Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Other Half

It was a hot and muggy hike up to Castle Craig on Saturday.

Visit #1027, Saturday 30 July 16, 0815-1030hrs, 4.8  miles.
Temps in the high 70’s, sunny and humid.

Visit #1028, Sunday 31 July 16, 1030-1115hrs, mileage n/a.
Temps in the 80’s, humid, cloudy, and threatening rain.

Since Paul Bernier and I cleaned the parking lot and the road to West Peak last week, I thought I'd clean "the other half" this week; the parking lot at Castle Craig.

I no sooner passed through the gate at the Soap Box Derby track when I came upon my Find of the Week.

Whoever lost 'em no doubt could easily comply with the smoking ban in Meriden's parks.

At the south end of Merimere Reservoir I checked on the lock at the gate and found it had been replaced.

During work last week, I came across another option for shrouding a lock to prevent vandals from cutting them off.

This was a new installation at West Rock State Park.

 The open-air design prevents bees and other insects from nesting in the shroud and the baffles prevent bolt cutters from reaching the hasp. Perhaps that will inspire the Meriden Parks Department to come up with a better design.

I reached Castle Craig and cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area. I noticed the electrical outlet at the base of Castle Craig has been replaced.

What-no USB ports?! But I just HAVE to charge my smart phone! ;-)

I managed to fill up a bag with trash and left it at the monument for later collection by the Meriden Parks Department.

I followed the trails down and over I-691, and back to the park. On the trail behind the daffodils, bordering Mirror Lake, I found a tree has fallen across the path.

Now next week's work is planned out for me.

I dropped off my second bag of trash at the playscape.

While at Castle Craig on Saturday, I noticed some graffiti on the electrical distribution box on the perimeter of the parking lot. The weather forecast called for showers and I didn't want to stray far, so I took a bike ride up to Castle Craig on Sunday morning to paint over the graffiti.

The clouds shrouded Castle Craig in a light fog, combined with a slight breeze, caused the spray paint to run a little bit but it got the job done.

I also noticed the padlock which secured the electrical distribution box was unlocked. I intended to secure the lock, but I forgot. I'll tell the Meriden Parks Department about it.

Then I went over to the monument to check on the bag of trash I left yesterday. At first I thought it was picked up. But instead I found it stashed behind the marker.

I put another bag on it to protect it from critters and relocated the bag so it won't be missed when hopefully it's picked up on Monday.

As I turned to leave I discovered our fan of the Yankee version of Coloradoing has created Bent Tree #13 in Hubbard Park.

I won't be able to trim that back for a couple weeks.

I leave you this week with a view of the last stretch of the White Trail before reaching Castle Craig.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bear Sighting In Hubbard Park

I start this week's blog entry with REAL news: Four different people reported to me Saturday they spotted a bear in Hubbard Park up near Castle Craig, during the time I was in the park. The bear did have a red tag attached to its ear. This week's blog title was chosen to get the attention of search engines and get the word out.

Visit #1026, Saturday 23 July 16, 8:00-10:50AM, 5.9 miles.
Temps in the 80's, expected to exceed 90. Sunny with high humidity.

I recently reported on the potholes on the road up to Castle Craig/West Peak, and subsequently marked them and contacted the Meriden Parks Department about filling the holes.

This week I received an e-mail from Chris Bourdon, Assistant Director of Parks and Rec, telling me the potholes were filled on Wednesday. I wanted to inspect the work so I chose to walk the road up to West Peak and see the work in person.

Thanks are in order to Paul Bernier, who joined me this week in keeping Hubbard Park's far reaches cleaner.

We walked the road all the way from from the playscape to West Peak, starting early in the morning to avoid the heat and the cars. Reaching the water treatment plant we came upon our Find of the Week:

Looks like Carl Kolchak lost his hat. I wonder what supernatural phenomenon he was investigating in Hubbard Park. Or perhaps maybe that bear ate him but spared the chapeau...

We reached the first patched potholes.

As I walked up the road, I noticed the Meriden Highway Division didn't miss a single pothole I marked! I returned to the park on Sunday to test them out, riding my bike up to the radio towers then back down. Clearly, the sun through the trees makes it hard to see the potholes, even at my decidedly pedestrian downhill speed of 37mph. Leery of clocking a deer darting across the road, I kept my speed to something more reasonable but still managed to run over a number of the patched spots without so much as a shaky handlebar.

