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

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Sunrise 42: Ault Park (Spring Haze, Ants & Pillbugs)

An old prop plane with its wing tips folded up takes off from Lunken Airfield into the sunrise

This morning was a great start to the short holiday week. When I crawled out of bed, a bit stiff from a holiday weekend and slightly out of routine, I could hear the birds chattering about the hot day ahead. Today should be another scorcher with a high in the mid 90s. This morning, however, the day was still young and the temperature was a comfortable 65F. The atmosphere had a thick accent of haze, indicative of the high humidity we’ve had recently. I’m not surprised to see thunderstorms in the forecast for the week.

The fog was thick down in the little miami river valley. You could see the tops of telephone poles just barely popping above the surface.

The sun has drifted so far to the left that I no longer have an unobstructed shot. You can see it in the above picture just behind the tree, a dark reddish purple sphere.

I had to patiently wait for the sun to get this high above the tree. The camera doesn’t quite do it justice – the richness of the sun was a saturated magenta.

The hazy sky meant that the sun was visible but not blinding. A great morning to look directly into the sun without consequence… for the first five minutes at least.

The upper atmosphere didn’t have the deep blue that I’ve seen on the days with less humidity. It was more of a muted navy blue.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Ants & Pillbugs macro-style –> (more…)


Sunrise 37: Ault Park (Post-Storm Sunrise, Grassy Meadow & Young Berries)

I woke up this morning at 5:55am and hit the snooze button. I should have taken notice when my alarm first went off and I couldn’t hear it; perhaps snoozing wasn’t the best idea. We had a floor fan turned on that was generating lots of white noise, perfect for sleeping but not perfect for hearing a phone alarm on the lowest volume setting. I woke up in a fury at 6:21am, 3 minutes past sunrise. Was I too late?

Last night we had a behemoth of storms come through at around 8:00pm. Tornadoes were spotted in the sky up north and roofs were blown off of restaurants. I was actually out biking last night, likely feeling the itch after staying inside during the electrical armageddon of yesterday morning, and got up in the storm. Nothing gets the old legs pumping faster up the hills than running from a mega-storm. I was actually down by Lunken Airport last night when I noticed the dark thunder head rolling in from the west. My sister-in-law took a great picture of the storm moving about 50 miles up north in Dayton, OH:

I actually almost got blown off the bike a few times as I was cranking up the 250ft accent from the river basin to Mt. Lookout.

Back to the morning wakeup. I leaped out of bed and threw on my clothes. I looked outside – a light gray sky indicating a possible overcast scenario. Good! I thought. At least I won’t miss anything! I was out the door by 6:24am.

As I pushed up to the park, I noticed how sweet the air smelled. It wasn’t raining by now, and in fact the atmosphere and ambient lighting was getting brighter by the minute. The air had that after-rain smell to it, (I recently learned this is called petrichor) and the trees were still dripping. As I climbed the hill, I noticed that the sky had started to burst open in a light orange color. I pedaled as quickly as I could, mentally kicking myself for not being more prepared for a perfect “after-storm” sunrise. I’ve been noticing a lot of incoming google hits for phrases relating to “the sky after a storm” and “kinds of clouds after a storm” so I realized that this could be a great sunrise that I didn’t want to miss.

The bright orange sunrise. Little did I know that it wouldn’t last long. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 34: Ault Park (World War I Memorial, Lightning-Struck Tree, Unknown Conifer)

click for higher quality!

These overcast days have really begun to push my creativity. On a beautiful sunrise morning (hopefully like tomorrow’s if the forecast is correct!) it isn’t hard to get a couple of interesting unique pictures and call it a day. But on these mornings where the sky is dark and gray and everything looks the same as it has for the past five days, I find myself exploring areas of the park that I often overlook out of habitualness. Yesterday, for example, I found out that there were redwood trees in the park. Not the pacific northwest redwoods, but another kind of redwood that grows 100ft high none the less and is critically endangered.

This morning I also experienced another “first”. I met a nice woman who identified me as “the sunrise guy” – this is now the fourth of such encounters* – and she said that I was an inspiration to her new routine of getting up at sunrise and walking her golden retriever through the park. It was an exciting encounter and she even made the claim that this “sunrise movement” is going to catch on! Thanks Polly 🙂

* I probably forgot to mention it – but last Saturday at the Bike+Brew (specifically at the Lackman Bar in Over-The-Rhine) I actually met a guy who found out about Ault Park Sunrise from a post I submitted to reddit. I mentioned that I love the history of Cincinnati and asked him if he knew about Ault Park. He replied “hey that used to be a vineyard!”. I said “haha yeah! I just found that out myself because I’m doing this sunrise project…” and he replied “Oh! haha! I saw your website on reddit’s cincinnati section and thats how I knew it was a vineyard!”. I’m still recovering from that piece of mind explosion.

click for higher quality!Young cones on the conifer trees.

click for higher quality!The large conifer with a picnic bench underneath it.

