I woke up Sunday morning with a penchant for a sunrise. After last week’s surprisingly beautiful spring sunrise (and subsequently & understandingly the most popular post yet so far of the project), I spent the rest of the week working early and ignoring the rainy & stormy mornings. After all, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to push such a beautiful set of pictures further down the front page unnecessarily! :).
This morning’s sunrise was certainly a unique one. I experienced a strong dose of nostalgia because I haven’t visited Alms Park for over three months! The last post featuring Alms Park was Sunrise 127, featuring the *incredibly lucky* cubic frost crystals. It is probably the most viewed picture I’ve taken for this project due to it’s popularity on the social news site reddit.com where it hit front page and was likely viewed by a couple hundred thousand people, if not more. I’m not sure of the numbers because wordpress doesn’t track individual pictures. Here’s the picture from that fateful day when the day break light was perfect and my camera just so happened to focus on the exact right spot:
(Cubic Ice Crystals on Clover; Sunrise 127)
So it came as no surprise that as I snaked my way down through Mt. Lookout and into the thickly forested residential neighborhood between Delta & Linwood Ave, it felt as if I was meeting an old friend. The route to Alms Park from Mt. Lookout is quiet and full of life (both of the human kind and the natural type). The old residential through-ways were originally designed for high volume so they are wide and smooth. When the Grandin Viaduct was torn down sometime in the past half-century, traffic volume dropped off and now the neighborhood roads are serenely peaceful in the morning before sunrise. The area features one of the oldest planned suburban neighborhoods (dating back to the 1920s or so) and the designers were tactfully mindful of the local forest. At times, the ride to the par almost feels as if you’re traveling through a small tucked away neighborhood in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
The route to Alms Park is also one that displays the challenge of Cincinnati’s terrain quite nicely. The entire route is a slow climb up to the the peak of the mountain from the basin of the valley that Mt. Lookout sits in. Just before the entrance to the park, at which point you’ve already climbed to the peak elevation, the road takes a steep dive down through a patch of old forest where the air is always noticeably humid and cold. At the base of this drop is the entrance to Alms Park, where one must climb another 200ft up a steep hill to the overlook.
I always feel an incredible rush of clarity when I finally reach that peak. It’s a route that’s short but also hard to rush. By the time you reach the top you’re surrounded by the ethos of Alms Park: The Forest. I’ve mentioned it in posts past, but Alms Park and Ault Park have such good balance when viewed side by side. Ault Park is organized, designed, open, symmetric, accessible, full of lawn & gardens, and the epitome of a well planned city park. Alms Park is tucked away, organic & asymmetric, cut out of the forest, filled with huge oak & pine trees with only a small garden by the pavilion. Ault Park has a sunrise shelter, Alms Park has a sunset shelter. The forest is around you in Alms Park, unlike Ault Park where the forest is held back to the boundaries of the park so that the beautiful gardens can take center stage. In Alms Park the forest is around you & above you. In short, Alms Park is the yin to Ault Park’s yang.
I made a detour in the neighborhood behind Alms Park. One of the “No Outlets” has a nice cliff view of the eastern sky. At this point the sky is still relatively clear but that will soon change as the sunrise heats up the valley. The mist rises up into Alms Park, flooding the hillside with fresh moisture. I’m still convinced that the fog provides a micro climate on this hillside that isn’t well understood. It’s just… so lush.
Looking down Grandin Ave. Half a century ago there was a bridge at the end of this street. It was torn down at some point, turning this wide residential thruway into a quiet neighborhood street. There’s not a lot of historical documentation on the so-called “Grandin Viaduct”.
I always forget about this beautiful oak tree in the front lawn of St. Ursula Villa school. I wish I had spent a bit more time here over the winter, but I’m glad that I got this picture of the tree as it just begins to plup out in its spring coat.
Here’s one from the late autumn when the yard was frozen over and the dew had turned to crystals:
From Sunrise 122 (A great post, check it out)
Apparently I’m really drawn to this tree in the fog… here’s another one:
The same oak but from a different angle… from Sunrise 108 (another foggy alms park ride from the autumn)
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. (more…)
A high-resolution picture of Frozen Dew Crystals on the previously shown clover leaf! Note the even spacing of the small crystals. My friend lee suggested that the clover may release a waxy oil which would cause the water to bead up. I’m not exactly sure what is causing it, but it’s a very neat effect. For the rest of the macro crystal shots, be sure to read the full post (they’re at the bottom!).
This morning almost didn’t happen. I woke up at 7:00am and attempted to shrug off the biochemical cocktail that almost convinced me that the sky was overcast and it wasn’t worth riding up to the park in 25F (note to biochemical self: it always is!). I poked my head out the front of our apartment building and noticed a patch of blue skies through a tiled cloud layer. Ok! Game on! As it turned out my bet was well placed. For a 72% cloud cover, this morning’s atmosphere was certainly atypical!
This morning’s sunrise was not unlike Sunrise 9, although with a bit less drama. Sunrise 9, back in April, is a classic example of a dynamic sunrise with a low lying cloud bank and an overhead light layer of clouds that can provide lots of interesting color dynamics. Here’s the picture from Sunrise 9 that stands out as one of my favorites of the project and also was printed in the local paper at the start of this project (click for higher resolution):
(As it turns out, 92 people “recommended” that article on Facebook. I had no idea! Thanks whoever you are!)
This morning I headed up to Alms Park in search of a twilight sunrise. Now that I’m more aware of how much fun the twilight period can be of a sunrise, I’ve taken a liking to getting up about a half hour early to catch the show. This is an advantage of the “late” sunrises of the Fall and Winter that I had not considered until now! On mostly clear mornings I can catch the pre-game show which can start as early as an hour before sunrise on a dry clear sky morning. That puts me in the park at 6:45am at the earliest, quite a reasonable time. During the middle of June this would put me in the park at 5:00am!
