My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

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Sunrise 117: Ault Park (Featuring “guest” sunrises #1 from Cincinnati & South Carolina)

Sunrise 117 @ Ault Park

This morning I have a special edition post along with the normal Sunrise 117 pictures. Late yesterday afternoon I asked if anyone else wanted to take up the challenge to get a picture of the sunrise in their local region, wherever it may be. I received three sets of pictures from this morning’s sunrise with the promise of a couple more for tomorrow’s sunrise. Two of the sets are from the Cincinnati region and the other set comes all the way from Scott in Isle of Palm, South Carolina! Thanks Tara, Scott, & Amanda for contributing to today’s post ūüôā

(update: I forgot to directly mention it but tomorrow morning I’m doing the same thing. If you’ve got the will to do so, take a picture of the sunrise and send it to me! I’ll post it here along with my normal update. aultparksunrise@gmail.com or post it to facebook, include any caption, location, or website you’d like me to include along with your picture/s. As long as I don’t get overwhelmed, which I don’t see happening, consider this a standing offer!)

The wife unit joined me this morning and took a couple pictures on her phone. The atmosphere was one of the clear sky variety, albeit with a bit of a twist. There was a low lying cloud bank that muted the colors slightly but did provide an excellent pre-sunrise show. Unfortunately we missed the pink and orange flares by about 3 minutes (and we were ten minutes early). It was probably the most social sunrise I’ve had so far, with two fellow sunrise observers and my wife along for the ride on her trusty 1983 Peugeot P18 Mixte. We were on a bit of a time schedule but if we would have stayed for another, say, 20 minutes I imagine that the sun would have poked out from behind the low lying cloud bank and lit up the sky in a bright yellow/orange palette.

Roughly 10 minutes before sunrise

Rays of light shine through, muted, behind the cloud bank

These vertical shots are actually getting harder because the sun has moved so far to the right. This time I had to zoom in to not include a branch of the oak trees that stand next to the overlook.

Guest Sunrise 1: Tara @ Voice of America MetroPark in Butler County

Tara sent these pictures in from Voice of America MetroPark, perhaps the highest point in Butler County and 25 miles north of Ault Park.

(This is actually a picture from yesterday! We didn’t get a sunrise in the cloudy overcast skies above Mt. Lookout, but Tara got lucky with a colorful display!)

“I really enjoyed watching the sun rise but peace was my ultimate reward this morning….

… To stop and look at the world and reflect on what‚Äôs important.”

Guest Sunrise 2: Scott @ Isle of Palm, South Carolina

Scott sent in some pictures from the clear sky sunrise above the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Sunrise over there was around 6:44am, a full half hour earlier than us in Ohio!

Scott said this was his “bike” that he took to get to the beach! haha

Dawn on the beach in South Carolina

Looking North along the coast line

What’s a beach without freshly churned-up sea shells?

Just before sunrise @ Isle Of Palm, South Carolina

We can see the orange¬†aura¬†forming; it’ll be any second now.

First Light!

Looks like Scott got a nice low-humidity sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean (high humidity would make the sun purple and dim for the first few minutes of light). Thanks Scott!

Guest Sunrise 3: Amanda @ Ault Park, Cincinnati OH

Amanda joined me this morning on bike as we climbed up to the sunrise @ Heekin Overlook. Thanks!

Looks like I am caught red-handed in the act. Gloves, Hat, Sweatshirt, and Sweat Pants. Sneaky girl!

The sunrise behind the low-lying cloud bank over the Little Miami River Valley.

Amanda’s trusty steed. She is a 1983 Peugeot P18 Mixte. This shade of red was only made for one year. I’m always surprised at how well it shifts. Thanks Amanda!

Stay tune for, hopefully, a new set of sunrise pictures tomorrow morning. Apparently Friday is a good day for people to check out the Sunrise (although it probably has more to do with the fact that some people take Friday off)


Sunrise 116: Ault Park (Warm & Clear Autumn Sunrise)

Sunrise 116 @ Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook

This morning’s sunrise was the first official sunrise post-DST. After the vibrant late sunrise from Saturday, I was excited to get to the park one hour earlier than usual. It was a bit strange, actually, setting my alarm for 6:30am when I’m used to setting it for 7:30am. When day light savings changes, most things in our lives are not affected. We still go to work at the same time, watch our TV shows at the same time, eat dinner at the same time, play softball at the same time, etc. The only thing that changes is how much ambient light in the atmosphere there is while we do our time-based routines. One could even argue that this is one of the central constructs of modern society, right? A routine based on metrics consistent with the controllable constructs of the society (time and time-based events) rather than based on the uncontrollable rise and fall of the sun.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the inconvenience of suddenly setting my alarm an hour earlier when the rest of my life really has not been affected by the hourly gain of Daylight Savings Time. The traffic was more moderate, although it was still very present, when I left for the park at 6:50am. The park itself was very quiet and peaceful, even the park crew were no where to be found this morning. The joggers started trickling in by the time I left the park around 7:30am, no doubt a result of their running schedule being synced to the time-based routine rather than a sun-based routine :). I couldn’t believe how warm it felt this morning! The temperature was, apparently, in the low 40s but it felt much warmer than that. This autumn has been very kind to us here in Cincinnati. We’ve had so many days of clear skies to enjoy the outdoors, with a handful of rainy overcast days thrown in to pump up some fog and remind us not to take these final days for granted before the Midwest Winter comes knocking on the door! My wife mentioned that last year she felt like we didn’t even have a fall because winter seemed to show up so quickly. Certainly not the case this year.

The valley was full of fog when I arrive this morning at Heekin Overlook. The fog, however, settled down in the basin of the valley and made no attempt to invade the hills.

This morning’s atmosphere was a typical autumn clear sky with hints of light cloud activity, likely left over from yesterday’s overcast morning. Could it be a sign of another overcast morning tomorrow? Typically a completely clear sky signals at least a mostly clear sunrise on the following day but a mostly clear sky with light cloud cover is not quite so telling.

Just before sunrise over the Little Miami River Valley

First Light! I’m loving these vertical sunrise shots.

An attempt at an open sky, although it looks like that tree branch in the upper right was feeling a bit more photogenic than usual.

Looking back over the months, I find it interesting to see the seasonal evolution of this tree. I never made a specific point to capture it’s leaf development, but it does make several appearances. Here it is in April with leaves just beginning to bud, and here it is in may¬†full of green foilage.

The last few leaves hang on as Autumn marches on in Ault Park.


Sunrise 115: Eden Park (Reservoir Ruins, Hotel Alms, Clear Skies)

Sunrise 115 @ Eden Park

Twin Lakes. Apparently there used to be a quarry here about 150 years ago.

Looking down from Eden Park’s upper overlook

The ruins of the old water reservoir in Eden Park

I took advantage of the latest sunrise of the entire year, that also happened to be on a beautifully clear morning, and got up extra early on Saturday morning. I left my place at 7:10am and rode, for the first time during this project, to Eden Park in Mt. Adams. Eden Park is known to be one of the most scenic and historic parks in the city. It sits next to the Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory, on top of ruins from the old Cincinnati Water Works Reservoir, and has many memorials and two overlooks. I’ve never visited the park for sunrise and I have to say it was an impressive location. The lower two overlooks (there is a “main” overlook next to the Twin Lakes and a lesser known upper overlook by a turn of the century brick water tower) look directly East over the bend in the Ohio River. The benches on the overlook (and their cherry tree companions) appear to be deliberately aligned with the sunrise. I have wanted to get up to Eden Park for sunrise for the entirety of this project, but I was inspired by the recent 105 year old postcards that I recently found at an Antique Mall featuring Eden Park at the turn of the last century. One of the postcards depicts a peaceful scene at Mirror Lake in 1906, the other depicts the entrance to alms park with the infamous Elsinore Arch¬†(not featured in today’s post)¬†which was constructed as a piece of the Cincinnati water system.

I hopped around through the park and checked out only some of the major attractions. I’d like to spend a few more sunrises at Eden Park to get to know more of the memorials and historic buildings. It’s one of the oldest parks in the city and used to be one of the main vineyards during the mid 1800s that supported the German catholic wine scene. There is enough history surrounding the park to fill several posts so I’m going to keep it mostly brief. Check out this document from Cincinnati Parks that gives some insight into the “Master Plan”.

It’s still dark when I pulled up to Eden Park. This picture looks East and if you follow the river back around to the right, you’ll find the tip of the ridge that Alms Park lives on.

