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

overcast

Sunrise 32: Ault Park (Garden of Old Roses)

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(Not sure what flower this is, but I really like it).

This morning was similar to yesterday morning in that the temperature is in the lower 40s (about 6-8 Celsius), except that today I was ready for it. Perhaps it was this preparedness that made the morning chill seem not too bad. Whatever the reason, I was determined to not let the thick overcast sky and the sharp bite of the wind put down my explorative mood. Today I set off on my friend Geoff’s Trek 4000 again, with its knobby tires and low gearing. I realized, after talking with Geoff last night, that in fact I had ridden the bike incorrectly yesterday morning. I commented on “how low the center of gravity was” on the bike, but what I really was talking about was how low to the ground I felt. As it turned out I rode the bike with the seat all the way down at the post – a position Geoff had set the seat to for storage purposes. After raising the seat about 8″, and suddenly feeling stretched out and more mobile, I set off towards the park at a much more comfortable pace. Eventually I’ll check out the “Garden of Old Roses” – one of the three lawns in the center of Ault Park, below the pavilion. The new growth in the garden is a bit young, having only been blooming for a week or two by now. I imagine in another month it will be exploding in color.

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click for higher quality!The overcast cloud bank was thick. It was also relatively low to the ground. I lost most of the planes taking off from Lunken Airfield quickly as they rose up into the atmosphere. I decided that instead of sitting at the overlook, a location that has become familiar and comfortable, staring at the featureless gray sky, I would set out to the arboretum and have my morning coffee at one of the benches hidden back under the small trees. I set off for the pavilion to look for a photo subject or theme for the morning. Now that I have a new image processing script that takes the tediousness out of adding pictures to this post, I was prepared to be generous in the usage of my small camera. (Before my update to my script earlier this week, each picture would take, let’s say, 1 minute to add to a post individually. Now I can add all of them at once so it costs no time extra to take a few additional pictures).

click for higher quality!The kickstand-less Trek 4000. It is nice not having to worry about the gravel trails in the lawn, but the top speed is about half of my Fuji-S10s for the same effort up the hills.

click for higher quality!The sky was a dark gray; I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out the best lighting configuration with the camera. If you’re on the front page, please continue to see the roses and more. (more…)


Sunrise 31: Ault Park (Cold Front Morning, Pre-Glacial Ohio River)

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I had a busy weekend and wasn’t able to get to up to Ault Park for the last two mornings. It ended up being overcast and rainy all weekend anyway, and I was hoping that there would be a break in the clouds for this morning. As it turns out, the cold front that came through sometime last night was not messing around. After having a week of temperatures in the mid 80s, this morning’s low 50s was a surprise (I didn’t check the forecast last night). Welcome to Ohio!

On Saturday my friend Tom came down and we participated in the second annual Bikes + Brew pubcrawl through downtown and northern Kentucky. We met up with the group at the third stop (we had to bike downtown first, which took a bit of time!) and continued from Rockbottom Brewery to Keystone in Covington, KY -> Haufbrau House in Newport, KY -> Lackman Bar (OTR) -> Market Wines (OTR / Findlay Market) -> Neon’s Unplugged (OTR). It was a great time and I would definitely do it again. One memorable part of the entire trip was that crossing the JA Roebling Suspension Bridge on a bike, something I haven’t done yet, is downright scary. The grating is really wide, allowing you to see straight down to the river. The metal surface can cause your tires to slide around, and there is a slotted metal clasp at the center of the bridge, probably for expansion, that has gaps that were twice the width of my bike tires. Needless to say, getting to the other side of that bridge (we hadn’t even had our first beer yet!) was, at least for me, a bit stressful.

