This morning’s update is a doozie! This is actually yesterday’s sunrise but I got carried away on such a pretty day and took way too many pictures. I didn’t have time to finish the processing yesterday, so it’s coming at you a day later. I retraced much of the route I took during Sunrise 9 in April. Has it really been 6 months?
I woke up Sunday morning with only 5 hours of sleep under my belt. We were out late for a friend’s birthday party the night before but I had already made up my mind that I was going to take advantage of this amazing October weather. I originally set my alarm for 6am, which was way too early considering sunrise was 7:41am, and accidentally slept for another hour. It worked out perfectly and I was thankful for the late sunrise time. I was out the door with my bike and coffee by 7:00am, armed with the goal of seeing the sunrise over the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati. I ended up being swept up in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer run/walk where over 12,000 people came out in the 15th annual event. The walk provided a rich texture to the acoustic backdrop to my four hour morning exploration of Sawyer Point and Newport, Kentucky because the speaker system could be heard anywhere along the banks of the Ohio River. I ended up hanging out in General James Taylor park in Newport, Kentucky, a park that until now I had no idea existed. With nothing but water and open air between myself and the headquarters of the walk about half a mile away or more, I listened as the walker told their survival stories, did the electric slide, and got themselves pumped up. The timing of my morning ride couldn’t have been more ideal because by the time I got to Sawyer Point, the first of the crowd was already starting to show up. I ended up getting stranded in Kentucky for about an hour as I waded, slowly and patiently, back to Ohio on the Purple People Eater Bridge through the torrent of thousands of pink-clad people. I actually found it kind of hilarious because I never considered how dependent I was on the only pedestrian bridge that links Newport and Sawyer Point!
While hanging out at General James Taylor Park in Newport, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the Cincinnati Skyline at sunrise. And a beautiful sunrise it was. I had known that I wouldn’t have an excellent view of the eastern sky so I had planned to wander around looking for a strategic spot to drink my coffee and enjoy the crisp and clear autumn sunrise. While chillin’ at the park, I saw a team of rowers practicing on the river, observed the local fishermen and watched a barge barrel down the river and do some impressive maneuvers as it banked into the Ohio River. The BB Riverboat also made an appearance and there was even a small sailboat that moved gracefully throughout my panoramic view of the skyline.
I’ve always loved the Cincinnati Skyline but Sunrise 103 really helped to solidify that feeling for me. I’ll go on record as saying that of the cities I’ve visited in my relatively inexperienced travel ventures, Cincinnati’s Downtown Skyline has to be one of the most beautiful skylines in the country, if not the world. Every city’s skyline is unique and beautiful in it’s own right, of course, but I feel like Cincinnati’s has the perfect combination of several properties.
For one, it’s relatively small. You can “see” the entire skyline without having to pan around. I can take it all in with a single view.
Second, What’s a skyline without a proper view? The view from the Kentucky side banks of the Ohio River is seriously amazing. The river and air is open and the banks in Kentucky are not overdeveloped by any stretch, providing easy access for anyone wanting to take it in.
Third, the architecture really tells a story, although I imagine this is common with many cities. You’ve got several remnants from “Old Cincinnati”, the late 1800s boomtown that was rivaling Manhatten with it’s urban density. The PNC building and Carew Tower (which was used as a model for the Empire State Building) rise to the western edge of the skyline. As I gaze at the buildings, I can imagine what a magnificent sight this must have been in the early 1900s. It isn’t too hard to ignore the Great American Insurance building (for now). The ending animation (35seconds forward) of the evolution of the New York Skyline in the movie Gangs of New York really made me aware of how the skyline of a city can tell historic story. I also like that we can see both the Bengal’s and Red’s stadiums as well as the US Bank Arena. There is the new Great American Insurance building, a shining example of modern architecture. A quick side note on the GAI building though. I like to think of the GAI as a young punk business executive. On one hand, it stole the “tallest building” title from Carew Tower, which held it for over 70 years. That’s OK though, progress marches on. It’s a beautiful building! It just makes me a bit nostalgic because I have a special place in my heart for Carew Tower and it’s legacy. They did pay respect, however, in the form of keeping Carew Tower at a higher elevation as to not upset the balance of the skyline. Yesterday morning, however, I realized something else! Something that I probably wouldn’t have thought about except through the contextual lens of this project. The Great American Insurance Building is aligned perfectly in such a way as to entirely block out Carew Tower from getting a view of the sunrise! I watched in a partial trance as the shadow of the GAI’s tiara moved from the top of Carew Tower down to the bottom. I’m being a bit dramatic, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from envisioning a quirky anthromorpized prime time sitcom featuring all of the buildings in Cincinnati’s Skyline living together in a small London flat and the tension between Carew and Great American being thick enough to cut with a knife. Now that I think about it, maybe I spent a bit too much time staring at the skyline… 🙂
As it turns out, the James Taylor park in Newport Kentucky is a memorial to a defensive battery that protected Cincinnati from the “Indian Wars” in the early 1800s, and later provided the final defense against an approaching Confederate Army during the Civil War. Whenever I find out about pieces of trivia such a this, I always think about the classic well-deserved nickname for Cincinnati: “The Gateway to the South”.
Some of these pictures are a bit redundant. The lighting was so accommodating and there was a lot going on. I am just throwing them all up on here, as usual, and letting the reader figure out which pictures they like the most (if any!).
The unfolding of a sunrise in a clear sunrise takes about 40 minutes. This morning was no different! The 25 minute ride to downtown was far from dull! I felt like I was racing the sun to Sawyer Point.
I always get a full look at this building. Cincinnati Water Works, constructed in 1907. I finally ran into someone whose father works for the city. It turns out that the building is very much used today, but the stone wall that runs around the perimeter was built for “homeland security reasons”. Damn it. It’s so ugly.
St. Rose Church on Eastern Ave. If that clock is right, I’ve got 15 minutes to spare.
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The weather this week in Cincinnati has been downright beautiful. After the couple weeks of overcast and stormy skies, we’ve been blessed with a streak of clear skies with cool mornings and warm afternoons. This feels very much the same as biking in the early spring at the start of this project because the mornings are chilly – between 40 and 55F – but the afternoon warms up to the high 70s.
This morning in the park was another pleasantly cool and misty morning. The Cincinnati Fog made an appearance but stayed down in the lower basin of the valley, providing a true clear sky sunrise. These clear sky sunrises are a beast unto themselves because of how early the sky lights up, and how quickly after sunrise the oranges give way to the bright yellows of a full day sun.
