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

columbia tusculum

Sunrise 122: Columbia Tusculum (Exploring in the Urban Fog, Macro Frost Crystals)

Ice Crystals!

My morning coffee spot @ the “auxiliary” area in Alms Park. I didn’t make it all the way up to the top of the hill. It is so quiet here. The perfect spot to study or swing while listening to the planes come in.

Frost crystals on a picnic bench @ Alms Park

A strange break in the clouds and fog made for a surreal sunrise at Lunken Airport

This morning was one of those rare days when both the weather and my mood for exploration aligned perfectly. I was anticipating getting up early today all week after watching the forecast closely to see when the weather was expected to break. We’ve had two solid weeks of rainy overcast mornings with only one exception, which was last friday (after Thanksgiving). I was travling to visit family so I wasn’t able to see it! I was so excited for this morning that I woke up a half hour early and started off on the bike while it was still dark and foggy. I’m hoping tomorrow’s sunrise has some surprises for me because the sunset today was truly fantastic – deep blue and teal with purple clouds and orange highlights. We’ll see! I’m also looking forward to doing “find the Christmas Lights” in the fog, but this morning was too early in the month and only a handful of homes had their lights on at 7:15am.

The weather helped support my naive theory that states “overcast and rain followed by clear sky sunrise = fog in mt. lookout”. This morning was no exception! Although I can say that I was a bit disappointed that there was no clear sunrise, I can’t pass up an opportunity to explore in the fog. This morning’s fog was thick, too, one of the thickest so far. I’m getting spoiled with these foggy days! I only had a couple in the spring, almost none in the summer, and now this is like the fifth or sixth one this fall! (you can usually check out the “fog” tag or “foggy” for more foggy posts).

So far I’ve spent foggy sunrises at Alms Park (one of my favorite posts this fall), Lunken Airfield, and Ault Park. This morning when I set out for my twilight ride, I decided that I wanted to go back to my roots and explore some residential pockets that I haven’t visited for awhile. You see, last autumn before Ault Park Sunrise was even an idea, I started my exploration of my local neighborhoods, hills, and parks on my bike. At the time of course I didn’t know I was actually training for Ault Park Sunrise. My first fog explorations was when the neighborhoods were new and unexplored and so I would creep along the No Outlets and see the beautiful homes and landscapes that Cincinnati’s old residential neighborhoods are known (because the homes and plots of land fit snugly into the hillsides so there are lots of creative designs). This morning I wanted to revisit some of these No Outlets in the fog and see what else I could come up with.

As it turns out, the weather this morning was one-of-a-kind. Normally when the fog comes through, it is in both Mt. Lookout AND down in the river basin. OR it is in the river basin alone and not in Mt. Lookout. This morning, however, there was no fog down in the basin so Mt. Lookout was covered in a low-laying cloud layer. I ended up dropping down into the basin to visit Lunken Airfield after realizing that I could get a much needed workout in. The clouds and fog had just broke and the sun was blazing through across the horizon underneath the cloud banks. It was really pretty and surreal because I could look behind me and see the hillside of Mt. Tusculum rising up from the clear streets of Columbia Tusculum and East End to disappear into the thick fog.

Here we go! Be sure to check out the fog crystal macro shots, they’re my favorite 🙂

My first “No Outlet” of the morning. A bit blurry because of the low light. I love this house and the way the gates open into the cul-de-sac.

On the way to Alms Park, I swing down Kroger Ave to check out Kroger Valley. The white fence and street disappear off into the fog. There is a home at the end of this “No Outlet” as well, but we can hardly see it in the fog.

This magnificent Oak first caught my eye in the last Alms Park fog run. That’s the neat thing about fog, it causes different patterns to emerge and make themselves present if you’re paying attention. This oak sits in the lawn of St. Ursula’s Villa.

A bit closer up. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but there is a light aura in the fog just above the horizon where the sunrise is getting ready to make an appearance. This made a perfect backlight for this oak tree’s silhouette.

Same picture as before, but with focus on the ice crystals. A chilly 22F degrees with 96% humidity!! I’ve found that biking in this weather requires a bit of preparation, but a long sleeve shirt and hoodie with insulated running pants does just fine at keeping me warm. (Plus gloves and hat of course!)

I love the frozen dew.

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Sunrise 62: Alms Park (To Lunken and Back, Some Thoughts on East End)

Close-up of the morning sunrise over Lunken Airfield from my favorite bench on the 5-mile bike path.

On my approach back up the impossibly steep Stanley Rd, the large cumulus looms in the background. Also gives you an idea of the steepness of Mt. Tusculum, a climb I have to make every time I visit Lunken Airfield!