On the way back from the event, my left pedal shaft started to come loose again. This has started happening over the past couple of weeks so I carry a socket wrench just in case I need to tighten the bolt that keeps the crank shaft attached to the frame. What is happening is that all of these hills in Cincinnati are literally tearing apart my aluminum cranks! I talked to Brett @ Element Cycles and he told me that it is an unfortunate side effect of riding in a hilly area. Putting your entire weight on the cranks while grinding up hill ever so slowly eventually causes the tapered square hole in the crank to get rounded out, causing slipping and eventually lossening the nut off of the threading that holds the crank in place. After the final trip home, the aluminum has stripped far enough to warrant a replacement. While I wait for the crank arm to come in, I borrowed my neighbor’s mountain bike for the morning. It was a completely different ride from my road bike with tis huge knobby tires and low center of gravity. The most convenient thing was that the gear shifters are on the handlebars (like most bikes from the last 20 years), a convenience I have done without but suddenly found myself enjoying profusely. The bike rode great, albeit a bit slow, and provided some nice diversity to my morning ride.click for higher quality!

The sunrise was, as you’d expect in a dull overcast morning after a cold front, gray and non-existent. With the air being a cool 50 degrees (F) it wasn’t even all that pleasant just sitting at the overlook listening to the birds! Part of it probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t able to get out to the park over the weekend, so my routine is a bit off on this Monday morning.

click for higher quality!Armleder Park, drying out.

click for higher quality!Armleder and Lunken, the two scenic views that garner so much attention from the overlook, are looking good. The flooding has all but disappeared and the scenic view has gone back to “normal”. There are two things I notice about Mondays in Ault Park. The first – lots of planes taking off from Lunken as we begin the week. Second – not that many people at the park this early, compared to later in the week; especially with the overcast cold air.

click for higher quality!Looking down on the office buildings below with a plane taking off overhead. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 27: Ault Park (A Warm Spring Morning)

This morning was pleasant and warm. There was a slight breeze coming in off the valley but it didn’t have a bite to it. I made this morning’s trip to the park a quick one – I’m still a bit drained after yesterday’s mega post :). The ride up to the park was quiet and peaceful and the air smelled slightly like rain, but mostly like blooming flowers. There are many larger species of flowers that are now starting to bloom. I’ve also noticed that the maples that were in bloom just three weeks ago are now dropping their helicopter seeds across the ground. So that makes sense – the apples bloom so that they can start off their fruit bearing process, while the maples bloom early so that they get their seeds out as early in spring as possible so that the young offspring have all year to get settled in before the winter takes over.

Can you believe I still don’t have any coffee!? I’ll pick some up today finally, but this morning I decided to tough it out and not fill up. I almost fell asleep up at the overlook! Although going a few days without caffeine is always a good thing, I don’t like getting to the point where I feel that I’ll get a headache if I don’t have a cup of coffee. I often feel like if I just make a big thermos of coffee, but make it not that strong, the action of drinking the coffee in and of itself can wake me up almost as much as the caffeine 🙂

The sun came up over the horizon and broke through the clouds that had small holes in them.

There was a break just above the horizon cloud bank that allowed the sun to become fully visible, casting a red/orange glow down into the lower haze. It was a pretty sunrise that didn’t stay around too long, but it put on a nice show. If the weather holds today should be a beautiful day.

This green bush is down by the overlook. I took a few pictures of it earlier last week when the buds were still small and green. It has started blooming its small white flowers.

Lunken and Armleder are looking good. Armleder still has some puddles but it looks like they are getting dried out. The grass is all gone, not sure if they pulled it up or if it died after drying out (because it was green a few days ago) but once the grass gets hold and comes back in a few weeks, it should be looking good again. I hope it doesn’t set back the growth of the prairie too much. I love going down there in late spring and listening to the birds and bugs.


Sunrise 21: Ault Park (Maple Rain Shelter)

A new front rolled through last night. Sometime during the night I remember waking up to the loud crack of thunder. Fortunately by the time 6:15am rolled around, the violent part of the system had moved on and we were left with a quiet peaceful spring shower. The ride up to the park was filled with the surround-sound acoustic profile of water falling from the trees and guzzling storm drains. There was little wind and the rain was light enough to not cause me too much mis-comfort, while being strong enough to ensure I was the only early morning pedestrian.

