Over-The-Rhine & Downtown Cincinnati against a massive fog bank over the Ohio River. As seen on the morning of St. Patty’s day from Bellevue Hill Park in Clifton.
We stopped by Mt. Adams for a beer & a Rugby game (oh, and another free breakfast!) at Tap & Go. Here we look out over the Ohio River from Mt. Adams.
A view from Newport, KY as a barge rolls along up the Ohio River. (The white balance may have gotten away from me on this one; original photo is down below)
(Don’t forget to check out the sister post that will show up in a few minutes from this morning. Sunrise 155)
This year the wife and I decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s day by getting up super early and heading to Clifton for a free hot breakfast @ Murphy’s Pub. I realized right away that this would put me within walking distance of Bellevue Hill Park, one of my favorites in the city for its historic location, so I made sure to grab my camera and bring it along with me for the ride. We ended up spending the early morning in Clifton, the mid morning in Mt. Adams, and the late morning in Newport, Kentucky. As we traveled around the rim of the valley (and finally down by the river), I kept track of the thick fog that sat along the Ohio River. By the end of the morning the sky had cleared up and I found myself gazing at the Cincinnati Skyline under a summer-esque blue sky with rolling clouds.
We started off our morning at Murphy’s Pub in Clifton. Murphy’s Pub is a Clifton classic and they sure know how to host a party. Their breakfast (and green eggs) were superb and the crowd was a nice mix of students and locals. This bagpiper scared the pants off of us as he started his morning serenade at 6:30am.
When I first arrived in Clifton I made the immediate realization that I was only two blocks from Bellevue Hill Park, my favorite park in the Clifton area due to it’s history and breathtaking view of Downtown Cincinnati across Over-The-Rhine. I jokingly offered the other members of our party a chance to join me in a jog to the park, but none of them cared to take me up. I ran into a friend from school, Duffee (who is actually my “little brother” from our days in the fraternity), who is always up for an adventure. He joined me as we high tailed it up to the park at day break.
We arrived in the park to a handsome view of a tall & fluffy pile of fog hanging over the Ohio River. At first I was disappointed that we weren’t going to get a colorful sunrise sky, but that disappointment was replaced with joy when we saw the wall of fog that provided a beautiful backdrop to the Cincinnati Skyline.
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Good morning! I ventured out for the first post-DST sunrise at 7:50am this morning. I took advantage of the late sunrise by getting up extra early and setting out for the park by 7:10am. I looked up into the sky and saw a thin cloud layer with patches of blue which meant that it was definitely worth a gamble. I’ve been getting a bit bored by the clear morning sunrises and have been hoping for a change up, especially with the upcoming spring weather. There was a chance that this morning’s thin cloud layer could provide an amazing reflective backdrop of pinks and oranges, but alas the clouds ended up being too thick for the sun to penetrate.
I did, however, take full advantage of the amazing weather this morning. A light rain came through the area last night so the pavement was wet and smelled like earthworms and petrichor (a word I learned last year and try to use as often as possible). The air was thick with humidity and as I dove into the park via the steep hill on Observatory Ave, I could feel the temperature suddenly drop. The cool air rolling across the quiet dark street from the budding forest was refreshing and spirit lifting.
This morning was quite dark. I had high hopes for the sunrise, but in the end it was warm, peaceful, and full of bird songs and the promise of spring. I noticed yesterday that the magnolia trees have started to bloom! Can you believe it? Last year the magnolias and cherry blossoms showed up in the second week of april, just after this project got started. Here’s one of my favorites from last year:
I woke up this morning and peered out the window to see a dark gray/blue overcast sky. The warm weather had me excited so I decided to take my chances and see if there was going to be a sunrise this morning after all. I was hoping that maybe the light cloud layer that rolled in late last night was still around, but as it turned out the sky was filled with thick gray rain-filled clouds.
I left for the park with a light drizzle lapping the pavement around me. This morning the weather was so warm that I actually wore shorts and a sweatshirt – no hat, gloves, long pants, double socks, or facemask! In fact I’d say that this morning’s sunrise ride was one of the most pleasant trips up to the park if for no other reason than I was able to truly appreciate the ambient sounds with more novelty since I was not wearing my winter facemask.
The wet atmosphere held a steady 52F as I worked my way up to the overlook in Ault Park. The air was sweet and smelled like spring. With no sunrise in sight, I casually strolled through the gardens and took some pictures of the desolate ground that has already started to show signs of life. There are several pieces of the gardens that look barren right now, but in just two short months they will be exploding with garden life as the plants take advantage of the warm humid sub-tropic microclimate of Eastern Cincinnati.
The birds were loud and flirty this morning in the warm air. No doubt they too detect the first comings of spring. I found buds in the trees, especially the magnolias. Their buds are already the size of my thumb and will be bursting open in white and purple blooms in just 6 short weeks. Mentally I’m still prepared for winter, but in the back of my mind I know that spring is almost here. With spring comes green life, organic growth, colorful blossoms, and so many insects to find. I’m looking forward to Armleder Parks prairie and the 10′ high stalks of meadow grass & compass flowers.
I checked the forecast last night and was surprised to see that the entire week is expected to be overcast and gloomy. It appears our streak of beautiful clear autumn skies is officially over as we break into the winter season. With last week being mostly filled with cloudy and wet mornings, it appears that this week will be no exception. This isn’t to say that there may not be a surprise or two hidden in the weather pattern, however. The forecast has been particularly shaky over the course of this season transition so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there may be some gems hidden in the upcoming week. Even a slight break in a cloudy pattern can make for a spectacular sunrise because of the unpredictable dynamics that a cloudy sky provides.
This morning, however, was the only day for the entire week that there was an expectation of relatively clear skies. The forecast said 19% cloud cover which is a great bet considering that I can get lucky with up to 60% cloud cover. I went to bed looking up at a clear sky and woke up to a dark gray atmosphere of the kind you’d expect to be brooding a winter storm. I was a bit disappointed, but seeing as how today is Free Coffee Refill Day @ UDF (every Monday!) I decided to check it out anyway in the hopes that something may change. Interestingly enough, Mt. Lookout Square is kind of in a valley so it can be hard to judge what the distant horizon is up to without actually getting up to Ault or Alms Park.