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Sunrise 114: Alms Park (Colorful Autumn Skies, 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati)

Sunrise 114 @ Alms Park

A bit later in this post I talk about a paper that was sent over the November Cincinnati Parks E-letter that covers the 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati. For reference, I saved it locally to my server for historic purposes. It’s a quick and interesting read. “The City of 7 Valleys”

After Tuesday’s perfectly clear skies and yesterday’s clear skies with a touch of cloudy, I was curious to see how this morning’s sunrise would come to be. The forecast called for 40% cloud cover which puts us right into the possibility of a very colorful and unique sunrise, depending on if the cloud cover is whispy, thick, patchy, or anything else. As it turned out, the cloud cover was what I would consider to be “whispy”. The sun was partially blocked as it came up, but it did eventually shine through in a bright orange¬†aura. It was a bit of a humid morning, I think, because the colors did not really spread out through the open sky as you would normally expect. Rather, they stayed compact around the sun’s opening location, keeping the sky looking beautiful and full of reds and oranges. If this gradual build up of cloud cover with minimal wind continues, tomorrow should be either breathtakingly dynamic or boring with full cloud cover. No signs of the rain storms that are forecasted for today, but seeing as how it’s rained every Thursday for the last 5 weeks I wouldn’t hold my breathe! Our Thursday night Softball league is more backed up than a vegetarian after their first experience with a 17-meat extra cheese pizza.

On my ride up to the park I was treated with a spectacular deep purple show. It was one of those mornings where I could have arrived a half an hour early and had plenty to watch. As the sun approaches from beyond the horizon, the light in the low-wavelength spectrum shows up first. That would be the deep purples fading in from blue. I’m not sure about the science behind it, but it probably relates to why you can hear bass through a wall but no vocals or high-hats. Low-frequency waves tend to penetrate further. But I digress. The entire low part of the atmosphere, from the east to the west, was lit up with this magenta color that was not noticeable in the mid or upper sky. I was hoping to get to the park in time to get a picture of the colors, but they were gone as quickly as they showed up. That’s the funny thing about sunrises – you really never know what you’re going to get. It all depends on how clear or cloudy the sky is and what the humidity is like.

I arrived at the park about 5 minutes before sunrise. The sky was already ripe with orange colors and the clouds were reflecting brightly.

At this point the purples are all gone and the orange is starting to blaze.

To the right we see the historic deco¬†Mt. Washington Water Tower. Do you know what’s really neat? I read this document from the Cincinnati Parks on how this area used to be as flat as the rest of Ohio. About 40,000 years ago the glaciers melted and the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers were born. The thing that makes Cincinnati’s geography so neat is that all of the peaks of the controversial “Seven Hills” (or as the document put it: the Seven Valleys) are at almost exactly the same elevation. I’ve come to know this personally as I bike around for this project between many local parks. There are several parks that I wasn’t even aware of until now. The parks that all live at the peak elevations of various hills are:¬†Ault Park, Alms Park¬†(forgot about that spectacular picture of thunder heads), Larz Anderson Park,¬†Eden Park, Devou Park,¬†Bellevue Hill Park, Fairview Park, Mt. Echo Park, French Park¬†(no overlook), Drake Park¬†(looks like there are no quality pictures of the view from this park – it’s on the way to my work so I’ll have to stop by some morning for sunrise), and probably a few others. (By the way have you picked up on it, yet? Cincinnati Park Board is amazing).
But the point, dear reader, is that all of these parks are at the top of their respective hills, and most have overlooks that look out over the Ohio & Little Miami River Valley. At one time, about 40,000 years ago, you would have been able to walk directly from any one of these hill-top parks to any other hill-top park without changing elevation. It was flat! That may seem obvious given what we know now about the formation of the glaciers, but I find it uniquely Cincinnati that all of the parks are at about the same elevation but they are located all over the region, scattered between Cincinnati Proper, outside the city limits, and into Kentucky. I also find it hard to believe that I am just now discovering (or, rather, discovering with purpose and detail) how fantastic Mt. Echo Park is. Did you see the pictures of the overlook?! That’s a sunrise location if I’ve ever seen one!

… moving on. ¬†Here we are back at Alms Park (but I can’t stop thinking about Mt. Echo Park. Maybe I should take advantage of these late sunrise times and make it out there by 7:45am! Only two days left before DST ends…)

A final shot of Sunrise 114. While the humidity was apparently high, the sun light got bright quickly. I’m not sure what to make of that because normally in a high humidity atmosphere the sun stays muffled and it takes awhile for the light to penetrate the atmosphere.


Sunrise 113: Ault Park (Misty & Clear Autumn Morning)

The sunlight turned bright quickly. Down in Armleder Park, there were pronounced rays of light piercing the light fog as they came through the trees.

Another beautiful clear autumn sky in Cincinnati on this early November morning. I was held up at home for a few extra minutes so I got to the park just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. I really liked yesterday’s vertical picture with the silhouette of the tree in the top left of the picture. Today’s sunrise was less humid than yesterday’s so the orange gradient fade from the sun into the atmosphere was quicker and with a heavier shade of navy blue. I would have loved to arrive just 10 minutes earlier because these low humidity clear sky sunrises are one of my favorites, but that’s just how it happens sometimes! The fog that made a dramatic appearance yesterday has receded back into the valley and is now more of a mist. Tomorrow’s forecast is calling for clouds and rain, but the early morning looks like it may have about 40% cloud cover. If we get lucky the conditions could be right for a drop-dead beautiful dynamic sunrise. We’ll see what happens!

It was another cold one this morning. My thermometer puts it at around 35F for sunrise. As I mentioned yesterday, with gloves, my hoodie, and insulated pants it isn’t bad at all. The wind is really what I have to worry about and there wasn’t much to speak of today.

Sunrise 113 in a mostly clear, low humidity atmosphere.

Looking East over the Little Miami River Valley across misty farmland.

Heekin Overlook


Sunrise 112: Ault Park (Dilon Ave Candy Party, Clear & Humid Sunrise)

Sunrise 112

This morning’s sunrise was pure autumn beauty! The temperature is holding steady at a cool 32F, 34F after sunrise. The sky was devoid of clouds and the humidity was high. I heard last night on the local weather channel that this morning was going to be “clear and chilly” with humidity of around 77%. After yesterday morning’s dark and gloomy sunrise (which I happily stayed at home in my warm bed for!) this meant that there was a good chance for some morning fog for Sunrise 112. I’m beginning to understand how to predict fog at least to a nominal degree. Clear skies after a gloomy day seem to be a good predictor, but it isn’t certain and there are definitely other factors that can create fog as well.

I threw on my wife’s running gloves (I need to get some for myself!), some long insulated running pants, and my thick University of Cincinnati Homecoming 2005 PDT sweatshirt. It was cold! But to be honest, I learned a valuable lesson. With the gloves protecting my hands from the bare metal on my handlebars (wrapping them this winter will be a fun project… still haven’t decided if I’m going to throw on indexed shifters or not) and my hot fresh brewed coffee, I can handle these low-30s autumn mornings. There should be many low-30s winter days ahead of us and as long as the wind doesn’t rip my face off, I’m hoping that there will also be a good amount of Ault Park Winter Sunrise posts. I’ve also put off making the best-of page up to date, a task that I’ve decided would fit perfectly for those winter mornings where I feel like writing but don’t feel like getting frost bite ūüôā

There was lots of bird activity this morning and also lots of people activity. Sunrise was at 8:06pm by my clock and with the clear skies the atmosphere was already lighting up in a bright but muted gray color by 7:20am. The high humidity added an interesting twist this morning. The sunrise was quick like I’ve come to expect with the open atmosphere free of clouds, but with the high humidity and the light mist, the sky did not take on a deep saturated navy blue. The sun started off in a late-phase orange color, having spent the deep purple quickly before even cresting over the horizon. There was a lot of that “muted gray” color in the sky which helped to mix up the color pallet from the orange to deep blue gradient that I would have seen if the humidity were lower.

I, for one, can’t wait for day light savings to kick in later this week. Maybe I should go somewhere to celebrate the occasion. It’s funny how things slowly slip by with the currents of time until they take on a different feeling all together and you have to *remember* what the feeling of that thing was just a few months ago. Looking back at my mid-summer sunrise posts, I find it neat to read about how quiet and calm the sunrise rides were. No cars or traffic, no people, just the birds and squirrels and the sunrise. This morning’s 8:06am sunrise had me fighting rush hour traffic just to get across the street! When DST finally ends and we jump back an hour, hopefully I’ll have a few weeks of calmer sunrise rides. The latest that the sunrise will come up until NEXT autumn is around 7:50am sometime in the middle of the winter, so this week will officially be the latest sunrises of the whole project.

I *have* been saving up a special contact for a few months now that I haven’t actually reached out to query. More on that later. Without further ado, Sunrise 112.

As I climbed up the hill to Ault Park, I passed this left over from last night’s neighborhood trick or treat. I was cracking up to myself at the effort that the house put in to attracting trick or treaters. I don’t blame them, though. Dilon Ave is a cul-de-sac so it’s possible that there would be less volume of kids walking around. It makes sense to advertise!

The wife unit and I sat outside last night with a bucket of candy but we didn’t have as much luck. I kind of wish we had a sign, too! Oh well now we have lots of left over butter fingers.

There was a layer of mist in the air and around the bondaries of the forest, but the park was mostly clear. Upon arriving to Heekin Overlook, I was greeted with a “classic” foggy valley that provided seamless gradient into the atmosphere. The sun was due to show up in about 10 minutes, so I poured myself a coffee and looked out across the foggy valley.

Heekin Overlook @ Ault Park.

Just before the sun came up there was a bright deep orange/purple halo that illuminated the area just above the horizon.

