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

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Sunrise 93: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Sunrise Resurrection, B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” Bomber)

Sunrise 93, you pretty thang.

The “Aluminum Overcast” B-17 bomber! For $400, you can take her for a ride. She flew in from Wisconsin to help Lunken Airfield celebrate their Lunken Days.

In the arboretum, someone left a small glass container. I really like this picture.

I’ve never seen a plant that has a fruit hanging out of the flower like this. Weird?

After what has felt like a season of hibernation, even though it’s only been about a week, I was finally *blessed* with both a beautiful sunrise AND a free Sunday morning to enjoy it. The left overs from Hurricane Irene have cleared up and are now history. The forecast originally put clear skies with “fog” for tomorrow morning, but I wanted to test my luck and see if I could catch a break a day early. As it turned out, luck was on my side and the sunrise came through with a deep moisture-induced pink. I ended up taking my time and riding through the East End Loop down to Lunken Airfield and back. This weekend is Lunken Airport’s “Lunken Days” featuring the “Aluminum Overcast” B-17 bomber, one of only 10 in the country that are still flying today. As anyone in the midwest will tell you, we ended up with a beautiful late summer day.

These first two pictures were taken in the neighborhoods of Mt. Lookout on the way to Ault Park. I am trying to convey the degree of incline that these roads have, something that I didn’t notice (very thoroughly) until I started biking them.

We can see the road drop off about 60 yards away. A worthy climb indeed. I always catch this hill at the beginning of the ride so it always seems worse than it really is.

Heading into Ault Park! At this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a sunrise at all. I got excited when I saw the colors over the hill, to say the least.

I arrived at the overlook just as the sun was cresting. The humidity and light fog in the air made the scattering light a deep pink color. This is a pretty unique sunrise for the summer season. I haven’t seen many deep pink hazy sunrises since the spring, and this spring was full of them.

Heekin Overlook against the early sunrise.

Steel Frame Sunrise.

I love the color gradient in this picture. Taken from the lower overlook, I think.

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Sunrise 92: Ault Park (Dark Hurricane Hangover)

I like this view of the pavilion because the sky isn’t bleached out. The darkness of the picture gives an idea of how dark the park was this morning just a few minutes after sunrise.

Good morning! Sunrise 92 was one of the darkest sunrises that I’ve seen so far. The atmosphere is thick with clouds that are left over from the East Coast hurricane Irene. I haven’t posted a sunrise for several days, but to be honest we didn’t miss much. The wife unit was out of the state visiting family over the long weekend and she borrowed the camera to take some pictures. At any rate, I am not sure that I’ve seen the sun in these parts for at least a week. I don’t have an excuse for yesterday, other than the fact that it was rainy and cloudy and my bed was dry and warm. Although it is interesting to note, quickly, just how easy it is to get out of an established routine. I helped out some family by dog-sitting over the weekend which gave me a perfect isolated weekend to work on my master’s thesis (still not done, but converging quickly). This morning’s ride was more difficult than usual, probably due to a combination of 4 days of not riding regularly and the pains of starting back into the early weekly routine.

So back to the sunrise. This morning’s sunrise was non existent, just like the other sunrises over the past week. But this morning was also really, really dark. If sunrise 80, with its clear skies and colorful dawn, was a 10/10 for atmospheric brightness, today was definitely a 1 or 2. By the time I got home at 7:40am, a half hour after the “sunrise” of 7:11am, the morning commuters still had their car lights on as if it were night time. Oh, and the temperature was cold! It was probably about 53-55F, a full 35F degrees cooler than some of the sunrises from just a few weeks ago. I really should have worn a sweatshirt. I stayed warm by not hopping off my bike for more than a few minutes at a time. I ended up riding through the arboretum in Ault Park, then down through Mt. Lookout past the Observatory, all the while making sure to pay much attention to the morning commuters.
That’s one side effect of these late sunrises that I forgot would show up. Biking at 7:30am is much different than biking at 7:30am! The banks of the streets fill up with more traffic and the overall feeling that I get while biking around feels more aggressive, even if it is unintentional. The later in the morning, the worse it gets, because you can tell that some of the later cars are starting to run late. I try to be as respectful as possible while biking, by taking routes mostly through old residential areas and always sticking to the outside lane. But nothing is more scary than an obviously impatient driver that may or may not be paying attention.

Due to the dark light, cold temperature, and wet air, the park was empty with the exception of a single park crew truck. The street lamps were still on, and the canopy of the tall oak trees provided a surreal darkness against the bright gray overcast sky. The crickets and cicadas were still swelling with their summer buzz which provided a great stereo effect as I biked through the heavier forested areas of the park.

Heekin Overlook under the great Oaks

The sunrise was pathetic! Here we are, looking east-ish over towards Lunken Airport.

One interesting thing about this dark overcast sky is that I can take a picture that includes both the foreground and the sky without one of them being incorrectly exposed. Normally I have to choose one of the other – either the sky (making the foreground dark) or the foreground (making the sky bleached out white).

Looking out across the wide pavement into the Arboretum. The Heekin Overlook is directly behind me, and I’m standing on the sidewalk that winds around to the overlook.

Heading out of the park down Observatory Ave. The street lamps are still on and the air is a bit misty. This part of the park is always fun to bike through because it is downhill, wide, and you can smell the moisture coming out of the forest at the base of the hill.

Continuing down Observatory Ave, we pass Observatory Ct where the Cincinnati Observatory is located. There is a utility truck at the end of the street flashing his hazard lights at me. I like how dark these pictures are, and at the same time the reflections off of the pavement add some contrast.

A shot of a typical Mt. Lookout neighborhood lane. These neighborhoods mostly date back to the early 1920s so the trees, if they’re not from the original forest which a lot of them are, have had many decades to grow up around the deign of the urban residential neighborhood. You can see on the house to the left that there is a “triangular” shape to it. I’ve found that there is a specific architectural design pattern that exists in many of the homes that were built probably around the same time period by the same developers. They have huge triangles throughout the frame of the home that start at the ground and reach all the way up to the point of the roof, with the largest triangle usually containing the front door. Some of the homes’ triangles more pronounced than others. This is probably just one of the many urban trends that live just under the layer of consciousness. Or maybe it’s just like any of the other historical trends that I’ve found in Cincinnati: they’re mostly unknown except by a handful of people who know them very well and love to talk about them :).

A final shot down one of the small auxiliary outlets from the residential neighborhood. This gives us an idea of the kind of hills that I’ve come to expect when I bike through the eastern residential neighborhoods.

This one’s just for fun. I’m kind of a hoarder when it comes to certain things, and it is a behavior I’m trying to get better at! I’ve been collecting 6-packs over the past 8 months with the purpose of using them with some kind of art project. I was originally going to cut out just the front and frame them, but the wife had an idea of just framing the entire 6-pack. I really like the way these ones turned out, and I also like that the 6-pack is almost entirely intact, with the exception of the bottom panel that we had to cut out so the 6-pack would fit.

It’s amazing to look at all of the artwork and subtle design that goes into most of the modern American micro-brew packaging and labeling. I strongly feel that we’ll look back at the last 15 years of beer culture in the American micro-brew scene and not only talk about the quality and breadth of beer, but also the art, design, and culture that came along with it. By culture, I’m talking about the cases in which a brewery becomes a manifestation of some other local culture, one that they either emerge out of or help to create. That’s one of the most important distinguishing facets about the passionate commercial venture that is the modern brewery in America. Most of them are supported by a local culture, which is crucial to the success and evolution of the brewery.