By the time I was leaving Mt. Lookout Square, the sky had shown no signs of light and the sunrise time was just around the corner. I took the “long way” to Ault Park, up through some extra neighborhood hills just to keep my cardiovascular system in check as we head into winter hibernation. Once I passed the Cincinnati Observatory, however, I could see that the eastern sky was up to something. The bare trees provided a view that suggested that it was time to high tail it up to the overlook. I dropped the trusty old Fuji into high gear (OK second gear, who am I kidding with these hills) and pressed onward to the overlook hoping that I wouldn’t miss the show.
As it turned out, the eastern horizon was beginning to light up in a magnificent shade of fuchsia unlike one that I’ve seen so far in this project. A rare sight, indeed. The pictures unfortunately do not do it justice because it was as if the entire lower atmosphere was ablaze with a hot pink fire. The color did not spread into the upper atmosphere and was contained by the breaking cloud front that only temporarily was giving up control of the eastern sky. There was a faint mist across the Valley that served to accentuate the bright light. I arrived at the overlook in time, and just as quickly as the fuchsia show arrived, it dwindled into a muted gray/orange sunrise.
As a completely unrelated note, while I was going through the pictures on the camera I realized that I had forgotten to include some documentation from a recent Hot Air Balloon Festival (Balluminaria) at Eden Park. I was hoping to get back up to Eden Park to continue the exploration of the reservoir ruins, but it hasn’t happened yet. Rather than wait for that to happen and include the pictures there, I’m posting the pictures along with Sunrise 130.
This was our first time attending the Balluminaria and it was a neat thing to partake in. The balloons lit up as dusk settled in. It was pretty crazy to see the thousands of people descent on Eden Park for the event that took place November 17 2011. I’m not sure if they have two separate fuels, one for hot air and one for light, but there was a distinct difference between the flames that kept the balloons inflated and the flames that lit up the canopy.
Songbirds preparing for winter. The amount of bird activity in the park this morning was unusually high. Red headed woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays, robins and mourning doves, crows, and chick-a-dees to name a few.
The forecast must be a bit harder to predict during the seasonal change. This is two mornings in a row now that I would have expected a decent sunrise but instead was met with a dark cloudy sky. The forecast had mentioned a 38% cloud cover which should have given me a beautiful dynamic sunrise sky. Instead I got a dark winter atmosphere that eventually broke a little bit as I was heading home.
In fact, it was so dark this morning that half of my pictures seemed to come out a bit blurry. Oops! Some days are like that though and it really makes me appreciate the brighter days that make the pictures turn out so well! That’s the one thing about this camera, for all it’s great qualities, that could use some improvement. It’s hard to get a decent macro picture in low light, even while resting the camera on the ground. This is a bit of a “light” post because we’re about to head up north for some good old fashioned family Christmas festivities. Thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out about halfway through this post where I cover some light ideas regarding the vineyard history in Cincinnati and a future “Cincinnati Vineyard Sunrise” series.
For the rest of this post, including all 17 pictures and the old stone structures at Ault Park, please click to continue if you’re on the front page! (more…)
This post comes a day late as the holiday festivities have had us pretty busy! Thursday morning was, of course, the holiday of Thanksgiving. For the past two years my wife has participated in the Turkey Trot, a 10k through downtown Cincinnati that has been going on for 102 years. It’s quite an event because 15,000 people quickly come together for the race before high tailing off to their family lunches, dinners, and football games. It’s seriously impressive just how many people come out for the Thanksgiving race, the only bigger race I’ve seen in Cincinnati is the famous Flying Pig Marathon.
After a long streak of thunderstorms, the forecast had finally put the weather for Thursday morning at a confident 9% cloud cover in clear skies. There was a bit of a mishap in the forecast and what ended up happening was that Thanksgiving morning was gloomy, misty, and wet. I think what actually happened was that the clear skies warmed up the ground and there was actually just lots of FOG. But the fog lifted up a few hundred yards into the sky and simulated low-lying cloud cover. When I originally left for the sunrise, the sky was a deep dark blood red, signifying that a high humid sunrise was on the schedule for the morning. By the time I got to the park, however, it was apparent that the sky was full of fog. It was a relatively warm, wet, and dark sunrise.
Either way – Happy Thanksgiving! Today, the day after Thanksgiving, the fog has finally lifted and the skies are clear and the weather is great.
More empty streets. It took about 15 minutes for all the runners to funnel out across the starting line, and another 15 minutes before the first runner started to make his way towards the finish line. I’m always surprised by how fast some of these runners are!
By and large, this morning’s sunrise was quite a disappointment! We’ve had four days of overcast rainy and stormy conditions as the warm autumn weather has been battling for control against the coming winter cold. Last night in the late afternoon, the sky broke and we had a beautiful sunset. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, but it was full of color and many different cloud formations that reflected the sun light for a full 40 minutes after sunset. There were also several airplane jet trails that actually cast a dark shadow against the purple upper atmospheric clouds. A friend of mine took a picture at The Ohio State University, about 100 miles north/northeast of Cincinnati, and shared it with me. You can see how I may have had high expectations for this morning’s sunrise! Brent has been takings lots of pictures of OSU’s stadium at various times of the day. Check out the gallery and the new twitter feed.
This morning I had hoped that the weather held and we were going to get a sunrise similar to the sunset of last night. I would have been happy with anything! But as the sun set and the atmosphere cooled, another thick bank of clouds rolled in last night. I woke up at 6:30am, a full 50 minutes before the sunrise (I was excited!) and was disappointed when I looked out the window and saw only dark gray skies. Interestingly enough, the western sky did break for about 10 minutes on my ride home and I saw hints of a whispy blue upper atmosphere, but at the time of this writing the sky is back to gray.
The gray of the atmosphere this morning wasn’t all bad, of course. There was no sunrise, but the calm and quiet overcast mornings do have properties of their own. It was cold, being in the lower 30s, but I was dressed appropriately and was armed with my thermos of coffee. The sky was a deep dark gray this morning, a color that I tend to associate with a wet cloud system that has the potential for a downfall or, hopefully, a thick snowfall. The squirrels were highly active this morning and I caught half a dozen of them stretched out on the trunks of the oak trees watching me watch them crack open acorns for an early breakfast. The darkness of the atmosphere meant that Lunken Airfield’s lighting systems stayed lit for longer than usual, and I noticed that with most of the leaves gone from the trees already, there are more opportunities for getting a different view of the valley from atop these hills.