The trusty steed and the wife’s helmet 🙂

This morning was a scorcher! It was one of the few mornings where I actually felt like I had jumped into a pool by the time I got home from the ride. Part of it certainly had to do with the fact that I had thick basketball shorts on with a cotton t-shirt, but typically it doesn’t feel like walking out into a sauna!

I rode up to Alms Park again, today. I was feeling pretty good and wanted to climb the Alms Hill once more. This morning’s sky was an interesting one because it felt overcast but also had spots of clear skies. I noticed that the sunrise was hidden behind a bank of clouds but at the same time it looked like I had blue skies above me. I also was wondering why there wasn’t any fog around as I would have expected with this morning’s dew point being only 2 degrees away from the ambient temperature. But I think I figured it out!

Looking out at Lunken Airfield. East End is to the right down below the hill.

We’ve had some storm runs through the state, particularly up north. About 80 miles north of us, through Dayton and Columbus Ohio, there were some serious pressure systems that moved through the area. I imagine this changed the pressure of the entire region. With my non-existent weather theory experience, I’d like to think that the pressure prior to the storms was high enough to “press” the fog down into the bottom regions of the valley. Now that the pressure systems have done their thing, the fog is actually a few thousand feet up above Alms Park. And that would make sense, right? If everywhere except for the sky directly above me looked gray and hazy, it would appear that there was indeed fog – it was just way up above me :).

A beautiful white flower fights for room among the native vines. I think the vines are from the old vineyards that have gone feral. They’re not breeding for space not for grapes. By early fall the hillside will be a vine blanket.

With the sunrise being on the weak side, and the sky still dark 10 minutes after sunrise, I decided to hop down to Lunken Airfield via Columbia. As it turns out, the weather changed it up a bit and the sky cleared out. By the time I was at Lunken, about half an hour after sunrise, the sun was able to break through some of the larger cumulus clouds that rose out of the horizon. Nothing too impressive, but any color beats an overcast sky :).

Down at Lunken Airfield the clouds break for a few minutes. Still pretty dark out considering it’s close to 7am.

One thing that I find interesting is how much I am enjoying riding through the old neighborhoods in the river basin (map). Every single time I ride through Columbia/Tusculum, East End, and Linwood I find something new. East End is actually pretty big relative to the small sections that are technically Columbia-Tusculum (and even smaller, Linwood). There are so many old buildings that have been re-purposed or sit empty. It is such a fascinating example of three small towns that at one time had their own economy and dense populations, but have since simply turned into quiet residential areas. Some parts lay in abandonment, others are well kept and lush with gardens. I believe it is of critical importance to think about how the construction of Columbia Parkway, the large 4-lane through-way that runs from Downtown Cincinnati to Mariemont and beyond (through East End, Columbia, and Linwood). Now-a-days most of the traffic through this area are local residents trying to get up to Columbia Parkway. The side effect is that River Road provides an excellent bike route to Downtown Cincinnati.

Most young people (transplants) that I know who live in Mt. Lookout and the area have never been through historic East End. But why should they? There are very few businesses other than the bars and restaurants that sit in the small region at the intersection of Delta and Columbia Parkway. The only reason I have explored East End, Columbia, and Linwood is because it is a great place for a quiet bike ride outside of rush hour.

The thing that this really makes me think about, in general, is just how influential the automobile is in the shaping of urban centers. Here’s the thing. I get the impression that the Columbia area and Linwood at one time, maybe fifty years ago, was a shining example of a healthy urban area. The fact that the old Italianate Cincinnati Public Library is located on Eastern Ave is enough to allude to the local culture that at one time supported a healthy art district. Now-a-days the library sits empty. In fact I only know it used to be a library because of the architecture and by talking to local residents. It is well kept and looks beautiful, but I believe it is mostly used as a venue for weddings. There are several schools in the district, one of which is already sitting empty. These structures all date back to sometime in the early part of the last century.

I am continually interested in thinking about the potential future of the area once the Little Miami Bike Path gets connected through to Downtown. In the future of my fantasy world, East End will go through a revitalization that is only possible through the very reason that the businesses left in the first place. Low volume automobile traffic. If Eastern Cincinnati’s young population (and bike culture) continue to grow as they have been in the past few years, I hope a critical threshold will be reached. If there is any place in Cincinnati to settle a “cycling neighborhood” outside of the urban core in Downtown, I think it would be in East End. There seems to be plenty of space (for now), lots of old business buildings, river view, access to many places by bike (Ault & Alms Park, Lunken Airfield Loop, Armleder Park Loop, Northern Kentucky, and Downtown) and history. Oh, by the way, in this fantasy world I’ll be running Eastern Cincinnati’s first brewery (based heavily on bike and urban culture with access to the bike trail) in one of the turn-of-the-century Italianate commercial buildings. I’m calling it now, Dibs!

