Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Forgotten

Saturday was a perfect day for the Daffodil Festival. While that was going on, I had the rest of Hubbard Park pretty much to myself.

Visit #1134, Saturday 28 April 18, 3:50-5:30PM, 2.2 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, sunny.

First, I'd like to wish myself a happy tenth anniversary. I enrolled in the Meriden Conservation Commission's Adopt A Park program in April of 2008. I had already been maintaining the trails themselves for ten years; now I would add litter, graffiti, and whatnot to my repertoire. I get emotional when I look back at that first bag of litter so long ago, which I had bronzed and is hanging from my rearview mirror now.

Here's to another then years!

With the Daffodil Festival occupying the south end of Hubbard Park, there was no way I or anybody else was going to find parking at the park, so I ventured to the Berlin end of things and parked. There were quite a number of cars already parked there; it  was good to see people still wanted to enjoy Hubbard Park's natural offerings and did whatever it took to make it happen.

I was on another one of my special missions this week: There's a short trail near the water tank which for decades has been littered with broken glass and little or none of it is recent vintage.

I'm told there used to be a house situated on the land where the water treatment plant now sits, and it was commonplace way back when to merely toss empty bottles from the house, over the slope. Doesn't sound right to me. I suppose it could have been the result of construction crews from when the plant was built. The reason is irrelevant; it was time to clean it up.

Hundreds of pieces of old style bottles were frequently found. I used a collapsible rake to comb the dirt downslope, and a folding shovel to bag it. It would have been a futile effort to try and sift the glass from the dirt and rocks, so it all went into trash bags.

It wasn't a perfect job but it was a start to something I'd remember and forget every time I'd use that trail. I expect the soil to yield more glass in years to come.

Now I had three VERY heavy bags. I lugged them to the water treatment plant and left them. One water department worker isn't going to be very happy come Monday morning.

Walking the road back to my car, I kept listening to flowers other than daffodils complain to me about being forgotten. "Yo! What about me?! Don't I deserve a festival too, or am I just a weed?"

Best I could do to assure them they were appreciated was to pick up litter around them as I headed north. They still want their own festival...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Accidental "Un"Painter

The Daffodil Festival kicked off this weekend, beginning with a massive tag sale under the tent.

An unintended benefit of the Daffodil Festival, for me at least, is I get  a considerable number of extra visits to my blog as people search for info on Hubbard Park!

Visit #1133, Saturday 21 April 18, 6:45-9:20AM, 2.9 miles.
Temps in the 40's, sunny.

I got an early start on Saturday to avoid any parking headaches in Hubbard Park.

Last week I reported finding some new graffiti on the spillway at the north end of Merimere Reservoir. This week, I wanted to remove the graffiti, but first I would head to the walkbridge over I-691.

Two weeks ago, I found the American flag on the bridge over the eastbound lanes of I-691 had been removed, probably because it was getting tattered with age. Last week while driving along I-691 eastbound, I noticed a new flag was in place and wanted to document it.

So there you go; a nice new flag.

Of course, being daffodil season and in cooperating with the Daffodil Festival, the flowers begin to bloom en masse.

But there's always got to be that ONE FLOWER that marches to the beat of its own drummer. I get a kick out of this daffodil all by its lonesome on the trail, which never fails to strut its stuff proudly despite being a loner. I can relate.

So I reach the bridge, photograph the flag, and before I turn around to leave I'm confronted with a slew of new graffiti on the bridge ironwork. Some of it may be unreadable due to the shadows, so I've provided captions where necessary.

"I'll give you gas $ if you hit me with your car"

That's a lot of ink I didn't expect to encounter and it caused me to recalibrate.

Ah, but I was prepared and excited to try out my refined technique. I now carry both sandpaper of a proper grade to work on graffiti, and I carry Goof-Off.

I sprayed Goof-Off on everything except the first piece of graffiti and while the liquid softened up the enemy, I used plain sandpaper on the first piece. If I sanded the paint while still wet with Goof-Off it would gum up the sandpaper, so I would wipe it with a rag prior to sanding. Worked beautifully, and took about 30 minutes to complete everything on the bridge.

Here's the result after Goof-Off but before sanding.

And another.

After some sandpaper and elbow grease.

Everything else cleaned up nice as well.

I addressed everything, then turned around and headed back to the park, dropping of my first bag of litter.

I then hopped in the van and drove to Berlin and parked north of Merimere Reservoir. I walked in to Hubbard Park from the north end to address the graffiti on the spillway.

My objective:

"I Love America" (Anyone see irony in this?)

I donned my coveralls and performed more unpainting.

My tools laid out for work.

This work went quickly and after I was done, I picked up litter in the area surrounding the spillway, and took it home to dispose of.