Speaking of winter, I wanted to share an article about the work of a photographer that I recently found from Outdoor Photographer. The article is titled The Season of Solitude and it highlights the landscape photography of Marc Adamus. Now here is a dude who loves sunrises as much as I do. He treks out into the wilderness to get some incredible landscape pictures. The pictures of course are beautiful, but his philosophy on winter is what really drew me to the piece. I did reach out to Marc to see if he ever wanted to collaborate on a sunrise post, but he’s out in the wilderness for a few weeks. Who knows, maybe he’ll get back with me? The article has made me very excited to continue this project into the winter, even if it means more dreary overcast days like today. Being from the midwest, I love snow so much and the idea of exploring the new dynamics that a sunrise-over-snow brings to the table makes me excited. One of the most overlooked properties of winter that I also like is how much is prepares us for true wholesome appreciation of spring. I don’t mean that as a stab towards winter, I mean it in the way that everything needs balance, and the seasons are no exception. Winter is a time for hibernation, preparation, reflection, and harboring a longing for signs of life. I always wait for the first true “warm” day in Cincinnati because the streets fill with people running and walking, being social, and generally full of good spirits and community. How can they achieve such balance out in California with all their “great weather” and “sunny with no chance of rain” skies? 😉 I kid. But in all seriousness, I’m looking forward to the challenges that this winter will bring especially since it’ll be even more tough getting up early in the freezing cold to bike up to the sunrise only to find that the sky may be filled with clouds. Everything needs balance, of course, so these days will only make the clear sunrise mornings that much more beautiful.
Oh! One more thing. Tomorrow morning’s sunrise is forecast to be mostly clear with a touch of clouds. Today’s was forecasted to be “iffy” so it really is not a huge surprise that there were so many clouds in the sky. I’m looking forward to the first clear sunrise in 6 days tomorrow morning, we’ll see how it goes! With high humidity and low cloud cover, this could give an opportunity for FOG and/or a slow-rising deep purple sunrise against a clear open blue sky. Although, to be fair, I’m very new to these super cold temperature sunrises so it could be something altogether different. Who knows?
I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to head up to the park this morning. Rumor had it that there was a small chance of breaking skies so I figured it was worth the bet. The morning sunrise was quiet and calm, and I actually did get a bit more of a show than I expected considering the recent three days of wet rainy mornings. When I left the apartment to head up to the park, the atmosphere had a dark shade of gray and it looked like there was no hope of seeing a sunrise. When I started climbing the hill, however, I saw some hints of light through the backyards of the local homes. As it turned out, there were several patches clearing up above Lunken Airport, but unfortunately the clear patches were not far enough east to allow the sun to make an appearance. Either way, it was a pleasant, but cold – about 42F, morning and my hot thermos of coffee came in handy!
A morning like this reminds me of the first few sunrises in early April.
I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Fall Back”, when day light savings ends. It’ll be nice to get out for another 7:00am sunrise before winter sets in.
Looking out across Lunken Airfield where the sky is showing signs of clearing up. Interestingly enough, the atmosphere did not change at all in the 20 minutes I was at the overlook. There seemed to be no wind at all.
Armleder Park. To the right we can see the Mt. Washington water tower, known for its Art Deco style.
I’ve skipped the last several wet overcast mornings but today at 7:00am I ventured out into the humid streets to Ault Park. The sunrise this morning was at 7:22am, the latest so far. Looking back, Sunrise 1 was at 7:14am. I’ve broken through the calendar symmetry and am now proceeding into new territory! I never regret going out in a misty morning, especially on such a temperate day as today. The temperature was in the mid sixties, and other than some light fog here and there I didn’t get too wet.
It’s amazing how heavy my legs felt after taking a few days off. The climb up to the park was a good workout, and by the time I got up there I was ready for my coffee and a break. I discovered several new happenings at the Overlook, including a new replacement bench for the one that was destroyed by vandals, and it looks like the park service cut down the dead oak tree.
I came up with a great idea for what to do with the dead oak tree, but unfortunately it looks like my idea came about a week too late. I realized that this dead oak would have been an excellent opportunity to create one of those stump carvings that I’ve seen in the neighborhood. The stump is probably too low now to do anything with. It would have been a beautiful piece of art. Here’s an example that I found on the way home:
I ended up making up for lost time and took about 40 pictures this morning through the gardens and around the overlook. I’ll just go ahead and put up the front page disclaimer now!
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue reading. I do this so that the front page doesn’t become too slow for older computers with lower amounts of memory. Click over here to check out the other 30 pictures: —>
I haven’t had a morning like this since April or May! With the wind whipping by my face as I careened down the back side of Mt. Tusculum on the way to Alms Park, my ears started to hurt from the cold. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the temperature had dropped down to the low 40s sometime during the night. This was by far the coldest morning in months!
Between the poor sun display and the knuckle-aching cold air, I only took two pictures this morning. I’m also including in this post a few other pictures from the last few days. There are a couple from two night-ago’s Alms Park Sunset that will provide some nice symmetry with this morning’s Alms Park Sunrise. The other handful are of a local family of white tailed deer that have been hanging out in our back yard over the past two days. I’ve been working from home on my thesis research so I’ve been watching the local deer activity as a welcome break. I find it kind of surreal that there is such a healthy population of quarter-ton mammals that share the neighborhood with us humans. More on that down below 🙂
On my way to Alms Park, I could see the sky behind the wooded neighborhood turning a deep glowing pink. The high humidity in the air coupled with some clouds in the lower atmosphere resulted in a a pre-dawn display that I could just barely make out behind the houses. It did, however, light up the rest of the sky with a subtle purple hue. By the time I got up to the park, however, the pre-dawn purples had been replaced with an orange/yellow. The sun didn’t come up for another 10 minutes, it felt like, but by the time I realized that the sun was actually risen, I could tell it was climbing up behind the low-laying cloud bank. I was a bit disappointed because I had high expectations for this morning’s sunrise. Yesterday morning was rainy and overcast, but the sky cleared up in the afternoon and the result was crisp and sunny weather. Even last night’s sunset was relatively clear, a condition I hoped would stick around until this morning. In the end, however, the clouds took over the sky and there wasn’t much of a sunrise. I will say, however, that the cold bite really woke me up!
