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

Posts tagged “alms park

Sunrise 157: Alms Park (Misty Hills, Tall Oaks, Spring Blooms)

A unique lighting situation @ Sunrise 157

A hard climb to Alms Park but the view makes it worth it!

Are these magnolias? (Nope. Dogwood!) They’re so small and the other magnolias have lost their blooms so I’m not sure…

Rain-battered yellow blooms race to fill up as much forest floor as possible before their taller brethren block out all the light.

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.

When I started off for Alms Park, there were clear skies above me. It seemed, however, that change was in the air.
Looking west up Erie Ave, heading to Alms Park in Mt. Lookout

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)

Another pic from Sunrise 122:
 Frost & Oak

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)

A twilight gradient behind the century oak.

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Sunrise 127: Alms Park (Macro Clover Ice Crystals/Cubes, Breaking Sky Sunrise)

A clover leaf covered in ice crystals in the early sunlight of Sunrise 127. The bald spot is where my large fumbling fingers accidentally knocked two crystals off of the leaf.

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!).

The first shot featuring a small amount of pink highlighting in the atmospheric cloud layer.

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.

The twilight sky above Lunken Airport from Alms Park. There’s a standing pool of water, left over from the recent autumn rain storms.

The south/eastern sky, facing the Ohio River to the right side of the picture.

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…)


Sunrise 122: Columbia Tusculum (Exploring in the Urban Fog, Macro Frost Crystals)

Ice Crystals!

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.

Frost crystals on a picnic bench @ Alms Park

A strange break in the clouds and fog made for a surreal sunrise at Lunken Airport

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 🙂

My first “No Outlet” of the morning. A bit blurry because of the low light. I love this house and the way the gates open into the cul-de-sac.

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!)

I love the frozen dew.

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Sunrise 108: Alms Park (Fog & Century Oaks)

Looking down the hill from Alms Park.

Foggy Sunrise @ Alms Park

The base of this huge century oak tree is wider than my bike is long. Almost two of my bikes, in fact.

The overlook @ Alms Park

Along the foggy forest trail under Alms Park

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 :).

I left early for the park. About 20 minutes before sunrise the neighborhood is dark and muffled.

Looking down Grandin Ave in the fog.

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…)


Sunrise 100: Alms Park (Cold and Colorful Autumn Sunrise)

First Light @ Sunrise 100 over Lunken Airfield. I’ll admit it – I kind of put off sunrise 100 so I could wait for “a good one” 🙂

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).

The late dawn sky over Lunken Airport at Alms Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Can you find the water tower?

Take your seats, ladies in gentlemen. T minus 1 minute until sunrise.

It’s hard to capture all the colors in a single picture. To the east, the sky was cycling through some fusia and light purple before fading into a blue gradient.

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.

Looking South/West towards the Ohio River

There were several different “species” of cloud formations in the sky this morning.

As the sun came up over the eastern ridge line, I already started to feel warmer.

Once again, looking South/West towards the Ohio River.

Just before heading out I noticed the third plane of the morning beginning to taxi. Lunken Airfield was busy this morning.

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!

Last night at Ault Park, just before sunrise. The lighting is inverse from what I’ve come to expect just after sunrise

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.

There were actually two groups of people getting some professional photos taken at the overlook. So this is the second “picture of people getting their picture taken” picture!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The young one was getting a bath.

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

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

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


Sunrise 95: Alms Park (Late Summer Humid Sunrise)

No bike silhouette in a low-light sunrise!

Sunrise 95

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.

A light pink sky over Lunken Airfield at Alms Park

The deep pink sun rises up through the thick gray clouds. It always catches me off guard as it fades in from below the horizon.

The harvest moon is high in the western sky!

The Fuji S-10S at Alms Park

An attempt to channel Sunrise 09’s iconic sunrise picture. Just isn’t the same with such a low-light sunrise!

Cloud texture.

I actually took this one while laying on my back after taking a picture of the clouds. Upside Down. Turned out alright, I say.

Final shot of the sunrise!


Sunrise 89: Alms Park (Kudzu: The Vine & Clear Summer Skies)

Sunrise 89: Alms Park

The “Kudzu Landscape”, a scene that comes to life in Alms Park during the late summer and autumn months.

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:

  1. I heard a rumor that Kudzu was used originally to beat out the invasive Honeysuckle plants. This worked, of course!
  2. The flowers of the Kudzu plant are sweet and pretty, great for ornamental purposes.
  3. 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.
  4. The anti-erosion qualities of Kudzu were used for natural soil control
  5. The vine has been used by southerners to create baskets.
  6. A root extract is said to date back 2000 years in Chinese medicine for treatment of alcoholism
  7. The roots can be used for cooking as a starch base
  8. 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.

Looking down at the Ohio River from Alms Park.

A crisp and clean summer sunrise over Lunken Airport

I’m becoming obsessed with these color gradients in the morning sky.

For the 8 other pictures, if you’re on the front page, click to continue: (more…)


Sunrise 77: Alms Park (Wet and Foggy Valley Sunrise over Lunken Airfield)

The fog over Lunken Airfield; a view from Alms Park.

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.

The oranges were prevalent in the early sunrise. Looking down into Lunken Airfield’s east side.

Playing with the white balance, I was able to get a bright blue sky in this picture.

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.

I attempted to get a picture of the sun light coming through the magnificent conifers. The air was misty but it was difficult to get a good picture.

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.


Sunrise 74: Alms Park (Summer Storm Front, The Glitch Mob)

Looking out over Lunken Airfield at sunrise

A barge floats down the Ohio River in the background, to the south west of Lunken Airfield.

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