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

mt. lookout

Sunrise 128: Ault Park (Guest Sunrise #3, Mt. Lookout Luminaries)

Trent, looking out at Sunrise 128

A final shot of some of the neighborhood Luminaries in Mt. Lookout. Last night these would have been lit up by the candles that sit inside them.

This week started off with a great sunrise. Some friends of ours stopped by last night before heading back home to San Francisco. Trent decided to come along with me this morning on the ride up to the park. It was a cold ride, but there was a decent amount of light cloud action in the lower atmosphere to provide some nice dynamics. We also happened to catch the tail end of the Mt. Lookout Luminary, an annual community event that raises money for the local council. Technically the luminary was last night so the candles were all used up by the time we found them this morning.

I also have the first European guest sunrise from Laura in Estonia. Thanks Laura!

A cell phone shot of Sunrise 128 from Trent.

Laura in Estonia sent in this sunrise picture. Thanks again Laura!


We swung by UDF to grab some coffee and found some of the luminaries on the newly finished marble table in Mt. Lookout Square.

The late twilight sky was crisp and colorful. Interestingly, it looks like Armleder Park has suffered a bout of flooding after the recent rain.

A plane takes off from Lunken Airport over Armleder Park.

A close up of the misty farmlands in the Little Miami River Basin

The sunrise is just around the corner!

A hazy First Light of Sunrise 128

Looking out over the Little Miami River Valley

A cool and crisp Heekin Overlook. Thanks again for coming out Trent!


Sunrise 125: Ault Park (Featuring Let It Happen; Deer Friends & Moody Skies)

The members of the band “Let It Happen“, whom I ran into at Ault Park this morning while they were filming for a music video @ Heekin Overlook.

Lots of activity in the sky. I am now remembering that the sunrises in April had a lot of things “to watch” due to the heavy cloud activity, something I haven’t experienced for a couple months.

Deer Stalking, one of my favorite things to do in the quite mornings in Mt. Lookout…

This morning was another “surprise” sunrise and I’m very glad that I made it happen! I didn’t set my alarm this morning but my body woke up at 7:15am when nature called me from my slumber. I was already awake and I saw mostly clear skies out the window, so I had no excuse to miss the sunrise at 7:40am! This is the second day in a row that I made it up to the sunrise without setting an alarm because yesterday my pal “Hudson the Dog” had my back and woke me up just in time. It was really warm out there, too. Surprisingly warm. It’s 52F at the time of this writing. Was it just a couple days ago that I bundled up for a 20F sunrise? Weather in the midwest can keep you on your toes 🙂

This morning was quite the experience. Aside from the normal moody sunrise that was of a “species” not seen for months, I also met the members of the band Let It Happen. That’s another first! I’ve found that while it is relatively rare to find other sunrise cowboys and cowgirls during the week, Saturday and Sunday mornings make for great opportunities to have a social sunrise. The guys were filming for their new music video. I met them and told them about Ault Park Sunrise (I’m trying to be better at self-promotion, hah). Let It Happen is currently on tour and you can check out their website, myspace, twitter, and facebook page. Whew, all social bases covered. Thanks again for humoring me, gentlemen, and good luck on your tour and all your other endeavors! Check out their EP which available on iTunes for $5. You can listen to it for free on their website as well.

It would have been interesting if stars had aligned just a bit differently because I came up with an idea a few weeks ago that I would have loved to have tried out this morning. The sunrise was certainly a great display, but after all of the clear sky sunrises that we’ve been having this fall it would have been neat to be able to get a silhouette type picture against the sunrise gradient sky. I think that’s something that I’d like to start doing more of – silhouettes of people against a clear sky similar to my favorite picture of the project that I took two weeks ago at Eden Park:

More on this “silhouette series” later!

