Sunrise 123: Ault Park (A Murder of Crows & Krohn’s Holiday Tree Lighting)
The entrance to the Art Deco Krohn Conservatory at the end of the Holiday Tree Lighting party. Check out the parallel lines, a signature of the style. Also note the humidity dripping from the glass panels.
As I climbed up to the top of the pavilion, I realized that I could see the fog layer out across the western sky. This is a new look for the park – fog and ice!
A renewed scene at the overlook as the sun rose above the densely packed layer of fog @ Sunrise 123
The atmosphere this morning was foggy for the second day in a row. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re close to setting the record if such a thing ever existed. I could see the sunrise’s deep red glow from Mt. Lookout Square, where I stopped by UDF to get a coffee refill, but by the time I climbed up to the park the fog had blown in from from the valley. The fog started to get thick as soon as I entered the park.
The strange thing that really stuck out to me this morning was the bird activity in the park. It was almost as if today was the day that the swarms of birds chose to gather in Ault Park before heading south for the winter. I have no idea of sparrows or crows migrate, but both birds were present in outstanding numbers this morning, filling up the sky and making a whole ruckus of noise! I even have a video of the “Murder of Crows”. There were at least 100 (I took a video) crows high in the trees this morning and their silhouettes were easy to find against the bright white background and naked branches. I’ve seen a handful at a time of these giant birds at the forest’s edge looking out over the valley, but this morning the murder moved together in a loud, squaking, organized group. I could hear them even as they moved deep into the forest even though they were hidden by the fog.
Last night the wife and I visited Krohn Conservatory in Mt. Adam’s Eden Park for their annual tree lighting ceremony. It was a really great time and there was excellent food and drinks. If you’re local to Cincinnati I highly recommend joining the Cincinnati Parks volunteer program because you get to hang out with some neat people and get invited to events like this at the Krohn :). The Krohn has a neat holiday display this year. A group came in and created a miniature train display that highlights several local Cincinnati landmarks as well as a few international ones. The trains glide around the fantasy landscape that is filled with the temporary holiday flowers and plants as well as the permanent citrus trees. The Krohn Conservatory is such a great building and we’re lucky to have it!
I was happy to see the Mt. Adams Incline represented in the train display @ Krohn Conservatory!
The giant pine lit @ Krohn. If you love plants like I do, be sure to pay the Krohn as many visits as you can! Especially at NIGHT during the winter. When you walk into the dark humid tropic room as ice crystals form on the green house panels, you feel like you’ve entered another world.
The entrance to the Art Deco Krohn Conservatory. Check out the parallel lines, a signature of the style.
As I entered the park, it was obvious that the sunrise was going to be a foggy one.
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. 17 pictures total for this morning, including the video of those crazy crows… (more…)
Sunrise 115: Eden Park (Reservoir Ruins, Hotel Alms, Clear Skies)
Twin Lakes. Apparently there used to be a quarry here about 150 years ago.
Looking down from Eden Park’s upper overlook
The ruins of the old water reservoir in Eden Park
I took advantage of the latest sunrise of the entire year, that also happened to be on a beautifully clear morning, and got up extra early on Saturday morning. I left my place at 7:10am and rode, for the first time during this project, to Eden Park in Mt. Adams. Eden Park is known to be one of the most scenic and historic parks in the city. It sits next to the Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory, on top of ruins from the old Cincinnati Water Works Reservoir, and has many memorials and two overlooks. I’ve never visited the park for sunrise and I have to say it was an impressive location. The lower two overlooks (there is a “main” overlook next to the Twin Lakes and a lesser known upper overlook by a turn of the century brick water tower) look directly East over the bend in the Ohio River. The benches on the overlook (and their cherry tree companions) appear to be deliberately aligned with the sunrise. I have wanted to get up to Eden Park for sunrise for the entirety of this project, but I was inspired by the recent 105 year old postcards that I recently found at an Antique Mall featuring Eden Park at the turn of the last century. One of the postcards depicts a peaceful scene at Mirror Lake in 1906, the other depicts the entrance to alms park with the infamous Elsinore Arch (not featured in today’s post) which was constructed as a piece of the Cincinnati water system.
I hopped around through the park and checked out only some of the major attractions. I’d like to spend a few more sunrises at Eden Park to get to know more of the memorials and historic buildings. It’s one of the oldest parks in the city and used to be one of the main vineyards during the mid 1800s that supported the German catholic wine scene. There is enough history surrounding the park to fill several posts so I’m going to keep it mostly brief. Check out this document from Cincinnati Parks that gives some insight into the “Master Plan”.