I arrived at the overlook this morning about 15 minutes before sunrise, which is now somewhere beyond 7:40am it seems, and the horizon was already overflowing with a deep orange gradient. I went out in a tshirt this morning, braving the chilly elements. I found that the 45F temperature didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I could have used a light pair of gloves, but overall it wasn’t uncomfortable. The first warm cup of Trader Joe’s medium roast coffee certainly helped.
I met Dave and Penny, a gentleman from Mt. Washington and his young golden retriever. Dave filled in some information about the old drag strip and the beechmont levee. I didn’t actually realize that Beechmont Ave. was built on top of a levee. I know that there is a levee system between Lunken Airfield and the Little Miami River, but what I didn’t realize is that the levee takes a sharp turn and continues toward Mt. Lookout, running between Armleder Park and Lunken Airfield. Dave said that in the 1970s when he originally moved to Mt. Washington, there were no trees on the levee so it was obvious. Now, however, the forest has matured and it is harder to see it. Interestingly, however, Dave mentioned that “Old Beechmont Ave” still exists in pieces at the foot of the levee on the Armleder Park side. That old drag strip that I learned about over the summer utilized the pavement that was once part of old Beechmont. That makes a lot of sense, thanks Dave!
One final thing before I post the few pictures from this morning’s sunrise. I have a new idea for a focus for the remainder of this Autumn’s sunrise posts. As the Cincinnati forests change their coats into their autumn shades, I’m finding myself picking out patterns in the tree-lined background to my morning rides. Just as I observed the various species of trees break out into bloom in a well syncronized seasonal change into spring, I’m noticing the many local species of trees that are changing colors (or even blooming) together while their green brethren hold out until they are ready. I’d like to focus on a specific species of tree for a morning and find all the locations in the neighborhood where this tree has found a home. In the forest, in yards, and placed in the park and the city boulevards by the park service.
One specific tree that has piqued my interest has been the ash tree. After talking with Aaron the horticultural, who takes care of the gardens at Ault Park, about the ash beetle’s western-moving front across the region and the defensive (but inevitably futile) measures they’ve implemented in the park, I’m finding myself seeking out local ash trees if for no other reason than to create a memory of a tree that my grand children may very well not know in their lifetimes as a native tree. They’re also known for their beautiful fall display, and I find it sad because many of the ash trees that I’ve found so far seem dull and withering. It is apparently of high probability that most of the trees I’ve seen so far are already infected with the beetle and there are no known ways to cure the tree. The only thing that can be done is give the tree a treatment that merely prolongs the life of the tree a few more years. Apparently Mt. Washington has already lost most of their ash trees, and western Cincinnati are just starting to receive their first positive contact reports :(. Interestingly enough, Ault Park has become a test ground where each ash tree is treated with a different anti-beetle program. Hopefully one of them is successful and can be used to save the trees that have not yet been infected.
Along the boulevards along the major residential roads that connect to Ault Park there is an interesting happening. Principio Ave is lined with fading ash trees, something I never realized until I picked them out this morning. I spoke with a local woman about the trees, and she told me something interesting. A few years back the city removed many of the ash trees because they were already dead or almost dead. The ones that remain today were the strongest, but they won’t last much longer. But what I find interesting is that this spring the city planted new young trees in place of the lost ash. You can find them all around the neighborhoods because their young trunks are still protected by white plastic so that the local population of hungry deer don’t get to them. I believe they are a kind of maple, but I didn’t check them out in detail (yet). I’m mentioning this because I am curious about what kind of tree is going to replace the ash tree in our local neighborhoods and boulevards, and also why the ash tree was chosen in the first place? I imagine there are many things that a city planner has to think about when designing a neighborhood’s arbor makeup. The ash trees do seem like a perfect size – large enough to be magnificent, colorful in the autumn, but not so large as to rip up sidewalk and otherwise be destructive.
That’s much more than I expected to cover regarding the ash tree, so when I do the “ash tree sunrise” in the next week, there may be a bit of repetition. Oh well, I’ll consider that a rough draft. I’ve mentioned previously that every autumn I notice this specific species of maple that explodes in this bright orange hue, but only for three or four days. I’ve still got my eye out.
See what I mean? In about 10 minutes the orange sunrise is gone and the sun takes a full-on yellow look. This is in drastic contrast to days like Sunrise 101 where the high humidity can make a sunrise last for an hour or longer. In this sense I’m defining a sunrise duration as the amount of time it takes for the light to cycle from deep purple to orange to yellow. This is relative to where the viewer is standing, of course.
I noticed that the third and final missing bench in Heekin Overlook has been replaced. I learned from Dave that the wood that these benches are made out of is a rain-forest hardwood called “teak“. Teak wood is valued as being water resistant and historically has been used for creating ships. And there you go!
A quick post for this morning. I was surprised to find another foggy sunrise in the park. My alarm actually crashed during the night so I woke up right at sunrise. Luckily the fog had my back and hid the sun from view for about half an hour. The fog was misty down in Mt. Lookout, but just beyond the entrance to the park the fog was pretty thick.
This morning’s sunrise 100 was, finally, a healthy well-rounded autumn sunrise. It seems like we’ve had about two weeks of overcast and rain. I spent the past three mornings up in Columbus, OH for my good friend’s wedding. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I’m looking forward to grabbing as many Autumn sunrises as I can get my white-knuckled hands on. The forest has already started the process of changing into the warm colors of fall, and the weather has taken a surprising dip into ice-cold temperatures. There is a specific species of maple that blasts out this intense orange/yellow color for a few days every Autumn. With all the rainfall this past year (we’re looking to break the record), I’m expecting a great turnout. So far no signs of them.
By my estimates, this morning’s pre-sunrise temperature was in the mid 30s. It was so cold that I was finding myself happy to have lips because my teeth felt like they were going to freeze off if I smiled too widely at slowly rising light in the upper atmosphere of the clear blue sky. Although that may have had more to do with a certain too-cold drink I had a the wedding celebration than the actual temperature.
This morning’s cold air provided the perfect setup for a calm mental state. When one is out on the bike in the early morning air, climbing up a 300ft ascent to the top of Alms Park, it really does no good at all to harbor second thoughts. You really just have to put it to the back of your mind and be thankful that the nissan thermos is full of 26oz of fresh steaming coffee. Although it does help to think about the possible acquisition of winter biking gear.