The sunrise this morning was moody and constantly changing, a sign of new weather to come. This fall so far I have experienced a distinct pattern: overcast, clear skies, overcast, clear skies, fog fog, clear skies. Basically the sunrises have been mostly “all or nothing” without the changing dynamically shaded cumulus clouds that were present so much in the spring.. It makes sense to expect that in the winter on the symmetrical opposite end of the seasonal change from spring that we’d find more “dynamic” skies. The truly unfortunate part about the sunrise, however, was that I think I missed the best part! The videographer of the band confirmed my suspision. When I was climbing to the park I could see through the trees that there was a hell of a show going on in the eastern skies. From what I could tell, there was almost no light being cast into the upper atmosphere, but the lower horizon was bursting with bright pink, deep purple, and all kinds of hazy reds. The mid atmospheric clouds had those hot magenta highlights that fade to deep purple, all while the backdrop to this display was fading to a light blue from a deep twilight navy. I did not stop to take a picture because I had hoped that I’d arrive to the overlook in time, but alas, I missed the show. It’s amazing how that works with these sunrises – the pre-dawn display comes and goes so quickly and depending on the cloud formations, it can be a narrow windows of 30 seconds or a wider window of 5-7 minutes. It just depends on the weather!

As I entered the park, the purples had already started to fade. The upper atmosphere was providing a bright backdrop with lots of contrast against the clouds.

Let It Happen looks out over the Little Miami River Valley at twilight.

The clouds were moving quickly through the sky and the sun never did punch through the low lying cloud bank. As I previously mentioned, I think the best part of the show was about 15 minutes before sunrise.

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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 96: Alms Park (White-Tail Deer Family, Alms Park Sunset, Chilled Fall Morning)

A nomadic group of white tail females hanging out in my backyard.

I haven’t had a morning like this since April or May! With the wind whipping by my face as I careened down the back side of Mt. Tusculum on the way to Alms Park, my ears started to hurt from the cold. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the temperature had dropped down to the low 40s sometime during the night. This was by far the coldest morning in months!

Between the poor sun display and the knuckle-aching cold air, I only took two pictures this morning. I’m also including in this post a few other pictures from the last few days. There are a couple from two night-ago’s Alms Park Sunset that will provide some nice symmetry with this morning’s Alms Park Sunrise. The other handful are of a local family of white tailed deer that have been hanging out in our back yard over the past two days. I’ve been working from home on my thesis research so I’ve been watching the local deer activity as a welcome break. I find it kind of surreal that there is such a healthy population of quarter-ton mammals that share the neighborhood with us humans. More on that down below 🙂

On my way to Alms Park, I could see the sky behind the wooded neighborhood turning a deep glowing pink. The high humidity in the air coupled with some clouds in the lower atmosphere resulted in a a pre-dawn display that I could just barely make out behind the houses. It did, however, light up the rest of the sky with a subtle purple hue. By the time I got up to the park, however, the pre-dawn purples had been replaced with an orange/yellow. The sun didn’t come up for another 10 minutes, it felt like, but by the time I realized that the sun was actually risen, I could tell it was climbing up behind the low-laying cloud bank. I was a bit disappointed because I had high expectations for this morning’s sunrise. Yesterday morning was rainy and overcast, but the sky cleared up in the afternoon and the result was crisp and sunny weather. Even last night’s sunset was relatively clear, a condition I hoped would stick around until this morning. In the end, however, the clouds took over the sky and there wasn’t much of a sunrise. I will say, however, that the cold bite really woke me up!

Alms Park Sunset. Looking West over the Ohio River at Mt. Adams across the “Bend in the River” (widescreen)

A few moments later, with some of the lighter oranges giving way to a deeper purple.

Two 8-10 point bucks hanging out in the back yard. Can we say “Stag Party”? haha.