As I entered the park this morning I stopped early and checked out the two large conifers that rise high above the playground on the west part of the park. I wondered if they, too, were redwood conifers. I don’t believe they are after inspecting the leaves. Also they are bearing small pine cones, something that I didn’t notice on the redwood. These pine cones are actually one of my absolute favorite “fruits” of the park, if you will. I collected several of them last year because they look so beautiful when they are just starting to grow. I didn’t even know what they were when I found them on the ground last spring, and the mystery wasn’t solved until almost a year later when I realized that the small fractal ball I held was actually a pine cone that had another couple of months of growth before it became mature. I actually have, sitting on my dresser at home, two sets of pine cones that I collected last year. One set is from these two conifers in Ault Park. They are large, green, and healthy with symmetrical features and fully developed leaves. The other two are from a park down in Hyde Park, where the trees are smaller and probably younger. The pine cones are small, a bit mishapen, and not as fully developed. Assuming that the trees are the same species and the cones were about the same age, to me it says that the Ault Park elevation, clean valley air, and low pollution provide the perfect environment for these large conifers. Perhaps they are Cedars??

click for higher quality!In a couple weeks they will be marble sized, perfect for collecting 🙂 (If you’re on the front page, click to continue – including the WWI memorial) (more…)


Sunrise 32: Ault Park (Garden of Old Roses)

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

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

click for higher quality!

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

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

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


Sunrise 28: Ault Park (Mushrooms, Aphid Farming Ants, and Lady Bugs)

When I left our apartment this morning, the first thing that hit me was how the “thunderstorm” that was expected last night at 2am never showed up. The air was still thick and wet, something I hoped would go away as the expected front cleaned out the humidity this morning. There was a bit of a haze, but the atmosphere was clear of clouds for the most part giving the air a vibrant feel to it. I wouldn’t call it a fog because you couldn’t see any clouds manifest themselves from the overlook, but the entire valley (and the sun) had a visibility that seemed to stop abruptly about 4 miles away.

The air this morning was warm and sweet, not to mention wet. It reminded me in general of how it feels on a warm sticky summer morning, but it wasn’t quite hot enough to be a nuisance. It was, honestly, just about perfect. My morning routine was finally complete, because I finally was able to make coffee after stopping at Trader Joe’s on the way home from work last night, so I enjoyed my first couple of cups as I waited for the orange accent to become a delayed hazy sunrise.

In the meantime I meandered over to the underside of the overlook and I found some fresh mushrooms that have recently come to life. They had that perfectly soft white foamy appearance to them so of course I had to take a picture to document them. In fact, the mushrooms I took pictures of Sunday night up in Alms Park are already starting to shrivel and age just two days later. If you’re on the front page, please click to continue, there are like 40 pictures in this post! –> (more…)


Sunrise 24: Ault Park (Bursting Cumulus, Green Leaves, Caterpillars)

After seeing the cloudy front take over the sunset last night, I was worried that the sky this morning would be overcast. When I got out of bed and looked out the window, the was indeed a bit cloudy but it was a light covering with pockets of dark blue sky showing through. The atmosphere was on the “heavy” side of light overcast. I rode up to the park for the 6:34am sunrise but as I made my way up the hill I started to notice that the sky was darker than I would have expected. There were not any signs of orange, indicating that there was a low cloud cover over the horizon. It is worth mentioning that this week I have continued to “default” to using the second gear on my bike to go up the hills. This is something that I was unable to do even two weeks ago – the added difficulty is a welcome addition to my morning rides that are becoming easier by the day as I get into shape. Feeling a bit of pent up energy from the many rain storms, I could tell that if the lighting conditions are right I’d be taking lots of pictures today.