The sunrise was one of the best kinds and it felt very much like fall. The upper atmosphere was clear and a deep blue and there was a light slurry of clouds just above the horizon. It was a nice hybrid that had the best attributes of a clear sky (the show starts early with subtle lighting 20 minutes before sunrise, a full color palette) and also a lightly cloudy one (deep purples, shadows, various cloud formations).
Upon further examination, the water tower isn’t as close to the sun as I thought. That would have been a fun picture (a zoomed up sunrise with the sun exactly behind the water tower on the horizon); looks like I missed it by just a few days.
After we got home from the weekend of celebration, I took a quick stroll around Mt. Lookout just before sunset. I got my first dose of the icy chill, but at least I knew what to expect for this morning!
A picture of people taking a picture. We can also see the Budweiser truck in the top right, a left-over from the Reggae Run! We missed it, unfortunately, but there’s always next year! After checking the website, it looks like everything went well. Over 4000 runners converged on Ault Park to run down the mountain and back up in easily the steepest 5k I’ve ever ran… although that isn’t saying much considering the bulk of my 5ks were spent up in the western piece of flat Ohio farmland during my cross country days in high school.
After a series of intense storms throughout the region, the sky suddenly cleared up late yesterday afternoon. We were graced with a beautiful crisp and cool night that was marked with light whispy cloud activity through the atmosphere. I was excited to get out on the bike this morning as long as the weather held, which it did! As I write this in the late afternoon, the sky is already dark and gray. It looks like we got a small break in the drab overcast weather and now it’s back to business as usual.
The temperatures are dropping into the high 50s as time marches on and we entere the first official days of autumn. It is seriously hard to believe that summer is officially gone, but I look forward to brewing up some hard cider, enjoying the seasonal winter ales, and spending time with family. Speaking of brewing, I took some time over the last two weeks to figure out my new brew kit that my wife got me for my birthday. It’s been a blast to say the least, and I’m learning quite a bit. It’s a small1-gallon kit (and I got a second 1-gallon fermenter to go with it so I can keep up a rotating schedule) that brews up about 10 beers at a time. It’s great because I’ve developed a nice rotation where I can brew a batch every Sunday (and bottle two weeks later), giving me a monthly output of about 4 gallons. I am fortunate enough to live about 8 minutes from Listermann’s brew shop which gives me the unique opportunity to swing by after work and pick up any amount of grains and malt that I need. So far I’ve got a kind of dark amber ale brewing and I just picked up ingredients for a Bell’s Two Hearted clone. My amber ale only needed a 15 minute steep and 20 minute boil, which means that my entire brewing (without cool-down) was less than an hour. But we’ll see how it turns out…
I 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!
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.
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.
Did you know that Cincinnati is actually in the same climate zone as the southern United States? It’s true. It’s also something I didn’t really consider, or think about, until I started this project. We’re in a northern tip of the Sub-Tropical Humid zone, which comes up from the South and just barely pushes north of the Ohio River.
I’ve spend the majority of my life growing up in central western Ohio (light blue in the map), where the summers are dry and hot and the winters are cold and full of snow. Although, being at the northern tip of this climate zone, we do get some serious snowfalls – something that as a Midwesterner I absolutely love. As I explore the parks and forests around the hills of Cincinnati, I find myself fascinated with the deep green and lush foliage. Even the grass in the local neighborhoods stays green and fresh, although I’m sure that is mostly due to the careful consideration of the homeowners. The fog that comes in from the river keeps the hillside forests wet and healthy. We even have an intense local kudzu population. Some friends of ours told me that Kudzu is also known as “The plant that ate the South”.
Why do I bring all of this up? I bring it up because this morning’s sunrise was exactly what I’d expect to see in a humid subtropic climate. It was another dark misty sunrise with a deep purple sun that slowly rose out of the gray cloud layer. It was a cool, dark, quiet morning in the park with the full moon setting high in the western sky.
An attempt to channel Sunrise 09’s iconic sunrise picture. Just isn’t the same with such a low-light sunrise!
Sunrise 94 was the first clear sky sunrise that we’ve had in several weeks. The high humidity that is no doubt left over from the hurricane behavior provided a thick wet blanket across the Little Miami River Valley. The sun rose up in a deep red hue. It was one of those sunrises that you can stare directly into for a full 10 minutes after sunrise without worrying about it being too bright.
I took the opportunity to drop down into Armleder Park and ride through the prairie in the fog. It is amazing how fast the sun dissipates the moisture from the air. The fog rarely lasts longer than 25 minutes after sunrise. The river was flowing quietly and I climbed through the now lush 7-foot high river foliage where the packed mud trail has become a mere suggestion to emerge soaking wet on the other side. Cincinnati is in a northern-most tip of the “Sub-Tropical Humid” climate, the same climate that encompasses most of the South and South/East of the US. This fog is likely a crucial element in the ecology of the river basin plant life. The foliage is lush and green and it seems that almost daily there is a morning transfer of water from the river, up to the air, and then onto the plants as the sun warms the fog. I find it interesting that Armleder Park seems to always be foggy. The Little Miami River is smaller than the Ohio River, and yet the fog of the Ohio River rarely spills beyond the river’s banks. I wonder what’s up with that?
It looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day out there. It’s amazing how much that streak of overcast rainy days can make me appreciate these clear cool late-summer ones.
Into the park we go. Most of these pictures are kind of dark so I’m sorry about that. Under the blanket of fog, however, there truly isn’t much ambient light unless you’re looking straight into the sun.
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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.
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.
37 pictures total! Click “continue” if you’re on the front page, homie. (more…)
Kudzu is a vine that originated in Japan. I’ve always had a slight fascination with this plant for the past several years, even though I’ve never sat down and looked up information on it. I didn’t even know the name of this vine until last week when a fellow Cincinnatian told me that the vines I was seeing in the parks was not anything resembling left over grape vines (although I’m sure they’re out there somewhere!) but in fact was this plant called “Kudzu”. Ever fall I notice the kudzu plant taking over the local hillside forests and creating a kind of surreal green blanket across the tops of the trees and bushes. I haven’t noticed the vine much lately, and that’s seems to be how it works. You don’t think about it in the spring or early summer, but when you finally realize just how expansive the vine truly is, it has already taken you by surprise!
I first saw Kudzu on a family trip down to the mountains outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The vine blanketed the mountainsides and the 10 story high trees, taking advantage of the clearings at the edge of a forest, where the trees stop and the asphalt begins. The leafs on the vine are large, about as big as my face or larger. Apparently a single plant is responsible for most of the blanket in a region. The base of the plant could be located deep in the forest while the vines spread out to create a sea of flowing solar panels. It seems most of the resources that the plant gathers in the form of sunlight are re-invested back into the production of vines and, as it follows, more solar panel leafs. According to my research, the plant can grow up to a single foot a day! That explains how the vine seems to appear out of nowhere.