I find it fascinating and kind of freaky (if I think too hard about it) that there are several hundred mammals that weight more than I do casually roaming through the local forests and neighborhoods. The local proximity of the old-growth forests in Ault Park and Alms Park definitely provide a kind of “home base” for the animals. These white-tailed deer have become somewhat of a fascination to me over the last year. I’ve always known they were around, but what I find so neat is that when you really look for them, they’re seriously everywhere. If you stay in your apartment all night, and then get in your car and drive to work, and repeat every day without ever going on a walk through the neighborhood at dusk, you probably would never notice them more than a couple times a year when they decide to run out in front of traffic or take a nap in your front yard. However, if you start really looking in yards and at the edge of the forest, you can find them on a nightly basis during the summer and early autumn. You can find them laying down in front yard gardens, running loudly through the obvious “deer trails” through the local patches of forest, and darting out in front of late afternoon traffic. They’ve become kind of sloppy, too, as the docile “humans are ALRIGHT” traits start to become more pronounced, and the “be careful and quiet so that we can live” traits become less important. Sometimes I think a drunken college student has stumbled through the thicket behind our place, when in reality it’s just a young deer with a rack that he doesn’t know how to handle.

I’ve never heard of any “deer attacks” in Mt. Lookout, other than the occasional poor guy who gets hit by a car (that would be a car-on-deer attack!). This makes me believe that the deer are generally flighty, not aggressive, with a touch of docility. The females especially seem to be the most passive. I can typically approach a female, slowly, and get within 8-10 feet of her before she starts giving me strange looks. When she finally does get spooked, she typically only walks a few yards away, huffing obviously in an annoyed kind of tantrum. “Can’t you see I’m grazing here!?”. The bucks (males), on the other hand, are much more strategic in their movements. Upon approach, they will kind of group up and literally “high-tail” it back into the forest (high-tail’n it = run with their tails in the air, exposing the bright white under-side. Obviously a signal to other deer that it’s time to get the heck out). But what’s funny about the bucks is that they will stop about 30 yards away and position their heads to be able to see where I am. When I approached these two bucks pictured above, they ran into the forest and emerged in the middle of the neighbor’s yard about 40 yards away. I didn’t even realize they were carefully watching me until I loudly cracked my way into the edge of the forest (I’m no more quiet than the deer are). It was then that I saw their heads popping up over the hill, waiting to see what my next move would be. I’m glad they’re not equipped with laser guns.

This reminds me of a story. I’ll never forget the time I was walking through the forest in Alms Park, last autumn, minding my own business and looking for the coral patterned hedge apples, when I encountered a massive 14-point buck trucking loudly through the fallen leaves. I heard him coming from about 100 yards away, with obvious disregard to who heard him coming. Being a large animal with no local predators beyond a few scarce coyotes that don’t seem to make it up to the mountain very often, he was carelessly banging his rack around on branches and rooting through the pile of leaves on the ground. I even heard him kick some forgotten glass bottle. Through the naked branches I could see a brown blur and it was covering some serious ground.

I was sitting at the ruins of an old recreational shelter (that may even be a ruin from the old 1800s vineyard, I haven’t confirmed either theory) when I heard the ruckus. He was moving straight towards me from the bottom of a small valley that the stone overlook would have looked out across. I was curious what would happen if we were to meet (at this point I didn’t realize just how huge this thing was) so I kind of crouched down behind the 3-foot stone wall. I also grabbed a harvested softball-sized monkey-brain (hedge apple) that was sitting nearby, either to offer as food or, as last desperation, as a weapon if I needed it. 30 seconds later I poked my head up and saw the massive buck, with at least 14 points on his rack and twice my weight, heading straight for the shelter ruins about 30 yards away. He hadn’t spotted me yet. By this point I had waited way too long to make a move and the realization came over me that startling him would probably be something I should avoid.