The atmosphere was interesting for Sunrise 127. There was the remnants of a dark cloudy layer overhead that I was certain would mess up the sunrise. However once I started on my way to the park, it was obvious that the cloud bank was being pushed out of the eastern sky to reveal a dark navy clear atmosphere. There was a low lying bank of haze just above the horizon in the distance that kept the sunlight at bay, preventing penetration into the upper atmosphere. This made for a dynamic purple/orange sky but there were no real traces of the magenta highlights that I was hoping to catch after missing them several sunrises in a row.
There is a final reason that I have found to enjoy these ice cold sunrises. During the day when the temperature rises up to the 40s, 50s, and even the 60s, the air starts to saturate with the water from the Little Miami River and the great Ohio River. At night as the temperature drops into the 20s (welcome to Ohio!) the water is pushed out from the air and is subsequently frozen. The ice crystals from the foggy days are thick because of the high water concentration, but the crystals from this morning were smaller and cubed. In fact with this little point-and-shoot it’s possible to see the geometric nature of the crystals which was surprising to me when I zoomed in on the LCD screen.
I approached Alms Park and arrived roughly 25 minutes before sunrise. Yesterday the sky was much brighter at this time than today due to the upper cloud layer and the low lying haze bank that obscured part of the early light.
For the rest of the pictures, if you’re on the front page, click to continue. 18 total including more ice crystal macro shots. (more…)
My morning coffee spot @ the “auxiliary” area in Alms Park. I didn’t make it all the way up to the top of the hill. It is so quiet here. The perfect spot to study or swing while listening to the planes come in.
This morning was one of those rare days when both the weather and my mood for exploration aligned perfectly. I was anticipating getting up early today all week after watching the forecast closely to see when the weather was expected to break. We’ve had two solid weeks of rainy overcast mornings with only one exception, which was last friday (after Thanksgiving). I was travling to visit family so I wasn’t able to see it! I was so excited for this morning that I woke up a half hour early and started off on the bike while it was still dark and foggy. I’m hoping tomorrow’s sunrise has some surprises for me because the sunset today was truly fantastic – deep blue and teal with purple clouds and orange highlights. We’ll see! I’m also looking forward to doing “find the Christmas Lights” in the fog, but this morning was too early in the month and only a handful of homes had their lights on at 7:15am.
The weather helped support my naive theory that states “overcast and rain followed by clear sky sunrise = fog in mt. lookout”. This morning was no exception! Although I can say that I was a bit disappointed that there was no clear sunrise, I can’t pass up an opportunity to explore in the fog. This morning’s fog was thick, too, one of the thickest so far. I’m getting spoiled with these foggy days! I only had a couple in the spring, almost none in the summer, and now this is like the fifth or sixth one this fall! (you can usually check out the “fog” tag or “foggy” for more foggy posts).
So far I’ve spent foggy sunrises at Alms Park (one of my favorite posts this fall), Lunken Airfield, and Ault Park. This morning when I set out for my twilight ride, I decided that I wanted to go back to my roots and explore some residential pockets that I haven’t visited for awhile. You see, last autumn before Ault Park Sunrise was even an idea, I started my exploration of my local neighborhoods, hills, and parks on my bike. At the time of course I didn’t know I was actually training for Ault Park Sunrise. My first fog explorations was when the neighborhoods were new and unexplored and so I would creep along the No Outlets and see the beautiful homes and landscapes that Cincinnati’s old residential neighborhoods are known (because the homes and plots of land fit snugly into the hillsides so there are lots of creative designs). This morning I wanted to revisit some of these No Outlets in the fog and see what else I could come up with.
As it turns out, the weather this morning was one-of-a-kind. Normally when the fog comes through, it is in both Mt. Lookout AND down in the river basin. OR it is in the river basin alone and not in Mt. Lookout. This morning, however, there was no fog down in the basin so Mt. Lookout was covered in a low-laying cloud layer. I ended up dropping down into the basin to visit Lunken Airfield after realizing that I could get a much needed workout in. The clouds and fog had just broke and the sun was blazing through across the horizon underneath the cloud banks. It was really pretty and surreal because I could look behind me and see the hillside of Mt. Tusculum rising up from the clear streets of Columbia Tusculum and East End to disappear into the thick fog.
Here we go! Be sure to check out the fog crystal macro shots, they’re my favorite 🙂
On the way to Alms Park, I swing down Kroger Ave to check out Kroger Valley. The white fence and street disappear off into the fog. There is a home at the end of this “No Outlet” as well, but we can hardly see it in the fog.
This magnificent Oak first caught my eye in the last Alms Park fog run. That’s the neat thing about fog, it causes different patterns to emerge and make themselves present if you’re paying attention. This oak sits in the lawn of St. Ursula’s Villa.
A bit closer up. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but there is a light aura in the fog just above the horizon where the sunrise is getting ready to make an appearance. This made a perfect backlight for this oak tree’s silhouette.
Same picture as before, but with focus on the ice crystals. A chilly 22F degrees with 96% humidity!! I’ve found that biking in this weather requires a bit of preparation, but a long sleeve shirt and hoodie with insulated running pants does just fine at keeping me warm. (Plus gloves and hat of course!)
If you’re on the front page, click to continue! You’re halfway to the end of this article, about 23 pictures total 🙂 (more…)
I didn’t have a chance to get this post up yesterday morning so it’s coming at you a day late. After several days of overcast, the conditions came together perfectly to create an intensely foggy morning. The skies were clear and the ground was wet, and it was really really cold. It was easily in the upper 30s, perhaps even lower. I was hoping for a clear sunrise, but I got a beautiful thick fog. I decided to head up to Alms Park since the last foggy morning was spent in Ault Park.