The pictures, of course, don’t do it justice but the 30 seconds before “first light” can be rather intense! ūüôā

As I was waiting for First Light, several packs of birds flew out from over head.

“First Light” with some industrial fog rising up to the left…

A vertical picture showcasing the gradient colors into the navy blue

Sunrise 112, featuring a commuter plane that just took off from Lunken

The lawn in Ault Park with a light dusting of psuedo-frozen dew crystals

What is always interesting to me is how the sun doesn’t waste any time pushing the fog into the park once it crests over the horizon.


Sunrise 111: Meadow Lake Wind Farm, Indiana

Sunrise 111 @ Meadow Lake Wind Farm!

My wife and I had a wedding to go to in Chicago, IL. We left early Friday morning from Cincy and finally got home last night. It was a fun and busy weekend and it’s always fun visiting Chicago and checking out the architecture. We left around 5:20am on Friday morning which put us in the middle of Indiana at sunrise. Amanda ended up driving the first leg, leaving me to sleep like a baby for the first couple hours of the trip. She woke me up at sunrise upon my request where we switched off in a rest stop. The sunrise came up over the cornfields of Indiana and it had this bright pink color palette that was really surprising. It was a quick sunrise and my vantage point wasn’t the greatest, but I took the picture and decided that it’d make for a nice and quick Sunrise 111 post.

As I continued driving up I-65 towards Chicago through the patches of fog and mist with the sunrise to my right, we entered the newly constructed Meadow Lake Wind Farm area. I remember driving through this wind farm last year for the first time and it is seriously a sight to see. I think it is actually a combination of several wind farms at this point because there are turbines that stretch out beyond the horizon in all directions. Even Google Maps doesn’t have any of the turbines pictured in their satellite photos because they didn’t go into operation until 2009 and most of Google’s satellite data seems to be from 2007-2008. Here’s an article from Urban Indy where they went exploring around the country roads to get some more information about the wind farm.

I pulled over and parked at one of the only exist along the highway. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and we didn’t even plan it this way! If there is any stretch along the drive to Chicago that I’d want to see the sunrise from, it is definitely this spot in the middle of the wind farm!

The turbines rose up out of the mist into the morning sky and it was an eerie sight because they were not moving. There was no wind to speak of, so the turbines just stood there towering over the flat midwest cornfields. They tend to inspire a feeling of awe as well as make me a bit freaked out. They’re beautiful machines to be sure, but seeing hundreds of them spaced out in all directions definitely makes me think thoughts of mankind being dominated by giant machines :). I realized that I’ve never looked at them the same after this xkcd strip that relates them to the machines from War of the Worlds. Hah.

The pink sunrise from a rest stop near exit 193 on I-65 in Indiana! It made me thankful for the vantage point I have in Ault Park. The glaciers left us some flat fertile farmlands in the midwest, but it can be hard to get a decent view of the countryside! That is, of course, unless you can find a patch of farmland that was cleared at the turn of the century before it was common to save large patches of forest. The wind farm exists in an area like this and it is really incredible how far you can see without any forests or trees obstructing the view.

Picture #1 from the moving car before I found a place to pull over. It’s kind of creepy, no?

Picture #2 from the car with motion blur! ūüôā

The mist adds an eerie dimension to the farmland.

There are so many turbines. This is just on this side of the highway, the western side is just as dense!

These are built by GE and rise up 300 feet into the air.

Wind Power!

Turbines stretching off into the distance.

The sun has come out from behind the clouds and is now starting to get bright.

A final picture of the nearest turbine. Thanks for reading!


Sunrise 110: Lunken Airfield (Ohio River Fog, Ides of March?)

Sunrise 110 @ Lunken Airfield

This morning was another foggy sunrise in Cincinnati. I had to make a choice when I got up this morning. I could tell that there were clear skies above me but around the edges of the neighborhood there were patches of fog. I could chance seeing a clear open sky sunrise at Ault Park, or drop down into the Ohio River Valley and visit Lunken Airport in the fog. I haven’t been down to Lunken in a couple weeks so I decided to check it out. As I rode down the 400ft descent past Alms Park, the air slowly became thick with humidity until I reached the basin. When I popped out onto Eastern Ave and pedaled past the late 1800s river town business buildings, schools, and churches, I was soon engulfed in a thick, freezing cold, but quiet fog coming off of the Ohio River. The temperature was about 38F or so and I forgot to put on gloves. My bike had water condensation from the air, and it made my hot coffee that much more enjoyable.

There was no chance at seeing the sunrise this morning, so I enjoyed the fog and the peace and calming that it brings. It’s funny how fog tends to amplify some sounds and muffle others. I could barely hear the traffic or the hum of the commuter planes waiting for the fog to clear up, but I felt like I could hear the gossip of every¬†Canadian¬†Goose from miles around.

The only reason I bring up the “Ides of March?” in the title of this post is because I recently saw the movie Ides of March featuring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney. I’m not much of a political drama kind of guy, but I sure did enjoy recognizing all of the neighborhoods and cubbies that were showcased in the background of the movie that is set in Cincinnati. There is one specific scene where one of the actors (I can’t remember who) is getting on a plane at Lunken Airfield. That scene kept flashing through my head as I stared at the terminal building in all of its art deco glory. I couldn’t find an actual clip from the movie, but if you check out the very brief flash at 47s of the official trailer, you can see Ryan Gosling walking through a gate onto an airplane. For all I know, it’s one of the airplanes I see coming in most mornings from Ault Park. In that scene, the terminal is behind us (and was just shown but the trailer doesn’t have that part) and the Little Miami River and levee is in the background. Just a bit of fun trivia.

Approaching Lunken Airfield is the old railroad that runs through East End. One day this may be a bike trail that connects downtown to Mariemont and beyond.

The parking lot outside Lunken Airfield, servicing the trail head for cyclists, roller bladers, and joggers

Welcome to Cincinnati! This scene is featured in the Ides of March.

Remember earlier when I linked to the video of Ryan Gosling hopping on a plane in Ides of March? This is the gate that he is walking through.

The “yard” of Lunken Airfield.

This is the small access road that runs along the airfield, disappearing into the fog.

A lone walker, stern in his dedication to his pedestrian ways, walks into the fog.

Sometimes the fog creeps me out. If I were some kind of large creature of the night, I would definitely feel a bit more comfortable creepin’ around in the dense fog.

On the way back home I pass by St. Stephen’s Church. I’ve tried on several occasions to take a decent picture of the steeple but the sky is always bleached out. The fog provides a nice soft backdrop. It’s a classic italianette style, something that you can see all over this area in the architecture of the buildings that were constructed during the late 1800s.

By the time I got back to Mt. Lookout Square, the fog had actually crept in from the valley and it was denser than when I left a half hour earlier. It isn’t often that the fog makes it this far inland.

This is the steeple of Our Lord Christ the King Catholic Perish & School on Linwood Ave. It’s positioned well so you can see it anywhere on Linwood Ave or in Mt. Lookout Square. Here we see it catching the first rays of sunlight that are penetrating the fog.

Tall & Skinny Jesus says “Peace, dude”. The 15 cars that were waiting at the traffic light ten feet away were probably wondering what I was up to. Or they didn’t notice at all.

Continuing up Linwood toward Ault & Alms Park, I couldn’t help but taking this final picture. I was hoping that tree to the left showed brighter. It is just blazing in red color. I need to find out what kind of tree it is.


Sunrise 109: Ault Park (Bizzaro Sunrise)

Sunrise 109

I was up late last night finishing up the Sunrise 108 post. The forecast had called for gloomy weather, and when I woke up this morning and heard the rain I decided to stay in this morning. Unfortunately, dear reader, I missed the more delicate colors of this unique sunrise. My wife called me at around 8:10am to say that the sunrise was one of the prettiest she’d ever seen! I hopped in the car (a first for this project!) and made it to Heekin Overlook just in time to get the last piece of the show.

As it turns out, the storm cloud that was over top of us was dense and still active, but the clouds just over the horizon had broken and exposed an open patch of sky that allowed the sun light to blast in. The rain made the air misty and humid which would have brought out the deep magentas and purples that my wife saw on her drive to work. By the time I got to the overlook I was presented with the deep oranges and yellows of the late sunrise light, but it was still quite a surreal experience. I had lightning and stormy clouds to my back through the trees, and in front of me the sky was lit up in a bright orange that quickly faded into a deep gray / purple storm cloud. 20 minutes earlier this would have been a sight to see! The rain was falling down in sheets on the horizon and the pools of water down in the valley were lightly reflecting. It was so “fuzzy” that I wouldn’t tell if the sun had already gone up into the clouds or if it was still behind the horizon (wishful thinking at 8:20am, 25 minutes after first light).

Approaching Heekin Overlook

I could see the sheets of rain coming down on the horizon

Sunrise over Armleder Park

A colorful sunrise gradient into deep purple over Armleder Park


Sunrise 108: Alms Park (Fog & Century Oaks)

Looking down the hill from Alms Park.

Foggy Sunrise @ Alms Park

The base of this huge century oak tree is wider than my bike is long. Almost two of my bikes, in fact.