I still haven’t made up my mind on how I feel about the Kudzu. On one hand, the kudzu is a tremendous grower. I’d love to have a Kudzu plant of my own to prune and take care of. Imagine how lush a quiet back patio could be with a well manicured and healthy Kudzu vine. Each branch of the vine could be trained carefully to mold itself across the brick walls. It would be a lot to take care of during the heavy growth season, but it wouldn’t take much time to create a surreal breathing texture to a cozy garden.
On the other hand, in the wild it is considered an invasive species. I can see why, of course. It just grows too damn fast! It out-competes all the local wildlife and can choke the life out of a forest by preventing the trees from getting any precious sunlight. It is neat to look at, but I also find myself wondering how all of the bushes and underbrush are doing under that thick smooth mess of Kudzu. I find it interesting though that, while the plant itself grows quickly and covers lots of ground, I don’t see it *everywhere*.
It may seem that the kudzu is left free to roam through Alms Park, but now that I think about it, I have never noticed it in Ault Park. Although this also goes back and points to my theory of Ault Park and Alms Park’s Yin/Yang relationship. I’m talking about how Ault Park is manicured, designed, symmetrical, with planned gardens and lots of flowers, with the forest pushed to the edge of the park, while Alms Park is more organic, where the forest seems to be all around you. There are small flower gardens in Alms Park but they’re not the focus as they are in Ault Park. Alms Park is more quiet and has some of the most majestic oak and pine trees that I’ve ever seen. So could it be that the Kudzu is simply left to grow in Alms Park? I imagine it is a lot of work, anyway, to remove such a quickly growing and invasive plant. I’ll have to ask the park service guys about what they think of the Kudzu.
Now a little bit about the history of the Kudzu. Did you know that the Kudzu was brought over intentionally from Japan in 1876? There was this huge garden exposition in Philadelphia where many countries were invited to create a display that showcased their native flowers and plants. Japan’s Kudzu display was a huge hit, and for the next 75 years American gardeners (and government!) couldn’t get enough of the plant! You can still visit this original location as it has been preserved as a heritage site. In the East it is a well respected plant, but apparently in the American South it grows faster than back home! And without the rest of the ecosystem intact that likely would have kept the kudzu in check (with how fast the kudzu grows, you’d think it’s trying to out-compete *something*!), it continues to spread rapidly.
In the early turn of the century, there were many practical uses that came about as the plant gained wide-spread use. Here are a few of the things that are mentioned:
- I heard a rumor that Kudzu was used originally to beat out the invasive Honeysuckle plants. This worked, of course!
- The flowers of the Kudzu plant are sweet and pretty, great for ornamental purposes.
- The foliage is edible! Goat farmers could grow the hardy, fast growing Kudzu on otherwise baren land to feed their herd! It makes sense when I think about it – all you need to do is tend to the base, and the vines will quickly spread out over the soil to collect solar photons while not needing to take root.
- The anti-erosion qualities of Kudzu were used for natural soil control
- The vine has been used by southerners to create baskets.
- A root extract is said to date back 2000 years in Chinese medicine for treatment of alcoholism
- The roots can be used for cooking as a starch base
- Soaps, Lotions, etc.
By 1953, however, it was apparent that the vine was growing too well! It was deemed a “weed” by the government (whatever that means).
In the next few weeks I’m going to keep my eye out for the growth of the Kudzu. I’ll hopefully get to check out some of the purple blooms by the end of the season.
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This morning was a cool, quiet, overcast summer sunrise. There were highlights of pink in the mid atmosphere but the sun didnt make any kind of appearance. That’s OK though because sunrise 86 was enough of a show to last me over for awhile!
I enjoyed the dark morning light and my morning coffee. Today’s actually a special day, too! It’s my birthday! Another year older, and I find myself even more glad that I started the Ault Park Sunrise project. It has been a great creative exercise for me and has also enabled me to explore the local history of my area and meet some great people. Indeed it has truly become a kind of journal for myself, something that I will look back on many birthdays from now with nostalgia and pride. I hope that the thought of this project conjures up feelings of mobility, freedom, and the passionate pursuit of personal exploration (both internal and external).
Tonight, even though it’s my birthday, I’m working late on my thesis software project. I brought along the “3-amigos” to join me while I listen to Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and delve into the guts of RTCmix and PyEvolve.
We visited friends up in Columbus, Ohio last weekend and on the way back I made a stop at the local carry out. I always try to pick up some beer that I can’t get down in Cincinnati. Typically this includes some Lagunitas (pictured right) or a local Columbus micro-brew. The store was actually out of Columbus Brewery’s India Pale Ale, and the guy behind the counter suggested Elevator Brewery‘s 3 Frogs IPA. I have been impressed with this beer as it shows elements of a well balanced classic IPA but I’ve only had one so far, so my opinion of it still needs time to develop. The middle beer is the “Double Dog Double Pale Ale” from Flying Dog Brewery. It clocks in at an impressive 11.5%, just barely under the max ceiling of 12%, a limit you can’t exceed if you wish to sell beer in Ohio. This was a birthday present from a friend of mine, a great present indeed! The third beer is Lagunitas’ Undercover Investigation Shut Down, one of my all time favorite brews from one of my favorite breweries. I’ve been bugging Lagunitas for months now to try and coerce them to sell their brews down in Cincinnati, but apparently there is some strange stale mate between the distributors in Ohio so for now I have to drive to Dayton or Columbus to snag ’em. Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is a healthy American Strong Ale that clocks in at almost 9.9% ABV and has the alluring crisp house flavor that I’ve come to appreciate in Lagunitas’ beers, resulting from their unique strain of brewer’s yeast. The history behind the Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is rich and hilarious, and you can check out the video here. Quality is kind of awful, but the audio is intact.
Interestingly enough, these three beers range from all sides of the country: west coast (Lagunitas), east coast (Flying Dog), and the midwest (Elevator).
Looking North/East up the Little Miami River Valley. This used to be the pre-glacial Ohio River Valley, several hundreds of thousands of years ago. Up on top of that ridge, if you have good eyes, you’ll see Heekin Overlook.
