash in the parking lot. I could have spent another hour cleaning up the area. I felt bad, particularly about the broken glass. I wondered whether today's time would have been better spent policing up the area rather than trimming.

I guess the trash will have to wait until another weekend unless the Meriden Parks Department cleans it up in the interim.