The fog in Alms Park is always exceptionally pretty. The trees in the park are old and tall and the fog adds an eerie dimension to the quiet park.
I didn’t end up seeing a sunrise, but I did have the morning coffee in the fog and ventured down into the forest in an attempt to find an old secret “party area” that I found last year. I didn’t succeed, but I did find the entrance to the trail. It’s hard to follow, though, with all the leaves that are still on the trees. I’ll try again this winter perhaps :).
It’s interesting how the fog closes in the scope of attention. This huge and beautiful oak tree stands at the entrance to St. Ursula’s Villa, and I’ve never really noticed it specifically before. It has plenty of room to breathe and is certainly quite healthy.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 50 pictures total for this morning’s post. (more…)
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.
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!
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.
For the 8 other pictures, if you’re on the front page, click to continue: (more…)
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.
A front moved into the area sometime last night. The sunset was clear and deep pink so I had hoped for a great sunrise this morning. What I ended up getting was a wet and misty morning in Alms Park (history). I didn’t get rained on, but about a half hour after I got home the rain front opened up and dumped down on Cincinnati. I have great expectations for tomorrow’s sunrise! A note for future self: Albert D. Taylor designed the park. I found a book called “The Complete Garden” which I believe is from the early 1900s. I’m guessing the author is the same Albert D. Taylor that designed Alms Park.
This has been a strange week for me. It was the first time I missed two weekday sunrises in a row. It is also the first time I’ve been to a Monday night music show. I got a last minute call from a friend who was coming in from out of town to see a show at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. The history of that building dates back to 1941. It was also my first time going to a true EDM (Electronic Dance Music) show. We saw The Glitch Mob in the 70 year old venue on Madison Ave. Actually now that I look at the history page, it turns out we saw the show on August 01 2011, 70 years after the grand opening of the theater on August 01 1941. That’s pretty neat.
I hadn’t heard of The Glitch Mob before and so I played catch up with their music. It actually was a perfect example of where the state of the music industry for small groups like The Glitch Mob is. I bought their EP for $2.95, with the option of getting the EP with a vinyl along with it for $15 (which is an incredibly tempting deal). Not even a CD option on their website! Although you can purchase them at the show. I can also listen to any of their songs in HD on YouTube. It is interesting to look at this in contrast to what was possible even 10 years ago. It was an excellent show and the crowd was great. In the end, however, it was a late night and I didn’t make it up for the Tuesday morning sunrise. I spent all day in the sun on Sunday, so Monday morning was actually spent sleeping through my sunrise alarm. Whoops!
This morning’s sunrise over Lunken Airfield was cool, quiet, and misty. There wasn’t another soul in the park this morning, probably because of the prospect of rain. I didn’t end up getting rained on, but the ground was wet. Every time I go up to Alms Park and sit at the overlook for the sunrise, I can’t help but think about what the hill looked like 100 years ago before the vineyard was shut down. Or what it looked like 100 years before that when the Native Americans in the valley supposedly called it “Bald Hill” and used it as a lookout for watching the settlers move into the valley. The oldest trees in the park and surrounding forest seem to be the oaks that were planted by the Park Service when the park was founded. The surrounding forest seems to have a healthy mix of adult trees but the even density and lack of overwhelmingly large trees gives me the impression that the average age of the old trees in the forest are about the same age. This would of course make sense if we could figure out where the vineyards were actually located. The trees growing on those spots now are likely the same or similar age. In fact, now that I think about it I have come across stone support walls deep in the forest. It makes you wonder what was built as support for the hill by the park service, and what dates back to the mid 1800s vineyard.t
This morning’s sunrise was non-existent. The sky was blue to the west but a thick layer of fog sat a couple thousand feet above the earth to the east. The ambient light was dark and gloomy, which was peculiar because you could see the moon high above, sitting in the open dark blue sky.
I stopped briefly at Alms Park to check out the situation down in the valley. There was a running group that had just finished up jogging around the Alms Park Loop. The dark foggy mornings up in Alms Park, combined with the high ceiling that the majestic Oak Trees provide, creates a kind of eerie atmosphere. I was hoping that I could use the delayed sunrise to give me enough time to get down to the Lunken Loop before the orange colors came out.
I hopped down Tusculum and rode through East End over to Lunken Airfield. The sky was no different, still gray and dark. I took the chance to ride around the 5 mile loop that surrounds the airfield. This picture taken from my favorite bench, enjoying my second cup of coffee for the day.
The trail was dark and misty. It is made up mostly of long stretches of trail that seemed to disappear into the fog. It was back on this trail, about 5 weeks ago, that I saw two young coyotes jogging in the late afternoon sun. Once they saw me they slipped down under the fence and strolled out onto the airfield. They didn’t seem aggressive in the least, but then again I’m not a young sheep.
An attempt to capture this beautiful young wild flower (Queen Anne’s Lace?). The lighting was dark and I couldn’t hold still long enough so this picture will have to do. (It isn’t particularly bad, but it isn’t as crisp as I’d like it to be)
At the back of the trail there is a small fork in the road. This gate prohibits access to what will soon become the connector that will allow runners and cyclists to access Armleder Park directly from the Lunken Loop! They’re making great progress and I hope they are able to wrap it up by the end of fall. You can tell that this was once something else – maybe an old bike trail from decades ago? Or maybe an access road? If you look at a satellite map you can tell that *something* used to run along this levee, under where Beechmont Avenue is now, and over to the Little Miami River access point in Armleder Park. I dont’ think there were any canal systems on this levee, but there are strange old “gates” that jut out to the right of where I’m standing in the picture. Old wooden and metal structures that you can see in the early spring and late fall when the leaves are gone from the trees. I was told that they, at one time, helped keep the river under control back before they routed the Little Miami River to its current location. I think it used to flow onto Lunken Airfield. A mystery I’m saving for another day.
