Sunday, August 27, 2017


Visit #1095, Saturday 26 August 17, 10:25AM-12:40PM, 4.2 miles.
Temps in the high 70's, sunny and dry.

As I promised last week, I had a couple lingering tasks I planned to take care of this weekend.

I hiked over the I-691 walkbridge and reached the fallen branch I reported on last week.

Except when I arrived, it had been cleared from the path and was sitting on the side of the trail. Still, it was kind of ugly and I would not be denied using power tools, so I cut it up into small pieces and tossed them down the hillside.

As I hiked my way over to the Halfway House to fulfill Promise #2, I came upon Colorado'd Tree #17 in Hubbard Park.

This tree has been like this for at least a month or two but I never had the tool to remove it. Except today.

Reaching the Halfway House, I assessed what it would take to clear the growing brush around the perimeter and went to work. I failed to take all the After photos but you get the idea.

See that hole on the left-I spied a Copperhead Snake moving around in there. Fortunately it didn't come out to defend its front yard. I knew to look for a snake in that hole because previously I'd seen a black snake disappear into it. There are actually two entrances to that snake den, a few feet apart.

I think I did the right thing removing all the brush and vines before the roots started uplifting the stone wall. I also think the vines were Poison Ivy; fortunately I had gloves on. I plan on returning with Poison Ivy killer for a more permanent solution.

With my promises kept, I returned to the park and dropped off my trash for the week.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

In Search Of...

Mirror Lake, as seen from Castle Craig on an early, hazy Sunday morning.

Visit #1094, Sunday 20 August 17, 7:35-10:25AM, 5.1 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny with mild humidity.

Unless you are keen of eye and like me, keeping close watch on Hubbard Park, you would never notice the rock 50 yards into the woods yet visible from the road to Castle Craig, which was tagged with graffiti. Since I spied this rock over a year ago, it had been on my To Do list as needing remediation. But first I had to get there.

I hiked from the playscape up to the south end of Merimere Reservoir, then up to the Halfway House.

There, I had totally forgotten about my request to the Meriden Parks Department, asking them to trim back the brush around the Halfway House. Well, I discovered they did a fabulous job tidying the place up. As part of my request, I promised if they did me the favor that I would trim the small trees growing up around the perimeter wall. I will fulfill my obligations next week.

Last week:


I was so happy it put a bounce in my step as I made my way up to Castle Craig. At Castle Craig, I cleaned up the parking lot and surrounding area and left a bag of trash for the parks department to collect later.

 In the process I noticed the spotlight cans had been tagged with graffiti but they weren't on my agenda for this week and would have to wait.

I left Castle Craig and walked the few hundred yards on the road until I could see the rock through the trees. By my records, this rock was tagged roughly in October of 2015, because that's when I found and covered similarly colored graffiti closer to the road.

Note the red and blue colors, which were in common with the graffiti mentioned above.

I doubt you'll spot MY paint job from the road.

Checked off my To Do list, I could return to normal duties. But as I was painting the rock I spied some other trash which needed investigation and pickup.

What is it? It's a Tupperware container which someone meticulously modified with screens not only on the top, but on the sides as well. Due to the size of the box they clearly weren't meant to hold a cat or dog but probably a snake, hamster, gerbil, etc. . I bagged it up and walked back to Castle Craig to leave it with the first bag.

It was at this point I was still in the painting mood and had a change of plans. I decided now was a good time to paint over the graffiti on the spotlights.

In retrospect, the first can looked so good I should have just painted over the complete cans, but I had consumed enough time. Maybe that will be a future project.

I packed up the paint and returned to the road where I found the first of several Finds of the Week.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the remnants of a black wig, scattered for 10 yards or so along the road.

Back on the trail, I picked up my second Find of the Week.

Please tell me; how do you forget your underwear?

Enroute to the walkbridge over I-691, I found a large branch had fallen across the trail. Too heavy to move, I'll lump in removing it with the tree trimming around the Halfway House next week.

This wrapper counts as Condom #8 of 2017.

I returned to the parking lot and dropped of my third bag of trash for the day.

Then I watched the Canadian Geese fertilize the grass, because besides eating, that's pretty much all they do.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sticky Situation

These are the tools of choice for getting out of "sticky situations". That's Simple Green in the Windex bottle. Never accuse me of being under-prepared.

Visit 1093, Sunday 13 August 17, 7:10-10:05AM, 3.3 miles.
Temps in the 70's, sunny and mildly humid.

As promised last week, I was going to tackle the newly found stickers on the walkbridge over I-691.

I made a beeline to the walkbridge, trimming the late season growth of thorns along the trail as I hiked. I soon reached Objectives Alpha and Bravo.

Well, I didn't have to do any experimenting on what would work best to remove these stickers; I started by saturating them with WD-40 (both posts of the walkbridge) and let the WD-40 do it's thing on one post while I immediately commenced to scraping on the other post.

