Sunday, April 24, 2016



A spring breeze from the north ripples the water on Merimere Reservoir.

Visit #1011, Saturday 23 April 16, 2:10-4:25PM, 5.5 miles.
Temps in the high 60's, sunny.

(Note to the person who lost their "Adidas" hat. I told you I'd post a photo if I found it.
I didn't find it.)

Last week I  promised to show an alternative solution to protect the padlock on the gate at the south end of Merimere Reservoir.

This week I managed to travel to West Rock State Park and here's what the State of Connecticut has installed on the gate to the entrance of West Rock State Park.

The above shroud has holes to dissuade bees from constructing a nest inside. There's also a hole on top, I believe. Granted, I don't visit West Rock State Park often enough to know how effective their solution is, but it is an alternative.
This week begins the "pre-festival weekend" of the Daffodil Festival. Activities include a giant tag sale and a food truck festival. Parking within Hubbard Park to perform my weekly work would be impossible; I needed a workaround.

My workaround was to park outside the north end of Hubbard Park, in Berlin on Park Drive, and adapt my work plan to accommodate my situation. My plan worked out just fine.

At the north end of the  park, I walked the road all the way to Castle Craig. Enroute, the road passes a locked gate leading to the Maloney Canal. I presume this is Meriden Water Department property and not Park Department property as it is in Berlin, not Meriden.

Well, the gate is ostensibly locked.

This is what the lock is supposed to look like.

This is how I found the lock.

The Water Department needs to take lessons from the Parks Department on how to secure their gates!

Further up the road I found a late bloomer from the Season of the Missing Glove, Edition #11.

Knowing that parks department personnel would be busy cleaning up after the food truck festival, I wanted to try and not leave a full bag of trash at Castle Craig that they would have to spend time to collect. My bag was close to full but I endured.

I made it to the Halfway House to find it trash-free. I then hiked the trails down to the water treatment plant where I deposited my decidedly full first bag of trash.

I opened up another bag and walked the road north, and here's where today's plan just worked.

During the week I spied a discarded piece of clothing dumped near the causeway at the north end of the reservoir. During the return trip to the north end I was able to pick it up.

I returned to my car after executing a successful workaround.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Problem Solving

The daffodils are blooming now, but it's forecasted they won't hang around long enough for the Daffodil Festival at the end of the month.

Visit #1010, Saturday 16 April 16, 6:50-8:40AM, 3.9 miles.
Temps in the high 30's, sunny.

On Friday I received an e-mail from Chris Bourdon, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director. After I documented finding the lock to the gate at the south end of Merimere Reservoir cut for the second time this year, Chris and his staff took action to solve this chronic problem. Here was their solution:

Thanks to Chris for supplying the photo.

This design duplicates that found on gates elsewhere in Hubbard Park. I presumed they used this style because it's been trouble-free at the other locations.

I had in mind other solutions but due to scheduling couldn't get to photograph them. This morning I wanted to walk the road toward the north end of Merimere Reservoir, pick up trash, and "test" the design of the lock.

I started early so as to not draw attention to my quality control work.

Early on I found these dual bags of dog poop. Same color bags as I was finding last year. The owner must feel they've fulfilled their responsibility if they leave the bags for someone else to pick up.

At the newly locked gate, I whipped out my inspection tools, hoping to not be caught and questioned as to what I was doing.

The pin could still be vulnerable to a hacksaw as I know in the past, pins at other locations have been cut. A pin with less play would be better.

This is probably the most likely scenario since I've found the locks cut off before and in fact, in 2010 found the pair of cablecutters you see below stashed in the woods behind the water tank. I don't know if those jaws were designed for hardened steel or cable but since I found 'em, it's possible they were used on previous locks.

While the cutter head fit under the shroud, it was somewhat difficult to position the lock hasp in the jaws and in my casual attempts I wasn't successful. This could be a good indication.

Optimally, it would have been better to place the shroud and lock at the BOTTOM of the gate to make boltcutter access more difficult. At least that's what I saw from a design I found elsewhere and will hopefully illustrate in a week or two.

Nevertheless, my hat's off to Chris and the Parks Department for implementing a solution to this problem. I'll keep an eye on it long term and report on it's effectiveness.

Leaving the gate, I walked the road to the north end of the reservoir and back.

Last week I commented on what Dunkin' Donuts drinkers put in their cups. While this week supplied me with more evidence alas, neither cup had any indication of what they added to their coffee. Maybe they both drink it black.

At the north end I enjoyed the quiet of the early morning. I may just have to enjoy a cup of coffee myself some morning at this spot, even though I'm not a coffee drinker.

I turned around and returned to the park, dropping off my trash and stashing my inspection tools until next time.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Get Up So Early?

The Sunday morning sun awakes the sleeping giant. That is, Sleeping Giant State Park, seen in the background.

Visit #1009, Sunday 10 April 16, 6:05-7:45AM, 2.9 miles.
Temps in the 30's, sunny.