Sunrise 86 was one of the more beautiful summer sunrises of the year. If the ideal sunrise of the spring is a partially cloudy and humid morning full of late-sunrise oranges, the ideal summer sunrise is one of a clear atmosphere with dense fog in the low-lying valley and a bit of a cold bite to the air. This morning’s surnise was exactly that. I had a friend with me this morning, who stayed over to redeem a long-standing offer to join me on a morning sunrise ride. We did a nice loop through the eastern hills. After taking advantage of “free coffee refill Mondays” at the Mt. Lookout UDF, one of my favorite things to do, we cranked it up the hill at about 6:30am, 20 minutes before the sunrise at 6:50am. We started off with the dawn opening and sunrise at the Cincinnati Observatory, then off to Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook for the remainder of the early light. Heekin Overlook had a breath-taking view down into the foggy valley over Armelder Park. We dropped down into Linwood to Armleder Park, checked out the foggy meadow, and then hightailed it over to Lunken Airfield before climbing Mt. Tusculum up past Alms Park.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 11 pictures total: (more…)
So this is weird… due to a strange artifact that has been present on the lens, but only visible when I zoom in, I haven’t touched the zoom for several weeks (maybe even a month or two). I tried it again today and suddenly the artifact is gone. It left as quietly as it arrived. It was definitely internal to the lens, but I had the feeling it was like a moisture bubble or something similar. Hopefully I don’t have many wet mornings in the near future. Maybe I’ll start carrying the camera in a zip-lock bag.
Ault Park has officially celebrated its 100 year birthday! There was a big party in the park last night, true to the “Ault Park style”. “Ault Park Style”, in my experience, includes music, beer, food, and lots of people. It always amazes me to see just how well supported the Ault Park events are by the local community!
Amanda and I have ran the local Reggae Run 5k twice in the past three years, and it has become legendary for the huge after party that takes place in Ault Park. The Reggae Run after-party includes a live band, delicious food, and lots of my favorite two things: beer and people :). The fireworks display for the 4th of July was also jam packed with people.
So it should come at no surprise that last night’s 100 year birthday party was anything less than a big deal! Unfortunately (and awesomely!) for our writer, I had my first co-ed softball game (which was a blast!) last night so I wasn’t able to check out the festivities until later, between two games when I had to run home on an errand, and even then I only had time to drive through the park for a quick visit. I was, however, blown away at how much the party was still hopping at 9:00pm when I drove through! If I were to guess, I’d say the attendance of the night easily surpassed 1,000 people. Easily! It looked like an excellent time and I do regret not being able to check out the “history room” that I saw advertised on the facebook posting. (Also: shameless self-plug for Ault Park Sunrise’s facebook page)
It’s also interesting to me to contrast the social night-owl version of Ault Park: with the loud kids running around, blanket and young couples lying in the grass, sparkler glowing in the night, elderly and college kids with beer in hand, overflowing trash bins, loud music, and full of city life, with the early morning sunrise Ault Park: quiet and peaceful, with park service diligently pruning and nurturing the plants, birds and squirrels loud in the trees, and the rising ambient sound of the city slowly waking up. Considering the fact that I have now spent roughly 80 mornings in Ault Park, and perhaps only 3 evenings during the same period, I’ve come to mentally view the park through my own bias of experience. To me, thoughts of Ault Park conjure up images of gardens, privacy, and nature. Every time I visit Ault Park at night during a social event, I’m reminded of the many hats that a healthy city park wears throughout its life as an extension of the community it lives in. And that’s one of the primary things that makes Ault Park so special to me: in these days of budget cuts and sad economic stories, the park shines as an excellent model for a true “city park” that can only be possible with the help and will of the local community.
That being said, when I rode up to the park this morning I was curious what kind of “leftovers” I’d find from the big bash last night. After the 4th of July party, I found all kinds of trash, spent fireworks, lighters, and other obvious signs that the party ran late and people left, quite hastily, in the dark. I was surprised, however, to find that Ault Park looked… completely normal. Other than some full trash bins, the park looked clean and not hung over. I’m not sure how late the event ran, but whoever was responsible for the cleanup did a great job!
The sunrise came up through a dense hazy layer of moisture. This was one of those sticky damp atmospheres that blocks the majority of the sun’s rays for a few minutes after sunrise, causing the sun to appear a dark blood red. Once the sun peaks out over this dense valley moisture, it can blast through the atmosphere within a matter of minutes.
We’re coming into acorn season! I heard these puppies falling all over the vicinity of the overlook. They were dropping at a rate of about one per 3 minutes. There were bits of them shattered all over the concrete. I’ve noticed a lot more squirrels giving me death stars and fake promises of running out in front of my bike lately. They must be ramping up to get ready for the acorn foraging season.
Several months ago, I asked a rhetorical ‘what will this white flower turn into?’. Well now I know. These little blue berries are growing on the plant that I previously examined when I found that it was a host to the aphid-herding ants.
Today was another beautifully cool summer morning in Cincinnati. The temperature was brisk, lower 60s at the highest. I cruised on into Ault Park just before sunrise to get a shot of the dawn sky, and upon seeing the fog down in the valley, decided to drop down to Lunken Airfield for a nice 10 mile ride. Got some great pictures of the sunrise over the foggy lunken airfield, as well as some macro picture of the morning dew.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 12 or so pictures in total. Including a pleasant picture of St. Stephen’s Italianate bell tower. (more…)
After taking yesterday off (all these Sunday bike trips are wearing me out!), I was up and ready to go for the sunrise this morning. If you notice, today is “Sunrise 83”, and the previous post is “Sunrise 81”. What happened to “Sunrise 82”? I actually did the 82nd sunrise Sunday morning with my friend and my dad up in Troy, OH. I alluded to the possibility of a “Troy Sunrise” on Saturday’s post but I wasn’t sure if all of the pieces would fall into place. We did end up going around my hometown of Troy, Ohio and exploring the old Hobart steel houses and remnants of the old Miami-Erie canal. We ended the trip by heading down the Great Miami Bike Path, which is part of the rails to trails program, where we checked out the ruins of an old lock, built sometime in the early mid 1800s. I haven’t finished the write-up from sunrise 82, so I’ve decided to include three of my favorite pictures from that set. If you want to check out the preview of the steel homes, warehouse ruins, and canal lock ruins, click through to the end of the article 🙂
I can’t believe how late these sunrises are getting. I left the house by 6:35am and still had about 10 minutes of pre-sunrise dawn by the time I got up to the overlook. The sky was crystal clear with some whispy clouds above the horizon and thick patches of fog down in the valley. I even saw three people at the overlook this morning – a woman and her cute little puppy, an ault park morning “regular” – Don, a meditating cyclist – and one of the park service guys. I’m honestly surprised it’s taken me this long to meet someone like Don at these sunrises. Don says that he used to do Thai-Chi sunrise meditations with a group of friends. We also talked about cycling and watching the sunrise is one of the best ways to start the day. Don also shared his satisfaction with watching the sunrise from Lunken Airfield. It seems I’ve met another sunrise cowboy 😉 Maybe I’ll see you around, Don!