  In case you’re not familiar, the three 6-packs are (from left to right): Bell Brewery’s Oberon (Summer Wheat), Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch (Belgian India Pale Ale), and Lagunita’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (American Pale). The oberon’s packaging is simple and minimalist, chosen to help balance out the business of the other two 6-packs. The center frame features “Raging Bitch”, which is one of my favorite designs because of how intense the artwork is. Flying dog has an interesting theme to their packaging of the entire line of their beers, and they manage to include both Hunter S. Thompson and the artist Ralph Steadman. Steadman is probably most famous (at least to me) for the artwork he did for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which of course was a psuedo biographical story about Hunter S. Thompson, played by Johnny Depp. In fact, now that I read about it, Flying Dog’s page about their philosophy is a great read. They tie in Ralph Steadman, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Stranahan as the “Godfathers of Gonzo”. I’m going to dig more into this. The final beer on the right is by my favorite brewery, Lagunitas. I always enjoy their humor and care-free worldview. They make excellent beer and their beer always has a great story. In the case of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, the bottom of the 6-pack notes that they find joy in watching the Internet Beer Rating Sites try to figure out how to classify it. They typically have some small typos on the personal under-side rant, which adds to the charm.


Sunrise 91: Ault Park (Summer Flower Garden, Ailanthus Webworm Moth)

Pretty flowers.

A “cosmo” pointing up toward the sky.

Beautiful macro shot of a red/orange/yellow summer flower.

This morning I felt it was definitely a time to recollect and enjoy a cool morning summer in the park. The last two mornings I skipped the sunrise. I tell myself it was mostly due to overcast conditions but in reality I think there are several different reasons. I almost feel as though these late sunrises, happening at 7:05am, are no longer a “challenge”! The 6:15am sunrises, which came up before rush hour and when the city was still asleep, had more of an air of secrecy to them. I’m either going to have to find a new challenge (like getting to the park by a half hour before sunrise, and then leaving as soon as the sun crests) or search for more motivation. Time will tell! It’s just depressing to me how deep into the morning my routine is taking me if I wish to take my time at the overlook or in the gardens. That’s life, though, I suppose.

The atmosphere this morning was cloudy so I took the time to check out the flower gardens. By this time, late into the summer, the bushes and flowers have grown up healthy and lush. There is an opening that reveals a grassy aisle into the center of the flower garden that is in the center lawn. The last time I really explored this area, the ground was bare and I was left wondering “hmm, what’s going to grow here?”. The black-eyed-susans, cosmos, and other flowers are now towering over my head and full of beetles, bumblebees, spiders, and ladybugs. I was surprised to find how thick the isolation felt once I walked into the flower garden. On several occasions, while I was stooped in observation taking pictures of the flowers, a jogger would glide by only a few feet from me but on the other side of the flower wall. It reminded me of just how private a forest or meadow can become during the late summer months. I need some time to rebalance and sunrise in the garden was a perfect fit :). I got a bit carried away with the pictures, mostly just having fun with the color and finding all the insect life hidden under the pedals.

This is actually a deer in the forest behind our place. I tried feeding her carrots, but she was only interested in green foliage. Next time I’ll bring broccoli.

The sunrise was boring! Off to the garden.

These first few are darker, I was lucky to get any kind of macro focus. A deep orange flower that I think is a “cosmo”

The centerpiece hidden inside the flower garden.

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Sunrise 90: Ault Park (Cool Overcast, Metamora Indiana)

Quiet Summer Sunrise

The sunrise this morning was overcast, quiet, and dark. There was a bit of orange display happening just above the horizon and the sun poked through a hole for about a minute before rising up into the clouds. There were many patches of sky along the horizon that provided some excellent lighting scenes, but they were impossible to capture on the camera.

Overcast with a small hole above the horizon

Great Ohio Bike Adventure, 2011. This was left behind and now that I see it is a decade old, I regret not picking it up and leaving a note. Hopefully the person who left it remembers where they last saw it and come back for it! The Great Ohio Bike Adventure (GOBA) is a week-long bicycle trip around a different loop in Ohio every year. I’m tentatively hoping to try it out next year.

Over the weekend we camped with some friends and family. On Sunday we visited a small town in Indiana called Metamora. I had never heard of the small town before, but my mom had visited with my grandfather many years ago. I didn’t have my camera, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures! I was really surprised to find out that the small town is maintained as a “canal village” that dates back to 1838. The “whitewater canal” is still intact and you can ride a passenger boat that is pulled along on the tote path by two 2,000lb Belgian horses. There is also a train rides along the rail line on the tote path to take passengers down a 15 mile trip through the Indiana countryside. The buildings were all in the familiar 2-story mid-1800s architecture style that I’ve come to recognize as the midwestern hallmark.
There was one thing that was curious to me and I found myself thinking about this morning when I was heading into work. There was one building that was titled the “I.O.O.F” building. I recognized the IOOF acronym, although I’m not sure from where. On my way to work this morning I took an alternate route through the heart of historic Madisonville, where there are many buildings from the late 1800s that have seen better days. I passed right by a small 2-story brick building and was surprised to see, sitting at the apex just below the roof, the words “I.O.O.F”. As it turns out, IOOF stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a fraternal organization dating back to 1811. There are 51 chapters still around in the United States, and I’m sure that the Metamora chapter is still around. I swear I’ve seen another I.O.O.F building at some point in the last year, either in Cincinnati or up around the Columbus area. A quick google search reveals many buildings around Cincinnati. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out and see what else I can find. It looks like the particular building I saw this morning, located on Mathis street, isn’t even included on the previously linked registry.


Sunrise 89: Alms Park (Kudzu: The Vine & Clear Summer Skies)

Sunrise 89: Alms Park

The “Kudzu Landscape”, a scene that comes to life in Alms Park during the late summer and autumn months.

Kudzu is a vine that originated in Japan. I’ve always had a slight fascination with this plant for the past several years, even though I’ve never sat down and looked up information on it. I didn’t even know the name of this vine until last week when a fellow Cincinnatian told me that the vines I was seeing in the parks was not anything resembling left over grape vines (although I’m sure they’re out there somewhere!) but in fact was this plant called “Kudzu”. Ever fall I notice the kudzu plant taking over the local hillside forests and creating a kind of surreal green blanket across the tops of the trees and bushes. I haven’t noticed the vine much lately, and that’s seems to be how it works. You don’t think about it in the spring or early summer, but when you finally realize just how expansive the vine truly is, it has already taken you by surprise!

I first saw Kudzu on a family trip down to the mountains outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The vine blanketed the mountainsides and the 10 story high trees, taking advantage of the clearings at the edge of a forest, where the trees stop and the asphalt begins. The leafs on the vine are large, about as big as my face or larger. Apparently a single plant is responsible for most of the blanket in a region. The base of the plant could be located deep in the forest while the vines spread out to create a sea of flowing solar panels. It seems most of the resources that the plant gathers in the form of sunlight are re-invested back into the production of vines and, as it follows, more solar panel leafs. According to my research, the plant can grow up to a single foot a day! That explains how the vine seems to appear out of nowhere.

I still haven’t made up my mind on how I feel about the Kudzu. On one hand, the kudzu is a tremendous grower. I’d love to have a Kudzu plant of my own to prune and take care of. Imagine how lush a quiet back patio could be with a well manicured and healthy Kudzu vine. Each branch of the vine could be trained carefully to mold itself across the brick walls. It would be a lot to take care of during the heavy growth season, but it wouldn’t take much time to create a surreal breathing texture to a cozy garden.

On the other hand, in the wild it is considered an invasive species. I can see why, of course. It just grows too damn fast! It out-competes all the local wildlife and can choke the life out of a forest by preventing the trees from getting any precious sunlight. It is neat to look at, but I also find myself wondering how all of the bushes and underbrush are doing under that thick smooth mess of Kudzu. I find it interesting though that, while the plant itself grows quickly and covers lots of ground, I don’t see it *everywhere*.