He cruised right up to the other side of the old stone wall that I was crouching behind and stopped. I could hear him breathing and I could also tell he was weighting his options. I also realized that I was sitting only 4 feet, to my left, from the walking trail inside this stone wall that formed a perfect little “U” with the closed-end to my right. As I sat there on edge, floating in my pool of adrenaline, I couldn’t help but be simultaneously in awe at how close I was to this magnificent animal. At this point, I wondered what it was that the buck was thinking about. Could he smell me? Was I too loud? Is he just messing with me? In hindsight, the buck was probably thinking to himself “well I’m really trying to make it over to Sandra’s den on the other side of the hill. She always has the best acorns and if I’m lucky she’ll have some more of that delicious fungus from last week. I could make better time if I hopped on the old walking trail and “high-tailed” it, but I might run into some of those large noisy nomadic mammals I keep seeing in the forest. I’m not sure I have the energy for that. Maybe it’s best to stick to the side roads…” In my mind, I sure he’d choose to go left on the path, and soon we’d be face to face and only 4 feet apart, with a stone wall to my left, right, and back. At least he’d be just outside kicking range, I assured myself. Do deer even like hedge apples? In my head I pictured a startled deer rearing back on his hind legs, and me yelling “Surprise! Here’s a Hedge Apple!” while simultaneously throw/handing it to him in a part-diplomatic part-defensive move. I’m not sure that’ll go over well.

It took all the gusto I had to slowly, and quietly, raise my head over the top of the wall. Fortunately he was looking straight ahead and I came up just behind his shoulders to his left side. He was massive and the top of his back came up to about a foot and a half above the three foot all that I was hiding behind. I heard him give a loud huff, and then the leaves started to rustle as he began moving. He chose to continue on the route he was on, crossing straight over the walking path, and continuing into the forest. Within 6 seconds he had disappeared into the brown background, and within 20 seconds I couldn’t hear him any longer. As it turns out, even deer yield to oncoming traffic.

So I guess the point of all of this is that out there, in the forest, every day and all afternoon, there are isolated and independent packs of male and female deer just hanging out, watching us humans go about our busy lives. How do the males go about courting the females? Do they leave chemical markers as a kind of note for other deer that say “hey this lawn is pretty tasty, and the old lady doesn’t care if you get pretty close to the house. No dogs.”? Yeah, you’re right. Probably not.

So the bucks pictured above showed up in the backyard two days ago. Yesterday afternoon, in the same location, these two (and later a third) showed up to graze on the fresh grass and Kudzu. There were two females and a young fawn. These pictures are through the window into our backyard. I’ve noticed a pattern in deer behavior that is probably well known among hunters. The females tend to stick together in a foraging herd, while the males (bucks) tend to stick together in their own nomadic (and probably territorial?) bachelor party. I would like to think it isn’t a coincidence that the bucks showed up one day, then the does showed up the second day. They’re probably on shifts or something.

Aww, what a cutie. Her coat was shiny and smooth and the white spots were bright. You can see her mother blending in with the forest to the right.

The young one was getting a bath.

I finally was able to remove the screen from my window without spooking them too much. Here’s a much more clear shot (along with the first picture at the beginning of this post). The third female came out from behind the building to the right. Didn’t know she was there.

The orange color to the back atmosphere was giving me hope. In the end, the sunrise was just a quiet orange shifting of colors.

The sun coming through the low lying clouds over a hanger on Lunken Airfield’s east side. We also see Reeve’s Golf Course in the far background beyond the runway.


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 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 58: Ault Park (Fireworks, Baby Tracks, Sonada Cigars)

My favorite fireworks picture. Turned out nicely.
Gold Fuzzy and Green

Morning Sunrise (widescreen)

This morning’s sunrise was a beautiful hazy one that had a long delay. I believe that I’ve made the mental connection between humidity (manifested as haze) and length of sunrise. The less humidity, the quicker the orange/yellow bright light comes on. On days like today we didn’t get a yellow color until the sun was high into the air, about an hour after sunrise. With the right cloud conditions these late sunrises can make the best picture opportunities! Today was a bit too hazy, the yellow/orange never quite coming into play until the sun was past prime color. I’ve got about 15 or so fireworks pictures at the end of this post. Feel free to skip on through if you want to check them out. About 35 pictures in total today!

