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

clear skies

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 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 🙂

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! 🙂

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 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 🙂

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 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… 🙂

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.

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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 – between 40 and 55F – 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 “Old Beechmont Ave” 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 – 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 “ash tree sunrise” 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 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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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.

For the 8 other pictures, if you’re on the front page, click to continue: (more…)


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.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 11 pictures total: (more…)


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 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 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 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 64: Ault Park (Deep Blue and a Spring Chill)

Deep Rich Blue and Orange Sunrise over the Little Miami River Valley from Ault Park

The most notable thing about this morning wasn’t the clear blue sky or the rich orange sunrise. It was, in fact, the temperature. After the blazing hot start to this week with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees with thick humidity, this morning was was almost chilly. There was very little cloud cover this morning even though the humidity was apparently around 70%. The temperature was about 65 degrees and for a few minutes I wondered if I really should have grabbed a long sleeve t-shirt or if I was just being a baby. It felt like a sunrise from late April! Today’s high is only around 83 which means tonight’s group ride with Element Cycles (first time in several weeks!) should be awesome.

I switched it back up and spent my first morning this week in Ault Park. Monday and Tuesday were in Alms Park with some brief stints through East End and yesterday was entirely Lunken Airfield. With the fog being pushed out of the valley, it was nice to get a sunrise through the clear air at the basin of the valley. Just to keep it diverse, I’ll have to come up with another location for tomorrow’s sunrise. Perhaps the prairie of Armleder Park?

Dawn is coming later each morning. This morning’s sunrise wasn’t until 6:23am! I kind of like the earlier sunrises. These late sunrises are making me feel like summer is already heading out the door!

I am, however, still setting my alarm for 5:50am. It took me a long time to get to this point, I find that I’m enjoying the early wakeups.

Look at those rich colors.

I realized I hadn’t taken a western view of Lunken Airfield for quite some time. There were small patches of fog nestled in the corners but otherwise the valley was clear of haze.

Armleder Park is looking healthy as ever. A plane takes off from Lunken, banking sharply.

Overlook shot with the valley illuminated by the morning sun.

Last shot of the sunrise with a nice little lens flair.


Sunrise 59: Ault Park (Muggy Orange Sunrise, Baby Mushrooms)

Sometimes you’ve just gotta change your perspective up a bit.

Baby Mushroom, probably came up last night.

This morning’s sunrise was a long slow clear skied one that finished off with beautiful orange accents. The humidity was high today and the valley was full of fog that didn’t show any signs of letting up. This haze caused the atmosphere to stay keep a pink/orange color for most of the early morning. The first ten minutes of sunrise, however, were beautiful. The sun has crept a bit more to the right of the tree line, back towards the center of the valley, which means I get a good view of it earlier than I did even two weeks ago. With the haze hiding the features of the ridge and valley below and also serving a second purpose of keeping the sun’s brightness in check, the sun seemed to just hang in the sky slightly below my eye level.

I think today might be a hot one. If not hot, at least wet and muggy!

Dawn. Super Foggy. Didn’t realize you could see the sun peaking through the trees until I reviewed the picture on my computer!

Overlook. Check out all that fog!

I just love this light pink to blue gradient.

The sun! This picture doesn’t do it justice – the color was a deep saturated magenta red that was easy to look at for the first few minutes of the sunrise.

The sky is starting to take on a bit of orange. I tried not to overdo it with the pictures this morning and enjoy my coffee.

An attempt to capture the gradient of the sidewalk. Pseudo Successful. See the small ants running around? They were on parade this morning down by the lower overlook. I couldn’t get a picture of them because of the low light – they showed up as blurs!

Macro Sidewalk. Jury is still out on how I feel about these. They’re meant to be a kind of textured picture that I can use as a wallpaper but didn’t turn out quite as crisp as I’d like.

This little baby mushroom no doubt pushed up over night. There were three of them coming up through the wet grass. The head is about the size of a dime.

Mushrooms are so neat. They’re almost too perfect in their smooth form and delicate pattern. You’ve gotta catch them within a day of their sprouting and before they’re damaged by rain if you want to get a clean picture.