It may seem that the kudzu is left free to roam through Alms Park, but now that I think about it, I have never noticed it in Ault Park. Although this also goes back and points to my theory of Ault Park and Alms Park’s Yin/Yang relationship. I’m talking about how Ault Park is manicured, designed, symmetrical, with planned gardens and lots of flowers, with the forest pushed to the edge of the park, while Alms Park is more organic, where the forest seems to be all around you. There are small flower gardens in Alms Park but they’re not the focus as they are in Ault Park. Alms Park is more quiet and has some of the most majestic oak and pine trees that I’ve ever seen. So could it be that the Kudzu is simply left to grow in Alms Park? I imagine it is a lot of work, anyway, to remove such a quickly growing and invasive plant. I’ll have to ask the park service guys about what they think of the Kudzu.

Now a little bit about the history of the Kudzu. Did you know that the Kudzu was brought over intentionally from Japan in 1876? There was this huge garden exposition in Philadelphia where many countries were invited to create a display that showcased their native flowers and plants. Japan’s Kudzu display was a huge hit, and for the next 75 years American gardeners (and government!) couldn’t get enough of the plant! You can still visit this original location as it has been preserved as a heritage site. In the East it is a well respected plant, but apparently in the American South it grows faster than back home! And without the rest of the ecosystem intact that likely would have kept the kudzu in check (with how fast the kudzu grows, you’d think it’s trying to out-compete *something*!), it continues to spread rapidly.

In the early turn of the century, there were many practical uses that came about as the plant gained wide-spread use. Here are a few of the things that are mentioned:

  1. I heard a rumor that Kudzu was used originally to beat out the invasive Honeysuckle plants. This worked, of course!
  2. The flowers of the Kudzu plant are sweet and pretty, great for ornamental purposes.
  3. The foliage is edible! Goat farmers could grow the hardy, fast growing Kudzu on otherwise baren land to feed their herd! It makes sense when I think about it – all you need to do is tend to the base, and the vines will quickly spread out over the soil to collect solar photons while not needing to take root.
  4. The anti-erosion qualities of Kudzu were used for natural soil control
  5. The vine has been used by southerners to create baskets.
  6. A root extract is said to date back 2000 years in Chinese medicine for treatment of alcoholism
  7. The roots can be used for cooking as a starch base
  8. Soaps, Lotions, etc.

By 1953, however, it was apparent that the vine was growing too well! It was deemed a “weed” by the government (whatever that means).

In the next few weeks I’m going to keep my eye out for the growth of the Kudzu. I’ll hopefully get to check out some of the purple blooms by the end of the season.

Looking down at the Ohio River from Alms Park.

A crisp and clean summer sunrise over Lunken Airport

I’m becoming obsessed with these color gradients in the morning sky.

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Sunrise 88: Ault Park (Summer Rain)

Rainy Overlook!

This morning’s ride up to Ault Park was cool and wet. At first I couldn’t tell if the sky was overcast or just hazy, but once the atmospheric light started to open the sky up, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to see a sunrise. There were small spurts of rain and a quiet wind. There was only a single other patron of the park who chose to venture out into the potential elements this morning.

A misty rainy “sunrise”. Looks like we’re approaching choppy August weather. That’s OK though because I absolutely love summer storms.

Looking west towards Lunken Airport. Check out the contrast between the dark atmosphere and lighter clouds just above the horizon. I’m about to get wet.

Another view of the upper atmosphere clouds moving through the area.

As I finished my cup of coffee, I felt the wind start to pick up and then quickly die off. I looked out toards Lunken and saw a wall of rain moving towards me. I decided that if I was going to make it to work, now would be as good of a time as any to pack it up and go! I ended up getting into work slightly wet but the downpour that was threatened never seemed to kick into full gear. As I write this, the skies are breaking up and I can even see some patches of blue.


Sunrise 87: Ault Park (3 Amigos)

The Overlook @ Heekin in Ault Park

This morning was a cool, quiet, overcast summer sunrise. There were highlights of pink in the mid atmosphere but the sun didnt make any kind of appearance. That’s OK though because sunrise 86 was enough of a show to last me over for awhile!

I enjoyed the dark morning light and my morning coffee. Today’s actually a special day, too! It’s my birthday! Another year older, and I find myself even more glad that I started the Ault Park Sunrise project. It has been a great creative exercise for me and has also enabled me to explore the local history of my area and meet some great people. Indeed it has truly become a kind of journal for myself, something that I will look back on many birthdays from now with nostalgia and pride. I hope that the thought of this project conjures up feelings of mobility, freedom, and the passionate pursuit of personal exploration (both internal and external).

A zoomed-in view of Armleder Park.

Tonight, even though it’s my birthday, I’m working late on my thesis software project. I brought along the “3-amigos” to join me while I listen to Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and delve into the guts of RTCmix and PyEvolve.

The Three Amigos 😉

We visited friends up in Columbus, Ohio last weekend and on the way back I made a stop at the local carry out. I always try to pick up some beer that I can’t get down in Cincinnati. Typically this includes some Lagunitas (pictured right) or a local Columbus micro-brew. The store was actually out of Columbus Brewery’s India Pale Ale, and the guy behind the counter suggested Elevator Brewery‘s 3 Frogs IPA. I have been impressed with this beer as it shows elements of a well balanced classic IPA but I’ve only had one so far, so my opinion of it still needs time to develop. The middle beer is the “Double Dog Double Pale Ale” from Flying Dog Brewery. It clocks in at an impressive 11.5%, just barely under the max ceiling of 12%, a limit you can’t exceed if you wish to sell beer in Ohio. This was a birthday present from a friend of mine, a great present indeed! The third beer is Lagunitas’ Undercover Investigation Shut Down, one of my all time favorite brews from one of my favorite breweries. I’ve been bugging Lagunitas for months now to try and coerce them to sell their brews down in Cincinnati, but apparently there is some strange stale mate between the distributors in Ohio so for now I have to drive to Dayton or Columbus to snag ’em. Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is a healthy American Strong Ale that clocks in at almost 9.9% ABV and has the alluring crisp house flavor that I’ve come to appreciate in Lagunitas’ beers, resulting from their unique strain of brewer’s yeast. The history behind the Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is rich and hilarious, and you can check out the video here. Quality is kind of awful, but the audio is intact.

Interestingly enough, these three beers range from all sides of the country: west coast (Lagunitas), east coast (Flying Dog), and the midwest (Elevator).


Sunrise 86: East Cincinnati Loop (Foggy & Clear Summer Sunrise)

Looking North/East up the Little Miami River Valley. This used to be the pre-glacial Ohio River Valley, several hundreds of thousands of years ago. Up on top of that ridge, if you have good eyes, you’ll see Heekin Overlook.

After checking out the Cincinnati Observatory, we stopped by Heekin Overlook at Ault Park. The view into the valley was stunning.

Sunrise 86 was one of the more beautiful summer sunrises of the year. If the ideal sunrise of the spring is a partially cloudy and humid morning full of late-sunrise oranges, the ideal summer sunrise is one of a clear atmosphere with dense fog in the low-lying valley and a bit of a cold bite to the air. This morning’s surnise was exactly that. I had a friend with me this morning, who stayed over to redeem a long-standing offer to join me on a morning sunrise ride. We did a nice loop through the eastern hills. After taking advantage of “free coffee refill Mondays” at the Mt. Lookout UDF, one of my favorite things to do, we cranked it up the hill at about 6:30am, 20 minutes before the sunrise at 6:50am. We started off with the dawn opening and sunrise at the Cincinnati Observatory, then off to Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook for the remainder of the early light. Heekin Overlook had a breath-taking view down into the foggy valley over Armelder Park. We dropped down into Linwood to Armleder Park, checked out the foggy meadow, and then hightailed it over to Lunken Airfield before climbing Mt. Tusculum up past Alms Park.

The dawn sky, about 10 minutes before sunrise

The sun is starting to creep further to the right along the horizon as summer continues on into fall.

Just before sunrise! The sky turned a deep teal color, a shade that doesn’t stick around too long.