The visibility from the overlook was only about a mile or so into the valley. The Heekin overlook structure doesn’t actually have a roof, so I decided that if I was going to enjoy a cup of coffee without having rain drops splash it all over my hand, I should seek out some kind of shelter. I decided to search around the arboretum for a natural umbrella – a tree shelter, if you will. I strolled through the arboretum, and found there were a few small trees that could provide some shelter, but most of the trees in the lawn were simply not tall enough or thick enough to provide a decent umbrella. I ventured up to the pavilion side of the lawn. Up against the retaining wall that separates the lower lawn from the upper pavilion lawn there are several older trees. On the west side of the stairs there is a family of 3 trees that provided excellent shelter. If you’re on the front page, please click continue for more 🙂 (more…)


Sunrise 20: Downtown Cincinnati (Flying Pig Marathon!)

My pattern so far has been to wake up every morning, rise or shine, for a sunrise during the week. On the weekends I typically take a single day off and go on a bike exploration adventure on the other day. This weekend I knew that we’d be getting up at 5:15am today to head downtown to the Flying Pig Marathon (and half pig and relay!). Amanda ran the half pig this morning, her second ever half marathon. She did awesome :). You start off flat and then head up to Mt. Adams to get punished by the hills. The full marathoners continue out to Hyde Park and Merrimont and finally come back along the river.

I realized that this morning would be Sunrise 20, a highly appropriate halfway point on the way to 40 sunrises! I had grandeur visions of seeing the sun rise 15 minutes after the race started (did I mention I’m only a spectator?) over the river. There would have been some great orange skies to be seen through the sky scrapers. This didn’t pan out, however, because the sky stayed a flat gray for the entire race. I still got some great pictures of some flying pig runners and old downtown buildings. (Click to continue if you’re on the front page –>) (more…)


Sunrise 19: Ault Park (back to gray)

My morning routine was the quickest yet. The birds woke me up at exactly the time I should have been in the park. As it turns out, I set my alarm to 6:10pm, not 6:10am; oops! My coffee was already packed in the thermos. I was up at the park within 10 minutes from being in bed – definitely a new record. In fact I had the bike in second gear the entire time – also a first! Fortunately the sky was overcast so I didn’t miss much. It was a nice opportunity to relax and check out the view. I took a few pictures of the sun rise, which ended up showing some color as the sun crept up into the sky, and headed back home for some early morning errands. More pictures, including the arboretum and japanese maple, click continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 15: Ault Park (warm spring day and pink magnolias)

You can tell today is a Monday. I got all the way up to the park before I realized that I had forgotten the camera. The last time this happened, the sun rise was so spectacular that I had to make do with my camera phone. This time, however, the sky was overcast. This meant that a difference of 10 minutes didn’t really matter as much. I whipped back home, all down hill, and grabbed the camera from the table. The second ride up the hill wasn’t as hard as the first; being warmed up helps substantially when you’re on a bike.
The forecast for this week looks pretty miserable. Thunderstorms are expected for every morning until friday, when they drop their electrical charge and just become “rain storms”. This morning, however, was a great example on how not to get discouraged just because the forecast sucks. The temperature was warm, the air was thick. I actually ended up taking off my sweatshirt when I got to the overlook – it was that hot. The rain held off until just before I walked in my door (for the second time). In general, sunrise quality withstanding, it was a very promising beginning to an otherwise gloomy sunrise week.

As the sun rise came up behind the eastern hills, I started to see a possible opening in the clouds. I hoped that the hole was deep enough for the sun to be able to pop through. For a few seconds it looked possible, but in the end I only got some nice orange highlights.

That’s alright though, it just might be the most colorful sunrise I get this week.

The clouds had some interesting patterns that were forming over head. The eastern front, likely having dumped its payload over night, was being pushed out by the western thunder heads.

I could see the dark front approaching from the west.

The fog was thick over the Ohio River and it was starting to creep over across Lunken Airfield. You can see a small commuter about to take off while the gettin’s good. Next to the red lights. At this point it was only a matter of time until the storm arrived to make me eat my words about the morning being pleasant and dry.