Once I got the hang of how to use the black handled scraper I was in the drive-through lane, and moved quicker than beans through a cowboy.

Here, the post left to tenderize looks positively ripe for the picking.

I advanced my technique so quickly that I was able to remove the second post's stickers in one piece.

Nice guy that I am, I coated both posts with WD-40 when I was done so they wouldn't rust. ;-)

Moving back to the trails, I came upon what I thought would be my Find of the Week.

The shoes were in such good condition that I considered washing them and donating them to Goodwill that is, until I discovered all the bugs crawling on the underside. You couldn't pay me to remove the insoles to see what was inside.

And as I hiked the trail back to the park I came upon a Find of the Week that not only beat the sneakers, but is probably the most pleasant surprise I've had on the trails, besides finding money!

This rock was clearly "painted in place" and I have to say the scene as well as the quality of the painting, is graffiti I can live with. It brought a smile to my face.

As I returned to the parking lot, I ran into Meriden Parks Department worker Rob Zebora. Rob was kind enough to offer to take my bag of trash which was beginning to get heavy from the sneakers, and a wet towel I picked up. That's my trash for the week on the ground.

While we chatted, we both spied a suspicious vehicle arrive in the park with truck tires tied to the roof (behind the blue car).

Both Rob and I suspected the same thing; when the gate to Castle Craig opened in a few minutes, the driver was going to drive up the road and dump the tires. Rob pulled out his "Blue Book" and planned to drive by and write down the license plate of the car. If he spotted it later on sans tires, or found the tires sans car, he'd have enough info to notify the police. That's a sharp city employee.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Esta Semana en Hubbard Park

I realized I used the word "idyllic" too frequently in the last few posts. I'll abstain this week, despite the appropriate weather.

Visit 1091, Tuesday 1 August 17, 6:30-6:55PM, mileage n/a. Temps in the 80's, sunny and mildly humid.

Visit 1092, Sunday 6 August 17, 7:00-10:00AM, 5.6 miles. Temps in the 70's, sunny and dry.

I discovered a host of new graffiti last week. It would be easier to split up my time between eradicating the graffiti and removing the fallen tree I found last week-it would take too much time otherwise. So a mid-week trip to Hubbard Park was in order.

On Tuesday I rode my mountain bike to Hubbard Park, packed with my graffiti removal kit.

As I arrived, I was reminded why I don't venture too far off the trails to pick up trash during the warmer months. I trust you'll forgive me.

The large brush didn't quite remove the chalk as well as I expected.

The Goof Off worked reasonably well on the magic marker using the toothbrush, but waiting for the fluid to do its thing was time consuming.

I left everything as-is and walked up the I-691 underpass to work on the other graffiti.

The same methods here produced similar results. What did I expect?! Since I didn't want to wait for the Goof Off to work, I used the spray paint on the magic marker. Instant success.

Then I remembered my "Teacher's Pet" days. Add some water to the chalkboard and it will clean up to like new. Fortunately, I had a full waterbottle on my bike. You can see the left-right difference below.

Then I finished off the wall. I checked in on Sunday and there was no memory of the chalk.

On to the rest of it.

Luckily, my gray spray paint closely matches the roll-on paint I previously used. It dries to a flat finish.

Here I just wanted to use up the remaining spray paint in one can.

I left the park and rode home but realized I forgot to check the walkbridge over I-691. I reasoned if there was a bloom of graffiti on the Soap Box Derby track, there would probably be some on the walkbridge as well. So, I returned to Hubbard Park on Friday in an undocumented visit because it only took me ten  minutes to clean up any graffiti I found.

On Friday I packed merely one piece of sandpaper, and it was all I needed.

Graffiti wasn't all I found on Friday so it's a good thing I made the trip. I'll remove these stickers next weekend. Why does someone carry this stuff in their pockets?

With all the mid-week maintenance done, on Sunday I could focus on the fallen tree on the Green Trail. I had initially planned to visit Hubbard Park on Saturday to avoid the crowds on Sunday's Puerto Rican Festival (hence this week's blog title), but that wasn't going to happen now, unless I got an early start, which I did.

I hiked up to the fallen tree and got down to work.

The hemlock was harder to cut through than I expected either due to the rotten wood or lousy chainsaw sharpening skills. I expended roughly 30 minutes on this tree, but I got the job done.

I hiked up to the Halfway House, up toward Castle Craig, then picked up the Blue Trail along the cliffs of Merimere Reservoir. Enjoy the view.

I hiked this trail today because I was informed there was another tree down on this trail that needed removal. The caller gave me a good description of the tree and the location so it was easy to find.

This didn't take nearly as long as the fallen hemlock.

Further along the trail, I found some dead overhanging branches and cut all of  them down as well. No "after" photos, though.

At the end of the trail I picked up the road and walked back to the park, depositing my trash for the week.