Off in the distance (looking east now, towards sunrise), we see a small orange highlight. The sun is there, behind all that fog. I’m actually looking out at Reeve’s Golf Course, although you can’t see it behind the patch of prairie bushes in the foreground.
On my approach back up the impossibly steep Stanley Rd, the large cumulus looms in the background. Also gives you an idea of the steepness of Mt. Tusculum, a climb I have to make every time I visit Lunken Airfield!
This morning was a scorcher! It was one of the few mornings where I actually felt like I had jumped into a pool by the time I got home from the ride. Part of it certainly had to do with the fact that I had thick basketball shorts on with a cotton t-shirt, but typically it doesn’t feel like walking out into a sauna!
I rode up to Alms Park again, today. I was feeling pretty good and wanted to climb the Alms Hill once more. This morning’s sky was an interesting one because it felt overcast but also had spots of clear skies. I noticed that the sunrise was hidden behind a bank of clouds but at the same time it looked like I had blue skies above me. I also was wondering why there wasn’t any fog around as I would have expected with this morning’s dew point being only 2 degrees away from the ambient temperature. But I think I figured it out!
We’ve had some storm runs through the state, particularly up north. About 80 miles north of us, through Dayton and Columbus Ohio, there were some serious pressure systems that moved through the area. I imagine this changed the pressure of the entire region. With my non-existent weather theory experience, I’d like to think that the pressure prior to the storms was high enough to “press” the fog down into the bottom regions of the valley. Now that the pressure systems have done their thing, the fog is actually a few thousand feet up above Alms Park. And that would make sense, right? If everywhere except for the sky directly above me looked gray and hazy, it would appear that there was indeed fog – it was just way up above me :).
A beautiful white flower fights for room among the native vines. I think the vines are from the old vineyards that have gone feral. They’re not breeding for space not for grapes. By early fall the hillside will be a vine blanket.
With the sunrise being on the weak side, and the sky still dark 10 minutes after sunrise, I decided to hop down to Lunken Airfield via Columbia. As it turns out, the weather changed it up a bit and the sky cleared out. By the time I was at Lunken, about half an hour after sunrise, the sun was able to break through some of the larger cumulus clouds that rose out of the horizon. Nothing too impressive, but any color beats an overcast sky :).
One thing that I find interesting is how much I am enjoying riding through the old neighborhoods in the river basin (map). Every single time I ride through Columbia/Tusculum, East End, and Linwood I find something new. East End is actually pretty big relative to the small sections that are technically Columbia-Tusculum (and even smaller, Linwood). There are so many old buildings that have been re-purposed or sit empty. It is such a fascinating example of three small towns that at one time had their own economy and dense populations, but have since simply turned into quiet residential areas. Some parts lay in abandonment, others are well kept and lush with gardens. I believe it is of critical importance to think about how the construction of Columbia Parkway, the large 4-lane through-way that runs from Downtown Cincinnati to Mariemont and beyond (through East End, Columbia, and Linwood). Now-a-days most of the traffic through this area are local residents trying to get up to Columbia Parkway. The side effect is that River Road provides an excellent bike route to Downtown Cincinnati.
Most young people (transplants) that I know who live in Mt. Lookout and the area have never been through historic East End. But why should they? There are very few businesses other than the bars and restaurants that sit in the small region at the intersection of Delta and Columbia Parkway. The only reason I have explored East End, Columbia, and Linwood is because it is a great place for a quiet bike ride outside of rush hour.
The thing that this really makes me think about, in general, is just how influential the automobile is in the shaping of urban centers. Here’s the thing. I get the impression that the Columbia area and Linwood at one time, maybe fifty years ago, was a shining example of a healthy urban area. The fact that the old Italianate Cincinnati Public Library is located on Eastern Ave is enough to allude to the local culture that at one time supported a healthy art district. Now-a-days the library sits empty. In fact I only know it used to be a library because of the architecture and by talking to local residents. It is well kept and looks beautiful, but I believe it is mostly used as a venue for weddings. There are several schools in the district, one of which is already sitting empty. These structures all date back to sometime in the early part of the last century.
I am continually interested in thinking about the potential future of the area once the Little Miami Bike Path gets connected through to Downtown. In the future of my fantasy world, East End will go through a revitalization that is only possible through the very reason that the businesses left in the first place. Low volume automobile traffic. If Eastern Cincinnati’s young population (and bike culture) continue to grow as they have been in the past few years, I hope a critical threshold will be reached. If there is any place in Cincinnati to settle a “cycling neighborhood” outside of the urban core in Downtown, I think it would be in East End. There seems to be plenty of space (for now), lots of old business buildings, river view, access to many places by bike (Ault & Alms Park, Lunken Airfield Loop, Armleder Park Loop, Northern Kentucky, and Downtown) and history. Oh, by the way, in this fantasy world I’ll be running Eastern Cincinnati’s first brewery (based heavily on bike and urban culture with access to the bike trail) in one of the turn-of-the-century Italianate commercial buildings. I’m calling it now, Dibs!
It’s like a little forgotten section of Eastern Cincinnati. But then again, so many small villages inside the 275 loop have suffered the same fate. At least so many areas in Columbia, Linwood, and East End seem to have a healthy sense of community. There are many run down buildings but only a handful seem to be outright abandoned. I hope no East End residents take offense at my “outsider looking in” perspective.
Today I found the old “East End Bank Building” sitting next to another building that actually had a name. Something like the “Fredrick” or “Douglas” building. Not sure. No pictures, I’ll save it for a more thorough exploration of the area. Both likely from the turn of the century. I’ve rode past them dozens of times now and never noticed them.
I overheard the weather guy last night say that this week would be hot, wet, and with lots of thunderstorms. To me this means two things: 1) I might get wet out there in the mornings, and 2) Fog!