The sky was indeed filled with a low overcast cloud bank. The sun came up over the horizon and shined through the misty layers. Just as I was sitting down to enjoy my coffee, my assumptions about a conservative and boring sunrise started to gather doubt. I noticed that directly above me the sky was starting to break, I could see the clear blue sky pushing away the clouds. The clouds were moving east allowing the clear skies to slip closer and closer to the sun rise. (If you’re on the front page, please click to continue –>) (more…)


Sunrise 19: Ault Park (back to gray)

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


Sunrise 18: Ault Park (Blazing Hills and Fibonacci Spirals)

I’m beginning to think that I actually like a week of thunder storms. Today’s forecast shows “chance of thunderstorms” in the morning, and “chance of rainstorms” all day. After the storms that whipped through yesterday and last night, the sky was left mostly clear in the upper atmosphere with low lying cloud banks to the east. So far the most unique sun rises have been on these days when a storm is expected to show up but doesn’t end up getting here until late morning or beyond. It makes me wonder if spring isn’t the best season for the sun rise? A summer full of clear warm days won’t make for a dynamic atmosphere. On the other hand, the lighting conditions that come with a clear sun rise provide great opportunities to take pictures of the plants and trees. Click “Continue Reading” to see more pictures if you’re on the front page. (more…)


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

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

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

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

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

I could see the dark front approaching from the west.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Sunrise 12: Ault Park (Armleder Lake)

It was difficult getting up this morning. For the past two nights we’ve had some serious thunder storm action. The front that rolled through last night was predicted to be substantial. While it certainly was intense, I feel that at least in our area it wasn’t as strong as the lightning storm that came through tuesday morning.  The city of Cincinnati can be a bit trigger happy on the storm siren. Their policy is to blast it under “Thunderstorm Warning”. I’m sure they blast it under a “Tornado Watch” as well, but we haven’t had one yet this spring. As if the thunder storm wouldn’t wake us up, they made sure that we were awake by turning on the storm sirens twice, once around 12:30am and once around 1:00am.  That made for a rough wake up.

Last night I tried something different that ended up working out perfectly. My thermos, as you may know, is an excellent insulator. I decided to make my coffee last night and fill up the thermos. This eliminated the largest time sink of my morning (about 8 minutes of the 15 it takes to get ready). It also allowed me to roll up to the park and pour a cup of coffee that was only 20-30 seconds away from being at a drinkable temperature. If I make coffee in the same morning I drink it, I can wait up to 4 minutes before I can touch it.  The coffee was delicious, as expected, and I think I’ll be making nightly coffee from now on.


This morning the park was quiet, peaceful, and wet. The storm broke for me just like yesterday morning. There was no rain, but it was dark. The overlook provided a nice view of the storm clouds rolling through. It was a bit tough getting good pictures without them ending up blurry.

Armleder Park is now officially Armleder Lake (with the associated Armleder Dog Park Bay). It looks like the Little Miami and the surrounding fields / praries have become one. Could it get any worse? I’m not sure.

I sat back and enjoyed my 8 hour old delicious coffee. The rain must have just recently subsided because the birds were slowly building up their song. I heard a mourning dove for the first time along with the usuals.

I noticed, along the stone ledge, a large ant that was struggling to get around on the wet surface. Poor guy probably lost all of his colony’s pheromone trails in the rain. He is probably doomed to live out the rest of his days in an eternal wander. But it did get me excited – late spring and summer means more insects! It is kind of strange listening to the forest and not hearing crickets and cicadas.

Ten minutes after “sunrise” I was feeling a bit “antsy” (haha). I rode over to the arboretum and sat down at one of the benches under a magnolia tree.  There were several downed branches from the recent storm. The ambient light was starting to creep up to more reasonable levels, and the green foilage was taking on that eerie glow that only comes around during a dark cloudy sky.

I took advantage of the bench location to capture the lawn’s symmetry. This picture is taken on the west side of the lawn.

I hopped on my bike and headed home after the quick trip to the park. I was home by 7:40am, a half hour before I would have considered getting out of bed two weeks ago. On the way home I came across a cleanup crew taking care of a downed power line. Whenever I see civic services, like road crews repairing pot holes and bridges or firemen removing branches from downed power lines, I can’t help but think about a city as an organic living being. If you were to observe a city from a bird’s (or alien’s) eye view, and speed up the time interval so that a day was, say, a minute, what would you see? I imagine it would look a lot like an ant colony that regulates its defenses, attacks intruders, and cleans up damaged wings. Watch how quickly the city repairs the power line when a tree hits it! Did you see it tear down the bridge and re-route the traffic to the new bypass? Watch how it clears its traffic arteries of all the snow! Sometimes the city can die when the life force (people) move away from it due to ecological pressures outside of its control (job market, natural disasters). Cities that adapt policies to be friendly to certain job markets often are rewarded with a cultural and financial boost. Some cities are sick with financial or political problems that prevent certain sub-systems from functioning (police or waste service strike, budget crises).  I could probably go on about this all day, and I apologize if this seems a bit disconnected. This is the first time I’ve put these thoughts down in writing, and they could use a re-working for clarity. Oh well, I’ll save that for another day. Here’s an interesting article I just found by Googling “City as Organism”

Stats from this morning (curiously, it looks like Lunken had a power outage, the data is incomplete).
Sunrise: 6:54am EST
Visibility: 6mi
Temperature: 70F / 21C, not much wind at all
Sky: Gray and Dark! Stormy, but I didn’t get rained on.
Sunrise: Non-existant
Bird Chatter: Quiet at first, but they came around.
People: No one except for a few joggers by the time I left.