The overlook @ Alms Park

Along the foggy forest trail under Alms Park

I didn’t have a chance to get this post up yesterday morning so it’s coming at you a day late. After several days of overcast, the conditions came together perfectly to create an intensely foggy morning. The skies were clear and the ground was wet, and it was really really cold. It was easily in the upper 30s, perhaps even lower. I was hoping for a clear sunrise, but I got a beautiful thick fog. I decided to head up to Alms Park since the last foggy morning was spent in Ault Park.

The fog in Alms Park is always exceptionally pretty. The trees in the park are old and tall and the fog adds an eerie dimension to the quiet park.

I didn’t end up seeing a sunrise, but I did have the morning coffee in the fog and ventured down into the forest in an attempt to find an old secret “party area” that I found last year. I didn’t succeed, but I did find the entrance to the trail. It’s hard to follow, though, with all the leaves that are still on the trees. I’ll try again this winter perhaps :).

I left early for the park. About 20 minutes before sunrise the neighborhood is dark and muffled.

Looking down Grandin Ave in the fog.

It’s interesting how the fog closes in the scope of attention. This huge and beautiful oak tree stands at the entrance to St. Ursula’s Villa, and I’ve never really noticed it specifically before. It has plenty of room to breathe and is¬†certainly¬†quite healthy.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 50 pictures total for this morning’s post. (more…)


Sunrise 107: Ault Park (Cold, Wet, Signs of Light)

I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to head up to the park this morning. Rumor had it that there was a small chance of breaking skies so I figured it was worth the bet. The morning sunrise was quiet and calm, and I actually did get a bit more of a show than I expected considering the recent three days of wet rainy mornings. When I left the apartment to head up to the park, the atmosphere had a dark shade of gray and it looked like there was no hope of seeing a sunrise. When I started climbing the hill, however, I saw some hints of light through the backyards of the local homes. As it turned out, there were several patches clearing up above Lunken Airport, but unfortunately the clear patches were not far enough east to allow the sun to make an appearance. Either way, it was a pleasant, but cold – about 42F, morning and my hot thermos of coffee came in handy!

A morning like this reminds me of the first few sunrises in early April.

I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Fall Back”, when day light savings ends. It’ll be nice to get out for another 7:00am sunrise before winter sets in.

Looking out across Lunken Airfield where the sky is showing signs of clearing up. Interestingly enough, the atmosphere did not change at all in the 20 minutes I was at the overlook. There seemed to be no wind at all.

I caught a rather large jet taking off from Lunken as it crossed through the bright patch of sky.

Heekin Overlook @ Ault Park

Kind of a weird picture, but I was trying to capture just how dark and gloomy the left side of the horizon was. The sun is lost somewhere in that gray mess.

Armleder Park. To the right we can see the Mt. Washington water tower, known for its Art Deco style.


Sunrise 106: Ault Park (Colorful Sunrise & Autumn Acorns)

An airplane approaches Lunken Airport at sunrise

I got another lucky break this morning for Sunrise 106. The forecast called for both rain and mostly cloudy conditions for this AM (although the forecast has since changed to accommodate a more sunny outlook for the week). The atmosphere ended up being clear with whisps of a low-lying cloud slurry, one of the best combinations for a pretty sunrise. The clouds help to reflect different colors and phases of the sunrise light as the sun comes up over the horizon.

So far the weather has really been great this Autumn. I’d much rather have a week of overcast and gloomy weather followed by a week full of bright clear skies and dynamic morning sunrises. These sunrises feel a lot like the spring sunrises, except that in the spring there seems to have been more of the puffy cumulus type clouds. The morning temperature started off chilly – around 40F – and it looks like today will be another warm one with the temperature rising into the mid 70s.

Over the weekend my wife and I visited family in Dayton . On the way back we swung through Waynesville, OH to explore some of the antique furniture malls. I found a couple of really neat “Cincinnati Park” themed postcards with postmarks dating back over 100 years. I’ll share them on here sometime this week. One of them features the Elsinore Arch¬†and the other, I think, features the Twin Lakes. I’m going to go find the location that the pictures were taken and see what it looks like today. I’m really excited to own these two postcards because they’re in the same artistic style that I keep running across in my Internet Travels I embark on while doing research for this project. Cincinnati Views has a great archive of many of them, although I still have to search it to see if mine have already been documented. Stay tuned ūüôā

Briefly, here’s a gallery I found while searching for postcard pictures. Lots of artistically rendered Cincinnati greeting cards.

Just before sunrise. After stopping at UDF to get my coffee on free-refill-Monday, I made it up to Heekin overlook just in time.

Looking out at the sunrise from the lower overlook.

Sunrise 106, 7:50am EST

A vertical picture showcasing the gradient into the dark blue of the upper atmosphere.

A close up of the sunrise. At this point the sun is being directly obfuscated by the cloud bank.

Acorns are all over the place under the oak trees surrounding Heekin Overlook

(A widescreen version). Browns are the color of choice here.


Sunrise 105: Ault Park (Suprise! Clear Skies)

Sunrise 105: Clear Skies

Honestly, I didn’t expect much out of this morning’s sunrise. It’s been stormy and overcast for the past few days and last night our softball games were cancelled due to rain. When I woke up and saw the familiar warm glow of the twilight sky through the trees in our backyard, I realized that sometime during the early morning the sky cleared up. Even the forecast last night called for rainy and cloudy skies today. Weather is weird like that sometimes.

The morning started out chilly and ended up ice cold! As the sun came up and began to stir up the atmosphere, the wind picked up and shook the trees. It ended up being what I’d consider to be a “classic” autumn morning – chilly, clear skies, and a bit of a breeze.

Continuing in the vein of short updates (late sunrise times push my posts too far into the morning!), Sunrise 105 is another brief and sweet one. In a couple of weeks when day light saving ends and the sunrise comes up before 7:00am again, there will be a bit more time. I’m looking forward to it!

Dawn, entering the park.

There were some light clouds just above the horizon that were changing colors along with the atmosphere.

Heekin Overlook. Lots of leaves on the ground, but the valley forest is still mostly green.

The light was really strange this morning. Either the sky was completely bleached out, or the foreground was completely black.

It’s hard to capture all of the colors that a clear sky has to offer on my little camera. Under the canopy of the shedding oak trees, the view out across the valley is bright and orange.

Half-staffed flag and the moon.

20 minute later, after the wind picked up. The moon moves quickly. About this time I saw two young red tailed hawks floating around through the gardens. The larger one was probably the same one I saw earlier this spring @ Sunrise 10.

Looking down Observatory Ave with the sun coming up behind me. This was about the time it was getting icy cold.

This little “park” is always decorated for the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s maintained by the Cincinnati Parks or if it is a local resident.


Sunrise 104: Ault Park (Quiet & Calm, Neighborhood Ash Trees)

I was hoping for a bit more color out of the sky this morning, but in the end I got a cool, quiet, and dark sunrise. Last night’s sunset was really pretty with lots of color and a sprinkling of light whispy cloud cover. It looks like our streak of pure clear skies is being challenged by a change in weather. The forecast for today still puts us at mostly clear skies, so I’m curious what the rest of the week will bring.

Even though it was darker than ideal in the park, I took the chance to document the pretty Ash trees that line the road by Heekin Overlook. I waited a few days too long and they’re mostly done shedding their leaves, but I realized that at a minimum I needed to get a picture of them because it is possible that they only have a few years of health left in them. I covered the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle a bit in sunrise 102.

It’s amazing how quickly the autumn colors are marching in. Summer is behind us now. ¬†With all the rain we got this year I imagine the forest will be among the most colorful in recent years.

The dark morning @ Heekin Overlook.

Behind me, to the west, there were open skies and shades of light pink and yellow. Out to the east, towards the sunrise, there was a low lying bank of thick cloud that blocked almost all of the morning light. That’s OK though, it ¬†was a great morning to watch the squirrels scurry about trying to collect all the falling acorns.

A bit of a dark picture, but these are the Ash trees that line the road. They are among the first trees to completely shed their leaves. I hope this is a species specific trait, but I fear that this is due to their probable Ash Borer Beetle infection. It could also be a side effect of the treatment that the park service has them on to prolong their inevitably doomed life :(. It is my understanding that there is nothing you can do to save these guys. It appears the park service hasn’t given up yet, though, because so far there are no new young trees planted along side these aging ashes.

Heading out of the park, I notice that the western sky has several patterns and colors. I think the rule of thumb is that if you want to see what the sunrise colors were 15 minutes ago, look at the western sky. The opposite is true with the sunset: If you want to see what the sunset will look like in 15 minutes, check the eastern sky.

On the way home I found a young Ash tree that still has its full set of leaves. We can see the color is a burnt red that fades into a light yellow. I can see why the tree is called ‘ash’. As the colors fade into the mostly yellow shade, the leaves begin to droop. They do sort of look like they’re barely hanging on, like whisps of newspaper rising in a heat column above a bonfire.