This morning was the perfect blend of fog and clear skies, with a touch of purple cumulus that showed up just before I left Alms Park. The ride to Alms Park is more steep than Ault Park so I typically save it for a particularly beautiful day, or as was the case today, when I want to get a challenging workout in. I skipped last Friday because there was a storm in the area. But if I am to be honest with myself – I think I just wimped out! We had a late night (Amanda had a softball game down in East End and the after party ended up coasting through the night) and it was dark and wet.
This morning’s trip up to Alms Park was a pleasant one indeed. The fog was thick down in the valley and especially on the right side, looking out over the overlook, where the Ohio River’s fog patch was creeping over into Lunken Airport. The park itself had a hazy mist about it but fortunately it wasn’t enough to drown out the sunrise.
The greenery was lush. Seriously, the Cincinnati forests are so healthy right now after all of this rain. I keep remembering the span between Sunrise 10 and 30 where it seemed almost every single morning was an overcast storm.
This is the “Lunken Overlook”, although it has no official name. The grass lawn is well kept and allows us to see right down into Lunken Airport. At this point in the morning I was surprised to see several runners out jogging around Alms Park. I think Alms Park might get more morning activity than Ault Park, although it probably also has to do with the fact that there is only one road through Alms so it appears to be more compact when in reality Ault Park simply has more room to roam.
The sun has started to rise. A deep orange color is apparent through the thick haze. I found out that my camera has “fixed aperture” that is dependent on the zoom. So the only way for me to “increase” aperture (f-ratio) is to zoom in. Weird in a way, but it does feel nice now that the aperture selection isn’t “random”. I imagine that this is the reason why I am able to get the lines of cloud through this early morning sun.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue —> About 16 pictures total 🙂 (more…)
A zoomed shot of the sunrise. It is amazing the difference in size when there is no humidity to absorb the light. The tiny CCD on my camera has a hard time figuring out what to do in the center of the light orb.
This morning was another beautiful spring morning. The air was noticeably cooler and more clear. The humidity seemed to be pretty low which meant that today’s sunrise had a different palette to it. Without the haze in the atmosphere, the sky was brighter and the sun was more powerful. The morning dawn sky had scattered clouds and upper atmospheric haze that provided a different view. I decided to head up to Alms Park again, just like yesterday, to get a direct view of the sun. Currently Alms Park provides the best view of the sun, at least until we’re on the other side of summer solstice (three weeks away). I like the challenge of trying to get up to the top of Alms Park as quickly as possible, even though it typically leaves me gasping and with shaky legs.
Late Dawn Sky above St. Ursula Villa on the way to Alms Park. The stratus clouds provided an excellent highlight to the atmosphere. I believe there was a healthy mixture of cirrus and altocumulus clouds. Although I am really just guessing.
My young deer friend hanging out in Alms Park. As I approached the park she seemed interested in my flashing bike light. I got within 20 feet of her, moving cautiously, but she eventually decided to run off into the forest.
Notice how much more yellow the sun is compared to yesterday. This is probably due to the humidity being lower today than yesterday. The more rays of light that are blocked before reaching our eyes, the less intense the color of the sun is. Less intense apparently means close to purple.
(If you’re on the front page, click to continue –>) (more…)
Sunrise 43: Alms & Anderson Park (Marina & Ohio River, Baby Snapping Turtle (aww!), Downtown Skyline, and the Meridian)
Looking up the river from the Ohio River Launch Club
Today was one of those days where the combination of a beautiful sunrise, temperate spring air, and being well rested results in a longer morning ride than usual. All in all I didn’t take that much longer than a typical morning ride, but I covered more grounds and explored Anderson Park – a location that is making its debut in the project today. If you’re on the front page you might as well skip to the bottom and click “more” to see the entire post because there are some great pictures in this set that won’t all make the cut to be displayed on homepage.
I left my apartment this morning with the feeling of wanderlust. With the scorching heat of the past few days, it was downright refreshing to be out in the cool morning air. During the past few sunrises I noticed that the sun was creeping far to the left of the overlook and the first rays of light after the sun crests over the horizon are obscured by trees. I believe this won’t get any better until the second week of June (holy crap thats coming up) when the sunrise time bottoms out at 6:11am for several days. I imagine that the sun will maintain its position until the sunrise time starts to advance further in the morning. Until that time, however, I have to wait a bit to get a good “head-on” picture of the sun in the morning sky. Knowing this, I made a quick decision to ditch the left hand turn that would take me to Ault Park and instead took the right hand turn to Alms Park. I found out a few days ago that Alms Park has a more unobstructed view of these left sunrises. The idea of going to Alms Park – while more difficult both because it is a longer distance and has several steep climbs – seemed to resonate with me now that the officially 40 days of Ault Park have been accomplished. These “post-40” days are about exploring the future direction of the sunrise project. So off to Alms Park I go!
The ride to Alms Park is, like Ault Park, almost entirely uphill. But where the climb to Ault Park is mostly at a slight incline with a bit of a steeper section at the park entrance, the journey to Alms Park is more dynamic. It consists of several respectable climbs that flatten out for a bit. By the time you reach the base of the hill that St. Ursula’s Villa sits atop, you’re actually almost at the elevation that Alms Park sits at. It is at this point that the road takes a steep dive down through the forested residential hill for several hundred yards. The entrance to Alms Park sits at the base of this dive at which point you have to climb up the steepest part of the trip – an excruciating but worthy workout. Alms Park really makes you work for it.