Next week the Daffodil Festival will be in full-swing so if festivals are your thing, Hubbard Park will be the place to be!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Nothing to Do?

Raw winds rippled the waters of Merimere Reservoir on Sunday. 

Visit #1132, Sunday 15 April 18, 12:45-3:15PM, 4.2 miles.
Temps in the 40's; cloudy, windy, and downright chilly.

Sunday's weather was quite a change from Saturday. While Saturday saw sun and temps reaching the 70's, as Sunday approached the temperature dropped faster than Donald Trump's trousers for a spanking.

After spending many weeks recovering the trails from a month of back to back nor-easter's, I felt I didn't have any agenda.

Then, as I arrived at Hubbard Park on Sunday, I found one.

I ran into a daily Hubbard Park visitor who told me Saturday's dreamy weather brought out hordes of people walking the road around Merimere Reservoir. To a guy like me, unfortunately that meant I'd probably find a lot of litter, so that's where I'd head today.

Speaking of NOTHING, as I walked north on the road, I found evidence that someone at some time decided to wear NOTHING underneath...

Scrounging through the woods hunting litter, I found this remnant of a sign.

I found that sign roughly 1/2 mile from where it originated: At the bottom of the steep road climb to the peaks. Many years ago (I couldn't even find an internet reference to the crash), a cyclist died, failing to negotiate the sharp curve at the bottom of the road. Somebody nailed a cross to a tree near where the crash occurred.  I believe the "1988" on the sign references the deceased's birth year and not the year of death. As a cyclist, I remember the write-up in the newspaper and shortly thereafter noticed the cross on the tree. How this remnant wound up so far from its original location is a mystery.

My suspicions were correct, and I filled a large trash bag with "nothing" by the time I reached the north end of Merimere Reservoir.  I left it, and the sign, for later pickup by the parks department.

Those two Eversource vehicles in the background-they must have been following GPS as they pulled up to the gate like they were on a mission, paused as they performed some head scratching, then turned around and left.

Inspecting the spillway as I walked across, I spied some new graffiti.

In case you can't read it, it says, "My Blood Sweat And Tears", and "I Love America". The splatter was probably from a paintball, and the angle of the splatter tells me it was shot from the road.  Then they used the rock shards you see on the ground to scrawl. Weather, and the upcoming Daffodil Festival permitting, I hope to paint over it soon.

It was incredibly quiet and calm on the road up to Castle Craig.

Nearing Castle Craig, I noticed this fallen tree encroaching into the road. It's not impeding traffic but close, and will have to be dealt with sooner or later.

I reached Castle Craig then hiked trails back down to the parking lot, with a whole lot of "nothing" in my second trash bag.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

I'm Current

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of six American children is obese. That sixth child was at Hubbard Park recently, and it wasn't pretty.

Finally, after weeks of playing catch up with all the storm damage in March, I've finally finished canvassing all the trails and clearing them as necessary.

Visit #1131, Sunday 8 April 18, 12:15-4:40PM, 6.0 miles.
Temps in the low 40's, partly sunny.

In an undocumented visit, I rode to Hubbard Park on Saturday on my mountain bike to eradicate some graffiti I found last week, and to get a bike ride in. This would save time on Sunday's trip.

I found a similar symbol on a nearby rock last fall. This time, I tried sandpaper to remove it, but progress wasn't fast enough for my liking. Anticipating this, I brought spray paint.

It's the same color as the underlying paint from my previous work so it should dry to the same shade.

I made my way down to near the beehive fountain, where the sandpaper worked just fine.

Freed of graffiti duties, I was able to concentrate on fallen trees and such, on Sunday. I hiked the walkbridge over I-691 where I found one of the two flags on the fencing has been removed. Rightly so, as it was getting tattered and I too had been thinking of removing it. I finished the other person's work by removing the tyraps and grommets left over from the flag.

I reached the road downhill from East/West Peak and enjoyed a library-quiet walk down the road while I picked up litter.

At the bottom of the descent, I picked up a trail that would return me to West Peak. I expected to find a lot of fallen branches and trees but the trail was surprisingly clear.

The rest of what I found on the trail was minor, UNTIL I reached the top end of the trail head, where I encountered Len has been busy disturbing the trails again. I had previously cut up this fallen hemlock and cast the branches aside; he piled them across the trail, only for me to clear them again today.

I exited the trail and walked to West Peak, where I cleaned the parking lot and surrounding area, leaving two heavy bags of litter to be collected by the parks department.

I stopped at West Peak and enjoyed the views east and south.

Upon rejoining the trail, I found one final tree to clear, making myself current and completing the restoration of the trails, until the next windstorm.

I followed the Blue Trail down to the lower trails, to the Halfway House, and back to the park where I deposited one last bag of litter. And I stayed off the swings...