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

ault park

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

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

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

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

The dark morning @ Heekin Overlook.

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

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

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

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


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

First Light!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A vertical shot of “First Light”

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

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

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


Sunrise 101: Ault Park (Autumn Fog #2)

Another strange foggy sunrise picture

Ault Park’s Centeral Lawn & Garden

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

A hazy orange sunrise at the entrance to Ault Park

A foggy Heekin Overlook

Looking back into the park from Heekin Overlook

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

Sunrise 101: Out of the Fog

This is the view out towards Lunken Airfield.

The trusty ‘ol steed at Heekin Overlook

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you find the water tower?

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

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

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

Looking South/West towards the Ohio River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunrise 99: Ault Park (Breaking Blue Skies)

Heekin Overlook @ Ault Park

Late sunrise clouds

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

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

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

The sun came up through a nice clean sky.

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

The lower overlook below Heekin Overlook

The sun coming up over Armleder Park

Sunrise 99

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

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

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

Looking out from atop the pavilion

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

Vertical Cloud Textures

Blue Skies.


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

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

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

The Tree Trail @ Ault Park

Arachnophobes should stay away from bushes in the fog.

The Cincinnati Observatory against a psuedo-sunrise.

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

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

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

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

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

The entrance to Ault Park

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

Speed Limit 25.

A pic-a-nic table!

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

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

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

The center of a compass flower.

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

Bike and Dew.

A busy bumblebee pollinates a compass flower.

Dew and Deep Green Leafs

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

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

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

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

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

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: —>

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

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

Blue Skies and yellow Flowers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The long smooth bike trail around Armleder Park

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

Sunrise 93, you pretty thang.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heekin Overlook against the early sunrise.

Steel Frame Sunrise.

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

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Sunrise 92: Ault Park (Dark Hurricane Hangover)

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

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

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

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

Heekin Overlook under the great Oaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Pretty flowers.

A “cosmo” pointing up toward the sky.

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

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

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

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

The sunrise was boring! Off to the garden.

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

The centerpiece hidden inside the flower garden.

For the rest of the pictures of flowers and insects, click to continue if you’re on the front page: (more…)


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

Quiet Summer Sunrise

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

Overcast with a small hole above the horizon

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

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


Sunrise 88: Ault Park (Summer Rain)

Rainy Overlook!

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

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

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

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

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


Sunrise 87: Ault Park (3 Amigos)

The Overlook @ Heekin in Ault Park

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

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

A zoomed-in view of Armleder Park.

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

The Three Amigos 😉

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

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


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

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

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

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

The dawn sky, about 10 minutes before sunrise

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

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

Sunrise @ The Cincinnati Observatory

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

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


Sunrise 85: Ault Park (Acorns & Blue Berries)

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

Acorn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A vertical sunrise shot, for the ladies.

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

Flesh and Acorn.

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


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

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

Dew Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Foggy Summer Sunrise

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

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

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

The sun , creepin’ up over that horizon.

Sunrise 83

A vertical shot for the ladies

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing with long exposure from atop the pavilion

These pair of street lights have a blue tint to them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunrise 78: Ault Park (Gray Stormy Sky)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A plane coming into Lunken Airfield at sunrise.

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

Weeds, Plants, and Sunrise.

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

Beautiful orange to blue gradient.

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


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

The sunrise looking out across the small meadow.

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

Sunrise (with a strange artifact on my camera lens)

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

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

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


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

A beautiful sunrise on day 72.

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

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

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

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

Early morning katydids.

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

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

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

At the lower overlook facing the sunrise!

The overlook with the misty Armleder Park in the background.