Sunrise 40: Ault Park (Achievement Unlocked! and Alms Park Sunset #3 with Mountainous Cumulus Clouds)
I made it! This morning was officially the 40th sunrise that I documented in Eastern Cincinnati. I’ve been thinking about this morning for the past few days, wondering what if anything I could do as a special tribute to the milestone. At first I started big. I considered waking up an hour early and driving over to Devou Park in Cincinnati to take a nice “capstone” sunrise picture of the Cincinnati Skyline and sunrise over the Ohio River. But I realized that heading up to Devou Park, while a powerful sentiment indeed, was too far outside the context of normalcy for this project. All 40 sunrises, except for the flying pig marathon day, had two things in common: Eastern Cincinnati and my bike. I decided that the most appropriate sunrise this morning would be one where I went back to the roots of the project and reflected on the past 40 days. The morning ended up being overcast and gray anyway. I grabbed my coffee and a notebook and rode up to the park. Oh yeah, I also made a facebook page. “Like” it if you want to, I’m not exactly sure what to use it for yet.
Oh, one more thing. The last half of this post has pictures from Alms Park sunset last night. The sky was busy all day yesterday (as I learned from the sunrise fronts). Last night was no different, but as the sun set and the air-cooled, the towering cumulus clouds looked like mountains on the distant horizon.
I’ll be down there this weekend for the Memorial Day Race 5K. Amanda designs the shirts 🙂 Put on by the Cincinnati Running Club. Amanda is running, I’m volunteering. We’ve got some friends coming into town who are probably going to run it too!
The sunrise this morning was gray and non-existent. I chose to focus most of my time on writing some of my thoughts that have been bouncing around throughout the extent of this project. I’d like to go back and look at various statistics relating to the project, but for now I don’t have time before heading in to work. Number of pictures, bike shots, words, words / day (I seem to have got more chatty as the project went along), traffic statistics, grouping pictures together by color, looking at the overlook picture time-lapse, etc. The sky stayed the same color, a muted gray, throughout the entire morning. The ambient light drifted about until it was darker when I left the park than when I got there, or so it seemed.
Zoom of Lunken Airfield. See the green break in the forest at the end of the runway, in the middle of the picture? Where the green grass looks like it jumps up into the trees? That’s where I saw the sunrise yesterday morning on the bike trail. I didn’t realize you could see it from here.
The first thing I did was look at some of the original goals of the project to see where they stand now. Looking back on the project it is interesting to see various themes slowly start to gain momentum. At the beginning of the project, I took fewer pictures with fewer words. I focused a lot more on my immediate surroundings in the park. The flowers, mushrooms, views, bike, bench, trees, sky, rain, birds. As the sunrises continued, and I became familiar with the Heekin Overlook, I started to venture out a bit more. I explored the arboretum, the pavilion, the trails, and the blossoming cherry trees. Eventually I broke out of the boundary of the park and started exploring more of the neighborhoods. The first taste of inquiry looks to be the morning I looked at the old Bell Systems building on Delta Venue. That fateful day that I found the Crusade Castle can be viewed as the day when a shift was made into exploring not just “look what is around” but “look what is left over from another era”. This active history theme led to several “Saturday Explorations”, including the trip to Armleder Park through East End, and R.K. LeBlond Estate & Norwood Industry Hunt. I also used this theme to turn historic inquiry back at the familiar things in Ault Park, including the search for Murdock Fountains (ongoing…) and the World War I memorial bench.
So back to some of the original goals of the project. How did I do?
- 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Check! This is the most basic and important goal – and it feels absolutely incredible to know that I did it without compromise. I missed only two weekly sunrises – one due to a viewing and one due to an active electrical storm. On both days I was able to still write a post up using other material.
- Explore the parks and the city. Check! This is evident throughout the entire project. Both of these goals are far from complete, but I have made significant progress both in the appreciation of the Queen City’s Emeralds and the city herself.
- Create a new routine, new habits. Check! Looking back, the first half of this project was much harder than the second half even though I put more effort into the second half with all of the research and extra miles put on the bike. I’m also waking up early on my days off – something that I didn’t think was possible until this project started.
- Appreciate more detail in every day. Check! Carpe Diem personified. I hope I’ve started something that will continue throughout the rest of my life.
- Become more comfortable on my bike. Check! By my guess I’ve put close to 200 miles on the bike just accounting for the daily ride, and another 300 miles with the extra exploration. I’ve also gone through a new tire, new crank, and new pedals.
- Kill Over-sleeping. While I am still susceptible to over-sleeping I have a new control system imposed on it that is working as long as I have accountability for the sunrises. This is the entire reason the project website exists. Mostly Check!
It is worth noting that this is the first time in my entire life that I have consistently waken up before 6:30am with only a single exception that I can remember. When I was in seventh grade (fifteen years ago) I would routinely wake up at 5:30am to watch The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Strangely, there must have been a kind of personality shift that happened during the summer between seventh and eighth grade because I never did continue this “morning person” routine. For me, it is of great personal accomplishment that I was able to complete these 40 days of morning wake ups. It proves (to me) that I can accomplish something drastic and life changing. Any time I come up against such a challenge in the future, I can think back to project Ault Park Sunrise and remember the feeling of balance and satisfaction that this project has given me.
There are several things that have changed in my daily routine that I can directly attribute to this project.
- Mornings are now much easier than before
- I now go to bed at a reasonable (and consistent) time
- — which enables me to get excellent sleep most of the time
- I’ve started reading before bed more consistently. Although I don’t typically get very far, I fall asleep without issue
- My legs are much stronger. I feel like a mountain climbing machine.
- I have a much higher cardio capacity. I imagine I could run 10 miles with my feet pain being the only constraint.
- I’ve consumed less beer overall, and more craft beer. This is important to me. I rarely have more than two beers at a time during the week, and I enjoy them thoroughly because I’m able to focus on quality over quantity. This reminds me of Ben Franklin’s thirteen virtues that I often find myself thinking about.