I find it fascinating and kind of freaky (if I think too hard about it) that there are several hundred mammals that weight more than I do casually roaming through the local forests and neighborhoods. The local proximity of the old-growth forests in Ault Park and Alms Park definitely provide a kind of “home base” for the animals. These white-tailed deer have become somewhat of a fascination to me over the last year. I’ve always known they were around, but what I find so neat is that when you really look for them, they’re seriously everywhere. If you stay in your apartment all night, and then get in your car and drive to work, and repeat every day without ever going on a walk through the neighborhood at dusk, you probably would never notice them more than a couple times a year when they decide to run out in front of traffic or take a nap in your front yard. However, if you start really looking in yards and at the edge of the forest, you can find them on a nightly basis during the summer and early autumn. You can find them laying down in front yard gardens, running loudly through the obvious “deer trails” through the local patches of forest, and darting out in front of late afternoon traffic. They’ve become kind of sloppy, too, as the docile “humans are ALRIGHT” traits start to become more pronounced, and the “be careful and quiet so that we can live” traits become less important. Sometimes I think a drunken college student has stumbled through the thicket behind our place, when in reality it’s just a young deer with a rack that he doesn’t know how to handle.
I’ve never heard of any “deer attacks” in Mt. Lookout, other than the occasional poor guy who gets hit by a car (that would be a car-on-deer attack!). This makes me believe that the deer are generally flighty, not aggressive, with a touch of docility. The females especially seem to be the most passive. I can typically approach a female, slowly, and get within 8-10 feet of her before she starts giving me strange looks. When she finally does get spooked, she typically only walks a few yards away, huffing obviously in an annoyed kind of tantrum. “Can’t you see I’m grazing here!?”. The bucks (males), on the other hand, are much more strategic in their movements. Upon approach, they will kind of group up and literally “high-tail” it back into the forest (high-tail’n it = run with their tails in the air, exposing the bright white under-side. Obviously a signal to other deer that it’s time to get the heck out). But what’s funny about the bucks is that they will stop about 30 yards away and position their heads to be able to see where I am. When I approached these two bucks pictured above, they ran into the forest and emerged in the middle of the neighbor’s yard about 40 yards away. I didn’t even realize they were carefully watching me until I loudly cracked my way into the edge of the forest (I’m no more quiet than the deer are). It was then that I saw their heads popping up over the hill, waiting to see what my next move would be. I’m glad they’re not equipped with laser guns.
This reminds me of a story. I’ll never forget the time I was walking through the forest in Alms Park, last autumn, minding my own business and looking for the coral patterned hedge apples, when I encountered a massive 14-point buck trucking loudly through the fallen leaves. I heard him coming from about 100 yards away, with obvious disregard to who heard him coming. Being a large animal with no local predators beyond a few scarce coyotes that don’t seem to make it up to the mountain very often, he was carelessly banging his rack around on branches and rooting through the pile of leaves on the ground. I even heard him kick some forgotten glass bottle. Through the naked branches I could see a brown blur and it was covering some serious ground.
I was sitting at the ruins of an old recreational shelter (that may even be a ruin from the old 1800s vineyard, I haven’t confirmed either theory) when I heard the ruckus. He was moving straight towards me from the bottom of a small valley that the stone overlook would have looked out across. I was curious what would happen if we were to meet (at this point I didn’t realize just how huge this thing was) so I kind of crouched down behind the 3-foot stone wall. I also grabbed a harvested softball-sized monkey-brain (hedge apple) that was sitting nearby, either to offer as food or, as last desperation, as a weapon if I needed it. 30 seconds later I poked my head up and saw the massive buck, with at least 14 points on his rack and twice my weight, heading straight for the shelter ruins about 30 yards away. He hadn’t spotted me yet. By this point I had waited way too long to make a move and the realization came over me that startling him would probably be something I should avoid.
He cruised right up to the other side of the old stone wall that I was crouching behind and stopped. I could hear him breathing and I could also tell he was weighting his options. I also realized that I was sitting only 4 feet, to my left, from the walking trail inside this stone wall that formed a perfect little “U” with the closed-end to my right. As I sat there on edge, floating in my pool of adrenaline, I couldn’t help but be simultaneously in awe at how close I was to this magnificent animal. At this point, I wondered what it was that the buck was thinking about. Could he smell me? Was I too loud? Is he just messing with me? In hindsight, the buck was probably thinking to himself “well I’m really trying to make it over to Sandra’s den on the other side of the hill. She always has the best acorns and if I’m lucky she’ll have some more of that delicious fungus from last week. I could make better time if I hopped on the old walking trail and “high-tailed” it, but I might run into some of those large noisy nomadic mammals I keep seeing in the forest. I’m not sure I have the energy for that. Maybe it’s best to stick to the side roads…” In my mind, I sure he’d choose to go left on the path, and soon we’d be face to face and only 4 feet apart, with a stone wall to my left, right, and back. At least he’d be just outside kicking range, I assured myself. Do deer even like hedge apples? In my head I pictured a startled deer rearing back on his hind legs, and me yelling “Surprise! Here’s a Hedge Apple!” while simultaneously throw/handing it to him in a part-diplomatic part-defensive move. I’m not sure that’ll go over well.
It took all the gusto I had to slowly, and quietly, raise my head over the top of the wall. Fortunately he was looking straight ahead and I came up just behind his shoulders to his left side. He was massive and the top of his back came up to about a foot and a half above the three foot all that I was hiding behind. I heard him give a loud huff, and then the leaves started to rustle as he began moving. He chose to continue on the route he was on, crossing straight over the walking path, and continuing into the forest. Within 6 seconds he had disappeared into the brown background, and within 20 seconds I couldn’t hear him any longer. As it turns out, even deer yield to oncoming traffic.
So I guess the point of all of this is that out there, in the forest, every day and all afternoon, there are isolated and independent packs of male and female deer just hanging out, watching us humans go about our busy lives. How do the males go about courting the females? Do they leave chemical markers as a kind of note for other deer that say “hey this lawn is pretty tasty, and the old lady doesn’t care if you get pretty close to the house. No dogs.”? Yeah, you’re right. Probably not.
So the bucks pictured above showed up in the backyard two days ago. Yesterday afternoon, in the same location, these two (and later a third) showed up to graze on the fresh grass and Kudzu. There were two females and a young fawn. These pictures are through the window into our backyard. I’ve noticed a pattern in deer behavior that is probably well known among hunters. The females tend to stick together in a foraging herd, while the males (bucks) tend to stick together in their own nomadic (and probably territorial?) bachelor party. I would like to think it isn’t a coincidence that the bucks showed up one day, then the does showed up the second day. They’re probably on shifts or something.