The patch job done by the Meriden Highway Division gets my Seal of Approval. Hats off to Robert D'Agostino and his crew for listening to our needs and coming through with stellar results. If you're reading this and benefited from their work on the road, send Robert an e-mail and say so.

Paul and I reached the fork in the road to East/West Peak and deposited a pair of trash bags for later pickup. The endurance runner in the photo is NOT to be thrown out with the trash. He had been running laps up the road SINCE 5AM! Mind you, it was roughly 9:30 when we met! When we spoke to him, he was done, cooked, finito, and was merely waiting for his brother who was also running.

 As I rode by the spot on Sunday morning, I noticed the bags had started to be eaten through by either the bear or some other critter. In the future I hope to be smarter and carry extra bags should I plan a return trip by bike.

We reached the parking lot at West Peak, where a crew was working on Saturday to excavate for the installation of upgraded electrical service for one of the radio sites. Paul is in the photo scouting around the trucks for trash.

We headed down the Blue Trail and back to the park via the Halfway House and the trails. At the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I checked on the shrouded lock at the gate. It has been cut again. This time it lasted roughly 3 months.

Clearly, the shroud over the lock needs to be longer to inhibit the reach of bolt cutters, or perhaps the entire mechanism should be relocated at the bottom of the gate where it may be too low for boltcutters to gain access.

Enroute to the park, we encountered a guy and gal walking and the guy recognized me, saying he learned about Hubbard Park by reading my blog-how cool is that?

"Paul"; if you're reading this yes; I was the person who removed the fallen tree you mentioned. That was back in December of 2015. If I recall correctly, Paul was impressed that it was removed so soon after it fell. He even remarked, "The roots were still fresh!" We here at Blog Central aim to please.

Back at the parking lot, we deposited our second pair of trash bags for the day, avoiding the increasingly oppressive temperatures of the afternoon.

Lastly, I have reported in the past about someone maliciously bending over slender trees along Hubbard Park's trails for some inexplicable reason. I learned this week that there's a name for this activity; it's the top definition of "Coloradoing". What we're experiencing is the Yankee version of the er, pastime, because in Hubbard Park they're targeting deciduous trees.

Until next week, maintain.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Into the Frying Pan

The local goose and duck population hang out under some shade in the early morning. Temps are expected to top 90 degrees today.

Visit #1025, Saturday 16 July 16, 7:40-9:50AM, 3.9 miles. Sunny, hot, and humid.

Two reasons for my early start today: I wanted to avoid the heat, and the Tour de France is still on!

Last week I found a tree forcibly bent over a trail. This week I wanted to remove it.

When I packed this morning I had a feeling there was some graffiti I'd forgotten to cover but since I wasn't sure, I decided to pack every color spray paint I had, just in case. Good thing.

I reached the walkbridge over I-691 and while this graffiti wasn't on my mind, equipped with the paint I could take care of it.

Up the trail I went, over the wooden walkbridge to the tree. In the past week it appears someone pulled the tree completely to the ground vs. when I found it last week.

It took me longer to pack and unpack the saw than it did to cut the tree free. Keep an eye on the slender tree next to it. I wouldn't be surprised if that one falls victim to whoever is bending these trees.

I then took the trail up to the road between East and West Peak, and down back to the park. I wanted to see if the Meriden Highway Department had filled in the potholes I marked. No. I'll supply a gentle reminder to the city.

Walking down the road I discovered the water department finally repaired the gate with the cut lock which I discovered back in April.

I returned to the park and dropped off my trash for the week.

While doing so, a park "regular" commented to me that the water fountain outside the playscape is not working. A working water fountain is especially important during such hot weather. I'll pass the information along to the Meriden Parks Department and hopefully they can fix it fast.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

It's Tour Time!

Visit #1024, Sunday 10 July 16, 7:15-8:45AM, 3.6 miles.
Temps in the 70's, cloudy and humid with a chance of rain.

I was on-call this week so I didn't stray far but more importantly, the Tour de France was being contested this week! My early start was  geared to be done in time to go home and watch Stage 8 while it was in progress, about 11AM local time.