The focus of today’s sun rise, and most of the last week, has to be Armleder Park. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the park (and dog park on the western side) are looking pretty water-logged. The water has advanced up to the center park “shelter”, and it even looks like it has crept up a foot or two. The Little Miami river has officially taken over the park. But this brings me back to the fishing theory that I touched on last week. I heard rumors that the park may have schools of giant grass carp swimming around, no doubt taking advantage of the soccer fields and prairie grass. Once the rains stop and the water recedes back into the river, I imagine that many large fish will find themselves hiding out in the “deep” part of the prairie – the small fishing pond near the soccer fields. I imagine this will be one of the best years to go pond fishing at Armleder Park. Who knows what monsters will end up taking residence in the tidal pool pond.

The river has become one with the flood plains. Even the fields in the back of the ridge are under water. The valley is having flashbacks of the massive river it used to hold.

This was a first. A huge jet took off from Lunken, definitely the biggest I’ve seen. As big as one you’d expect to travel on internationally. It seemed like a 747 class jet, as unlikely as that is.

A picture for the timelapse. The flooded prarie is starting to creep up the hill to the office buildings.

On the way home I stopped to take a picture of a tree that I have noticed in the past week. Now that the cherries and pears have dropped their blooms, the few blooming trees that are still blasting their colorful coats stand out. Most of the purple magnolias have dropped their pedals as well. But this one particular species bloomed two weeks later than the other magnolias. Its leaves are smaller, and the branches expand in a kind of planar pattern, rather than a blooming bush-like pattern. The pink is so vibrant, especially in low light. Does anyone know what these are? I may be completely wrong, perhaps it isn’t even a magnolia.

These purple hanging flowers must have bloomed in the last week. The bush is hanging across the sidewalk along one of the side-routes I take to get home. As I took this picture the rain started to pour down.

While I had the camera out I wanted to capture this wooden mushroom sculpture that always catches my eye. There are a handful of wooden sculptures in the neighborhood that appear to be carved out of the still-in-the-ground stumps of old trees. I’m not sure if this is a single hunk of stump, I got out of there before I got too soaked. Looking back on the picture, however, I think it is. You can see the ring of the original stump at the base of the mushroom.

Stats from this morning (curiously, it looks like Lunken had a power outage, the data is incomplete).
Sunrise: 6:47am EST
Visibility: 9mi
Temperature: 60F / 16C, (felt 15 degrees hotter than that with the humidity)
Sky: Overcast with cloudy holes, a western moving front
Sunrise: Muffled but orange. At least we got some color!
Bird Chatter: The cardinals were noticeably loud. There were several around dominating the spectrum, almost forcifully
People: A few runners were out taking advantage of the “dry” morning.


Sunrise 14: Ault Park (Warm Air, Cold Rain)

When I first woke up this morning, all I could think of was how sore I was going to be. Last night I participated in my first ever “group ride” with the friendly people over at Element Cycles in Mt. Lookout / Hyde Park. I found out about the event only two hours before it started.  Yesterday afternoon I was browsing through the Cincinnati bicycling blogosphere when I came across an announcement by Queen City Cycles (and Urban Cincy) about how May is “Bike Month”. There are going to be all kinds of awesome events, including Bike+Brew, an event that involves a bike pub crawl through the bars in over the rhine, down town, and newport / covington kentucky. It sounds like a blast. Along with the announcement about Bike+Brew there Queen City Cycles had a picture of the official Bike Month t-shirts.  I saw that one of the locations to pick up a t-shirt was at Element Cycles, which just so happens to be in my neighborhood. I remembered passing the shop just last Sunday for the first time so I decided to check out their website / facebook page. As it turns out they do Thursday rides @ 6pm. Being familiar with the weather for this week and realizing that yesteday was probably the only beautiful day (and the only clear sunrise!) I sucked it up and decided to check out the event, for better or worse.
I was pretty nervous to say the least. Could I keep up with these “real” cyclists? Would I get left behind, struggling and over run by traffic, somewhere in the eastern hills, 20 miles from my house? I sucked it up and headed over to the bike shop on Observatory to see what it was all about. It ended up being an absolutely fantastic ride. I was probably the only person in the group who didn’t have clip-less pedals, a bike computer, or a sweet-ass aerodynamic bike outfit – but in the end it didn’t matter. We had a group of about 15 people, all of whom are what I would consider to be regular cyclists. A few of the riders were obviously serious about speed, quite intimidating at first, but they ended up breaking off and doing their own route which left us mortals to climb the grueling hills at our own pace. Everyone was friendly and didn’t seem to mind my nervous tick – talking and talking and talking (“Did you know this building was built in the early 1900s for downtown commuters? It doesn’t have a parking lot because there used to be a rail line that went through here. So have you heard of the Cincinnati Subway? hehe) The route ended up being about 21 miles, averaging about 14mph. We went up to Madeira, over through Indian Hill, and back up Wooster to Madisonville. There are some beautiful hidden (and steep) roads out through Indian Hill. Fortunately for my legs (and sanity) we took a break every 5 miles or so to recuperate. It was a great experience overall. After the trip Brett, the owner, hooked me up with a craft beer from Utah, Four+Brewing’s Wyld Organic Pale Ale. I knew right then that I was coming back :). I’ve never had a craft beer from Utah, and even now it appears that it was a rare occasion – I don’t think the brewery even has a web site. I look forward to many more Thursday rides.