Sunrise 103: Sawyer Point & Downtown Cincinnati (Sunrise Skyline, Riverboats, Kayaks)

As the atmosphere takes on a distinct shade of yellow, I arrive at the eastern edge of Sawyer Point coming into downtown Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Skyline at Sunrise

Rowers heading up the Licking River and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in the distance

A sailboat and the Reds Stadium. Featuring Carew Tower and the Great American building.

This morning’s update is a doozie! This is actually yesterday’s sunrise but I got carried away on such a pretty day and took way too many pictures. I didn’t have time to finish the processing yesterday, so it’s coming at you a day later. I retraced much of the route I took during Sunrise 9¬†in April. Has it really been 6 months?

I woke up Sunday morning with only 5 hours of sleep under my belt. We were out late for a friend’s birthday party the night before but I had already made up my mind that I was going to take advantage of this amazing October weather. I originally set my alarm for 6am, which was way too early considering sunrise was 7:41am, and accidentally slept for another hour. It worked out perfectly and I was thankful for the late sunrise time. I was out the door with my bike and coffee by 7:00am, armed with the goal of seeing the sunrise over the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati. I ended up being swept up in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer run/walk where over 12,000 people came out in the 15th annual event. The walk provided a rich texture to the acoustic backdrop to my four hour morning exploration of Sawyer Point and Newport, Kentucky because the speaker system could be heard anywhere along the banks of the Ohio River. I ended up hanging out in General James Taylor park in Newport, Kentucky, a park that until now I had no idea existed. With nothing but water and open air between myself and the headquarters of the walk about half a mile away or more, I listened as the walker told their survival stories, did the electric slide, and got themselves pumped up. The timing of my morning ride couldn’t have been more ideal because by the time I got to Sawyer Point, the first of the crowd was already starting to show up. I ended up getting stranded in Kentucky for about an hour as I waded, slowly and patiently, back to Ohio on the Purple People Eater Bridge through the torrent of thousands of pink-clad people. I actually found it kind of hilarious because I never considered how dependent I was on the only pedestrian bridge that links Newport and Sawyer Point!

While hanging out at General James Taylor Park in Newport, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the Cincinnati Skyline at sunrise. And a beautiful sunrise it was. I had known that I wouldn’t have an excellent view of the eastern sky so I had planned to wander around looking for a strategic spot to drink my coffee and enjoy the crisp and clear autumn sunrise. While chillin’ at the park, I saw a team of rowers practicing on the river, observed the local fishermen and watched a barge barrel down the river and do some impressive maneuvers as it banked into the Ohio River. The BB Riverboat also made an appearance and there was even a small sailboat that moved gracefully throughout my panoramic view of the skyline.

I’ve always loved the Cincinnati Skyline but Sunrise 103 really helped to solidify that feeling for me. I’ll go on record as saying that of the cities I’ve visited in my relatively inexperienced travel ventures, Cincinnati’s Downtown Skyline has to be one of the most beautiful skylines in the country, if not the world. Every city’s skyline is unique and beautiful in it’s own right, of course, but I feel like Cincinnati’s has the perfect combination of several properties.

For one, it’s relatively small. You can “see” the entire skyline without having to pan around. I can take it all in with a single view.

Second, What’s a skyline without a proper view? The view from the Kentucky side banks of the Ohio River is seriously amazing. The river and air is open and the banks in Kentucky are not overdeveloped by any stretch, providing easy access for anyone wanting to take it in.

Third, the architecture really tells a story, although I imagine this is common with many cities. You’ve got several remnants from “Old Cincinnati”, the late 1800s boomtown that was rivaling Manhatten with it’s urban density. The PNC building and Carew Tower (which was used as a model for the Empire State Building) rise to the western edge of the skyline. As I gaze at the buildings, I can imagine what a magnificent sight this must have been in the early 1900s. It isn’t too hard to ignore the Great American Insurance building (for now). The ending animation (35seconds forward) of the evolution of the New York Skyline in the movie Gangs of New York really made me aware of how the skyline of a city can tell historic story. I also like that we can see both the Bengal’s and Red’s stadiums as well as the US Bank Arena. There is the new Great American Insurance building, a shining example of modern architecture. A quick side note on the GAI building though. I like to think of the GAI as a young punk business executive. On one hand, it stole the “tallest building” title from Carew Tower, which held it for over 70 years. That’s OK though, progress marches on. It’s a beautiful building! It just makes me a bit nostalgic because I have a special place in my heart for Carew Tower and it’s legacy. They did pay respect, however, in the form of keeping Carew Tower at a higher elevation as to not upset the balance of the skyline. Yesterday morning, however, I realized something else! Something that I probably wouldn’t have thought about except through the contextual lens of this project. The Great American Insurance Building is aligned perfectly in such a way as to entirely block out Carew Tower from getting a view of the sunrise! I watched in a partial trance as the shadow of the GAI’s tiara moved from the top of Carew Tower down to the bottom. I’m being a bit dramatic, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from envisioning a quirky anthromorpized prime time sitcom featuring all of the buildings in Cincinnati’s Skyline living together in a small London flat and the tension between Carew and Great American being thick enough to cut with a knife. Now that I think about it, maybe I spent a bit too much time staring at the skyline… ūüôā

As it turns out, the James Taylor park in Newport Kentucky is a memorial to a defensive battery that protected Cincinnati from the “Indian Wars” in the early 1800s, and later provided the final defense against an approaching Confederate Army during the Civil War. Whenever I find out about pieces of trivia such a this, I always think about the classic well-deserved nickname for Cincinnati: “The Gateway to the South”.

Some of these pictures are a bit redundant. The lighting was so accommodating and there was a lot going on. I am just throwing them all up on here, as usual, and letting the reader figure out which pictures they like the most (if any!).

When I left, the sky was dark but showing a hint of light. Looking East down Columbia Parkway in East End.

A blurry view down the Ohio River of the Cincinnati Skyline. I’m always so impressed with how much distance I can cover so easily on my bike.

The unfolding of a sunrise in a clear sunrise takes about 40 minutes. This morning was no different! The 25 minute ride to downtown was far from dull! I felt like I was racing the sun to Sawyer Point.

Another blurry view across the bend in the river.

I always get a full look at this building. Cincinnati Water Works, constructed in 1907. I finally ran into someone whose father works for the city. It turns out that the building is very much used today, but the stone wall that runs around the perimeter was built for “homeland security reasons”. Damn it. It’s so ugly.

Behind me, the atmosphere has started to show some signs of red. Better hurry along now!

St. Rose Church on Eastern Ave. If that clock is right, I’ve got 15 minutes to spare.

If you’re on the front page, click to see the rest of this post. About 73 pictures total! (more…)


Sunrise 102: Ault Park (Ash Trees, Beechmont Dragstrip, Project Autumn Tree)

First Light!

The weather this week in Cincinnati has been downright beautiful. After the couple weeks of overcast and stormy skies, we’ve been blessed with a streak of clear skies with cool mornings and warm afternoons. This feels very much the same as biking in the early spring at the start of this project because the mornings are chilly ‚Äď between 40 and 55F ‚Äď but the afternoon warms up to the high 70s.

This morning in the park was another pleasantly cool and misty morning. The Cincinnati Fog made an appearance but stayed down in the lower basin of the valley, providing a true clear sky sunrise. These clear sky sunrises are a beast unto themselves because of how early the sky lights up, and how quickly after sunrise the oranges give way to the bright yellows of a full day sun.

I arrived at the overlook this morning about 15 minutes before sunrise, which is now somewhere beyond 7:40am it seems, and the horizon was already overflowing with a deep orange gradient. I went out in a tshirt this morning, braving the chilly elements. I found that the 45F temperature didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I could have used a light pair of gloves, but overall it wasn’t uncomfortable. The first warm cup of Trader Joe’s medium roast coffee certainly helped.

I met Dave and Penny, a gentleman from Mt. Washington and his young golden retriever. Dave filled in some information about the old drag strip and the beechmont levee. I didn’t actually realize that Beechmont Ave. was built on top of a levee. I know that there is a levee system between Lunken Airfield and the Little Miami River, but what I didn’t realize is that the levee takes a sharp turn and continues toward Mt. Lookout, running between Armleder Park and Lunken Airfield. Dave said that in the 1970s when he originally moved to Mt. Washington, there were no trees on the levee so it was obvious. Now, however, the forest has matured and it is harder to see it. Interestingly, however, Dave mentioned that ‚ÄúOld Beechmont Ave‚ÄĚ still exists in pieces at the foot of the levee on the Armleder Park side. That old drag strip that I learned about over the summer utilized the pavement that was once part of old Beechmont. That makes a lot of sense, thanks Dave!

One final thing before I post the few pictures from this morning’s sunrise. I have a new idea for a focus for the remainder of this Autumn’s sunrise posts. As the Cincinnati forests change their coats into their autumn shades, I’m finding myself picking out patterns in the tree-lined background to my morning rides. Just as I observed the various species of trees break out into bloom in a well syncronized seasonal change into spring, I’m noticing the many local species of trees that are changing colors (or even blooming) together while their green brethren hold out until they are ready. I’d like to focus on a specific species of tree for a morning and find all the locations in the neighborhood where this tree has found a home. In the forest, in yards, and placed in the park and the city boulevards by the park service.