The valley down below had a substantial amount of fog. I wanted to drop down and bike through the wet clouds of moisture, but with these late sunrise times I realized that I probably didn’t have enough time. More reason to get up at 6am instead of 6:30am!
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 28 pictures total, including the last 3 pictures that serve as a teaser for “Sunrise 82”: 1920s Hobart Brothers Steel House, Mid 1800s canal warehouse, and ruins of a Miami-Erie Canal Lock. (more…)
This morning I attempted to get up early to see the perseid meteor shower. Amanda and I actually meant to check it out late last night but we fell asleep early! I pulled myself out of bed at 4:50am and rode to Ault Park where I hoped the top of the pavilion would provide a clear view of the northeast sky. A clear view indeed it provided, but unfortunately I only had about a 10 minute window after arriving before the clouds rolled in. In the end I did see a single meteor streak, enough to make it worth it! Next year I’ll try to be better 🙂
I experimented a bit with long exposure times. There was a full moon, mostly hidden by the clouds, but it provided enough light to play around with.
I was surprised at how early the first walkers showed up. There were several cars that rode through the park at around 5:30-6:00am. There was an elderly couple that started walking laps around the pavilion at around 5:45am, a full hour before the sun came up.
The sky looks like it is going to cloud up for the sunrise, so I decide that if I’m not going to get a pretty sunrise I might as well get a Saturday morning workout in. I head down to Lunken Airfield to see what’s going on. The bench on the bike path levee has become one of my favorite sunrise locations.
I ended up meeting a couple fellow cyclists and talking about bike hardware. I found out, again, that there are some damn sexy steel frames that you can get brand new. They have a very similar look to my Fuji’s steel frame. I learned that a steel frame, while heavier, flexes more than an aluminum frame which is why some riders prefer them if carbon isn’t available (or you just don’t want carbon). Apparently a steel frame isn’t quite as jolting when you hit bumps in the road. Interesting!
If I can pull the strings correctly, I may have a treat for sunrise 82. I’m heading back to my hometown of Troy, Ohio and hopefully (weather permitting) I can do a nice little sunrise exploration of the historical landmarks that I grew up around but never fully sought out. There are old canal pieces, welded steel homes, and much more. Hopefully I don’t end up eating my own words!
Sunrise 80 (!!!!): The Cincinnati Observatory & Ault Park (Eastern Tour, Stunning Cincinnati Summer Dawn)
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:
- Mt. Lookout Square and a coffee stop @ UDF (or Lookout Joe’s if they’re open!)
- The Cincinnati Observatory
- Ault Park & Heekin Overlook
- Down the hill to historic Linwood, past Crusade Castle.
- Past the St. Stephen Italianate church on the corner and the mysterious “Smoke Sonada Cigars” mosaic
- Linwood Public School (abandoned elementary school)
- Over the cement stairs, across the rail road, and over to Armleder Park
- Around Armleder Park’s loop and a view of the Little Miami River
- Back to Eastern Ave past LeBlonde’s old factory, towards Lunken Airfield
- Lunken Terminal and the Bike path, along with the Pioneer Cemetery
- The Wilmer/Carrel bike path and the Revolutionary War Cemetery
- Beyond the school-on-stilts to the Ohio River Launch Club marina and Ohio River
- Back through Columbia Tusculum’s historic district and East End’s 1860s farm-style buildings
- Up the hill past the painted homes to Alms Park
- Around Alms, with the view of Lunken Airfield and an eastern view down the river. Maybe check out the old 1869 wine cellar.
- 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.
If you’re on the front page, be sure to keep reading. About 17 pictures total, and today’s foggy sunrise was excellent! (more…)
(Self Plug: “like” Ault Park Sunrise on facebook!)
This morning was an experiment in the appreciation of dawn. I’ve been showing up to the sunrise a few minutes late over the past couple of weeks and I wanted to take the time to take in some of the subtle colors of the atmosphere before the sun comes up. I picked an excellent day to do this because the sky was cloud free and crisp, allowing the pre-sunrise light to accent the clear atmosphere quite well.
At 6:15am I pulled myself out of bed with the intention of catching the sunrise and opening act down at Lunken Airfield. I’ve been a bit lazy lately, allowing myself to snooze from 6:00am when my alarm goes off until 6:35am. With the sunrise being even later, around 6:42am, I have started getting comfortable with sleeping in a bit. Well, not today!
I rode down Mt. Tusculum into East End and arrived at Lunken Airfield at about 6:35am. The sun has crept further to the right along the horizon. Interestingly enough, this means that at Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook, the sun is coming into view without being obstructed by the ridge to the left. At Lunken Airfield the sun has moved from the clear opening on the horizon to behind the ridge to the right. Although, to be fair, there is no bad location down at Lunken Airfield! Due to the sun coming up behind the ridge, “true sunrise” was delayed by about 18 minutes. This gave me a full 20 minutes to enjoy the subtle lighting of the beautiful clear blue sky over Lunken Airfield. I haven’t been this early to a sunrise for a long time, I’m embarrassed to say, so it was a great change up in the routine.
This morning was chilly! Holy crap. I think it was seriously like 55F down in the basin. I could have worn a sweatshirt and been just fine. My ears hurt when I got back home from the cold! The cold air, however, made for a beautiful bright clear sky sunrise. The sunrise was a brilliant bright blue color and the skies were crystal clear, likely a side effect of this cold front. The pinks were almost non-existent, as I’ve come to expect in a sky with no clouds, and the sun came up over the ridge blasting a powerful yellow light.
One of the neat things about this morning’s sunrise was the bird activity. As soon as it became obvious that the sun was going to be coming up in about 5 minutes, the field seemed to explode in airborne activity. At first I could see swarms of bats flying about, likely grabbing a final snack before retiring for the day. There were also swarms of sparrows, swallows, and robins. Oh, and also airplanes. The airport was busy this morning.