This morning started out with so much promise. The color of the twilight sky was the gray that I’ve become so familiar with this week. It was not, however, quite as dark as Monday or Tuesday. There were streaks of a hazy bright gray, almost blue, through the atmosphere, giving me some hope that there may be a sunrise after all. I’ve found that you can tell a lot about the sun rise by how much light is in the atmosphere about a half hour before the sun rise. If the atmosphere is bright you’ll obviously have a great sun rise. And if it is still as dark as you’d expect to be in the middle of the night, you’ve got a completely overcast situation. But there are levels in between. From a 0 (stormy / midnight) to a 10 (clear with no clouds) today was probably a 4. I made my coffee (oops I forgot all about it last night), hopped on the bike, and rode up to the park. I arrived just in time for the official sunrise. The air was surprisingly warm, and while it was a bit wet out, I wouldn’t say that it was unpleasant. The air smelled sweet and there was a surprisingly high volume of bird chatter.  It must be mating season for one of the local species because it sounded like a constant overlapping between one specific kind of bird call. I’ve noticed that the cardinals tend not to yell over one another – they take turns and sync up. I’d say that this is a good example of an optimized game theory strategy. This other bird though (I know what it looks like, but not what it is called) isn’t quite so courteous. There was a consistent baseline of song, partially shrill and indistinguishable, in the backdrop of the forest soundscape.

The sun never did come out. Armleder Park is still holding strong down in the valley, having been underwater for over two weeks now. I can’t imagine how many giant carp or catfish are grazing the prairie grass and soccer fields. I just realized that you can fish in the small pond that is located on the eastern side of the park – does that now expand to include the whole park? Hmm. I may have to go get a fishing license after all. I also wonder what effect this will have on the fish population in that small pond. If the prarie is the flat basin of the new “Armleder Lake”, the pond would be the deep trench that the catfish would probably want to hide out in. When the water recedes, I bet we’ll see some giant fish pulled out of that pond.I’d like to imagine a young kid and his dad heading out to Armleder for a quick fishing trip after work. By this point, lets say late August, the 4 foot grass carp hasn’t had a good meal in weeks. He’s desperate for some protein. The kid feels a yank on his line, and the next day his dad can tell his work buddies that his son caught a 100 pound grass carp in a tiny pond next to the soccer fields. Heck yeah!

Lunken Airport is a bit under water, too, but that doesn’t affect business. The run ways are elevated, perhaps because they got sick and tired of getting flooded out over the years. Or maybe they built it that way originally. Who knows.

I took the opportunity to try and get some pictures of the small flowers that were popping up in the green low light foliage around the overlook.

Normally I would over look these smaller flowers, but now that the cherry blossoms, magnolias, and daffodils have moved on they stand out against the green backdrop. (More after the jump) (more…)