I had to be nuts to get up so early to fulfill my weekly duties in Hubbard Park. But why?

Paris-Roubaix, that's why!

The most storied of the European spring classic bicycle races was today and to catch the live internet feed, I would have to be home by 9AM. Therefore, sacrifices were made.

Last week I wrote about the lock at the gate near the south end of Merimere reservoir and how it's constantly being cut by ATVers looking to ride on the trails. This week I saw proof of the problem.

I walked the road from the park up past the water treatment plant, to the south end of the reservoir. Just about the time I reached the gate a 6:15 in the morning, an ATV with a driver and passenger comes roaring up the road and turns at the gate. It was obvious to me from the driver's behavior that the driver KNEW the gate was unlocked. I watched the driver nudge the gate open with the ATV and proceed up the trail, riding a wheelie as they went. You can just barely see them in the background of the photo.

The lock hasn't been replaced since I discovered it was cut last week and of course, now the pin is missing.

What I DID find however, is the cut hasp from the lock.

I thought I might run into the ATV riders at the Halfway House but they apparently continued on.

At the Halfway House I found the remains of what must have been a planned get together for they had the forethought to bring lighter fluid for the campfire.

Included in the trash was the remains of another destroyed letterbox, much like the one found last week. It's sad people can't leave them alone, much less damage them.

I hiked west and over I-691. At the trailhead across from Belmont Avenue, I spied something which had gone unnoticed for some time.

In last week's post I wanted to show options on how to construct a tamper-resistant lock but struggled to find any on the internet. Lo and behold, there's one already in service right in Meriden. This one needs to have a longer shield around the lock so boltcutters can't reach the hasp. In some designs they merely place the locking mechanism closer to the ground so the bolt cutters can't get a good angle on the lock. The sky's the limit with how they can be constructed.

I turned around and walked back toward the park.  In short succession I picked up two Dunkin' Donuts cups, where I continue to marvel and how much cream and sugar people add to their coffee.

I believe this one is Pistachio Swirl coffee.

Enroute, I stopped to clean up the small parking area at the northwest corner of Mirror Lake where I collected my Find of the Week.

Okay, a show of hands-how many of you have ever forgotten to put your underwear back on? Ferris? Anyone?!

I beat feet back to the parking lot where I deposited my trash for the week and skeedaddled home to watch the world's best cyclists do battle on the cobblestones of northern France, then to take a nap and catch up on that lost sleep.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Things You'll Find

The weather said "showers". It rained all day. Sunday wasn't going to be much better with raw wind and snow showers forecast. I think I chose the more comfortable of the two days.

Visit #1008, Saturday 2 April 16, 9:15AM-12:15PM, 5.6 miles.
Temps in the 50's, rain.

Despite the rain, the weather wasn't that bad if you dressed correctly. Unfortunately, my occasional co-volunteer wasn't dressed correctly.

I wanted to remove the tree trunk I discovered last week placed across the Yellow Trail. With Paul joining me this week, I didn't have to pack any heavy tools as I figured the two of us could pull the log off the trail.

We started on the road and entered the trails at the south end of Merimere Reservoir. One of the things I found was the lock to the gate has been cut for the second time this year, the last time being in January.

This happens at least 3 times a year. You would think the City of Meriden would construct a tamper-resistant padlock, much like this photo I pulled off the internet.

I wanted to provide a more local example but this week's weather denied me the opportunity to photograph it. Maybe next week. My point is, there are many ways to protect the lock from boltcutters and the above example is just one of them.

While looking on the internet for photos of tamper-proof padlocks, I found this negative review of Hubbard Park. What stung me is her comment that "the paths are littered". I thought I did a pretty good job. Maybe she was just in a bitter mood because of the broken window...

As I continued to surf, I also found a link to a web site describing Hubbard Park as a potential place for gays to cruise and find "discrete" spots to engage in...  In the past I'd heard rumors it was an open secret that Hubbard Park was known place for this kind of activity. I guess it's no longer a rumor.

Just beyond the gate, we found someone unfortunately destroyed a letterbox and left the remains.

Paul and I arrived at the tree trunk which needed clearing from the Yellow Trail.

I rigged a comealong strap to it and we pulled the log into the woods.

Done deal.

During a mountain bike ride in the park last week, I discovered another small tree which had fallen across the trail under specious circumstances. That foreknowledge came in handy as I brought a bow saw along this week to remove the top of the tree.

It was at this point that Paul found he was not dressed properly for the weather and decided to call it a day. He carried his bag of trash back to the park and left it next to my car.

I hiked the trails up to West Peak, then walked the road down and back to the park, collecting trash along the way.

My Find of the Week was this jug taped to a birch tree, presumably to collect the sap. To my credit, I actually spied this jug through roughly 100 feet of trees. Not bad.

I had previously found these setups on the opposite side of the road in April of 2014. I removed the jug from the tree and put it in my bag.

I took the road all the way back to the parking lot, cleaning up the roadside as I went. deposited all that Paul and I found this week, in the trash can at the playscape, then went home to dry out.