A quick little post for today. This morning’s sunrise was a beautiful misty summer start to the day. I climbed to Alms Park to watch the sunrise over Lunken Airfield. There was a substantial storm that came through last night so I was surprised to wake up to a clear sky. There was a familiar summer fog down in the valley below but it wasn’t thick enough to block out the sunrise. The grass was wet with the water from last night’s storm and the air had a bit of haze to it.
Looking directly into the sunrise. I’m coming to love the effect that the sunset filter (and F8 aperature) creates when directly exposed to the sun. In the foreground you can see the white cement bench.
This is the bench that looks over Lunken Airfield. I don’t know how old it is, but I imagine it is at least half a century in age. Probably older, after all the park will be 100 years old in a few years. The grassy lawn is lush and green.
This sidewalk always intrigues me. It seems to indicate that there was, at one time, something down in the lower part of the lawn. You can kind of see pieces of an old cement foundation. Part of the old vineyard? A piece of an abandoned structure relating to the early years of the park? My bet is on the latter – probably a stone structure dating back 150 years to the vineyard that used to sit on this hill.
Looking down the entrance to Alms Park. It’s always fun leaving the park on such a steep downhill. I always try to safely enjoy it because at the bottom of the hill I have to take a sharp right and climb right back up to get to Mt. Lookout.
This morning I decided to kick it old school. Go back to the roots, if you will. Recently I’ve been diversifying the sunrise locations quite a bit, and it has been great overall. This morning I biked up to Heekin Overlook at Ault Park and just sat on the bench listening to the birds and collecting my thoughts at the end of this beautiful summer week. The air this morning was almost cool, I’m thinking around 68 degrees. It was pleasant to say the least.
The sound-scape was a bit different this morning compared to the sound-scape that I remember from a typical April. The birds and squirrels were not as loud, for one thing. The nests have been built, mates have been found, and most of the birds and local animals are either caring for their young or preparing for their young’s arrival. There were no loud mating calls as I’ve come to expect over the past few months.
One thing that was different, however, was the presence of several kinds of woodpeckers. They were making the strangest bird calls, and one even startled me with its surprisingly loud burst of song. There was a large wood pecker of some kind (couldn’t tell what her colors were) hanging out on the dead oak tree by the overlook. It is obvious now that the dead oak is providing a great spot to find wood peckers. As the wood starts to rot, the insects will take over the process of breaking the organic matter down into less complex forms so the rest of the ecosystem can reclaim it. In the meantime, the wood peckers are probably here to stay. There was also a small little species of woodpecker that was flittering around the trees, although now that I think about it she may have been on the hunt for cicadas, not bugs. Maybe it wasn’t a woodpecker after all…
The sunrise was a beautiful clear summer sunrise with not much humidity. The warmth of the sunlight was apparent just minutes after dawn. I remember predicting, back in April, that the summer would be full of “boring” clear-skied orange sunrises. This is a true prediction because indeed most of these days that aren’t buffered on either side by a storm system have been clear and orange. And while I’ll say they’re no where near the level of complexity that became the norm during the stormy season in the spring, they’re still a sight to see. An interesting part about this specific kind of sunrise is that the sky can turn into this deep blue slurry of wispy clouds. It seriously looks like some kind of painting. With the deep orange gradient provided by the low sun, the colors of these clear morning sunrises are rich and textured. I’m still (1400 pictures later) experimenting with the exposure settings of the camera to figure out the best way to capture the colors. Sometimes the camera is set too low, leaving out the hills and making the outer edges fade into a deep sea blue. Other times it can be too high, bleaching out the subtle oranges and turning them into a featureless white.
Early dawn at Ault Park, looking over the Little Miami River Valley. We can still see the pinks of the sunrise. In this particular sunrise, where there are few low lying clouds and not much mist, the pinks give away to the oranges quickly. They don’t hang around for long.
The weeds have turned into bushes and I find myself wondering if it is “correct” to chop them down or leave them to grow and flower. Do they not have the same rights as any other plant growing in the park? As humans we certainly make decisions as to what plants we want to see in our organized and designed gardens, but around the edge of the park where the forest begins to reclaim our manicured lawns, the first plants to colonize the new land are, of course, weeds. And these weeds are strong, large, and lush from all the rain we had in the spring. They don’t seem to be minding the gaps between the occasional summer storms.
As a completely unrelated side note, I’ve started experimenting with a new time management system called Pomodoro. Maybe I’ll explain it more later in detail, but it is worth mentioning that this specific post was done in exactly one pomodoro (which was my goal). Yesterday’s took two due to all the extra pictures. This is helpful information because while I purposefully didn’t take as many pictures today, I ended up filling the post with more text. And without feeling the rush of “oh crap this post is taking way longer than I expected”, I feel like my writing style was a bit more relaxed and reflective. Very therapeutic, in only 25 minutes.
A plane takes off into the sunrise. Yesterday morning not a single plane took off from Lunken as I was looking down from Alms Park. And there’s that weird artifact again on the top left of the picture. It must be internal to the lens.
I’ll be honest, I was pretty excited for this morning’s sunrise. After missing the first two mornings this week, and getting a stormy overcast sunrise yesterday, I was ready for a beautiful clear summer sunrise. The forecast last night said no rain with 30% cloud cover. The sky was clear and the clouds didn’t show up until about an hour after sunrise. I made it a point to get up early, explore as much as possible, and build my work commute into the sunrise bike ride to save time.
The sunrise time has crept up to 6:40am, a time that is a full half hour later than the 6:10am sunrise that I came to expect in mid June. My alarm is still set for 6:00am, although recently I’ve been snoozing for about 20 minutes. This morning, however, I decided I was going to make the best of the late sunrise time. I packed up all the things I needed for work (mostly just an extra set of clothes, along with my lunch) and rode out towards Lunken Airfield with the intention of getting down into the basin by sunrise time. By skipping the whole “come home after sunrise” thing, and instead heading straight to work via a bike commute, I had a full two hours to be out before arriving at work by 8:30am. I explored a bit more of the western end of East End, checked out Fuel – the coffee shop on riverside I’ve always been curious about – and managed to slip into traffic just past rush hour to arrive in Silverton, OH with little trouble. It looks like I put in a total of 14 miles today, although it feels more like 6.
