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

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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.

For the rest of the pictures (15 total), please click to continue. That’s only if you’re on the front page… (more…)

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Sunrise 103: Sawyer Point & Downtown Cincinnati (Sunrise Skyline, Riverboats, Kayaks)

As the atmosphere takes on a distinct shade of yellow, I arrive at the eastern edge of Sawyer Point coming into downtown Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Skyline at Sunrise

Rowers heading up the Licking River and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in the distance

A sailboat and the Reds Stadium. Featuring Carew Tower and the Great American building.

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!).

When I left, the sky was dark but showing a hint of light. Looking East down Columbia Parkway in East End.

A blurry view down the Ohio River of the Cincinnati Skyline. I’m always so impressed with how much distance I can cover so easily on my bike.

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.

Another blurry view across the bend in the river.

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.

Behind me, the atmosphere has started to show some signs of red. Better hurry along now!

St. Rose Church on Eastern Ave. If that clock is right, I’ve got 15 minutes to spare.

If you’re on the front page, click to see the rest of this post. About 73 pictures total! (more…)


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 63: Lunken Airfield (Orange and Blue Skies)

From the Wilmer/Carrel street trail, looking over the airplane parking lot.

Morning colors of orange and blue.

This morning I made a quick trip down to Lunken Airfield via the Ohio River Trail through East End. I was running a bit late because I stopped at UDF on the way to get a coffee fillup. I ended up arriving at Lunken Airfield just in time to see the sun bursting over the ridge with a tight orange display. I think I missed a bright pink dawn by about 5 minutes unfortunately!

Last night I hung out with a friend of mine that I met through my fraternity as an undergraduate. Don will be turning 75 years old this year and is a Cincinnati native. Don is a lifelong bachelor and spent most of the last three decades as an advisor to the fraternity and in close association with UC. Don was telling me some fascinating stories and it kind of struck me as obvious that I really need to sit down with him and document some of the “first hand” accounts that he remembers from growing up and living in Cincinnati. Some things off the top of my head that Don, Rob (the other friend hanging out watching the all stars game) and I talked about:

  • Don remembers when there were only 8 baseball teams. Eight! Including the Cincinnati Reds, of course!
  • He remembers the last of the inclines.The Cincinnati Inclines. The things that have been gone for decades and now are “ancient history” to me. The last one closed over 60 years ago.
  • When he was a small boy, the families around Clifton were still “new”, having only moved up from “downtown” about 50 years prior. The huge homes that now lie in disrepair were, at that time, fresh and well kept.
  • The politics surrounding the development of the “parkways” and the destruction of the old rail systems as an agenda of the automobile industry
  • The old neighborhoods in uptown (Looking at you Avondale) before they succumbed to urban decay and were abandoned
  • He remembers vividly what factories, companies, and buildings were at the R.K. LeBlond factory site. Not just before they built the Rookwood Shopping Center, but even when the buildings were in use.
  • He made a great point that Proctor & Gamble got their start in Cincinnati making soap because of the booming pork business. There was so much abundant local pig lard that P&G had a huge competitive advantage.

Sometime this fall I’d like to expand on some of these ideas and see what I can track down. Maybe I’ll track down what’s left of the old incline systems with Don’s help.

Orange sunrise coming up. This was taken about fifteen minutes after official sunrise time.

A close-up of the sun behind the clouds over Lunken.

There was a break in the cloud layer that was pushing in from behind me, revealing a brilliant blue atmosphere.

A plane taking off! I’m not sure if this is the “7-am” plane I see most days. It actually turned around and went off the diagonal runway (away from Ault Park).