Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Straight Poop

Goose poop is a problem in Hubbard Park. Here, the Saturday morning Turd Patrol fuels up adjacent to Mirror Lake.

Outdoors columnist Mike Roberts lays out the details of the goose poop problem, not just in Hubbard Park, but elsewhere locally, too.

I was on-call so I stuck close to the park, but not close enough to smell or step on goose poop. Momma didn't raise a dummy; she raised a son who prefers clean shoes.

I started early Saturday morning because the professional bicycle racing season kicked off today with the first European race of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and I wanted to watch the last hour of the race on the internet (Due to time zone differences, euro races usually end around 10:45AM EST).

It used to be called Het Volk, which is much easier to pronounce! In case you missed all the high speed action, here are the race highlights.

I started at the gate and walked the road up and around the retention ponds, and back via the Soap Box Derby track. In that short distance I managed to collect enough litter to leave my first bag at the playscape, and open a second bag.

While walking that short loop, I ran into a "park regular" who told me that, on a recent rainy day, he drove around the park and made a "To-Do" list of projects he thought the Meriden Parks Department should act on. Then he dropped the list off at the maintenance building in Hubbard Park.

I thought some of the tasks he recited were unreasonable. One item on his list was to paint the iron railing at Echo Point. Here's an archive photo of the railing.

So I put him on the spot and made him a proposal; I'll buy the paint and the supplies if he assists me in painting it. Note that this guy is much wealthier than I am. I gave him my phone number, to eliminate one more excuse.

He says; "We'll have to get approval..."

I called goose-poop on that. Shoot; I'll bet they don't even know THERE'S A RAILING THERE, and wouldn't notice if we painted it florescent orange (not that I would do such a thing ;-) )

In return I got stammering and a verse of "hummina-hummina".

Now even I know the parks crews have better, higher priority tasks to accomplish than paint that railing. Sometimes a little volunteer work is needed.

Heck; if he commits to the project, I'll sand and prime the railing myself in advance of paint.

We agreed to wait until temps are appropriate for paint, but I don't have faith he'll follow through with me, so don't hold your breath expecting it to get done. If it does, you'll read about it here, first.

I then headed west, cleaning the trails on the south side of I-691. Just shy of reaching the parking area at West Main Street, I spied a new, poorly hidden letterbox. I decided to peek inside.

I closed the lid and continued on to the parking area on West Main Street. While cleaning up the area I came upon my Find of the Week.

Now WHO needs a scale that only reads up to 100 grams? What head shop do you think they bought it from?!

I turned around and hiked back to the park, skirting anywhere geese may have made deposits, and made my own dropping, of my second bag of trash. At the parking lot I ran into another park regular who had his own ideas about Hubbard Park, complaining of people littering. He wanted the Meriden Police Department to somehow spend their abundant free time watching for litterers and giving out juicy fines.

Funny how everybody has suggestions but nobody is willing to lend a hand.

Let me step down off my soapbox.

I headed home in time to watch Omloop Het Alphabet.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


A 3-6" snowfall on Saturday night was followed by sun and almost-spring temperatures on Sunday's hike. We were spared a lot of snow shoveling as much of it melted by noon. And because of the snow I was spared picking up a lot of litter

Visit #1123, Sunday 18 February 18, 2:00-4:30PM, 4.9 miles.
Temps in the 40's, sunny.

Last week I wrote that I might have to be the bad guy and remove all the Christmas ornaments from the tree at Echo Point, and surely piss some people off. Hey; it's ONLY SIX WEEKS after the holidays...

Fortunately I was spared the dirty work.

As I started my hike on Sunday, I was approached by a couple asking for hiking directions to Castle Craig. While I did hand them a trail map, I realized their interest coincided with this week's plan, so I offered Jeff and Lasmyne to join me.

We hiked the road around Merimere Reservoir and I was quite amazed by the number of footprints. It showed that despite the snow, quite a number of people enjoy the park and trails.

Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have photographed the kids sledding down the hill near the water tank, too.

Well, J., J., and I reached Echo Point and I saw the tree had been cleaned of ornaments sometime during last week.

We picked up the Blue Trail at the north end of Merimere Reservoir and hiked all the way to Castle Craig. Enroute, we enjoyed views like this, except with some snow (archive photo).