I’ve discovered an important thing about cycling. If you keep yourself at about 60% output (rather than 85-95%) you can keep going forever, it feels like, without really getting too winded. I think that is important. There is a movement in cycling culture called “slow riding”, and it usually is alluded to being a kind of European style of cycling. You can see it all over urban landscapes – but is it really new? Either way, it’s new to me. I call it European because the European bike culture in general is much more developed (in more cities, at least) than the average bike culture in the US. Either way, I understand that the average bike that is used for every day commuting in a European city like Amsterdam is often an old heavy comfortable steel bike. Anyway, this whole “slow riding” thing can be experienced by the weekly “Slow Ride Cincinnati” group that meets every Thursday Night at 6:00pm in Hoffner Park. I keep meaning to go but have not made it over there. The whole premise is that the fastest rider should be going as slow as the slowest rider. If someone gets a flat, everyone stops and helps out, etc. The whole philosophy really resonates with me because when I bike, even while commuting, the journey and the terrain, neighborhoods, history, buildings, people, urban design, etc. are all as much apart of the experience as the muscle strengthening workout. In the article I linked previously, the author is surprised to find that he doesn’t lose much time in his commute by traveling slow (usually he meets up with the fast guys at stop lights anyways), but he does arrive at work less sweaty and less tired.
Anyway, on to this morning’s sunrise. I parked it up at my favorite bench located just on top of the bike trail that runs along the levee to the Little Miami River. There were several joggers and bikers out for this sunrise.
I made it to Lunken Airfield just a few minutes after sunrise. The sun was a deep orange color and the sky was clear of clouds except for a few small whisps just above the horizon. There was a distant layer of light fog in the field just before the base of the levee that runs along the Little Miami River.
After a few minutes (and a cup of coffee) I hopped on the bike and headed towards the Ohio River. I wanted to get a picture of the downtown skyline as the sun was coming up over the eastern ridge. There are several vantage points along Riverside Road through East End.
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. Pictures of East End, the downtown skyline, the Ohio River & Marina, and some deer. (more…)
This morning’s sunrise was a bit of a quiet one. The sky was hazy as usual and the ambient light through the atmosphere was a bit dull. The sun didn’t start putting off the orange/yellow light until I was on my way to work. Oh, and because this blog acts as a kind of personal journal, it’s worth mentioning that this morning was the first time I commuted to work directly from the park. The temperature was cool enough before 8:00am (about 72F) that it was fairly comfortable. I could really get used to this 🙂
I hung out at the far side of the park for a bit before embarking for work. In April I explored the small prairie that is maintained by the park crew and was excited to see just how tall it the vegetation has grown. The meadow was thick with flowers and healthy plant life. The only unfortunate part about it was the invasive mosquito species was also present in high numbers. Those things are fast and nasty.
Took about 20 pictures today. If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Flowers, Ants, Pollen, Flies, Cement Textured Macro pictures, etc. —-> (more…)
This morning was a beautiful cool summer morning. I think the temperature was around 73 degrees with high humidity. I’m honestly surprised that the sky is still still. Last night some huge cumulus clouds rolled through the area so I expected to have some interesting atmospheric lighting conditions this morning. Not the case! The park was cool and damp and the valley below had wispy patterns of fog.
There were several katydids hanging out on one of the bushes near the overlook. My hands were shaking a bit as my heartrate dropped so I had a hard time getting a decent focus in the low light. There were actually two different kinds – a green one in the middle of six or seven white ones. Not sure if they are different subspecies or if they are different sexes.
Close up of the green guy. It always amazes me how similar to a real leaf his adapted camouflage looks. Reminds me that in nature the same building blocks and emergent generative patterns can be found all over nature.
I realized that I haven’t had too many “bike shots” recently. This small patio is where I sat and enjoyed the sunrise. I met a jogger who said that I was the only person she’s ever seen enjoying the sunrise here at her favorite spot.
Pinhole Camera! Ironically (or, perhaps not) the pinhole camera technology dates back to the late 1830s. Only a few years later, the 11″ lens now located in the Mitchell Building (the smaller of the two building on the Observatory’s campus) will be constructed.
This morning I got up with plenty of time to spare. The sunrise was around 6:30am and I was at the Mt. Lookout United Dairy Farmers filling up my thermos ($.99 for the entire 26oz! And free on Mondays! UDF rules) by 6:20am. I read the weather forcast last night so I knew that this morning was supposed to be “clear” with only 10-20% cloud cover.
The forecast was right! After the foggy sunrises of the last week the beautiful clear sunrise was a welcome change. To honor this clear morning Tuesday I continued past Ault Park and ventured on over to the historic Cincinnati Observatory on Observatory Ave. I have never actually seen the sunrise at the Observatory because I normally only swing by on on the way back from Ault Park. With the sun moving all over the sky this summer I wasn’t even sure if the view of the sun would be appropriate. As it turns out the sun has moved far enough back to the right that there were no trees blocking Sol as he came up over the ridge line. I was impressed with just how perfect of a sunrise spot the Observatory actually is, but I can’t be too surprised considering that astrological alignment is basically their biggest concern!
The history alone of the Cincinnati Observatory is worth checking out. I have always found it interesting that the original lens in the large building was originally in Mt. Adams but it was moved to this site due to the pollution building up in the city. I never realized that they didn’t actually move the building from Mt. Adams, just the hardware. So while the lens itself dates back to the mid 1800s, this building dates back to the move to Mt. Lookout in 1873. You can find the cornerstone of the original Mt. Adams building to the back right of the new building, dating back to 1843. Now that I think about it, this may be the oldest building stone in Mt. Lookout. I’m sure this isn’t actually true, but as it stands currently it holds the Ault Park Sunrise record. This even pre-dates the 1850s construction of Crusade Castle & Vineyard.
The cornerstone, borrowed from Sunrise 41.
This spot is out in front of the main Observatory Building (built in 1873). There is a circular brick patio with a handful of benches lining the outside it. It has all the great things that you’d expect to see at a true Cincinnati historic site. Murdock Fountains, late 1800s street lamps, Ohio Historical Markers, A memorial sundial, pre-1900s buildings, and a dedication by John Adams on the corner stone.
Looking East from the patio at the second building on the campus. This smaller “Mitchell” building has the original Merz und Mahler 11-inch telescope that dates back to 1843. The “main” building houses the 1904 16″ Alvan Clark & Sons telescope. Thanks wikipedia!
To the west of the main building I saw a funny contraption sitting on the lawn. Upon closer inspection (and with no physical contact whatsoever, of course!) I realized that it is a pinhold solargraph camera.
I imagine the purpose of this camera is to capture the sun’s path for the 31-day period between June 28 and July 28. They’re almost done! I’d like to see the results of this camera and I hope that they publish it. It’d be neat to see the same thing for a month of sunrises, too.