I finally was able to remove the screen from my window without spooking them too much. Here’s a much more clear shot (along with the first picture at the beginning of this post). The third female came out from behind the building to the right. Didn’t know she was there.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 pieces, welded steel homes, and much more. Hopefully I don’t end up eating my own words!
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.
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.
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
This morning’s sunrise was almost identical to yesterday’s sunrise. There was a low atmospheric layer of foggy stratus haze that obscured most of the light. For the few minutes before sunrise you could see these bursting rays of light arcing up through the upper atmosphere, but they disappeared before I could get a decent picture of them. The sky was blue up above me and the moon clearly visible.
This week’s weather is calling for mostly hot and humid days with scattered thunder storms. I’ve been really interested lately in watching how the morning sunrise weather changes with the air pressure. Early last week the mornings were gray with fog sitting down in the lower valley basin. As the thunder storms built up in the tri-state, and finally broke with intense action, the fog disappeared (or, probably more accurately, moved higher into the atmosphere). As a side effect, the day following the major storms was perfectly clear with no clouds in the sky. The next day had slight whisps of clouds, and the following day had a beautifully mixed set of 40% cloud cover with all kinds of formations. It was on that day that I got some of the best sunrise pictures of the month.
The point of all of this is the following. Yesterday and today were gray and boring. But today it looks like we’re in line for some heavy thunderstorms that may stick around for a few days. I can’t wait for the first sunrise after the heavy summer storms. The post-storm sunrises never disappoint and are always unique and colorful. You can’t have the best ones without first having a streak of boring ones 🙂
Down below to the left we see Armleder Park (For some great pictures of the park, check out last Friday’s post). To the right we see Lunken Airfield (pictures from last week). See that patch of forest in the middle? That’s where the 4-lane Beechmont Avenue runs out to Mt. Washington and Anderson. The gate that I highlighted yesterday, located on the back side of Lunken Airport’s 5-mile bike trail, will open up to a connector trail that will go under Beechmont Avenue and over to Armleder Park. This will give cyclists, runners, roller bladers, and dog walkers access Armleder Park from Lunken Airfield.
This is a picture of the gate that I took yesterday. You can see on the left side, beyond the gate, there are markers that show that the construction crew is working diligently on the path. Due to all the flooding that occurred during the spring, I’m wondering if they’ll have a hard time meeting their Fall 2011 deadline.
So the interesting thing about this new trail is that they are building it on top of an existing lane. There used to be a small gravel access road that ran along the levee. I always wondered what the heck that road used to be. It was, at one time, important enough to be paved and have a gate protecting access to it. The gate is old and almost overrun with vegetation now. I had a few theories:
- An ancient bike path that simply ran out of funding.
- Satelite images show that it connects, somehow, to Beechmont Ave. Perhaps an old Lunken Airfield trail?
- An access road for something off in the woods?
- Part of the old Little Miami River gate system? There are strange wooden and metal structures hidden in the woods off of the levee that look like they were once used for loading ship or something. Jury is still out on what they actually are, but I’ve been told they had to do with the old lock system that controlled the river before they re-routed it out of Lunken Airfield’s Campus.
Well, that’s about it as far as my ill-informed theories go. Check out the Google Map and see for yourself. The “new trail” is the blue line and you can see how it continues over into the forest on the other side of Beechmont Ave.
Yesterday I was poking around the Cincinnati subreddit and got into a discussion about this Armleder / Lunken Connector. I asked if anyone knew what used to be back along this trail. I honestly didn’t expect to find anything out, but the user jOhn33y informed me that there used to be an old drag strip back in the forest that operated from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s before being shut down due to noise ordinance violations. Interestingly enough, one YouTube commenter says that as a boy he remembers asking his mom why they shut down the race track, and she replied “the rich people on the hill didn’t like the noise so they shut it down”. Also reminds me of the stories I hear about the old Grandin Ave Viaduct over Delta Ave, but that’s a story for another day.
Map Image and Beechmont Dragway Logo are from Queen City Motorsports Historical Page
Now that I look at the satellite map, it makes perfect sense. The actual drag strip was on the other side of Beechmont Ave so I can’t say for sure whether this trail was simply alternate access to the strip, part of the racing strip in general, or something else entirely. Either way this opens up a new piece of Eastern Cincinnati history that I was completely unaware of. Once these storms die down I plan on exploring the old Drag Strip to see what still remains. There is some footage on YouTube of someone else’s exploration, as well as an old silent film (with audio commentary removed due to copyright violations… grrr). Here’s some awesome old footage of the 1960s drag strip:
Sometime after these thunder storms die down I’ll go exploring back there to see what still remains of the old drag strip. There’s some footage on YouTube but there looks to be much more to the site than just the small area where the video is taken. The original source for all of this information is from this Queen City Motorsports page.
This morning’s sunrise was non-existent. The sky was blue to the west but a thick layer of fog sat a couple thousand feet above the earth to the east. The ambient light was dark and gloomy, which was peculiar because you could see the moon high above, sitting in the open dark blue sky.
I stopped briefly at Alms Park to check out the situation down in the valley. There was a running group that had just finished up jogging around the Alms Park Loop. The dark foggy mornings up in Alms Park, combined with the high ceiling that the majestic Oak Trees provide, creates a kind of eerie atmosphere. I was hoping that I could use the delayed sunrise to give me enough time to get down to the Lunken Loop before the orange colors came out.
I hopped down Tusculum and rode through East End over to Lunken Airfield. The sky was no different, still gray and dark. I took the chance to ride around the 5 mile loop that surrounds the airfield. This picture taken from my favorite bench, enjoying my second cup of coffee for the day.
The trail was dark and misty. It is made up mostly of long stretches of trail that seemed to disappear into the fog. It was back on this trail, about 5 weeks ago, that I saw two young coyotes jogging in the late afternoon sun. Once they saw me they slipped down under the fence and strolled out onto the airfield. They didn’t seem aggressive in the least, but then again I’m not a young sheep.