We toured Castle Craig then hiked the trails down and past the Halfway House back to the park.

I did manage to pick up some litter, and had help from my company as well. Thanks!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Peace and Quiet

It wasn't as cold as the ice would make you think. A nice day if you managed to avoid the rain.

Visit #1122, Saturday 10 February 18, 10:30AM-12:30PM, 7.2 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, cloudy with rain developing in the afternoon.

After 3 weeks of working with the chainsaw on a fallen tree near West Peak, I wanted some peace and quiet. So, this week I would seek out a little used trail for some tranquility.

I started out on the far side of the fence in the archival photo you see below, picking up litter as I thought it an eyesore for people in the park. The weather cooperated by melting the snow which would hide bottles, cans, and whatnot. I used my hedge clippers to cut through the thorn bushes to reach the area. Now you know why I carry them virtually every week.

I collected enough that I decided to leave the first trash bag at the water treatment plant.

Although the roads were clear, I was warned the trails would still be icy. As with last week, I donned my Stabilicer Maxx cleats which made hiking easy and safe, which was important on the trails today. I watched other, non-equipped hikers walking as if trying to avoid imaginary cow patties-funny!

No sooner did I reach the trails did I find this little "stash of trash", which included-a hub cap!?

Passing Castle Craig, I reached my trail of solitude and sure enough, had it all to myself.

On the way down I had the opportunity to do a little trail maintenance.

I was concerned I wouldn't be able to cross the stream at the trail's end, expecting water flow to be heavy. That wasn't the case, and crossing it was a dry affair.

Cracking ice, wind, and leaves formed interesting patterns on the surface.

At Echo Point, the decorated Christmas Tree STILL hasn't been restored to its original state.

Does anyone reading this blog still have THEIR Christmas tree up?! I may have to go all Grinch on this tree and it's not going to make Cindy Lou Who happy. Stay tuned.


Tree decorators.

I returned to the park, and avoided the impending rain by roughly 2 hours.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Angry Chain

Icy trails and cold temps were the order for the day.

Visit #1121, Saturday 3 February 18, 12:05-3:00PM, 5.2 miles.
Temps in the high 20's, sunny.

After a week's hiatus, I was back on the trail to brawl with the fallen tree near West Peak.

As I set out on Saturday, getting to the tree with a chainsaw in my backpack was potentially going to be a dicey proposition. You see, I discovered the trails were all glazed over with ice.

Fortunately, I'm getting wiser in my old age and have learned to leave my ice cleats in my backpack all through the winter.

I stopped to put them on, then walked with impunity, as I watched another hiker, even with walking poles, turn around in defeat due to the slick trail.

Now, as to this formidable opponent of a tree. It has resisted my attempts to dominate it, consuming entire tanks of fuel from my chainsaw with little progress.

About the only bright spot in this, as I approached the tree on Saturday and seeing the number of footprints through the gap I cut previously, was knowing people were using the fruits of my labor.

One reason for such poor cutting was this dead tree, whose internal wood lacked any moisture.

The other reason was my chain. Grandma could chew an apple without her dentures faster than my chain was going through that tree.

See that green tie strap? That's how Stihl identifies its low kickback chains. Kickback can cause the chain to strike you while it's running, ruining your good looks, and possibly your day. So Stihl installs them by default on all but their professional saws. But low kickback chains trade cutting effectiveness for safety. That's because homeowners with chainsaws can be their own worst enemies. I'm obsessive and techno-geeky enough to meticulously maintain my chain's sharpness, so that wasn't my problem. What was my solution?

Stihl makes a take-no-prisoners chain. It's identified by a yellow tie strap. I bought one. Sorta like when you were bad and dad brought out the strap-things were about to get ugly.

I won't bore you with the details, but this thing is a Tasmanian Devil against trees.

That yellow chain meant business. It was eye-poppingly fast. I'm talking hungry dog through a bowl of kibble fast. And I'm happy to say after using it that I retained my good looks.

Now, even your mother-in-law can fit through that gap. Well; maybe if she turns sideways...

Heady with the euphoria of success, I left the area and hiked the trails back down and by the Halfway House, where I found the leftovers from a campfire.

I returned to the park and dropped off my bag of litter for the week.