One specific tree that has piqued my interest has been the ash tree. After talking with Aaron the horticultural, who takes care of the gardens at Ault Park, about the ash beetle’s western-moving front across the region and the defensive (but inevitably futile) measures they’ve implemented in the park, I’m finding myself seeking out local ash trees if for no other reason than to create a memory of a tree that my grand children may very well not know in their lifetimes as a native tree. They’re also known for their beautiful fall display, and I find it sad because many of the ash trees that I’ve found so far seem dull and withering. It is apparently of high probability that most of the trees I’ve seen so far are already infected with the beetle and there are no known ways to cure the tree. The only thing that can be done is give the tree a treatment that merely prolongs the life of the tree a few more years. Apparently Mt. Washington has already lost most of their ash trees, and western Cincinnati are just starting to receive their first positive contact reports :(. Interestingly enough, Ault Park has become a test ground where each ash tree is treated with a different anti-beetle program. Hopefully one of them is successful and can be used to save the trees that have not yet been infected.
Along the boulevards along the major residential roads that connect to Ault Park there is an interesting happening. Principio Ave is lined with fading ash trees, something I never realized until I picked them out this morning. I spoke with a local woman about the trees, and she told me something interesting. A few years back the city removed many of the ash trees because they were already dead or almost dead. The ones that remain today were the strongest, but they won’t last much longer. But what I find interesting is that this spring the city planted new young trees in place of the lost ash. You can find them all around the neighborhoods because their young trunks are still protected by white plastic so that the local population of hungry deer don’t get to them. I believe they are a kind of maple, but I didn’t check them out in detail (yet). I’m mentioning this because I am curious about what kind of tree is going to replace the ash tree in our local neighborhoods and boulevards, and also why the ash tree was chosen in the first place? I imagine there are many things that a city planner has to think about when designing a neighborhood’s arbor makeup. The ash trees do seem like a perfect size ‚Äď large enough to be magnificent, colorful in the autumn, but not so large as to rip up sidewalk and otherwise be destructive.

That’s much more than I expected to cover regarding the ash tree, so when I do the ‚Äúash tree sunrise‚ÄĚ in the next week, there may be a bit of repetition. Oh well, I’ll consider that a rough draft. I’ve mentioned previously that every autumn I notice this specific species of maple that explodes in this bright orange hue, but only for three or four days. I’ve still got my eye out.

The dawn at Heekin Overlook. Roughly 15 minutes before sunrise.

Looking over Lunken Airfield towards the Ohio River. See that giant plume of fog in the far background? That’s the Ohio River! The fog just piles on high in the air above the water.

A vertical shot encapsulating more of the orange->blue gradient of the sky.

A vertical shot of “First Light”

A closer view that shows the layers of forest and farmland buried in the mist.

See what I mean? In about 10 minutes the orange sunrise is gone and the sun takes a full-on yellow look. This is in drastic contrast to days like Sunrise 101 where the high humidity can make a sunrise last for an hour or longer. In this sense I’m defining a sunrise duration as the amount of time it takes for the light to cycle from deep purple to orange to yellow. This is relative to where the viewer is standing, of course.

I noticed that the third and final missing bench in Heekin Overlook has been replaced. I learned from Dave that the wood that these benches are made out of is a¬†rain-forest¬†hardwood called “teak“. Teak wood is valued as being water resistant and historically has been used for creating ships. And there you go!


Sunrise 101: Ault Park (Autumn Fog #2)

Another strange foggy sunrise picture

Ault Park’s Centeral Lawn & Garden

A quick post for this morning. I was surprised to find another foggy sunrise in the park. My alarm actually crashed during the night so I woke up right at sunrise. Luckily the fog had my back and hid the sun from view for about half an hour. The fog was misty down in Mt. Lookout, but just beyond the entrance to the park the fog was pretty thick.

A hazy orange sunrise at the entrance to Ault Park

A foggy Heekin Overlook

Looking back into the park from Heekin Overlook

It’s strange, seeing the foggy sunrise with blue skies high above

Sunrise 101: Out of the Fog

This is the view out towards Lunken Airfield.

The trusty ‘ol steed at Heekin Overlook

The rest of the park was slowly coming out of the fog. There was quite a bit of activity, we had several joggers and pedestrians enjoying the chilly morning.

No idea, but I felt compelled to capture it. Thanks Portia.

Heading out of the park, we can see the sun is finally burning away the fog. There are several trees that are starting, just barely, to change colors for the fall.

In several pockets of the neighborhood there are these century-old magnificent oak trees. Like this one.

And this one! I have a feeling these suckers *love* these autumn fogs.


Sunrise 100: Alms Park (Cold and Colorful Autumn Sunrise)

First Light @ Sunrise 100 over Lunken Airfield. I’ll admit it – I kind of put off sunrise 100 so I could wait for “a good one” ūüôā

This morning’s sunrise 100 was, finally, a healthy well-rounded autumn sunrise. It seems like we’ve had about two weeks of overcast and rain. I spent the past three mornings up in Columbus, OH for my good friend’s wedding. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I’m looking forward to grabbing as many Autumn sunrises as I can get my white-knuckled hands on. The forest has already started the process of changing into the warm colors of fall, and the weather has taken a surprising dip into ice-cold temperatures. There is a specific species of maple that blasts out this intense orange/yellow color for a few days every Autumn. With all the rainfall this past year (we’re looking to break the record), I’m expecting a great turnout. So far no signs of them.

By my estimates, this morning’s pre-sunrise temperature was in the mid 30s. It was so cold that I was finding myself happy to have lips because my teeth felt like they were going to freeze off if I smiled too widely at slowly rising light in the upper atmosphere of the clear blue sky. Although that may have had more to do with a certain too-cold drink I had a the wedding celebration than the actual temperature.

This morning’s cold air provided the perfect setup for a calm mental state. When one is out on the bike in the early morning air, climbing up a 300ft ascent to the top of Alms Park, it really does no good at all to harbor second thoughts. You really just have to put it to the back of your mind and be thankful that the nissan thermos is full of 26oz of fresh steaming coffee. Although it does help to think about the possible acquisition of winter biking gear.

The sunrise was one of the best kinds and it felt very much like fall. The upper atmosphere was clear and a deep blue and there was a light slurry of clouds just above the horizon. It was a nice hybrid that had the best attributes of a clear sky (the show starts early with subtle lighting 20 minutes before sunrise, a full color palette) and also a lightly cloudy one (deep purples, shadows, various cloud formations).

The late dawn sky over Lunken Airport at Alms Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Can you find the water tower?

Take your seats, ladies in gentlemen. T minus 1 minute until sunrise.

It’s hard to capture all the colors in a single picture. To the east, the sky was cycling through some fusia and light purple before fading into a blue gradient.

Upon further examination, the water tower isn’t as close to the sun as I thought. That would have been a fun picture (a zoomed up sunrise with the sun exactly behind the water tower on the horizon); looks like I missed it by just a few days.

Looking South/West towards the Ohio River

There were several different “species” of cloud formations in the sky this morning.

As the sun came up over the eastern ridge line, I already started to feel warmer.

Once again, looking South/West towards the Ohio River.

Just before heading out I noticed the third plane of the morning beginning to taxi. Lunken Airfield was busy this morning.

After we got home from the weekend of celebration, I took a quick stroll around Mt. Lookout just before sunset. I got my first dose of the icy chill, but at least I knew what to expect for this morning!

Last night at Ault Park, just before sunrise. The lighting is inverse from what I’ve come to expect just after sunrise

A picture of people taking a picture. We can also see the Budweiser truck in the top right, a left-over from the Reggae Run! We missed it, unfortunately, but there’s always next year! After checking the website, it looks like everything went well. Over 4000 runners converged on Ault Park to run down the mountain and back up in easily the steepest 5k I’ve ever ran… although that isn’t saying much considering the bulk of my 5ks were spent up in the western piece of flat Ohio farmland during my cross country days in high school.

There were actually two groups of people getting some professional photos taken at the overlook. So this is the second “picture of people getting their picture taken” picture!


Sunrise 99: Ault Park (Breaking Blue Skies)

Heekin Overlook @ Ault Park

Late sunrise clouds

After a series of intense storms throughout the region, the sky suddenly cleared up late yesterday afternoon. We were graced with a beautiful crisp and cool night that was marked with light whispy cloud activity through the atmosphere. I was excited to get out on the bike this morning as long as the weather held, which it did! As I write this in the late afternoon, the sky is already dark and gray. It looks like we got a small break in the drab overcast weather and now it’s back to business as usual.