The Overlook. A bit of trash that was left over from last night’s festivities. Fast Food containers, old sparklers, wrappers, and even a sealed feminine product. I imagine that was more of a prank than necessity…

A brochure, left behind. There was trash littered all around the trash bins because the raccoons got in and rummaged around. The park crew was busy picking up the debris. I helped out a bit and cleaned up around the overlook.

Plane coming in! The familiar cargo-type plane that I see almost every morning

Sparklers and booty. I scored a new lighter! There was also, interestingly enough, a sunrise metal hunter. He had his scanner out and headphones on, looking for dropped change and who knows what else.

The orange sun starting to come up.

We can see the fog down in the valley. Thick chunky fog.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Lots of pictures on fireworks down below. —> (more…)


Sunrise 36: Ault Park (RK LeBlond Factory, United States Printing Company and Playing Card Company, Murdocks, and much more)

This morning was the first time I have “skipped” a sunrise. By means of coincidental timing and a wife who wishes me to stay intact and electrically solvent, I stayed in bed while the electrical Armageddon took place outside our window at exactly 6:00am. I was considering hopping on my lightly isolated steel lightning rod and riding up to the top of the mountain but I’m grateful that Amanda made the call without me having to :). The timing of the morning storm was impeccable, at 5:30am I had woken up early, noting that the rain that passed through at 3:00am had stopped. But by the time sunrise approached, a new front rolled through the area and brought with it intense electrical behavior, including several thunderous cracks that lit up someone’s tree in the immediate vicinity. I opted instead to finish writing the article from Saturday, Sunrise 36, which involves my most adventurous exploration yet. Knowing that I would still have a post to make for today made it that much easier to not venture out into the chaos.

Fair warning – lots of pictures here, sorry if it slows down your computer!

I got up with the sun on Saturday morning and went exploring around the area, this time deciding to venture north a bit. The only real item on the agenda for the morning was getting up to the Rookwood Pavilion and seeing what I could find out first hand about the remnants of the old R.K. LeBlond factory. I found out about the history behind the factory after exploring the St. Ursula Villa, which was LeBlond’s old estate. I had heard that the old industrial site had sits at what is now the Rookwood Pavilion, a shopping area developed in the mid 1990s. The developers, as it turned out, were respectful enough to keep the old factory and “smoke stack” intact. The factory building itself is now a Don Pablo’s Mexican Grill. I also explored the now-defunct rail line that runs to the south of the pavilion as well as the grassy “urban prairie” to the north of the shopping district that at one time was a small neighborhood that succumbed to the “eminent domain” of over-zealous developers whose plans have themselves succumbed to the recent recessionary period. I continued north up small residential connectors into territory I’ve never explored by car or bike, and stumbled onto the beautifully grandiose “United States Printing Company” and the “United States Playing Card Company”, a building that surprisingly enough was even more impressive.

The Sunrise

After the break in the overcast weather by the great sunrise Friday morning, I was hoping for another colorful morning at the overlook. The morning sunrise was marked with a haze in the atmosphere and a light layer of upper atmosphere clouds. Once again a thick layer of fog had settled down into the valley, causing me to consider altering my proposed “RK LeBlond Exploration” in favor of a southern valley exploration. I have been meaning to take pictures of Lunken Airport and a morning with thick fog and a clear morning sun would provide some fantastic lighting opportunities. In the end I saved this for another day, although I put off making a decision about it for another hour or so – wondering if I could in fact do both.

If you’re on the main page, click to continue. 100+ pictures in total today –> (more…)


Sunrise 29: Ault & Armleder Park (Fog in the Prairie, Linwood Public School, Our Lady of Loretta, Murdock Fountains)

click for higher quality!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 🙂

click for higher quality!Notice the ridges you can barely see in the background.

click for higher quality!Super Fog

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…)