- I notice with a much higher sensitivity when my diet gets messed up. Bloating and fatigue from eating fried food or too much food is immediately apparent the next day. I don’t mean to be snobbish, because my diet is far from perfect, but I am happy to know that I am becoming more in tune with my body’s natural cycles and energy.
- I have more energy overall – I am no longer fatigued after a 20 miles bike ride. In fact I have more energy it feels like.
- I’ve played way less PlayStation 3. I attribute this more to good allocation of free time, and less to a dwindling desire for playing video games.
- Purpose-driven creativity. This project has provided an outlet for daily creativity in writing, research, photography, and/or human interactions.
- I’ve met many local neighborhood citizens and learned about several new perspectives on life. I’ve always been comfortable talking to strangers (a natural gift I imagine) and making them feel comfortable – this project has allowed me to improve on this skill
- A higher threshold of overall creativity. This project, from the beginning, has grown into several new directions while still maintaining much of the original framework laid out by the constraints (sunrise, Ault Park, bike, convenient and quick).
- I am more comfortable with my writing and understand a bit more about my strengths and weaknesses.
- I’ve learned a lot about flower and tree identification thanks to the feedback I’ve received on this blog from several friends. Thanks guys 🙂
One thing that stands out to me is just how quickly these 40 mornings have gone by. 40 is a big number. I remember thinking, at the beginning of the project, that perhaps it was too big of a number. Could I even do it? I can’t do 3 sunrise mornings, how can I do 40? By having the days numbered and also having this journal to look back at my daily logs is a new thing for me. I can remember each sunrise going by and recall each individual memory. And yet here we are, 40 days later, on the other side of the project. The sun has shifted far to the left from where it started, it rises 65 minutes earlier, and the trees that started the project naked are now flush with their summer green. The quickness in which the time seemed to have passed during the life of this project has better prepared me to take advantage of as much as I can of the finite days I have left in the future. I’ve always known that there was peace in the mornings but I couldn’t figure out how to make it real. Sure, it is annoying to get up early. I have to go to bed at an “unreasonable” time (although at this point I’m completely exhausted so it is no longer unreasonable). I can’t drink a beer after 10pm. This commitment requires planning and foresight and a real effort to put the pictures online and write up an entry. But in the end, the payoff is several multiples more than any discomfort. Hell, I could do this all day!
A final thing I want to add is that exploring an area on a bike is a modern experience that everyone should at least try once. There is nothing else like it. By exploring in my local vicinity, I am able to piece together local history and cause-and-effect theories that are familiar enough to store in my head easily. In any human inhabitance, there are remnants of days-gone-by. From the buildings to the artifacts, memorials to the water fountains, churches to the headstones. The higher the human density of an area, the deeper the web of interconnectedness. It makes me wonder how fulfilling it would be to do a “sunrise project” in an old, small, midwestern farm town with a deep history but a limited space to explore it. A complete picture (or at least a well-rounded one) of the history of the town may be more attainable because there would be fewer human sub-cultures, systems, booms, and industries.
So what’s next? Hard to say at this point. I’ve had a blast with this project so far so at this point at a minimum I’m going to keep up the morning ritual and write-ups. Perhaps I’ll start to become a bit more socially-oriented and try to recruit more people to meet me up at the park, although that might be a stretch. Now that the 40 sunrises are up, I am also free to explore different sets of constraints. I gave some thought to doing a Lunken Airfield sunrise week after the beautiful atmospheric conditions down on the bike trail, but that might be asking a lot considering how grueling it is getting back up the hill. I’ve also thought about picking different places around the city and traveling there to do the sunrise, as opposed to what I do now – start at Ault Park and then venture out into the city if I have the time.
I’ve also got a host of interesting places to check out on the East Side. I’d be lying if I haven’t kicked around the idea of doing a kind of city bike tour (thanks for the idea, Tara!). To really make it work it would be nice to have a set of wireless radios that clip to your helmet. It’d also be a kid of bring your own bike situation so I’m not sure if there would be any interest in it.
When I get the time I’m also going to post up detailed explanation of my workflow in case anyone else would be interested in doing a project like this on their own. You need nothing other than a camera and a computer. The script that I’ve written to process and name the pictures takes most of the busywork out of the ordeal. I now spend 85% of my time at the computer writing these posts rather than messing with naming, resizing, and re-orienting the pictures. It also puts a copyright notice on each image.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this project, no matter how big or small. This project is largely a personal feat, but I’d be lying to say that it doesn’t help immensely with the motivational drive knowing that there are other people out there that check in every once in awhile to see the pictures and read my crazy rambles.
Here’s to 40 more 🙂
Some pictures from last night’s Alms Park Sunset. I felt it was fitting to have the 40th sunrise post also include beautiful pictures of the setting sun.
Two days ago I mentioned how it would be nice to get the Columbia Tusculum homes in the setting sun light. I find myself in this exact situation just two days later. For the rest of the sunset pictures – and if you’re on the front page – click to continue –> (more…)
After visiting Lunken Airfield yesterday morning, I thought that it would be nice to mix it up and try to catch the sunrise on the bike path that circles the airport. I set my alarm for 5:50am, giving myself about 25 minutes with a snooze to get down to Lunken. The sky had a shine of light orange and a mix of clouds so I wasn’t sure if it would be a worthwhile endeavor or not. There was the chance that there would be thick fog and I wouldn’t even be able to see the sky from down in the river basin at the airport. I decided the risk was worth it and headed down the mountain to the pre-glacial Ohio River valley where Lunken Airport snuggly sits underneath the Alms Park lookout.
On the right of the Lunken Terminal there is a levee that runs south along the western side of the air field. On top of the levee is the first leg of the 5 mile bike trail. There is a thick line of trees on either side of the trail. To the inside of the trail, the airfield side, there are several generous cutouts in the forest that allow you to look head on into the three main runways. There are also several groups of benches, both at the beginning of the trail and at the back corner of the trail, that provide a great resting place to watch planes come in and take off.