The temperatures are dropping into the high 50s as time marches on and we entere the first official days of autumn. It is seriously hard to believe that summer is officially gone, but I look forward to brewing up some hard cider, enjoying the seasonal winter ales, and spending time with family. Speaking of brewing, I took some time over the last two weeks to figure out my new brew kit that my wife got me for my birthday. It’s been a blast to say the least, and I’m learning quite a bit. It’s a small1-gallon kit (and I got a second 1-gallon fermenter to go with it so I can keep up a rotating schedule) that brews up about 10 beers at a time. It’s great because I’ve developed a nice rotation where I can brew a batch every Sunday (and bottle two weeks later), giving me a monthly output of about 4 gallons. I am fortunate enough to live about 8 minutes from Listermann’s brew shop which gives me the unique opportunity to swing by after work and pick up any amount of grains and malt that I need. So far I’ve got a kind of dark amber ale brewing and I just picked up ingredients for a Bell’s Two Hearted clone. My amber ale only needed a 15 minute steep and 20 minute boil, which means that my entire brewing (without cool-down) was less than an hour. But we’ll see how it turns out…

I started off the morning a bit late. There was a colorful early sunrise atmosphere that was mostly gone by the time I reached the park.

The sun came up through a nice clean sky.

Before the light made it down into the valley, Armleder Park is dark with a beautiful sky above it.

The lower overlook below Heekin Overlook

The sun coming up over Armleder Park

Sunrise 99

I like the idea of these little vine leafs climbing up the tree without fully taking it over.

After a few minutes, the sun climbs up into the clouds.

I do a quick lap around the park and realize that the sky has lit up into a brilliant morning blue.

Looking out from atop the pavilion

It’s likely I won’t see these colors for several days… more gray for me.

Vertical Cloud Textures

Blue Skies.


Sunrise 98: Ault Park (Foggy Park, Foggy Forest, and Observatory Fog)

The trusty old ’77 fuji hangin’ out in the fog.

One of my favorite places to take the Fuji’s portrait.

The Tree Trail @ Ault Park

Arachnophobes should stay away from bushes in the fog.

The Cincinnati Observatory against a psuedo-sunrise.

Last night before calling it a night, I took a peek from our patio into the night sky. I realized that the atmosphere had cleared up and I could see the stars. I’ll admit it, I was excited to wake up early to a cool, crisp, fall sunrise in a clear and open sky.

However, when I woke up this morning I was treated to an even bigger surprise! This morning was one of the rare mornings that happen once every few months (and hopefully more often this fall with all this rain!) where the thick fog from the valley overflows and spills into the hills of Mt. Lookout. The fog was lightly patched around the square in Mt. Lookout, and even sparse on my ride through the neighborhood to Ault Park, but once I hit the park boundaries it was like riding into a hazy wonderland. I didn’t get the clear morning sunrise that I had expected, but the quiet and muffled morning in the fog was worth the exchange!

I was literally like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to see Alms Park, Lunken, Armleder Park, and all the residential no outlets that I’ve come to appreciate. But alas, time enough there was not.

The descriptions, unfortunately will be brief this morning. I’m on my way out the door to check out my first Little Brown Jug horse race up in Delaware, Ohio.

Coming out of a thick patch on the way to the park. Up ahead it is foggy. At the top of this hill is Ault Park.

The entrance to Ault Park

As I enter the park, I can “hear” the fog around me as all ambient sounds beyond 50 feet away become muffled.

Speed Limit 25.

A pic-a-nic table!

It’s even thicker up near the pavilion where the fog is still literally pouring in from the valley just 200 yards away.

Knowing that there will be no sunrise, I take a stroll through the quiet garden.

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Sunrise 97: Ault Park (Misty Mountain, Compass Flowers, Beetles, Oak Stump)

The center of a compass flower.

A new view. We now see up through the park; before this would have been obstructed by the large oak tree.

Bike and Dew.

A busy bumblebee pollinates a compass flower.

Dew and Deep Green Leafs

A yellow beetle surveys the territory from the top of a compass flower.

I’ve skipped the last several wet overcast mornings but today at 7:00am I ventured out into the humid streets to Ault Park. The sunrise this morning was at 7:22am, the latest so far. Looking back, Sunrise 1 was at 7:14am. I’ve broken through the calendar symmetry and am now proceeding into new territory! I never regret going out in a misty morning, especially on such a temperate day as today. The temperature was in the mid sixties, and other than some light fog here and there I didn’t get too wet.

It’s amazing how heavy my legs felt after taking a few days off. The climb up to the park was a good workout, and by the time I got up there I was ready for my coffee and a break. I discovered several new happenings at the Overlook, including a new replacement bench for the one that was destroyed by vandals, and it looks like the park service cut down the dead oak tree.

I came up with a great idea for what to do with the dead oak tree, but unfortunately it looks like my idea came about a week too late. I realized that this dead oak would have been an excellent opportunity to create one of those stump carvings that I’ve seen in the neighborhood. The stump is probably too low now to do anything with. It would have been a beautiful piece of art. Here’s an example that I found on the way home:

A dead stump turned into artwork. If only I had thought of this sooner for the oak tree at Heekin Overlook! ūüė¶

I ended up making up for lost time and took about 40 pictures this morning through the gardens and around the overlook. I’ll just go ahead and put up the front page disclaimer now!

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Sunrise 96: Alms Park (White-Tail Deer Family, Alms Park Sunset, Chilled Fall Morning)

A nomadic group of white tail females hanging out in my backyard.

I haven’t had a morning like this since April or May! With the wind whipping by my face as I careened down the back side of Mt. Tusculum on the way to Alms Park, my ears started to hurt from the cold. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the temperature had dropped down to the low 40s sometime during the night. This was by far the coldest morning in months!

Between the poor sun display and the knuckle-aching cold air, I only took two pictures this morning. I’m also including in this post a few other pictures from the last few days. There are a couple from two night-ago’s Alms Park Sunset that will provide some nice symmetry with this morning’s Alms Park Sunrise. The other handful are of a local family of white tailed deer that have been hanging out in our back yard over the past two days. I’ve been working from home on my thesis research so I’ve been watching the local deer activity as a welcome break. I find it kind of surreal that there is such a healthy population of quarter-ton mammals that share the neighborhood with us humans. More on that down below ūüôā

On my way to Alms Park, I could see the sky behind the wooded neighborhood turning a deep glowing pink. The high humidity in the air coupled with some clouds in the lower atmosphere resulted in a a pre-dawn display that I could just barely make out behind the houses. It did, however, light up the rest of the sky with a subtle purple hue. By the time I got up to the park, however, the pre-dawn purples had been replaced with an orange/yellow. The sun didn’t come up for another 10 minutes, it felt like, but by the time I realized that the sun was actually risen, I could tell it was climbing up behind the low-laying cloud bank. I was a bit disappointed because I had high expectations for this morning’s sunrise. Yesterday morning was rainy and overcast, but the sky cleared up in the afternoon and the result was crisp and sunny weather. Even last night’s sunset was relatively clear, a condition I hoped would stick around until this morning. In the end, however, the clouds took over the sky and there wasn’t much of a sunrise. I will say, however, that the cold bite really woke me up!

Alms Park Sunset. Looking West over the Ohio River at Mt. Adams across the “Bend in the River” (widescreen)

A few moments later, with some of the lighter oranges giving way to a deeper purple.

Two 8-10 point bucks hanging out in the back yard. Can we say “Stag Party”? haha.

I find it fascinating and kind of freaky (if I think too hard about it) that there are several hundred mammals that weight more than I do casually roaming through the local forests and neighborhoods. The local proximity of the old-growth forests in Ault Park and Alms Park definitely provide a kind of “home base” for the animals. These white-tailed deer have become somewhat of a fascination to me over the last year. I’ve always known they were around, but what I find so neat is that when you really look for them, they’re seriously everywhere. If you stay in your apartment all night, and then get in your car and drive to work, and repeat every day without ever going on a walk through the neighborhood at dusk, you probably would never notice them more than a couple times a year when they decide to run out in front of traffic or take a nap in your front yard. However, if you start really looking in yards and at the edge of the forest, you can find them on a nightly basis during the summer and early autumn. You can find them laying down in front yard gardens, running loudly through the obvious “deer trails” through the local patches of forest, and darting out in front of late afternoon traffic. They’ve become kind of sloppy, too, as the docile “humans are ALRIGHT” traits start to become more pronounced, and the “be careful and quiet so that we can live” traits become less important. Sometimes I think a drunken college student has stumbled through the thicket behind our place, when in reality it’s just a young deer with a rack that he doesn’t know how to handle.

I’ve never heard of any “deer attacks” in Mt. Lookout, other than the occasional poor guy who gets hit by a car (that would be a car-on-deer attack!). This makes me believe that the deer are generally flighty, not aggressive, with a touch of docility. The females especially seem to be the most passive. I can typically approach a female, slowly, and get within 8-10 feet of her before she starts giving me strange looks. When she finally does get spooked, she typically only walks a few yards away, huffing obviously in an annoyed kind of tantrum. “Can’t you see I’m grazing here!?”. The bucks (males), on the other hand, are much more strategic in their movements. Upon approach, they will kind of group up and literally “high-tail” it back into the forest (high-tail’n it = run with their tails in the air, exposing the bright white under-side. Obviously a signal to other deer that it’s time to get the heck out). But what’s funny about the bucks is that they will stop about 30 yards away and position their heads to be able to see where I am. When I¬†approached¬†these two bucks pictured above, they ran into the forest and emerged in the middle of the neighbor’s yard about 40 yards away. I didn’t even realize they were carefully watching me until I loudly cracked my way into the edge of the forest (I’m no more quiet than the deer are). It was then that I saw their heads popping up over the hill, waiting to see what my next move would be. I’m glad they’re not equipped with laser guns.