Sunrise @ The Cincinnati Observatory

It was a perfect mixture of fog in the low elevations, with a clear blue sky above.

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Sunrise 85: Ault Park (Acorns & Blue Berries)

So this is weird… due to a strange artifact that has been present on the lens, but only visible when I zoom in, I haven’t touched the zoom for several weeks (maybe even a month or two). I tried it again today and suddenly the artifact is gone. It left as quietly as it arrived. It was definitely internal to the lens, but I had the feeling it was like a moisture bubble or something similar. Hopefully I don’t have many wet mornings in the near future. Maybe I’ll start carrying the camera in a zip-lock bag.

Acorn!

Ault Park has officially celebrated its 100 year birthday! There was a big party in the park last night, true to the “Ault Park style”. “Ault Park Style”, in my experience, includes music, beer, food, and lots of people. It always amazes me to see just how well supported the Ault Park events are by the local community!

Amanda and I have ran the local Reggae Run 5k twice in the past three years, and it has become legendary for the huge after party that takes place in Ault Park. The Reggae Run after-party includes a live band, delicious food, and lots of my favorite two things: beer and people :). The fireworks display for the 4th of July was also jam packed with people.

So it should come at no surprise that last night’s 100 year birthday party was anything less than a big deal! Unfortunately (and awesomely!) for our writer, I had my first co-ed softball game (which was a blast!) last night so I wasn’t able to check out the festivities until later, between two games when I had to run home on an errand, and even then I only had time to drive through the park for a quick visit. I was, however, blown away at how much the party was still hopping at 9:00pm when I drove through! If I were to guess, I’d say the attendance of the night easily surpassed 1,000 people. Easily! It looked like an excellent time and I do regret not being able to check out the “history room” that I saw advertised on the facebook posting. (Also: shameless self-plug for Ault Park Sunrise’s facebook page)

It’s also interesting to me to contrast the social night-owl version of Ault Park: with the loud kids running around, blanket and young couples lying in the grass, sparkler glowing in the night, elderly and college kids with beer in hand, overflowing trash bins, loud music, and full of city life, with the early morning sunrise Ault Park: quiet and peaceful, with park service diligently pruning and nurturing the plants, birds and squirrels loud in the trees, and the rising ambient sound of the city slowly waking up. Considering the fact that I have now spent roughly 80 mornings in Ault Park, and perhaps only 3 evenings during the same period, I’ve come to mentally view the park through my own bias of experience. To me, thoughts of Ault Park conjure up images of gardens, privacy, and nature. Every time I visit Ault Park at night during a social event, I’m reminded of the many hats that a healthy city park wears throughout its life as an extension of the community it lives in. And that’s one of the primary things that makes Ault Park so special to me: in these days of budget cuts and sad economic stories, the park shines as an excellent model for a true “city park” that can only be possible with the help and will of the local community.

That being said, when I rode up to the park this morning I was curious what kind of “leftovers” I’d find from the big bash last night. After the 4th of July party, I found all kinds of trash, spent fireworks, lighters, and other obvious signs that the party ran late and people left, quite hastily, in the dark. I was surprised, however, to find that Ault Park looked… completely normal. Other than some full trash bins, the park looked clean and not hung over. I’m not sure how late the event ran, but whoever was responsible for the cleanup did a great job!

The sunrise came up through a dense hazy layer of moisture. This was one of those sticky damp atmospheres that blocks the majority of the sun’s rays for a few minutes after sunrise, causing the sun to appear a dark blood red. Once the sun peaks out over this dense valley moisture, it can blast through the atmosphere within a matter of minutes.

A dark orange sunrise. At approximately 7:00am, it’s getting too late! 😦

A vertical sunrise shot, for the ladies.

We’re coming into acorn season! I heard these puppies falling all over the vicinity of the overlook. They were dropping at a rate of about one per 3 minutes. There were bits of them shattered all over the concrete. I’ve noticed a lot more squirrels giving me death stars and fake promises of running out in front of my bike lately. They must be ramping up to get ready for the acorn foraging season.

Flesh and Acorn.

Several months ago, I asked a rhetorical ‘what will this white flower turn into?’. Well now I know. These little blue berries are growing on the plant that I previously examined when I found that it was a host to the aphid-herding ants.


Sunrise 84: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Macro Dew, Cool Summer Morning)

This is becoming my favorite spot to take bike pictures. The raised levee provides a nice open view to the sky.

Dew Sunrise

Today was another beautifully cool summer morning in Cincinnati. The temperature was brisk, lower 60s at the highest. I cruised on into Ault Park just before sunrise to get a shot of the dawn sky, and upon seeing the fog down in the valley, decided to drop down to Lunken Airfield for a nice 10 mile ride. Got some great pictures of the sunrise over the foggy lunken airfield, as well as some macro picture of the morning dew.

Morning Dawn at Ault Park looking over the Little Miami River Valley

Considering the drop down into Armleder Park. Instead I opted to head down to Lunken Airfield.

I made it just in time. The sun had just started coming up over the ridge. There were patches of thick fog but the bike path was mostly clear!

There was a small patch of clouds just above the horizon. Other than that it was another clear summer sky!

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 12 or so pictures in total. Including a pleasant picture of St. Stephen’s Italianate bell tower. (more…)


Sunrise 83: Ault Park (Troy, Ohio Historic Teaser, Foggy Summer Sunrise)

Foggy Summer Sunrise

After taking yesterday off (all these Sunday bike trips are wearing me out!), I was up and ready to go for the sunrise this morning. If you notice, today is “Sunrise 83”, and the previous post is “Sunrise 81”. What happened to “Sunrise 82”? I actually did the 82nd sunrise Sunday morning with my friend and my dad up in Troy, OH. I alluded to the possibility of a “Troy Sunrise” on Saturday’s post but I wasn’t sure if all of the pieces would fall into place. We did end up going around my hometown of Troy, Ohio and exploring the old Hobart steel houses and remnants of the old Miami-Erie canal. We ended the trip by heading down the Great Miami Bike Path, which is part of the rails to trails program, where we checked out the ruins of an old lock, built sometime in the early mid 1800s. I haven’t finished the write-up from sunrise 82, so I’ve decided to include three of my favorite pictures from that set. If you want to check out the preview of the steel homes, warehouse ruins, and canal lock ruins, click through to the end of the article 🙂

I can’t believe how late these sunrises are getting. I left the house by 6:35am and still had about 10 minutes of pre-sunrise dawn by the time I got up to the overlook. The sky was crystal clear with some whispy clouds above the horizon and thick patches of fog down in the valley. I even saw three people at the overlook this morning – a woman and her cute little puppy, an ault park morning “regular” – Don, a meditating cyclist – and one of the park service guys. I’m honestly surprised it’s taken me this long to meet someone like Don at these sunrises. Don says that he used to do Thai-Chi sunrise meditations with a group of friends. We also talked about cycling and watching the sunrise is one of the best ways to start the day. Don also shared his satisfaction with watching the sunrise from Lunken Airfield. It seems I’ve met another sunrise cowboy 😉 Maybe I’ll see you around, Don!

The valley down below had a substantial amount of fog. I wanted to drop down and bike through the wet clouds of moisture, but with these late sunrise times I realized that I probably didn’t have enough time. More reason to get up at 6am instead of 6:30am!

The sun , creepin’ up over that horizon.

Sunrise 83

A vertical shot for the ladies

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 28 pictures total, including the last 3 pictures that serve as a teaser for “Sunrise 82”: 1920s Hobart Brothers Steel House, Mid 1800s canal warehouse, and ruins of a Miami-Erie Canal Lock. (more…)


Sunrise 81: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Attempted Perseid Meteors, Cloudy Sunrise)

The trusty old 1977 Fuji S-10S, featuring the souvenir “Carew Tower” water bottle 🙂 And yes, I need to replace my handlebar wrap.