I chose to walk a counterclockwise loop of the lower trails. As soon as I started I discovered some graffiti I missed during last week's work. There are those pesky initials "JK" again.

I wasn't carrying any paint with me so I decided to file this away for next week's work.

Everything was going along just wonderfully until I came to the wooden walkbridge.

This is the 11th tree in 4 years which I have found deliberately bent over. People have some strange behaviors...  I'm definitely returning next week to remove this one.

I finished my loop and dropped off my bag of trash for the week.

But that graffiti was bugging me as I had so little to blog about. So, I returned the same day and spray painted over it.

That will dry to a flat finish and be indistinguishable from the rest of the gate.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Holiday Fireworks

Rain on Friday cancelled the fireworks at Hubbard Park. The launch tubes will remain at Castle Craig until Friday, 8 July, which is the rain date.

Visit #1021, Saturday 2 July 16, 8:00-10:40AM, mileage unknown.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

Visit #1022, Sunday 3 July 16, 3:30-4:30PM, 3.0 miles.
Temps in the low 80's, sunny and wonderfully dry.

Visit #1023, Monday, 4 July 16, 9:30-10:15AM, less than 0.25 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

The first explosion of my holiday was, through a logistical brainfart and supremely bad luck, I forgot to pack the spare battery for my camera and wouldn't you know it; the internal battery died. Without photos the blog posts would be more painfully boring than they already are-I made up for my outgassing with those 2 holiday return trips to Hubbard Park, those times armed with a working camera.

Saturday I wanted to hike a lesser used trail in search of the Dunkin' Donuts cup I'd spied while on a mountain bike ride a couple weeks ago. I didn't expect to find it due to the span of time, and I didn't.

I started early Saturday to avoid the heat and the traffic and walked the road north around Merimere Reservoir, picking up trash. Crossing the north end I picked up the trail and hiked up to Castle Craig. Hiking down, I noticed some new graffiti on the rocks and decided I had to return during the weekend to cover it if only to have a reason to get photos for the blog. I made my way down past the Halfway House and to the road back to the park.

Walking the road, much to my surprise, I was approached from behind by Assistant Parks Director (and devoted fan of this blog ;-) ) Chris Bourdon. He supplied me with much useful information to pass on to you, dear reader.

The potholes on the road to Castle Craig I marked last week, are scheduled to be filled by the Meriden Highway Department. Chris said my marking the potholes would be helpful to the crew.

The other useful information is, the reason the fireworks are being launched from Castle Craig instead of the usual spot at the Halfway House is due to requirements by the Meriden Fire Marshall. The Halfway House was desirable because it was closer and lower to Hubbard Park proper, making for a more dramatic presentation.

I took Saturday's trash home with me just so I could photograph it.

On Sunday, I made sure I had a working camera AND spare battery. I hiked directly to the rock wall below Castle Craig to cover over the graffiti I spied on Saturday, as well as photograph the launch tubes.

Alas, I wasn't done brainfarting for the weekend; I forgot to take an "after" photo after I covered this up.

But I didn't forget this one.


At the south end of Merimere Reservoir, I spotted this scene.

I guess English wasn't their strong subject in high school.

On the way back to the park from this trip, I spied even more new graffiti, this time at the I-691 underpass at the Soap Box Derby Track.

I found this on the pavement at the Soap Box Derby Track. Since I had my brown spray paint with me, I decided to cover it up. I didn't like the result.

After a shameful lack of photos Saturday, I decided to return on Monday to fill out my blog photo quota.

Note the initials, "JK" above, on the right and if you squint hard enough and take enough drugs you can see those other letters spell "Bomb". They've appeared before in Hubbard Park, so it seems we have a frequent visitor to Hubbard Park with an addiction to spray paint and afflicted with their own form of brainfarting.

I previously covered over graffiti on these two underpasses in March of 2012, as you can see from the existing gray paint.

"JK" previously sprouted in April 2015 near the retention ponds, and in October 2015 they appeared again along with "Bomb" at the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir.

I got to work with a paint roller and no compassion.

That brown paint I was dissatisfied with-armed with my roller and some gray paint on Monday, I could do a better job of covering it.

Hope you have all your fingers left after the holiday!