Sunrise 6: Ault Park (Mushrooms, Tulips, Coyotes?)

I almost couldn’t wait for my alarm to go off this morning. After the past two gloomy mornings I was ready for a clear, crisp, beautiful sunrise.  We checked the forecast last night and realized that there was supposed to be nothing but clear skies this AM. When the alarm went off at 6:20am, the skies were already starting to lighten up.  The birds were in full-on chirping mode, and I was starting to get that familiar nervousness that maybe today the sun would break the laws of physics and come up a half hour early.  I was also excited because Amanda said she wanted to come up to the overlook this morning! Before we left the apartment she even commented on how bright the sky was, it seemed like the sun was already coming up a full 20 minutes early. In hindsight, I ended up taking a lot of pictures – way more than I probably should have. I imagine I had some pent up energy after sitting through two rain storms 🙂

I arrived a bit early and caught the ambient atmosphere before the sun crested the hills. I rode my bike and actually beat Amanda, who came by car.  It was a chilly morning for sure, we brought hooded sweatshirts and our breathing left thick clouds of moisture hanging in the air.  The air was crisp and clear, and down below in the valley you could see a thick patch of fog to the east.

(More after the jump) (more…)


Sunrise 5: Ault Park (Cold, Wet, Dark)

As I rolled out of bed this morning, my overwhelming mood was… uninspired.  I cheated last night and checked out the weather forecast (one of the wonders of the modern world that I never got in the hang of using). I saw that this morning was supposed to be gloomy with thunderstorms, 70% chance of precipitation. Not exactly an ideal sunrise situation. Fortunately, however, there were no thunderstorms by the time 6:45am rolled around. The atmosphere was dark, gray, wet, with a light drizzle. In other words, project sunrise was a go.

I pulled another rookie mistake this morning.  In my drowsy snooze-induced haze (who wants to jump out of bed to go sit in a thunderstorm? hah) I forgot that I charged the camera battery last night.  I didn’t realize this fact until I was up at the park.  Of all days to forget to bring the camera battery, I’m glad it was a day like today.  I’m lucky to have remembered to bring my trusty LG 9900, so once again please forgive me for the quality.

The sunrise was literally non-existent.  The ambient light increased a bit over the 20 minutes I was sitting out at the overlook.  The rain was light but persistent.  After the warm rain yesterday that seemed almost pleasant, today’s rain was downright freezing.  The nice thing about it though was that it made me think about that beautiful sunrise from day 1.  I thought about how necessary these spring rainy days are, and how beautiful the park will be in a few weeks when the storms pass and the sun comes out more often than not.

(More after the jump, including pictures that I didn’t put up last week) (more…)


Sunrise 4: Ault Park (Caught in the storm)

I got out of bed this morning, bruised and aching. This was one of the toughest mornings yet, physically. Yesterday morning I went on a ride with a friend, Andy, through the rolling hills in the Kentucky countryside. It was absolutely beautiful, quiet, and scenic. Along the way I noticed that my left pedal was starting to act up again. Last fall I had put a lubricant on the bearings, thinking it would be helpful, but somehow the lubricant managed to break the seal on the pedal. I had forgot all about this until yesterday morning, because the problem doesn’t typically show up unless I start moving at a fast pace (all my sunrise rides have been typically in first gear only because of the steep incline). About 45 minutes into the ride I noticed that the pedal had seized up and was starting to unscrew itself from the bike. I stopped twice to screw it back in and free the bearing. I kept eye on the pedal as we cranked up and down through the farmland, trying to plant a firm mental reminder to get it fixed.

About an hour and a half into the ride we’re cruising along on a flat stretch of road. Then it happens (at this point I’m really not surprised). I suddenly hear a loud crack as the threads on the pedal that hold it in place strip and send the hunk of metal skittering across the road. My balance is thrown off to the left, I overcompensate and lock the handlebars to the right. I remember a clear and lucid moment right before impact, looking down at the aphault, thinking to myself “well, this was inevitable I suppose”. Let’s just say that if I was trying to throw myself at the ground and miss, well… I didn’t miss.  I haven’t had such an intimate encounter with the pavement since I was 10 years old and learning to rollerblade.  At any rate, because we weren’t going too fast and my bike turned into a sled, I didn’t end up getting too hurt.  My elbow took most of the impact on the 40-foot skid, and my tailbone hurts a bit.  Nothing broken, just bruises and cuts. Another lesson learned: Don’t ignore your hardware when it is diligently trying to tell you that it needs fixed.