It’s like a little forgotten section of Eastern Cincinnati. But then again, so many small villages inside the 275 loop have suffered the same fate. At least so many areas in Columbia, Linwood, and East End seem to have a healthy sense of community. There are many run down buildings but only a handful seem to be outright abandoned. I hope no East End residents take offense at my “outsider looking in” perspective.

Today I found the old “East End Bank Building” sitting next to another building that actually had a name. Something like the “Fredrick” or “Douglas” building. Not sure. No pictures, I’ll save it for a more thorough exploration of the area. Both likely from the turn of the century. I’ve rode past them dozens of times now and never noticed them.

Weather changes quickly around here.

Behind me the sky is blue. Large cumulus clouds rise up on the western horizon.


Sunrise 46: Ault Park & East End (LeBlond’s Eastern Ave Factory, Lunken Terminal, Revolutionary War Cemetery)

Sunrise @ Lunken!

Post-Industrial Rail Art

LeBlond’s Eastern Factory’s Rail Yard

I wasn’t able to get out on the bike over the weekend so this morning was a bit stiff. It is always interesting how much I feel the difference in my legs after a couple of days of not riding. There was a patchy haze in the air as I pedaled up to the overlook. The park was hopping this morning with joggers and dog walkers. I must have passed 6 pairs of people by the time I reached Heekin overlook. The temperature was a cool 60F and it felt wonderful. Unfortunately there was a thick fog over the valley that obscured the morning sunrise. Seeing as how I hadn’t any miles on the bike since Friday I decided to try out a new route that is inspired by my recent trips down to Lunken Airfield from Alms Park.

So much fog.

Looking out at Lunken Airfield to the west, where I’m soon to visit.

A bit of orange in the hazy sky.

Best sunrise I could get at the overlook.

Classic Overlook with lots of fog.

A couple weeks ago, when I hopped down to Armleder Park for the foggy sunrise, I discovered that there was easy access to Eastern Avenue down below Ault Park. I believe Eastern Ave from Ault Park to Lunken Airfield is the only road that in the area I haven’t explored by now. I typically make it to Lunken only after passing by Alms Park so I was excited to check it out.

As it turned out, I had a great morning ride. I got some pictures of Lunken Terminal Lobby, found LeBlond’s original factory on Eastern, discovered an old pioneer cemetery (that is different from the other pioneer cemetery in Columbia Tusculum), documented some of the old rail structures that are being preserved as part of the Ohio River trail, and took plenty of foggy pictures. The route I did today for the first time might be my new favorite “easy” ride. It hits on almost every major theme in the area. Here’s a map of the route, that covers:

  • Ault Park and residential neighborhood
  • Down past Crusade Castle to Linwood
  • Past Linwood Public School and all the late-1800s churches
  • LeBlond’s old factory, rail yard, and abandoned industry
  • Lunken Airfield & Columbia’s Pioneer Cemetary. Accessible to the 5-mile bike trail around Lunken
  • Carrel / Wilmer bike path past the Revolutionary War cemetery.
  • Through East End, including the business district and historic houses
  • To the Ohio River Launch Club / river access
  • Up through Columbia Tusculum historic district
  • Alms Park is at the top of the hill, hit it or continue past.
  • Back through the old residential area to Mt. Lookout Square.

Leaving Ault Park.

I headed down the hill past Crusade Castle. I hoped to make it to Lunken Airfield and explore some of the “old” East End / Linwood. The humidity was so thick in parts that I felt like someone was spraying me with a bottle of water. Not bad at all.

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Sunrise 38: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Fog, Cumulus, Columbia-Tusculum, and a Clear Sunrise)

Behind Lunken Airfield after sunrise

This morning was downright beautiful. I woke up to a respectable fog in the area, something that always makes me excited for the morning ride. As I rode up to the park, I noticed that the air got more clear the further I went. This is an interesting trend I’ve picked up on – Mt. Lookout seems to get more fog than the peak of the overlook. Whether this is due to elevation (200ft difference), temperature, or wind I’m not sure.

Approaching the park

As I approached the park, the sky started to turn a familiar shade of orange. The sunset last night was marked with clear skies so I was hopeful that this morning’s sunrise would be the same. I wasn’t disappointed.

Foggy Dawn

Down in the Little Miami River valley the familiar thick fog was present. But there was an interesting difference this morning over the previous mornings. While the Eastern sky (towards the sunrise) was clear, and the fog was present throughout the entire valley, there was actually a thick low-lying cloud bank to the west. This caused a kind of dark floor to the sky over the lunken to the west.

The moon, out again and high in the air.

The pink cumulus over Lunken Airfield

The cloud bank provided this nice contrast against the upper cumulus clouds. They glowed a light pink at the opposite end of the arena from the sunrise. They also quickly disappeared as the moving cloud bank swept underneath them.

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