Checking out the scene at Russell Orchards

Click on the first image to view a slideshow.

On Sunday we headed north to Russell Orchards in Ipswich to buy pumpkins, eat cider donuts, and check out the animals. We always made this trip when the kids were little, so it was fun to see that nothing had changed.

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A cool, late-autumn afternoon on the North Shore

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Russell Orchards, Ipswich, earlier today. The place to go for hot cider and hot cider donuts. But it seemed weird to be there without the kids. Click here for larger sizes of this photo.

Footbridge over the Ipswich River

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Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield-Ipswich line.

Sunset over Ipswich

Taken late this afternoon on Northgate Road near Russell Orchards. Click on image for larger sizes.

Town line

At the Ipswich-Topsfield line between Bradley Palmer State Park and Willowdale State Forest. The road it’s on is called Ipswich Road in Topsfield and Topsfield Road in Ipswich.

A soupy walk in Willowdale State Forest

As Easter was one of the first nice days we’ve had this spring, I thought I would head over to one of my favorite stomping grounds — Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich — and have a look at what the winter had wrought.

At first the trail seemed unusually dry (this is mud season, after all). Soon, though, I ran into washed-out paths that forced me to change my route and put in more miles than I’d planned on. There were a few bugs, though nothing like what will be buzzing around in a couple of weeks.

All in all, a great walk, and I was back home before the first quarter of the Celtics-Knicks game had ended.

One for the Fail Blog?

Saw this while riding my bike along Route 1A in Ipswich earlier today. I’ve probably passed by it hundreds of times over the past 25 years, but this time it caught my eye.

Willowdale on a dry summer’s day

I’m not running because I’m trying to recover from a heel injury. I’m not riding because my bike’s in the shop with a snapped gear cable. So this afternoon I hiked through Willowdale State Forest in Topsfield (this link says it’s in Ipswich, but I stayed on the Topsfield side).

Because of the unusually dry summer, I was able to walk along trails that are almost always off-limits, including a particularly nice path that bisects a swamp. The horseflies and mosquitoes were obnoxious, but not overwhelmingly so.

Despite the dry weather, we’ve had some wild storms. Because of flooding damage, the footbridge that connects Willowdale with Bradley Palmer State Park is out — from the serious-looking chain-link fence that’s been built around it, I’d be surprised to see it reopen any time soon.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the photos.