This lead to an interesting dilemma this morning. My bike is now pedal-less (bike shop was closed on Sunday), so I borrowed the wife’s bike for the trip up to Ault Park.  She did just fine, although because it isn’t a road bike, going up the hill was slow.  I’d say it was painful, but that might just be because of the bruises! In the end, I am definitely glad I was able to muster up the motivation to see the sunrise.  Although I never actually saw sun due to the cloud cover, the view was beautiful.  This was the warmest morning yet, it was downright pleasant out.

I also ended up meeting some of the local forest inhabitants just before the sun came up.

“Offical Sunrise Picture for Sunrise #4”.

(More pictures after the jump)

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Sunrise 3 (Columbia Tusculum, Rookie Mistake, and Flying Pigs)

This morning turned out to be waaay better than I first imagined.  I hadn’t planned on getting up early this morning, thinking I’d take the weekends off so I could sleep in.  Amanda already had plans to get up early and go to her running club meeting (they’re all training for the flying pig half and full marathon) so I decided to take advantage of this and get up as well.  Since I had the entire morning open (uhh the weekend is awesome!), I thought I’d try and go to Lunken Airfield and find an advantageous spot to see the sun rise, after all the airfield is in the valley and generally points east.  Saturday Morning Exploring, if you will.  The airfield is in the river valley that Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook looks down into.  As I started on my way, however, I started to feel a bit rushed because I didn’t know exactly where the best spot would be and I was kind of afraid of missing the sun rise.  One thing I didn’t really expect before starting this was exactly how pink the sky gets about 15 minutes before the sun rises.  It really opens up in beautiful colors.  Even if you’re staring at your watch, knowing you’ve got 15 minutes to get to Lunken Airfield, the sky’s colors can make you think your watch is slow! I ended up exploring the culs-de-sacs along the eastern hills to get a feel for where the eastern facing ledges were, afraid of missing it if I made the entire trip to Lunken.  Most of the pockets are actually west-facing, so they have absolutely breath taking views down the Ohio River, with the city skyline on the horizon, and of the sunset.  Views of the sun rise were surprisingly difficult to find.  It really made me appreciate how awesome Heekin Overlook is.

I found myself looking down a heavily wooded winding, quiet, and steep road.  I go to grab my trusty camera to document this sight, and what do I find? I find that my camera’s battery is dead. I left it plugged into my computer and forgot that cameras are the one thing that still hold onto their ancient roots by not charging over usb (they remain a “camera” primarily with a stand-alone battery, and it just so happens that they allow usb access.  No charging over usb allowed!).  Frustrated by my rookie mistake, I at least felt relieved that I could still document the sun rise with my camera phone on my 4-year old LG 9900.  Quality isn’t that great (especially in low light), but it does the trick.  In the top picture and the one below, it may look like the sun is up but thats just the atmosphere playing tricks with my head.

(More after the jump; be sure to check out mr. snail at the end) (more…)


Sunrise 2: Ault Park (in the mist)

This morning was interesting.  After almost missing the sunrise yesterday, I made sure to be up at the overlook 10 minutes early.  In contrast to the clear skies  yesterday morning, however, the sky this morning was overcast and gray.  Last night we must have had a light shower; the roads were wet and slick, the sky was dark and gray, and the ambient light seemed to be lagging behind by about 25 minutes.  I honestly couldn’t tell when the sun came up.  I took the opportunity to relax and drink my coffee, and think about the direction I want this project to go.  Without the distraction of a beautiful sunrise, planning the day is much less stressful!  Lunken airport had some light traffic, including a small commuter jet that took off in a hurry right after the supposed sunrise time.

One of the things I’m figuring out is coming up with a list of locations that I’d like to consistently take a picture from.  The point of this will be to document the seasonal change of the park.  I’ve decided that this spot fits nicely because it captures the Heekin Overlook and the valley below as well as several pieces of local fauna.  The trees that don’t blossom and aren’t conifers haven’t started putting on their green show yet, so this spot should change over time.  (Why do flowering trees blossom so early and always before full leafy non-flowering trees? Hmm.) I also have to remember that everything I see today I take for granted.  During the summer you can’t see through the trees at all, and the overlook seems snug and crowded, in contrast to the panoramic view we get to experience today.  More pictures after the jump.

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