The sky is starting to brighten up, preparing for the sunrise

This morning I attempted to get up early to see the perseid meteor shower. Amanda and I actually meant to check it out late last night but we fell asleep early! I pulled myself out of bed at 4:50am and rode to Ault Park where I hoped the top of the pavilion would provide a clear view of the northeast sky. A clear view indeed it provided, but unfortunately I only had about a 10 minute window after arriving before the clouds rolled in. In the end I did see a single meteor streak, enough to make it worth it! Next year I’ll try to be better 🙂

I experimented a bit with long exposure times. There was a full moon, mostly hidden by the clouds, but it provided enough light to play around with.

I was surprised at how early the first walkers showed up. There were several cars that rode through the park at around 5:30-6:00am. There was an elderly couple that started walking laps around the pavilion at around 5:45am, a full hour before the sun came up.

Mt. Lookout and the full moon at 4:55am. Close by there may or may not be some late-night party animals walking back home.

Playing with long exposure from atop the pavilion

These pair of street lights have a blue tint to them

Looking out at the lawn. Interestingly, I notice that miles away I can see the hills of western Cincinnati.

The only picture I saved that shows what the night sky looks like about 50 minutes before sunrise.

Look at the street lamp! That’s a blur-of-a-walking-elderly-couple

The sky looks like it is going to cloud up for the sunrise, so I decide that if I’m not going to get a pretty sunrise I might as well get a Saturday morning workout in. I head down to Lunken Airfield to see what’s going on. The bench on the bike path levee has become one of my favorite sunrise locations.

Not too much going on in the sky, but we can see that an opening in the clouds may provide a nice quick display.

Up above there were some interesting cloud formations. Through the hole in the clouds I saw a ripple effect high up in the atmosphere.

The sun punches through that opening in the clouds for a brief 4 minute display.

I ended up meeting a couple fellow cyclists and talking about bike hardware. I found out, again, that there are some damn sexy steel frames that you can get brand new. They have a very similar look to my Fuji’s steel frame. I learned that a steel frame, while heavier, flexes more than an aluminum frame which is why some riders prefer them if carbon isn’t available (or you just don’t want carbon). Apparently a steel frame isn’t quite as jolting when you hit bumps in the road. Interesting!

If I can pull the strings correctly, I may have a treat for sunrise 82. I’m heading back to my hometown of Troy, Ohio and hopefully (weather permitting) I can do a nice little sunrise exploration of the historical landmarks that I grew up around but never fully sought out. There are old canal pieceswelded steel homes, and much more. Hopefully I don’t end up eating my own words!


Sunrise 80 (!!!!): The Cincinnati Observatory & Ault Park (Eastern Tour, Stunning Cincinnati Summer Dawn)

This is the sky 20 minutes before sunrise. Deep orange fading into a gradient blue, a color palette that I expect to see 20 minutes AFTER sunrise on a hot humid day.

The Cincinnati Observatory. For months I’ve tried to take a picture of the observatory against the sunrise but I could never get a decent frame. This morning I decided to try it from the back of the building, and I wasn’t disappointed. By far my favorite picture of the day.

This morning was another beautiful clear summer sky. It also marks my 80th sunrise – exactly twice the original goal of 40 sunrises. I originally had planned doing a full tour through the East Side, starting a half hour before sunrise, and featuring all the major stops along the way. This 11-mile (closer to 18 if both lunken loop and armleder loop are considered) route would have featured:

  1. Mt. Lookout Square and a coffee stop @ UDF (or Lookout Joe’s if they’re open!)
  2. The Cincinnati Observatory
  3. Ault Park & Heekin Overlook
  4. Down the hill to historic Linwood, past Crusade Castle.
  5. Past the St. Stephen Italianate church on the corner and the mysterious “Smoke Sonada Cigars” mosaic
  6. Linwood Public School (abandoned elementary school)
  7. Over the cement stairs, across the rail road, and over to Armleder Park
  8. Around Armleder Park’s loop and a view of the Little Miami River
  9. Back to Eastern Ave past LeBlonde’s old factory, towards Lunken Airfield
  10. Lunken Terminal and the Bike path, along with the Pioneer Cemetery
  11. The Wilmer/Carrel bike path and the Revolutionary War Cemetery
  12. Beyond the school-on-stilts to the Ohio River Launch Club marina and Ohio River
  13. Back through Columbia Tusculum’s historic district and East End’s 1860s farm-style buildings
  14. Up the hill past the painted homes to Alms Park
  15. Around Alms, with the view of Lunken Airfield and an eastern view down the river. Maybe check out the old 1869 wine cellar.
  16. Past St. Ursula Villa (LeBlond’s old home) back to Mt. Lookout Square.

And probably much more. Man, the act of going through and finding those pictures for the links really made me appreciate just how much “footage” I have of this area! I promise to re-visit the “best-of” section (top right of this website). I’ve kind of let it go on purpose because I can really appreciate the seasonal change when I pick out the best pictures two months later.


As it turns out, I started off the route correctly (at UDF and the Cincinnati Observatory) but I ended up being so social at Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook that I didn’t make it down into the valley! That’s OK though because I met a nice gentlemen named Bill and we talked for about 40 minutes about Cincinnati history and various little pieces of trivia. I learned a lot and he even filled in some long standing mysteries I had about the cement stairs down on Columbia Parkway. I also spoke with Aaron, a guy who works with the park service, for a bit about what it’s like being a horticulturist and working for the park all day. Looks like I’ll have to post-pone this route until next week!

I left my place at around 6:10am to give myself lots of “headroom” for taking pictures of the dawn sky before the sun came up. I’ve realized that these clear summer atmosphere’s provide an absolutely excellent pre-sunrise display. In the spring, when there are more clouds and more humidity, the post-sunrise light is the best. But on these clear mornings with low humidity, the sky starts to light up at least 40 minutes before sunrise. It’s outstanding!

After looking back on these pictures, I realize that I took a lot of vertical sky shots.

Arriving at the Observatory with at least 20 minutes to spare before sunrise. Already the sky is getting lit up.

I wanted to get another picture of the cornerstone. This is the original cornerstone from the Mt. Adams building, before the lens was moved to Mt. Lookout in 1873. John Quincy Adams laid it down.

The sky opposite of the sunrise (western sky) was a light pink and blue. I couldn’t quite capture the purple tones, but you get the idea.

If you’re on the front page, be sure to keep reading. About 17 pictures total, and today’s foggy sunrise was excellent! (more…)


Sunrise 79: Lunken Airfield (Helicopters & Cold Crisp Clear Blue Skies)

The trusty old steed on the Lunken Loop.

I really like this picture because the sun is just barely creeping over the ridge and hasn’t drowned out the CCD sensor on the camera, yet.

(Self Plug: “like” Ault Park Sunrise on facebook!)

This morning was an experiment in the appreciation of dawn. I’ve been showing up to the sunrise a few minutes late over the past couple of weeks and I wanted to take the time to take in some of the subtle colors of the atmosphere before the sun comes up. I picked an excellent day to do this because the sky was cloud free and crisp, allowing the pre-sunrise light to accent the clear atmosphere quite well.

15 minutes before sunrise, the sky was already becoming nicely illuminated.

At 6:15am I pulled myself out of bed with the intention of catching the sunrise and opening act down at Lunken Airfield. I’ve been a bit lazy lately, allowing myself to snooze from 6:00am when my alarm goes off until 6:35am. With the sunrise being even later, around 6:42am, I have started getting comfortable with sleeping in a bit. Well, not today!

A plane taking off with a swarm of birds getting ready for the day.