Final picture of the morning. The ridge in the distance is well hidden indeed! I swear the more I come to Ault Park for sunrise, the more I realize how neat of a vantage point Heekin Overlook is. Where else in Cincinnati can you look “down” into the sunrise across a valley that changes its appearance by the day? As much as I despise prohibition to the core, I am thankful that Ault Park (and the surrounding hills) were never developed further after the fall of the vineyards.


Sunrise 56: Fripp Island, South Carolina (East Coast Sunrise and Island Deer)

Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean

As our two week trip is coming to an end, I find myself hanging out with my family in Fripp Island, South Carolina. It seems oddly coincidental to find myself, within one week of being on the West Coast, looking out at the sunrise on the East Coast. The only other time that I’ve seen both coasts within a week was back in 2005 (2006?) when I took a road trip to Seattle and back to help move a friend for a spring co-op. If memory holds, we hit Seattle on the third day, stayed a full day, then headed home. The coming weekend I hopped back in the car with a different group of friends and visited some friends in New York City. An exhausting but memorable trip.

The first few pictures out of today’s post are actually of a sunrise from two days ago. We’ve had some late nights which meant getting up for the sunrise (6:20am here – later than Cincinnati because we’re so far south!) with only 2 or 3 hours of sleep. Needless to say, the sunrise mornings have been in moderation on this leg of the trip.

The pelicans fly over this coast of the island in groups of up to 20. They call it “Pelican Highway”. These birds are huge, they flap together as a group, and drop bombs the size of golf balls.

My brother (and his hair) looking out at the ocean. At this point we don’t really know where the sun is going to come up as this is our first sunrise.

As it turned out, the sun came up over to the left. Lesson learned, although this rocky shore picture turned out quit nice about 50 minutes after the official “sunrise”.

A non-widescreen version of the previous picture.

And a close up. Looking back on this picture two days later, I realize that the silhouetted shelter in the center of this picture is actually an absolutely ideal sunrise location.

There is a small population of deer on the island. This small group has been hanging around the house we’re staying in. They’re people friendly and don’t seem to have an ounce of aggression in their body. They’ll eat an apple out of your hand and then follow you around like lost puppies. At sunrise and sunset the typically can be seen making their rounds through the island.

The deer no doubt have been tamed as the island has become developed over the past 200 years. The history of the deer is probably interesting but a quick google search doesn’t give much information. Going back to the 1840s, I find a historical account of a hunting trip to Fripp Island. Back then the deer were no doubt feral and coveted as challenging game. As this post gets associated with “Fripp Island Deer” I hope that some future internet visitor can shed some light on any additional trivia or genetic anomalies.

I’m reminded of a study that I read several months ago about an island population of deer (I think in Alaska) that exploded in population before crashing entirely. The study was performed over several decades and one year the researches returned to the island to find that the deer had gone extinct. I don’t remember the exact details of the study but I believe there are some theories as to minimum deer size necessary for genetic diversity and what exactly caused the die-off of the deer. I’m guessing it had to do with how fast the local vegetation could re-grow in the cold Alaskan climate.

My favorite picture of the deer. The one in the foreground has interesting eyes and sets it out from the others. The other deer have all black eyes but this young buck has a white ring around the outside of the eye. I believe it would be the equivalent of “eye color” in humans.

Another one of the island deer.

I think he’s trying to play croquette.

Now, on to the sunrise.

This morning’s sunrise was beautiful! We recently had a pretty intense storm (although being so close to the island puts us at the advantage of having the ocean winds push back most of the storm so that it stays inland). Up until a day or two ago, there were winds so severe that you almost couldn’t talk without yelling. We thought this was normal, but as it turns out it was just the pressure system building up until the final thunderstorm that cleared the sky. The side effect of this is that the sun rose in a sky almost completely clear of clouds.

Due to the fact that my previous sunrise attempt was met with the realization that we’re not facing exactly east, I set off down the road to try and figure out if there was a location that I could see the sunrise from, without trekking about 400 yards down the rocky beach. I was successful in finding a little shelter that looks directly towards the sunrise. It certainly felt as if the shelter was built with a purpose, and that purpose is to watch the sunrise 🙂

It actually took a few minutes to find the sun. It came up through the haze oh-so-subtly. This boat was heading out for the morning but they must have forgot the beer because they came back about 40 minutes later. Check out the picture toward the end of this post to see the boat coming back in a complementary sunrise shot.

The deep red orange sun coming up over the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue to see this morning’s sunrise: —-> (more…)