An attempt to capture this beautiful young wild flower (Queen Anne’s Lace?). The lighting was dark and I couldn’t hold still long enough so this picture will have to do. (It isn’t particularly bad, but it isn’t as crisp as I’d like it to be)
At the back of the trail there is a small fork in the road. This gate prohibits access to what will soon become the connector that will allow runners and cyclists to access Armleder Park directly from the Lunken Loop! They’re making great progress and I hope they are able to wrap it up by the end of fall. You can tell that this was once something else – maybe an old bike trail from decades ago? Or maybe an access road? If you look at a satellite map you can tell that *something* used to run along this levee, under where Beechmont Avenue is now, and over to the Little Miami River access point in Armleder Park. I dont’ think there were any canal systems on this levee, but there are strange old “gates” that jut out to the right of where I’m standing in the picture. Old wooden and metal structures that you can see in the early spring and late fall when the leaves are gone from the trees. I was told that they, at one time, helped keep the river under control back before they routed the Little Miami River to its current location. I think it used to flow onto Lunken Airfield. A mystery I’m saving for another day.
Off in the distance (looking east now, towards sunrise), we see a small orange highlight. The sun is there, behind all that fog. I’m actually looking out at Reeve’s Golf Course, although you can’t see it behind the patch of prairie bushes in the foreground.
The trip up to the park this morning was pleasant if not a bit dark. There was a cloudy layer across the sky, a new development that must have occurred over night. I sat at the overlook and enjoyed the view out over the misty valley, listening to the birds and squirrels in the trees around me.
The sunrise was non-existent behind the thick layer of clouds but the sky was actively moving around. After about twenty minutes, I started to notice that the ambient light seemed to be getting darker around me. The overlook seemed to be in shadows while out in the valley it was still a bright gray.
I turned around behind me and saw that there were dark clouds coming. The wind picked up, a warm humid breeze, and the birds quickly died down their chatter – no doubt waiting in anticipation to see what the sky was going to do. The wind maintained a steady force for about fifteen minutes, gusting here and there and moving the dark clouds over my head and across the valley.
Soon, however, it became apparent that the newly arrived clouds were more of a puffy cumulus type and they quickly pushed out the flat gray layers that were blocking the sun. In the upper atmosphere above me I watched as, ever so slowly, several inky formations started to appear against the light blue sky. This was all happening at a position in the sky much higher than the sun, so there were interesting shadows and illuminations that were caused by the sun’s rays coming in from “below” and behind the clouds.
I realized that there might be a chance for a sunrise after all so I hopped on my bike and headed over to the arboretum. The formations were partially blocked by the trees at the overlook but in the lawn behind the pavilion the sky was open.
As the large cumulus clouds shifted about, there was a period of about 2 minutes where the faintest orange highlight slowly grew into a bright blaze as the sun came through an opening above the clouds. At exactly 55 minutes after true sunrise, I finally got a morning show. Sometimes you’ve just gotta wait it out.
The last few days were full of clear skies in the morning. Today was different with a low cloud layer and moving cumulii. (I just made that word up). If I were to guess, I’d say that later today there is a good chance of some more dynamic pressure movement – namely a chance of thunderstorms :). Looking at the weather forecast it appears that I’m late to the party. As I write this the sun is shining through a bright blue/gray sky.
A beautiful lily in the adopt-a-garden
Waking up this morning was difficult. My body felt beat up even with 7.5 full hours of sleep. Last night I went on the group ride with Element Cycles. The route we chose was a new one, going down into Kentucky and over to Devou Park through downtown. It was absolutely beautiful, and really hilly. The climb up to Devou Park is no joke – about 2 miles at a 3.5% grade. Even with the uphill climbs (both at Devou Park and back up through Mt. Lookout) we did the 26 miles in 2 hours – averaging 13mph and peaking at probably 30mph on the downhills. It was an excellent workout and I probably only had about 5% left in the tank when we got back. Needless to say, it was a bit hard getting out of bed this morning.
As I left our apartment I looked up into the sky and saw mostly overcast clouds. But there were spots light where the layer was thin, exposing the dark blue morning atmosphere. I took my time getting to the park, figuring that the sun would be non-existent this morning, but was pleasantly surprised to see that just above the horizon there was a familiar break in the clouds. The sun shone through the open sky for a few minutes after sunrise, casting a moving shadow across the cloud ceiling. The sun was a bright orange but the light was quickly absorbed by the patchy sky.
I took the opportunity to simply sit and enjoy my coffee. I wasn’t in the most chipper of moods. Getting up early with fatigued muscles isn’t the most fun thing to do, but I was thankful that I wasn’t actually sore. I have the last 44 morning rides to thank for that 🙂
A view of the adopt-a-plot garden, very similar in shape to the garden of old roses
Too bad I couldn’t get a clear shot! Before they bloom they look like little packs of chicklet gum.
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Sunrise 40: Ault Park (Achievement Unlocked! and Alms Park Sunset #3 with Mountainous Cumulus Clouds)
I made it! This morning was officially the 40th sunrise that I documented in Eastern Cincinnati. I’ve been thinking about this morning for the past few days, wondering what if anything I could do as a special tribute to the milestone. At first I started big. I considered waking up an hour early and driving over to Devou Park in Cincinnati to take a nice “capstone” sunrise picture of the Cincinnati Skyline and sunrise over the Ohio River. But I realized that heading up to Devou Park, while a powerful sentiment indeed, was too far outside the context of normalcy for this project. All 40 sunrises, except for the flying pig marathon day, had two things in common: Eastern Cincinnati and my bike. I decided that the most appropriate sunrise this morning would be one where I went back to the roots of the project and reflected on the past 40 days. The morning ended up being overcast and gray anyway. I grabbed my coffee and a notebook and rode up to the park. Oh yeah, I also made a facebook page. “Like” it if you want to, I’m not exactly sure what to use it for yet.
Oh, one more thing. The last half of this post has pictures from Alms Park sunset last night. The sky was busy all day yesterday (as I learned from the sunrise fronts). Last night was no different, but as the sun set and the air-cooled, the towering cumulus clouds looked like mountains on the distant horizon.
I’ll be down there this weekend for the Memorial Day Race 5K. Amanda designs the shirts 🙂 Put on by the Cincinnati Running Club. Amanda is running, I’m volunteering. We’ve got some friends coming into town who are probably going to run it too!
The sunrise this morning was gray and non-existent. I chose to focus most of my time on writing some of my thoughts that have been bouncing around throughout the extent of this project. I’d like to go back and look at various statistics relating to the project, but for now I don’t have time before heading in to work. Number of pictures, bike shots, words, words / day (I seem to have got more chatty as the project went along), traffic statistics, grouping pictures together by color, looking at the overlook picture time-lapse, etc. The sky stayed the same color, a muted gray, throughout the entire morning. The ambient light drifted about until it was darker when I left the park than when I got there, or so it seemed.