It’s still dark when I pulled up to Eden Park. This picture looks East and if you follow the river back around to the right, you’ll find the tip of the ridge that Alms Park lives on.
If you’re on the front page, you may as well click to continue. About 50 pictures total. (more…)
Sunrise 29: Ault & Armleder Park (Fog in the Prairie, Linwood Public School, Our Lady of Loretta, Murdock Fountains)
This weather is just too beautiful. I keep having these visions of getting up for the sunrise, taking some pictures and getting them online in a half hour, and then starting off work at around 7:30am so that I can be done early and enjoy the evening. But once again, I found myself in a unique spring morning filled with densely packed fog sitting down in the Little Miami river valley.
A note on productivity before I continue. I waited to post this until lunch time because this morning I had a realization that would boost my “wordpress productivity” by 3-fold. I already have a python script I wrote to process the images, resize them, put “(c) ault park sunrise” on the bottom, re-orient if necessary, and ask me what the file should be named. That helps a ton and has been great so far. The main problem with taking too many pictures is that wordpress, as great as it is, is kind of clunky when it comes to adding pictures to a post. You have to do like 4 clicks, each taking a few seconds to load, for every single picture. It can be monotonous and frustrating if I’m running late. In a flash of ingenuity I realized this morning that I can add raw html to the wordpress post (I never really use that feature), so what I did was throw in a simple command at the end of the script that dumps out html that I can copy and paste (since the script already knows the image filenames) directly into the posting to insert all the pictures at once. I wrapped that feature up at lunch time and I’m happy to say it seems to work. I’ll publish it soon if anyone else is interested in using it, it really takes the technical annoyances out of this project so I can focus on other, more important things, like biking, history, and pictures 🙂
Notice the ridges you can barely see in the background.
As I left my apartment I noticed that there was a slight haze to the air, a bit more than usual, but nothing close to what I would call fog. As I approached the overlook, however, I realized that the entire river valley was completely submerged in a thick blanket of fog, no doubt caused by the proximity to the swollen little miami river. I imagine that the Ohio River is just as foggy and the view from Alms Park would have been incredible. Seeing as how I didn’t have much to look at up at the overlook, and that even the fog was hard to capture correctly without the picture turning out drab and dreary, I decided that it would be a fun exercise to see if I could “catch the fog”, so to speak, by climbing down the mountain (280ft decent over about .8 miles) and attempting to, for the first time, figure out a way to get to Armleder Park on my bike. As it turns out I got sucked back up into some more history, after the historical vineyard ride from Sunday; a trend likely to continue. If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. If nothing else check out the pictures after the fog broke a bit – towards the bottom. (more…)
Sunrise 16: Ault Park (1960s Bell telephone systems, with a special guest appearance by “The Sun”)
These overcast days have made me lazy. Last week I started setting my alarm at 6:25am, a clean 40 minutes before the sun rise. With the overcast mornings and rain storms we’ve had in the past week, I didn’t bother to re-think the alarm time this week. This morning I woke up at 6:25am and set out for the sun rise at 6:40am (5 minutes before true sunrise – 20 minutes before “overcast” sun rise).
I knew something wasn’t right when I walked into the kitchen. I forgot to make my coffee the night before, so I filled up the kettle and set it on the stove in a sleepy haze. I cracked the window open to get a smell of the morning air and listen to the bird report. The birds were chirping loudly, and I looked up and saw a dark, deep blue sky. Good. Dark and… wait, deep blue? What happened to the gray? I panicked a little bit and walked out side. Sure enough, the sky was almost cloud free, save for what I could see along the horizon behind the trees. Now, because we’re only about 15 minutes before sun rise and the sky is dark, but clear, this can only mean one thing. A clear sky with a low-lying cloud bank sitting on top of the horizon, right? “This could be interesting”, I thought to myself. I checked the time – I should have left 5 minutes ago if I wanted to casually stroll up to the park and arrive with some time to spare. I rationed out the water in the kettle so that I had just enough water to fill my thermos, and gathered up everything I needed for the morning. By the time I got out the door and started riding up the street, I was met with an atmosphere that had started to explode in pink and orange. “Oh crap” I thought as I pedaled the hardest and fasted I could up the incline towards the park.
I ended up taking a few pictures on the way. Please excuse the blurry, I was mid-pedal.