I rode down Mt. Tusculum into East End and arrived at Lunken Airfield at about 6:35am. The sun has crept further to the right along the horizon. Interestingly enough, this means that at Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook, the sun is coming into view without being obstructed by the ridge to the left. At Lunken Airfield the sun has moved from the clear opening on the horizon to behind the ridge to the right. Although, to be fair, there is no bad location down at Lunken Airfield! Due to the sun coming up behind the ridge, “true sunrise” was delayed by about 18 minutes. This gave me a full 20 minutes to enjoy the subtle lighting of the beautiful clear blue sky over Lunken Airfield. I haven’t been this early to a sunrise for a long time, I’m embarrassed to say, so it was a great change up in the routine.

Look at those skies! No clouds.

This morning was chilly! Holy crap. I think it was seriously like 55F down in the basin. I could have worn a sweatshirt and been just fine. My ears hurt when I got back home from the cold! The cold air, however, made for a beautiful bright clear sky sunrise. The sunrise was a brilliant bright blue color and the skies were crystal clear, likely a side effect of this cold front. The pinks were almost non-existent, as I’ve come to expect in a sky with no clouds, and the sun came up over the ridge blasting a powerful yellow light.

The oranges fade away quickly as the atmosphere takes on a full blown yellow sun light color.

One of the neat things about this morning’s sunrise was the bird activity. As soon as it became obvious that the sun was going to be coming up in about 5 minutes, the field seemed to explode in airborne activity. At first I could see swarms of bats flying about, likely grabbing a final snack before retiring for the day. There were also swarms of sparrows, swallows, and robins. Oh, and also airplanes. The airport was busy this morning.

A helicopter lands just before I head back to Mt. Lookout

The helicopter lands at Lunken Airport


Sunrise 78: Ault Park (Gray Stormy Sky)

Here comes another short sunrise post. I had an appointment early this morning so I’m writing this in the late afternoon! This morning was much cooler than I would have expected. The park was quiet and wet and dark, and it made for a peaceful sunrise even though the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds. There were several storms that came through over the weekend and it seems like the clouds are still hanging around.

I was pleasantly surprised with the temperature. It looks like we’ve got some mid 70s / low 80s ahead of us. I couldn’t ask for more perfect weather!

Looking back up the walkway from Heekin Overlook. The ambient light was dark with a gray sky.

Just as I was about to leave, the wind picked up and blew an opening into the sky above me. The blue sky shined through the clouds and gave me some hope that the day wouldn’t be all gloomy and gray. As I write this (Tuesday afternoon) the skies are bright blue with small patches of puffy cumulus clouds. I have great expectations for tomorrow’s sunrise.


Sunrise 77: Alms Park (Wet and Foggy Valley Sunrise over Lunken Airfield)

The fog over Lunken Airfield; a view from Alms Park.

A quick little post for today. This morning’s sunrise was a beautiful misty summer start to the day. I climbed to Alms Park to watch the sunrise over Lunken Airfield. There was a substantial storm that came through last night so I was surprised to wake up to a clear sky. There was a familiar summer fog down in the valley below but it wasn’t thick enough to block out the sunrise. The grass was wet with the water from last night’s storm and the air had a bit of haze to it.

Looking directly into the sunrise. I’m coming to love the effect that the sunset filter (and F8 aperature) creates when directly exposed to the sun. In the foreground you can see the white cement bench.

The oranges were prevalent in the early sunrise. Looking down into Lunken Airfield’s east side.

Playing with the white balance, I was able to get a bright blue sky in this picture.

This is the bench that looks over Lunken Airfield. I don’t know how old it is, but I imagine it is at least half a century in age. Probably older, after all the park will be 100 years old in a few years. The grassy lawn is lush and green.

This sidewalk always intrigues me. It seems to indicate that there was, at one time, something down in the lower part of the lawn. You can kind of see pieces of an old cement foundation. Part of the old vineyard? A piece of an abandoned structure relating to the early years of the park? My bet is on the latter – probably a stone structure dating back 150 years to the vineyard that used to sit on this hill.

I attempted to get a picture of the sun light coming through the magnificent conifers. The air was misty but it was difficult to get a good picture.

Looking down the entrance to Alms Park. It’s always fun leaving the park on such a steep downhill. I always try to safely enjoy it because at the bottom of the hill I have to take a sharp right and climb right back up to get to Mt. Lookout.


Sunrise 76: Ault Park (Cool Misty Sunrise, Tall Tall Weeds)

Misty valley under an orange sunrise. This was taken during that peak sunrise light time – about 40 minutes after the sun crests over the ridge.

This morning I decided to kick it old school. Go back to the roots, if you will. Recently I’ve been diversifying the sunrise locations quite a bit, and it has been great overall. This morning I biked up to Heekin Overlook at Ault Park and just sat on the bench listening to the birds and collecting my thoughts at the end of this beautiful summer week. The air this morning was almost cool, I’m thinking around 68 degrees. It was pleasant to say the least.

The sound-scape was a bit different this morning compared to the sound-scape that I remember from a typical April. The birds and squirrels were not as loud, for one thing. The nests have been built, mates have been found, and most of the birds and local animals are either caring for their young or preparing for their young’s arrival. There were no loud mating calls as I’ve come to expect over the past few months.

One thing that was different, however, was the presence of several kinds of woodpeckers. They were making the strangest bird calls, and one even startled me with its surprisingly loud burst of song. There was a large wood pecker of some kind (couldn’t tell what her colors were) hanging out on the dead oak tree by the overlook. It is obvious now that the dead oak is providing a great spot to find wood peckers. As the wood starts to rot, the insects will take over the process of breaking the organic matter down into less complex forms so the rest of the ecosystem can reclaim it. In the meantime, the wood peckers are probably here to stay. There was also a small little species of woodpecker that was flittering around the trees, although now that I think about it she may have been on the hunt for cicadas, not bugs. Maybe it wasn’t a woodpecker after all…

The sunrise was a beautiful clear summer sunrise with not much humidity. The warmth of the sunlight was apparent just minutes after dawn. I remember predicting, back in April, that the summer would be full of “boring” clear-skied orange sunrises. This is a true prediction because indeed most of these days that aren’t buffered on either side by a storm system have been clear and orange. And while I’ll say they’re no where near the level of complexity that became the norm during the stormy season in the spring, they’re still a sight to see. An interesting part about this specific kind of sunrise is that the sky can turn into this deep blue slurry of wispy clouds. It seriously looks like some kind of painting. With the deep orange gradient provided by the low sun, the colors of these clear morning sunrises are rich and textured. I’m still (1400 pictures later) experimenting with the exposure settings of the camera to figure out the best way to capture the colors. Sometimes the camera is set too low, leaving out the hills and making the outer edges fade into a deep sea blue. Other times it can be too high, bleaching out the subtle oranges and turning them into a featureless white.

A plane coming into Lunken Airfield at sunrise.

Early dawn at Ault Park, looking over the Little Miami River Valley. We can still see the pinks of the sunrise. In this particular sunrise, where there are few low lying clouds and not much mist, the pinks give away to the oranges quickly. They don’t hang around for long.

Weeds, Plants, and Sunrise.

The weeds have turned into bushes and I find myself wondering if it is “correct” to chop them down or leave them to grow and flower. Do they not have the same rights as any other plant growing in the park? As humans we certainly make decisions as to what plants we want to see in our organized and designed gardens, but around the edge of the park where the forest begins to reclaim our manicured lawns, the first plants to colonize the new land are, of course, weeds. And these weeds are strong, large, and lush from all the rain we had in the spring. They don’t seem to be minding the gaps between the occasional summer storms.

Beautiful orange to blue gradient.

As a completely unrelated side note, I’ve started experimenting with a new time management system called Pomodoro. Maybe I’ll explain it more later in detail, but it is worth mentioning that this specific post was done in exactly one pomodoro (which was my goal). Yesterday’s took two due to all the extra pictures. This is helpful information because while I purposefully didn’t take as many pictures today, I ended up filling the post with more text. And without feeling the rush of “oh crap this post is taking way longer than I expected”, I feel like my writing style was a bit more relaxed and reflective. Very therapeutic, in only 25 minutes.