Zoom of Lunken Airfield. See the green break in the forest at the end of the runway, in the middle of the picture? Where the green grass looks like it jumps up into the trees? That’s where I saw the sunrise yesterday morning on the bike trail. I didn’t realize you could see it from here.
The first thing I did was look at some of the original goals of the project to see where they stand now. Looking back on the project it is interesting to see various themes slowly start to gain momentum. At the beginning of the project, I took fewer pictures with fewer words. I focused a lot more on my immediate surroundings in the park. The flowers, mushrooms, views, bike, bench, trees, sky, rain, birds. As the sunrises continued, and I became familiar with the Heekin Overlook, I started to venture out a bit more. I explored the arboretum, the pavilion, the trails, and the blossoming cherry trees. Eventually I broke out of the boundary of the park and started exploring more of the neighborhoods. The first taste of inquiry looks to be the morning I looked at the old Bell Systems building on Delta Venue. That fateful day that I found the Crusade Castle can be viewed as the day when a shift was made into exploring not just “look what is around” but “look what is left over from another era”. This active history theme led to several “Saturday Explorations”, including the trip to Armleder Park through East End, and R.K. LeBlond Estate & Norwood Industry Hunt. I also used this theme to turn historic inquiry back at the familiar things in Ault Park, including the search for Murdock Fountains (ongoing…) and the World War I memorial bench.
So back to some of the original goals of the project. How did I do?
- 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Check! This is the most basic and important goal – and it feels absolutely incredible to know that I did it without compromise. I missed only two weekly sunrises – one due to a viewing and one due to an active electrical storm. On both days I was able to still write a post up using other material.
- Explore the parks and the city. Check! This is evident throughout the entire project. Both of these goals are far from complete, but I have made significant progress both in the appreciation of the Queen City’s Emeralds and the city herself.
- Create a new routine, new habits. Check! Looking back, the first half of this project was much harder than the second half even though I put more effort into the second half with all of the research and extra miles put on the bike. I’m also waking up early on my days off – something that I didn’t think was possible until this project started.
- Appreciate more detail in every day. Check! Carpe Diem personified. I hope I’ve started something that will continue throughout the rest of my life.
- Become more comfortable on my bike. Check! By my guess I’ve put close to 200 miles on the bike just accounting for the daily ride, and another 300 miles with the extra exploration. I’ve also gone through a new tire, new crank, and new pedals.
- Kill Over-sleeping. While I am still susceptible to over-sleeping I have a new control system imposed on it that is working as long as I have accountability for the sunrises. This is the entire reason the project website exists. Mostly Check!
It is worth noting that this is the first time in my entire life that I have consistently waken up before 6:30am with only a single exception that I can remember. When I was in seventh grade (fifteen years ago) I would routinely wake up at 5:30am to watch The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Strangely, there must have been a kind of personality shift that happened during the summer between seventh and eighth grade because I never did continue this “morning person” routine. For me, it is of great personal accomplishment that I was able to complete these 40 days of morning wake ups. It proves (to me) that I can accomplish something drastic and life changing. Any time I come up against such a challenge in the future, I can think back to project Ault Park Sunrise and remember the feeling of balance and satisfaction that this project has given me.
There are several things that have changed in my daily routine that I can directly attribute to this project.
- Mornings are now much easier than before
- I now go to bed at a reasonable (and consistent) time
- — which enables me to get excellent sleep most of the time
- I’ve started reading before bed more consistently. Although I don’t typically get very far, I fall asleep without issue
- My legs are much stronger. I feel like a mountain climbing machine.
- I have a much higher cardio capacity. I imagine I could run 10 miles with my feet pain being the only constraint.
- I’ve consumed less beer overall, and more craft beer. This is important to me. I rarely have more than two beers at a time during the week, and I enjoy them thoroughly because I’m able to focus on quality over quantity. This reminds me of Ben Franklin’s thirteen virtues that I often find myself thinking about.
- I notice with a much higher sensitivity when my diet gets messed up. Bloating and fatigue from eating fried food or too much food is immediately apparent the next day. I don’t mean to be snobbish, because my diet is far from perfect, but I am happy to know that I am becoming more in tune with my body’s natural cycles and energy.
- I have more energy overall – I am no longer fatigued after a 20 miles bike ride. In fact I have more energy it feels like.
- I’ve played way less PlayStation 3. I attribute this more to good allocation of free time, and less to a dwindling desire for playing video games.
- Purpose-driven creativity. This project has provided an outlet for daily creativity in writing, research, photography, and/or human interactions.
- I’ve met many local neighborhood citizens and learned about several new perspectives on life. I’ve always been comfortable talking to strangers (a natural gift I imagine) and making them feel comfortable – this project has allowed me to improve on this skill
- A higher threshold of overall creativity. This project, from the beginning, has grown into several new directions while still maintaining much of the original framework laid out by the constraints (sunrise, Ault Park, bike, convenient and quick).
- I am more comfortable with my writing and understand a bit more about my strengths and weaknesses.
- I’ve learned a lot about flower and tree identification thanks to the feedback I’ve received on this blog from several friends. Thanks guys 🙂
One thing that stands out to me is just how quickly these 40 mornings have gone by. 40 is a big number. I remember thinking, at the beginning of the project, that perhaps it was too big of a number. Could I even do it? I can’t do 3 sunrise mornings, how can I do 40? By having the days numbered and also having this journal to look back at my daily logs is a new thing for me. I can remember each sunrise going by and recall each individual memory. And yet here we are, 40 days later, on the other side of the project. The sun has shifted far to the left from where it started, it rises 65 minutes earlier, and the trees that started the project naked are now flush with their summer green. The quickness in which the time seemed to have passed during the life of this project has better prepared me to take advantage of as much as I can of the finite days I have left in the future. I’ve always known that there was peace in the mornings but I couldn’t figure out how to make it real. Sure, it is annoying to get up early. I have to go to bed at an “unreasonable” time (although at this point I’m completely exhausted so it is no longer unreasonable). I can’t drink a beer after 10pm. This commitment requires planning and foresight and a real effort to put the pictures online and write up an entry. But in the end, the payoff is several multiples more than any discomfort. Hell, I could do this all day!