This reminds me of a story. I’ll never forget the time I was walking through the forest in Alms Park, last autumn, minding my own business and looking for the coral patterned hedge apples, when I encountered a massive 14-point buck trucking loudly through the fallen leaves. I heard him coming from about 100 yards away, with obvious disregard to who heard him coming. Being a large animal with no local predators beyond a few scarce coyotes that don’t seem to make it up to the mountain very often, he was carelessly banging his rack around on branches and rooting through the pile of leaves on the ground. I even heard him kick some forgotten glass bottle. Through the naked branches I could see a brown blur and it was covering some serious ground.

I was sitting at the ruins of an old recreational shelter (that may even be a ruin from the old 1800s vineyard, I haven’t confirmed either theory) when I heard the ruckus. He was moving straight towards me from the bottom of a small valley that the stone overlook would have looked out across. I was curious what would happen if we were to meet (at this point I didn’t realize just how huge this thing was) so I kind of crouched down behind the 3-foot stone wall. I also grabbed a harvested softball-sized monkey-brain (hedge apple) that was sitting nearby, either to offer as food or, as last desperation, as a weapon if I needed it. 30 seconds later I poked my head up and saw the massive buck, with at least 14 points on his rack and twice my weight, heading straight for the shelter ruins about 30 yards away. He hadn’t spotted me yet. By this point I had waited way too long to make a move and the realization came over me that startling him would probably be something I should avoid.

He cruised right up to the other side of the old stone wall that I was crouching behind and stopped. I could hear him breathing and I could also tell he was weighting his options. I also realized that I was sitting only 4 feet, to my left, from the walking trail inside this stone wall that formed a perfect little “U” with the closed-end to my right. As I sat there on edge, floating in my pool of¬†adrenaline, I couldn’t help but be simultaneously in awe at how close I was to this magnificent animal. At this point, I wondered what it was that the buck was thinking about. Could he smell me? Was I too loud? Is he just messing with me? In hindsight, the buck was probably thinking to himself “well I’m really trying to make it over to Sandra’s den on the other side of the hill. She always has the best acorns and if I’m lucky she’ll have some more of that delicious fungus from last week. I could make better time if I hopped on the old walking trail and “high-tailed” it, but I might run into some of those large noisy nomadic mammals I keep seeing in the forest. I’m not sure I have the energy for that. Maybe it’s best to stick to the side roads…” In my mind, I sure he’d choose to go left on the path, and soon we’d be face to face and only 4 feet apart, with a stone wall to my left, right, and back. At least he’d be just outside kicking range, I assured myself. Do deer even like hedge apples? In my head I pictured a startled deer rearing back on his hind legs, and me yelling “Surprise! Here’s a Hedge Apple!” while simultaneously throw/handing it to him in a part-diplomatic part-defensive move. I’m not sure that’ll go over well.

It took all the gusto I had to slowly, and quietly, raise my head over the top of the wall. Fortunately he was looking straight ahead and I came up just behind his shoulders to his left side. He was massive and the top of his back came up to about a foot and a half above the three foot all that I was hiding behind. I heard him give a loud huff, and then the leaves started to¬†rustle¬†as he began moving. He chose to continue on the route he was on, crossing straight over the walking path, and continuing into the forest. Within 6 seconds he had disappeared into the brown background, and within 20 seconds I couldn’t hear him any longer. As it turns out, even deer yield to oncoming traffic.

So I guess the point of all of this is that out there, in the forest, every day and all afternoon, there are isolated and independent packs of male and female deer just hanging out, watching us humans go about our busy lives. How do the males go about courting the females? Do they leave chemical markers as a kind of note for other deer that say “hey this lawn is pretty tasty, and the old lady doesn’t care if you get pretty close to the house. No dogs.”? Yeah, you’re right. Probably not.

So the bucks pictured above showed up in the backyard two days ago. Yesterday afternoon, in the same location, these two (and later a third) showed up to graze on the fresh grass and Kudzu. There were two females and a young fawn. These pictures are through the window into our backyard. I’ve noticed a pattern in deer behavior that is probably well known among hunters. The females tend to stick together in a foraging herd, while the males (bucks) tend to stick together in their own¬†nomadic¬†(and probably territorial?) bachelor party. I would like to think it isn’t a coincidence that the bucks showed up one day, then the does showed up the second day. They’re probably on shifts or something.

Aww, what a cutie. Her coat was shiny and smooth and the white spots were bright. You can see her mother blending in with the forest to the right.

The young one was getting a bath.

I finally was able to remove the screen from my window without spooking them too much. Here’s a much more clear shot (along with the first picture at the beginning of this post). The third female came out from behind the building to the right. Didn’t know she was there.

The orange color to the back atmosphere was giving me hope. In the end, the sunrise was just a quiet orange shifting of colors.

The sun coming through the low lying clouds over a hanger on Lunken Airfield’s east side. We also see Reeve’s Golf Course in the far background beyond the runway.


Sunrise 95: Alms Park (Late Summer Humid Sunrise)

No bike silhouette in a low-light sunrise!

Sunrise 95

Did you know that Cincinnati is actually in the same climate zone as the southern United States? It’s true. It’s also something I didn’t really consider, or think about, until I started this project. We’re in a northern tip of the Sub-Tropical Humid zone, which comes up from the South and just barely pushes north of the Ohio River.

I’ve spend the majority of my life growing up in central western¬†Ohio (light blue in the map), where the summers are dry and hot and the winters are cold and full of snow. Although, being at the northern tip of this climate zone, we do get some serious snowfalls – something that as a Midwesterner I absolutely love. As I explore the parks and forests around the hills of Cincinnati, I find myself fascinated with the deep green and lush foliage. Even the grass in the local neighborhoods stays green and fresh, although I’m sure that is mostly due to the careful consideration of the homeowners. The fog that comes in from the river keeps the hillside forests wet and healthy. We even have an intense local kudzu population. Some friends of ours told me that Kudzu is also known as “The plant that ate the South”.

Why do I bring all of this up? I bring it up because this morning’s sunrise was exactly what I’d expect to see in a humid subtropic climate. It was another dark misty sunrise with a deep purple sun that slowly rose out of the gray cloud layer. It was a cool, dark, quiet morning in the park with the full moon setting high in the western sky.

A light pink sky over Lunken Airfield at Alms Park

The deep pink sun rises up through the thick gray clouds. It always catches me off guard as it fades in from below the horizon.

The harvest moon is high in the western sky!

The Fuji S-10S at Alms Park

An attempt to channel Sunrise 09’s iconic sunrise picture. Just isn’t the same with such a low-light sunrise!

Cloud texture.

I actually took this one while laying on my back after taking a picture of the clouds. Upside Down. Turned out alright, I say.

Final shot of the sunrise!


Sunrise 94: Ault & Armleder Park (Fog, Prairie Sunflowers, Clear Skies)

These are the shelters in Armleder Park that we see, on a clear day, from Heekin Overlook in Ault Park.

Blue Skies and yellow Flowers.

Sunrise 94 was the first clear sky sunrise that we’ve had in several weeks. The high humidity that is no doubt left over from the hurricane behavior provided a thick wet blanket across the Little Miami River Valley. The sun rose up in a deep red hue. It was one of those sunrises that you can stare directly into for a full 10 minutes after sunrise without worrying about it being too bright.

I took the opportunity to drop down into Armleder Park and ride through the prairie in the fog. It is amazing how fast the sun dissipates the moisture from the air. The fog rarely lasts longer than 25 minutes after sunrise. The river was flowing quietly and I climbed through the now lush 7-foot high river foliage where the packed mud trail has become a mere suggestion to emerge soaking wet on the other side. Cincinnati is in a northern-most tip of the “Sub-Tropical Humid” climate, the same climate that encompasses most of the South and South/East of the US. This fog is likely a crucial element in the ecology of the river basin plant life. The foliage is lush and green and it seems that almost daily there is a morning transfer of water from the river, up to the air, and then onto the plants as the sun warms the fog. I find it interesting that Armleder Park seems to always be foggy. The Little Miami River is smaller than the Ohio River, and yet the fog of the Ohio River rarely spills beyond the river’s banks. I wonder what’s up with that?

It looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day out there. It’s amazing how much that streak of overcast rainy days can make me appreciate these clear cool late-summer ones.

The early dawn was dark! Looking East over the Little Miami River Valley.

That’s where we’re about to go. Down the hill into Armleder Park.

The colors were dominated mostly by a light pink that is so hard to pick up with the camera.

Into the park we go. Most of these pictures are kind of dark so I’m sorry about that. Under the blanket of fog, however, there truly isn’t much ambient light unless you’re looking straight into the sun.

A vertical shot in an attempt to capture the blue in the sky.

I head straight through the park to the small dead-end that dumps us out in the forest.

The long smooth bike trail around Armleder Park

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