Sunrise 75: Lunken Airfield (Cincinnati Skyline, Ohio River Marina, East End Abandon)

A plane takes off into the sunrise. Yesterday morning not a single plane took off from Lunken as I was looking down from Alms Park. And there’s that weird artifact again on the top left of the picture. It must be internal to the lens.

A view from Eastern Cincinnati on riverside road

Looking up the river towards Lunken Airfield at the Ohio River Launch Club.

I’ll be honest, I was pretty excited for this morning’s sunrise. After missing the first two mornings this week, and getting a stormy overcast sunrise yesterday, I was ready for a beautiful clear summer sunrise. The forecast last night said no rain with 30% cloud cover. The sky was clear and the clouds didn’t show up until about an hour after sunrise. I made it a point to get up early, explore as much as possible, and build my work commute into the sunrise bike ride to save time.

The sunrise time has crept up to 6:40am, a time that is a full half hour later than the 6:10am sunrise that I came to expect in mid June. My alarm is still set for 6:00am, although recently I’ve been snoozing for about 20 minutes. This morning, however, I decided I was going to make the best of the late sunrise time. I packed up all the things I needed for work (mostly just an extra set of clothes, along with my lunch) and rode out towards Lunken Airfield with the intention of getting down into the basin by sunrise time. By skipping the whole “come home after sunrise” thing, and instead heading straight to work via a bike commute, I had a full two hours to be out before arriving at work by 8:30am. I explored a bit more of the western end of East End, checked out Fuel – the coffee shop on riverside I’ve always been curious about – and managed to slip into traffic just past rush hour to arrive in Silverton, OH with little trouble. It looks like I put in a total of 14 miles today, although it feels more like 6.

I’ve discovered an important thing about cycling. If you keep yourself at about 60% output (rather than 85-95%) you can keep going forever, it feels like, without really getting too winded. I think that is important. There is a movement in cycling culture called “slow riding”, and it usually is alluded to being a kind of European style of cycling. You can see it all over urban landscapes – but is it really new? Either way, it’s new to me. I call it European because the European bike culture in general is much more developed (in more cities, at least) than the average bike culture in the US. Either way, I understand that the average bike that is used for every day commuting in a European city like Amsterdam is often an old heavy comfortable steel bike. Anyway, this whole “slow riding” thing can be experienced by the weekly “Slow Ride Cincinnati” group that meets every Thursday Night at 6:00pm in Hoffner Park. I keep meaning to go but have not made it over there. The whole premise is that the fastest rider should be going as slow as the slowest rider. If someone gets a flat, everyone stops and helps out, etc. The whole philosophy really resonates with me because when I bike, even while commuting, the journey and the terrain, neighborhoods, history, buildings, people, urban design, etc. are all as much apart of the experience as the muscle strengthening workout. In the article I linked previously, the author is surprised to find that he doesn’t lose much time in his commute by traveling slow (usually he meets up with the fast guys at stop lights anyways), but he does arrive at work less sweaty and less tired.

Anyway, on to this morning’s sunrise. I parked it up at my favorite bench located just on top of the bike trail that runs along the levee to the Little Miami River. There were several joggers and bikers out for this sunrise.

I made it to Lunken Airfield just a few minutes after sunrise. The sun was a deep orange color and the sky was clear of clouds except for a few small whisps just above the horizon. There was a distant layer of light fog in the field just before the base of the levee that runs along the Little Miami River.

In this vertical shot you can just barely make out a plane taking off into the sunrise. Actually it was a complete coincidence, I didn’t notice the plane until I was just about to snap the picture.

A close up of the foggy layer with the sun rising over Lunken Airfield.

After a few minutes (and a cup of coffee) I hopped on the bike and headed towards the Ohio River. I wanted to get a picture of the downtown skyline as the sun was coming up over the eastern ridge. There are several vantage points along Riverside Road through East End.

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. Pictures of East End, the downtown skyline, the Ohio River & Marina, and some deer. (more…)


Sunrise 74: Alms Park (Summer Storm Front, The Glitch Mob)

Looking out over Lunken Airfield at sunrise

A barge floats down the Ohio River in the background, to the south west of Lunken Airfield.

A front moved into the area sometime last night. The sunset was clear and deep pink so I had hoped for a great sunrise this morning. What I ended up getting was a wet and misty morning in Alms Park (history). I didn’t get rained on, but about a half hour after I got home the rain front opened up and dumped down on Cincinnati. I have great expectations for tomorrow’s sunrise! A note for future self: Albert D. Taylor designed the park. I found a book called “The Complete Garden” which I believe is from the early 1900s. I’m guessing the author is the same Albert D. Taylor that designed Alms Park.

This has been a strange week for me. It was the first time I missed two weekday sunrises in a row. It is also the first time I’ve been to a Monday night music show. I got a last minute call from a friend who was coming in from out of town to see a show at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. The history of that building dates back to 1941. It was also my first time going to a true EDM (Electronic Dance Music) show. We saw The Glitch Mob in the 70 year old venue on Madison Ave. Actually now that I look at the history page, it turns out we saw the show on August 01 2011, 70 years after the grand opening of the theater on August 01 1941. That’s pretty neat.

I hadn’t heard of The Glitch Mob before and so I played catch up with their music. It actually was a perfect example of where the state of the music industry for small groups like The Glitch Mob is. I bought their EP for $2.95, with the option of getting the EP with a vinyl along with it for $15 (which is  an incredibly tempting deal). Not even a CD option on their website! Although you can purchase them at the show. I can also listen to any of their songs in HD on YouTube. It is interesting to look at this in contrast to what was possible even 10 years ago. It was an excellent show and the crowd was great. In the end, however, it was a late night and I didn’t make it up for the Tuesday morning sunrise. I spent all day in the sun on Sunday, so Monday morning was actually spent sleeping through my sunrise alarm. Whoops!

This morning’s sunrise over Lunken Airfield was cool, quiet, and misty. There wasn’t another soul in the park this morning, probably because of the prospect of rain. I didn’t end up getting rained on, but the ground was wet. Every time I go up to Alms Park and sit at the overlook for the sunrise, I can’t help but think about what the hill looked like 100 years ago before the vineyard was shut down. Or what it looked like 100 years before that when the Native Americans in the valley supposedly called it “Bald Hill” and used it as a lookout for watching the settlers move into the valley. The oldest trees in the park and surrounding forest seem to be the oaks that were planted by the Park Service when the park was founded. The surrounding forest seems to have a healthy mix of adult trees but the even density and lack of overwhelmingly large trees gives me the impression that the average age of the old trees in the forest are about the same age. This would of course make sense if we could figure out where the vineyards were actually located. The trees growing on those spots now are likely the same or similar age. In fact, now that I think about it I have come across stone support walls deep in the forest. It makes you wonder what was built as support for the hill by the park service, and what dates back to the mid 1800s vineyard.t


Sunrise 73: Ault Park (Housefly Macro, Cement Textures, Meadow Insects)

The sunrise looking out across the small meadow.

Down at the meadow there are these orange/yellow flowers that stand high in the air. They’re buzzing with life and full of Bumblebees. Their colors looked deep orange in the sun light.

Sunrise (with a strange artifact on my camera lens)

This morning’s sunrise was a bit of a quiet one. The sky was hazy as usual and the ambient light through the atmosphere was a bit dull. The sun didn’t start putting off the orange/yellow light until I was on my way to work. Oh, and because this blog acts as a kind of personal journal, it’s worth mentioning that this morning was the first time I commuted to work directly from the park. The temperature was cool enough before 8:00am (about 72F) that it was fairly comfortable. I could really get used to this 🙂

I hung out at the far side of the park for a bit before embarking for work. In April I explored the small prairie that is maintained by the park crew and was excited to see just how tall it the vegetation has grown. The meadow was thick with flowers and healthy plant life. The only unfortunate part about it was the invasive mosquito species was also present in high numbers. Those things are fast and nasty.