A final thing I want to add is that exploring an area on a bike is a modern experience that everyone should at least try once. There is nothing else like it. By exploring in my local vicinity, I am able to piece together local history and cause-and-effect theories that are familiar enough to store in my head easily. In any human inhabitance, there are remnants of days-gone-by. From the buildings to the artifacts, memorials to the water fountains, churches to the headstones. The higher the human density of an area, the deeper the web of interconnectedness. It makes me wonder how fulfilling it would be to do a “sunrise project” in an old, small, midwestern farm town with a deep history but a limited space to explore it. A complete picture (or at least a well-rounded one) of the history of the town may be more attainable because there would be fewer human sub-cultures, systems, booms, and industries.
So what’s next? Hard to say at this point. I’ve had a blast with this project so far so at this point at a minimum I’m going to keep up the morning ritual and write-ups. Perhaps I’ll start to become a bit more socially-oriented and try to recruit more people to meet me up at the park, although that might be a stretch. Now that the 40 sunrises are up, I am also free to explore different sets of constraints. I gave some thought to doing a Lunken Airfield sunrise week after the beautiful atmospheric conditions down on the bike trail, but that might be asking a lot considering how grueling it is getting back up the hill. I’ve also thought about picking different places around the city and traveling there to do the sunrise, as opposed to what I do now – start at Ault Park and then venture out into the city if I have the time.
I’ve also got a host of interesting places to check out on the East Side. I’d be lying if I haven’t kicked around the idea of doing a kind of city bike tour (thanks for the idea, Tara!). To really make it work it would be nice to have a set of wireless radios that clip to your helmet. It’d also be a kid of bring your own bike situation so I’m not sure if there would be any interest in it.
When I get the time I’m also going to post up detailed explanation of my workflow in case anyone else would be interested in doing a project like this on their own. You need nothing other than a camera and a computer. The script that I’ve written to process and name the pictures takes most of the busywork out of the ordeal. I now spend 85% of my time at the computer writing these posts rather than messing with naming, resizing, and re-orienting the pictures. It also puts a copyright notice on each image.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this project, no matter how big or small. This project is largely a personal feat, but I’d be lying to say that it doesn’t help immensely with the motivational drive knowing that there are other people out there that check in every once in awhile to see the pictures and read my crazy rambles.
Here’s to 40 more 🙂
Some pictures from last night’s Alms Park Sunset. I felt it was fitting to have the 40th sunrise post also include beautiful pictures of the setting sun.
Two days ago I mentioned how it would be nice to get the Columbia Tusculum homes in the setting sun light. I find myself in this exact situation just two days later. For the rest of the sunset pictures – and if you’re on the front page – click to continue –> (more…)
These overcast days have really begun to push my creativity. On a beautiful sunrise morning (hopefully like tomorrow’s if the forecast is correct!) it isn’t hard to get a couple of interesting unique pictures and call it a day. But on these mornings where the sky is dark and gray and everything looks the same as it has for the past five days, I find myself exploring areas of the park that I often overlook out of habitualness. Yesterday, for example, I found out that there were redwood trees in the park. Not the pacific northwest redwoods, but another kind of redwood that grows 100ft high none the less and is critically endangered.
This morning I also experienced another “first”. I met a nice woman who identified me as “the sunrise guy” – this is now the fourth of such encounters* – and she said that I was an inspiration to her new routine of getting up at sunrise and walking her golden retriever through the park. It was an exciting encounter and she even made the claim that this “sunrise movement” is going to catch on! Thanks Polly 🙂
* I probably forgot to mention it – but last Saturday at the Bike+Brew (specifically at the Lackman Bar in Over-The-Rhine) I actually met a guy who found out about Ault Park Sunrise from a post I submitted to reddit. I mentioned that I love the history of Cincinnati and asked him if he knew about Ault Park. He replied “hey that used to be a vineyard!”. I said “haha yeah! I just found that out myself because I’m doing this sunrise project…” and he replied “Oh! haha! I saw your website on reddit’s cincinnati section and thats how I knew it was a vineyard!”. I’m still recovering from that piece of mind explosion.
As I entered the park this morning I stopped early and checked out the two large conifers that rise high above the playground on the west part of the park. I wondered if they, too, were redwood conifers. I don’t believe they are after inspecting the leaves. Also they are bearing small pine cones, something that I didn’t notice on the redwood. These pine cones are actually one of my absolute favorite “fruits” of the park, if you will. I collected several of them last year because they look so beautiful when they are just starting to grow. I didn’t even know what they were when I found them on the ground last spring, and the mystery wasn’t solved until almost a year later when I realized that the small fractal ball I held was actually a pine cone that had another couple of months of growth before it became mature. I actually have, sitting on my dresser at home, two sets of pine cones that I collected last year. One set is from these two conifers in Ault Park. They are large, green, and healthy with symmetrical features and fully developed leaves. The other two are from a park down in Hyde Park, where the trees are smaller and probably younger. The pine cones are small, a bit mishapen, and not as fully developed. Assuming that the trees are the same species and the cones were about the same age, to me it says that the Ault Park elevation, clean valley air, and low pollution provide the perfect environment for these large conifers. Perhaps they are Cedars??
In a couple weeks they will be marble sized, perfect for collecting 🙂 (If you’re on the front page, click to continue – including the WWI memorial) (more…)
I have a morning appointment today so the trip up to the park was quick and pleasant. The air was again very wet and the sky was overcast. But it felt like this morning was a bit warmer than yesterday. It may be that I’m used to the cold already, or it may have been the humidity – but either way the morning was rather pleasant. The morning air was thick with humidity. It was the kind of humidity that is thick and sticky, where the acoustic sounds of the environment seem muffled and it feels more private as you move about through the park. It was almost foggy, but not quite. Armleder Park was mostly visible, giving me the impression that the haze was more evenly distributed rather than patches of thick fog.
I hung out at the overlook for a few minutes but once again got the itch to ride around through the park. The sky was pretty dark again and the trees were still dripping with rain or dew. I rode around to the back of the lawn where I checked out some of the tree displays and informational plaques. There is a specific species of conifer that has always drawn my attention but I haven’t taken the time to look at closely. I wondered if it is the same species of conifer that towers over the playground area and drops small little pine cones, but I can’t tell simply by the shape of this particular (smaller) tree. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)