As I approached t the airfield I decided to pass the first set of benches that I sat at yesterday morning to continue about a mile down the trail to the benches that sit snugly at the south west corner of the field. The runway that intersects those benches is known as the “jet runway” so I was hoping to see some commuter jets come in or take off over me. I didn’t realize at the time that the sun would no longer be head on.
The lights that I can see from Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook – up close. Check out the Madeira apartment building in the background. That sucker is far away but you can see it anywhere on the east side if you look for it.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Beautiful shots of the blue cumulus skies that showed up a bit later –> (more…)
Sunrise 35: Ault & Alms Park (Foggy Streets, Clear Skies!, Neenah Foundry and More Murdock Fountains)
When I first woke up this morning, 25 minutes before sunrise because I forgot to brew my coffee last night, I was a bit disappointed. The sky was a dark shade of gray, typically indicating that the sun is blocked by a cloud bank (or even worse, an entire overcast sky). I should have known, however, because the “bird report” was in full swing at 5:45am, loud enough to wake us up! After brewing my coffee I set out on the Trek 4000 for the morning. When I walked out onto the front sidewalk, however, I realized that there was a substantial amount of fog in the air. It is always a surprise to see the fog – the best kind of surprise I might add 🙂 Biking in the fog (especially now that I have my new planet bike led light) is always so much fun, particularly in low-traffic hilly residential areas like on the route to Ault Park! As I would soon find out, this morning ended up being the long awaited, eight-days-in-the-making, soul-refreshing, sunrise morning. I haven’t had a post on here with the sun in it since last week and while I do love exploring random historical artifacts in the area, being able to take pictures of the morning sun is a welcome change from the routine of the past few days 🙂
As I made my way up to the top of the hill, I started to notice a change in the atmosphere. It seemed that the higher up the hill I got, the more clear the air became. As I came up above the crest, into the entrance to the park, I started to see signs of great things to come. The sky up ahead was turning a light orange color and I could actually see a low lying cloud through the trees.
The sky is just starting to turn orange. If you’re on the front page, please continue by clicking! –> (more…)
This morning was a beautiful clear sunrise unlike any that I’ve seen for the past three weeks. Before the last batch of storms I remember seeing several of the bright orange displays but it has been a rare morning that has a cloud cover < 15%. At 6:10 am, a full 20 minutes before sunrise, the sky was so bright it felt like the sun was already coming up.
I’d like to add a quick note before I continue. This morning was sunrise 26, but I actually did have a sunrise 25 on saturday morning. I took so many pictures and did some extended research into a few things that I discovered. The post isn’t quite done (I fell asleep last night before finishing it) but I’ll have it up later this morning. For this reason I decided to make this morning’s sunrise a quick trip. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures lately so it was nice to focus more on the view and less on the camera. If you get a chance, be sure to check out sunrise 25; I’ll link it here (and it’ll be on the frontpage) when I publish it.
For the sunrise this morning, the atmosphere was clear and the air was warm. The valley down below had thick pockets of fog and for a few minutes I had to talk myself out of riding down to the bottom of the hill and taking the morning pictures through the fog. One of these days I’ll get down into the fog! I’m waiting on that seasonal fog that comes around a few times a year. We’re coming due in the next few weeks and I can’t wait. There is nothing quite like exploring the forest and neighborhood in a fog that provides only 10-15ft visibility. The fog stays around he overlooks (especially Alms Park) well past four hours after sunrise.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. –> (more…)
As you may or may have not noticed, I wasn’t able to post a sunrise picture this morning. Today we found ourselves out of town for a funeral and viewing of a family member. I imagine it was a great sunrise this morning, but there will be many more to come! Amanda and I were feeling a bit beat after getting home tonight, so we decided to head up to Alms Park to check out the sunset. We learned our lesson last time that you’ve got to arrive 20 minutes *before* sunset time if you want to actually enjoy it :). Alms Park was as quiet and peaceful as ever. The trees and bushes were a lush green and there were only a couple of people walking around enjoying the crisp spring air. Perhaps everyone was out celebrating Cinco de Mayo? 🙂
The eastern view of Alms Park looks down the Ohio River into the bend. Downtown Cincinnati is just behond the bend, and you can actually see the tip top of the Great American building and Carew Tower over the Kentucky Hills on the other side of the river. The overlook certainly reminds me of the Heekin Overlook in Ault Park with the open top and wooden supports. (If you’re on the front page, click “more” to continue with more pictures) (more…)
After the rain we had over the night, I was expecting to wake up to a gloomy wet morning. When I woke up I was happy to discover that there were light clouds in the sky but no rain. The forecast said today would have a “100%” chance of thunder storms. As it turns out they were correct, but the front didn’t move in until about 09:15am.
The dawn light had some definite color to it. (More after the “click to continue”) (more…)
It’s official, I’m addicted. I had every reason to sleep in this morning. I was up late and didn’t have any morning plans. I didn’t even set an alarm. But when the birds started chirping at 6:18am this morning, I awoke from my slumber. I even tried to go back to sleep but it didn’t work. “Fine”, I thought to myself. Let’s go see if that cold front has broke yet.
I took the opportunity to switch it up a bit. I have been curious about whether Alms Park, which is the Yin to Ault Park’s Yang, is set up appropriately to see the sunrise. There is a western facing overlook that makes for a beautiful sunset, but I haven’t noticed any particularly eastern-facing points.
The central overlook in Alms Park looks right down into Lunken Airport and provides probably the best vantage point to seriously watch the planes land and take off from 250ft above the basin. I biked around the small loop in the park, and even went down into the off-the-normal-path reserved area where there is a small shelter. More after the jump