Took about 20 pictures today. If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Flowers, Ants, Pollen, Flies, Cement Textured Macro pictures, etc. —-> (more…)


Sunrise 72: Ault Park (Cool Clear Skies, Katydids)

A beautiful sunrise on day 72.

This morning was a beautiful cool summer morning. I think the temperature was around 73 degrees with high humidity. I’m honestly surprised that the sky is still still. Last night some huge cumulus clouds rolled through the area so I expected to have some interesting atmospheric lighting conditions this morning. Not the case! The park was cool and damp and the valley below had wispy patterns of fog.

There were several katydids hanging out on one of the bushes near the overlook. My hands were shaking a bit as my heartrate dropped so I had a hard time getting a decent focus in the low light. There were actually two different kinds – a green one in the middle of six or seven white ones. Not sure if they are different subspecies or if they are different sexes.

Dawn over the ridge. The fog down in the valley is picking up indicating an interesting shift in air pressure. More storms to come in the next week?

Close up of the sunrise over the far eastern ridge over the Little Miami River Valley.

Early morning katydids.

A distant cloud banks its over the horizon. The sun’s orange light starting to give way to a more yellow late morning palette.

Close up of the green guy. It always amazes me how similar to a real leaf his adapted camouflage looks. Reminds me that in nature the same building blocks and emergent generative patterns can be found all over nature.

You can see several white katydids hiding out under the branch.

At the lower overlook facing the sunrise!

The overlook with the misty Armleder Park in the background.


Sunrise 71: The Cincinnati Observatory (Pinhole Solargraph Camera, Clear Blue Skies, Flowers)

I realized that I haven’t had too many “bike shots” recently. This small patio is where I sat and enjoyed the sunrise. I met a jogger who said that I was the only person she’s ever seen enjoying the sunrise here at her favorite spot.

Pinhole Camera! Ironically (or, perhaps not) the pinhole camera technology dates back to the late 1830s. Only a few years later, the 11″ lens now located in the Mitchell Building (the smaller of the two building on the Observatory’s campus) will be constructed.

Final shot of the sunrise against the Mitchell Building.

This morning I got up with plenty of time to spare. The sunrise was around 6:30am and I was at the Mt. Lookout United Dairy Farmers filling up my thermos ($.99 for the entire 26oz! And free on Mondays! UDF rules) by 6:20am. I read the weather forcast last night so I knew that this morning was supposed to be “clear” with only 10-20% cloud cover.

The forecast was right! After the foggy sunrises of the last week the beautiful clear sunrise was a welcome change. To honor this clear morning Tuesday I continued past Ault Park and ventured on over to the historic Cincinnati Observatory on Observatory Ave. I have never actually seen the sunrise at the Observatory because I normally only swing by on on the way back from Ault Park. With the sun moving all over the sky this summer I wasn’t even sure if the view of the sun would be appropriate. As it turns out the sun has moved far enough back to the right that there were no trees blocking Sol as he came up over the ridge line. I was impressed with just how perfect of a sunrise spot the Observatory actually is, but I can’t be too surprised considering that astrological alignment is basically their biggest concern!

The history alone of the Cincinnati Observatory is worth checking out. I have always found it interesting that the original lens in the large building was originally in Mt. Adams but it was moved to this site due to the pollution building up in the city. I never realized that they didn’t actually move the building from Mt. Adams, just the hardware. So while the lens itself dates back to the mid 1800s, this building dates back to the move to Mt. Lookout in 1873. You can find the cornerstone of the original Mt. Adams building to the back right of the new building, dating back to 1843. Now that I think about it, this may be the oldest building stone in Mt. Lookout. I’m sure this isn’t actually true, but as it stands currently it holds the Ault Park Sunrise record. This even pre-dates the 1850s construction of Crusade Castle & Vineyard.
The cornerstone, borrowed from Sunrise 41.

At the Cincinnati Observatory, the sun rose up from the break in the trees.

Not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful summer morning that you’d expect to see just after a storm.

This spot is out in front of the main Observatory Building (built in 1873). There is a circular brick patio with a handful of benches lining the outside it. It has all the great things that you’d expect to see at a true Cincinnati historic site. Murdock Fountains, late 1800s street lamps, Ohio Historical Markers, A memorial sundial, pre-1900s buildings, and a dedication by John Adams on the corner stone.

Looking East from the patio at the second building on the campus. This smaller “Mitchell” building has the original Merz und Mahler 11-inch telescope that dates back to 1843. The “main” building houses the 1904 16″ Alvan Clark & Sons telescope. Thanks wikipedia!

A vertical sunrise showcasing the late morning yellows and the deep blue gradient.

Looking towards the main building across the sundial memorial.

To the west of the main building I saw a funny contraption sitting on the lawn. Upon closer inspection (and with no physical contact whatsoever, of course!) I realized that it is a pinhold solargraph camera.

I imagine the purpose of this camera is to capture the sun’s path for the 31-day period between June 28 and July 28. They’re almost done! I’d like to see the results of this camera and I hope that they publish it. It’d be neat to see the same thing for a month of sunrises, too.

I wonder how they compensate for the possibility of the camera being blown over by the wind?

Outside the Observatory there are two big flower pots.

The red / white combination of flowers made for a great arrangement. Considering how my own flower pot experiment is failing miserably, I took mental notes and physical pictures.

Classy Arrangement. Maybe next time I try this at home I’ll use this as inspiration.


Sunrise 69, 70: Ault Park (Haze on the Ridge, Purple Cincinnati Wildflowers)

Purple Wildflower at the side of the road. They’re exploding in blooms all over the place around here. Not sure what they are but I like them. They’re thriving on the shoulders of country roads and city roads alike.

The late sunrise this morning over the haze.

This morning’s post has twice the sunrise packed into a single entry! On Friday I forgot to grab the USB cable that connects the camera to my laptop when I hopped in the car so I wasn’t able to make the Sunrise 69 post in a timely manner. Therefor today’s post has both this morning’s sunrise and Friday’s sunrise. I kind of like having both of them together because it keeps the volume of daily posts to a lower level. I don’t always like the fact that the front page is completely turned over very 10 days and often wonder if maybe my posting frequency is too high. The reason I wonder is that I’ll have a 35 picture historical exploration that gets bumped off with daily 3-picture sunrise posts. Oh well, that’s what the terribly outdated best-of section is for I suppose.

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue (13 pictures in all, mostly of the foggy ridge lines and late hazy sunrises) –> (more…)


Sunrise 68: Ault Park (Fog, Bellevue Hill Park, and Cincinnati Inclined Rail Stations)

Looking out towards Lunken Airfield to the west. The forest is dark and misty.

Looking at Downtown from Bellevue Hill Park in Clifton

This morning’s update is a bit of a strange one. My week has been in limbo because my car is in the shop getting checked out. The nice side effect of this transportation issue is that I’ve been forced to rely on my bike a lot more than I normally am used to. I’ve commuted to work twice (never done that before) and realized that the 6.5mi commute is seriously not bad. I can do it in 25 minutes which is comparable to the 15 minutes it takes by car. The route is mostly residential and feels safe. I also commuted to the University of Cincinnati campus yesterday, a bit longer of a stretch. The heat was intense (around 90F) and I think my body wanted the extra sleep this morning to make up for the extra physical activity. Long story short, yesterday I wasn’t able to get near my laptop (I keep it at work) so sunrise 68 is coming at you a day late. That’s OK though because I was able to scope out Bellevue Park, one of my favorites in Clifton that I don’t get to visit nearly enough, and realized some historically significant facts about it. Notch one more up for my respect to the Cincinnati Parks program.

If you’re on the front page you might as well click on now, there are some great pictures (and old high-def historical prints compliments of shorpy.com) (more…)