North Shore bike ride

Near the Danvers-Peabody line. The sign in the middle says “God Bless America.”
Near Danvers Center
Salem Beverly Waterway Canal

Footbridge over the Ipswich River

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Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield-Ipswich line.

Blue, green and gray

Beverly Salem canal

Looking south along the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal from the old bridge in Topsfield.

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.

Running along the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal

I charted a great new five-mile running route yesterday — along the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal, over to the Topsfield Rail Trail, up to the Topsfield Fairgrounds and back. I took this photo at the beginning (end?) of the canal, in Wenham, just off Cherry Street.

According to this Wikipedia article, the canal was built in 1917 and “was never used to transport anything but water and recreational canoeists.” I’d hiked along it a few times with scouts, but had never gone from one end to the other until yesterday. A great North Shore resource.

And despite its name, no part of it lies in either Salem or Beverly — it runs southeast to northwest from Wenham to Topsfield.

Brown Christmas

Click on image for larger views.

Bradley Palmer State Park, Christmas Day, 2011.

Late winter, Bradley Palmer State Park

Went for a two-mile run at Bradley Palmer State Park this afternoon. The pond at the entrance on the Topsfield side (above) is still iced over, and there was a lot of slushy ice along the roadway heading out to the kiddie pool. Just goes to show that melting lags in the cool woods.

Not thrilled to be doing all the pre- and post-running stuff for just two miles, but I’m glad to be moving again.

A key legislative race between two good candidates

Ted Speliotis

If there’s a bellwether district in the Massachusetts House this fall, it may be the one in which Media Nation is located. We have a hot race here that is something of a throwback. That is, it pits two good, experienced candidates against each other. Each is genuinely more interested in serving the people of his district than in making any sort of stark ideological appeal.

The district, which comprises Danvers, Topsfield and part of Peabody, is currently represented by Ted Speliotis, a Democrat. His Republican challenger is Dan Bennett, a Danvers selectman. I know Speliotis better than Bennett, though I have met Bennett as well. Speliotis’ liberal views better reflect my own, yet I like Bennett’s emphasis on reforming the culture of patronage and cronyism on Beacon Hill. I’m perfectly comfortable with either man representing me in the Legislature.

Salem News reporter Ethan Forman recently wrote excellent profiles of both Speliotis and Bennett. Forman points out an inconsistency in Bennett’s positions: Bennett opposes new taxes, yet voted for local-option taxes on meals and hotel rooms when given the opportunity. (Forman also wrote a follow-up on where they stand on a variety of issues.)

Dan Bennett

I’m going to give Bennett a pass. Why? On his website, Bennett discusses some real savings the state could see by consolidating state agencies, reforming health insurance for municipal employees and opening up public-construction projects to competition (he doesn’t use the term “non-union,” but that’s what he means). No doubt Bennett believes higher local taxes would be unnecessary if the state got its own spending under control, and he may be right.

I can’t find a website for Speliotis other than his official state profile. But I know he has cast courageous votes in our rather conservative district in favor of same-sex marriage and against the death penalty. He has worked tirelessly to help folks affected by the 2006 explosion in Danversport. And he’s everywhere — he always comes to our Boy Scout troop’s courts of honor to present Statehouse proclamations to our new Eagles. If you think that’s no big deal, you’re wrong.

If the war of the lawn signs is any indication, I think Bennett might pull this out. The signs are fairly mixed in Danvers, where both candidates live, but almost unanimous for Bennett in affluent Topsfield. Peabody, where Speliotis grew up, will likely prove the key.

I’ve suggested to a couple of my friends in the political press that this race would be worth a story. It’s well below radar, especially given exciting gubernatorial and congressional races. Come Election Day, though, it may prove to be just as significant.

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.