I like the entrance into the park because it is appropriate for getting an “eyeball” of what the sunrise is going to do. The massive oaks and old pines rise up 80 feet above me, pointing to the sky but obscuring the horizon. I also noticed that there were gusts of wind, some so strong that I could hear the difference in tire speed as I pedaled into the park. As it turned out, there was an eastern moving front that was trying to come through the valley. You can tell in some of these pictures that the left side of the picture is bright and orange, but the right side is dark and gloomy.
Arriving at the outlook, I realized that I wasn’t too late. I may have missed the opening credits, the but show was just getting started. There was a low-lying front blocking the sun rise (so I didn’t quite miss it!) but the open sky above threw off an array of pinks, oranges, purples, blues, and whites. It reminded me a lot of the sunrise from April 16 (Sunrise 09) where I took my favorite picture, “Wheels of Fire”, against the sun rise. There are two parts to a sun rise like this. The first part is that the atmosphere doesn’t get colorful until about 10 minutes before the sun’s true sunrise time because the clouds are blocking the area just above the horizon. The colors come on quickly but are scattered wide into the periphery of your vision while the horizon itself stays dark. If you are lucky enough to have a completely clear upper atmosphere, the second part of the sun rise comes next.
It caught me off guard this morning while I was taking a picture of the almost flooded east/west lane at lunken airport.
As I turned around I remembered this familiar cloud formation from the aforementioned sunrise 9. The sun finally peaks over the low lying frontal cloud bank, and if you’re even luckier it can be obscured by a higher level haze allowing you to look at it directly. This is a close up taken just as the transition from “stage 1” to “stage 2” takes place.The light illuminates the upper area of the lower cloud bank and provides a rolling mountainous plane. It really is a sight to see. The camera does it justice in some cases, but in person it just looks outstanding. This particular low-lying bank had a unique feature. The lower pieces of the bank started to spread thin, allowing patches of deep orange to shine directly down towards the earth. This provided a surreal situation where you’ve got the bright yellow/orange illuminated upper mountainous region with deep orange spot lights poking through towards the forest.
Needless to say, this sun rise was the last thing I expected when I woke up this morning.
I found myself on the eastern part of the park. I took the long way home, past the observatory and down through Mt. Lookout square.
I had hoped to catch the observatory against the beautiful backdrop, but as I was leaving the park the eastern moving front moved through to block most of the light.
I took the chance to snap a picture looking west on Observatory across Delta Ave. This is just north of Mt. Lookout Square. Behind me is Ault Park and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Observatory runs a parallel east/west with Erie Ave and provides a popular flat stretch for the local runners (and part of the Flying Pig route), considering most of the area is made up of unforgiving hills.
On the way back home I passed a building that I often wonder about but haven’t checked out. It sits on the corner of a quiet neighborhood inlet and Delta Ave. The lawn is always well kept and the brick building sits confidently in the middle of the plot. You can tell it is still maintained but it isn’t labeled in any obvious way. There are newspapers piling up on the front porch – enough to indicate that there is life on the property but that they don’t use the front door. As I’m staring at the building, wondering how long after the “1940-1950s art deco boom” that is responsible for so many of the Cincinnati Water Works buildings, I noticed a plaque on the wall just to the right of the front door.
The plaque reads “The Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Company”. Ahh. An old relic of the Bell / AT&T monopoly. I don’t know much about this history (AT&T alone is interesting), but the local telephone carrier Cincinnati Bell is one of the few fragments left that still uses the “Bell” moniker. The history of Unix is tied into AT&T history as well, of course, which means that your ANDROID phone (running linux) and even the iPhone (which can be traced back to FreeBSD/Unix) can be tied back to the legacy Bell computer systems. All of which are, in a 6-kevin-bacon-degrees-of-freedom kind of way, connected to this building. I bet there are some sexy analog switchboards hidden in the closets of this building. Judging by the brick and “modern” look, I’d place building to have been built sometime in the late 1960s / early 1970s. +/- 15 years, I don’t have anything to compare it to. A little bit more Googling and I find that this logo (seen above in the plaque) dates back to 1964.
UPDATE: The Cincinnati Bell History Page says that in 1971 the company officially changed names from “City Suburban Telegraph Company” to “Cincinnati Bell”. That places this building as being built between 1964 (when the logo was first used) and 1971 (when the name changed). Holy cow, I was really close in my original guess. The page also mentions that there were several switching stations, one was called the “East” exchange. Perhaps this is the building they’re referencing?