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

Posts tagged “ault park

Sunrise 67: Ault Park (Beechmont Dragway?)

This morning’s sunrise was almost identical to yesterday’s sunrise. There was a low atmospheric layer of foggy stratus haze that obscured most of the light. For the few minutes before sunrise you could see these bursting rays of light arcing up through the upper atmosphere, but they disappeared before I could get a decent picture of them. The sky was blue up above me and the moon clearly visible.

This week’s weather is calling for mostly hot and humid days with scattered thunder storms. I’ve been really interested lately in watching how the morning sunrise weather changes with the air pressure. Early last week the mornings were gray with fog sitting down in the lower valley basin. As the thunder storms built up in the tri-state, and finally broke with intense action, the fog disappeared (or, probably more accurately, moved higher into the atmosphere). As a side effect, the day following the major storms was perfectly clear with no clouds in the sky. The next day had slight whisps of clouds, and the following day had a beautifully mixed set of 40% cloud cover with all kinds of formations. It was on that day that I got some of the best sunrise pictures of the month.

The point of all of this is the following. Yesterday and today were gray and boring. But today it looks like we’re in line for some heavy thunderstorms that may stick around for a few days. I can’t wait for the first sunrise after the heavy summer storms. The post-storm sunrises never disappoint and are always unique and colorful. You can’t have the best ones without first having a streak of boring ones 🙂

Down below to the left we see Armleder Park (For some great pictures of the park, check out last Friday’s post). To the right we see Lunken Airfield (pictures from last week). See that patch of forest in the middle? That’s where the 4-lane Beechmont Avenue runs out to Mt. Washington and Anderson. The gate that I highlighted yesterday, located on the back side of Lunken Airport’s 5-mile bike trail, will open up to a connector trail that will go under Beechmont Avenue and over to Armleder Park. This will give cyclists, runners, roller bladers, and dog walkers access Armleder Park from Lunken Airfield.

This is a picture of the gate that I took yesterday. You can see on the left side, beyond the gate, there are markers that show that the construction crew is working diligently on the path. Due to all the flooding that occurred during the spring, I’m wondering if they’ll have a hard time meeting their Fall 2011 deadline.

So the interesting thing about this new trail is that they are building it on top of an existing lane. There used to be a small gravel access road that ran along the levee. I always wondered what the heck that road used to be. It was, at one time, important enough to be paved and have a gate protecting access to it. The gate is old and almost overrun with vegetation now. I had a few theories:

  1. An ancient bike path that simply ran out of funding.
  2. Satelite images show that it connects, somehow, to Beechmont Ave. Perhaps an old Lunken Airfield trail?
  3. An access road for something off in the woods?
  4. Part of the old Little Miami River gate system? There are strange wooden and metal structures hidden in the woods off of the levee that look like they were once used for loading ship or something. Jury is still out on what they actually are, but I’ve been told they had to do with the old lock system that controlled the river before they re-routed it out of Lunken Airfield’s Campus.

Well, that’s about it as far as my ill-informed theories go. Check out the Google Map and see for yourself. The “new trail” is the blue line and you can see how it continues over into the forest on the other side of Beechmont Ave.

Yesterday I was poking around the Cincinnati subreddit and got into a discussion about this Armleder / Lunken Connector. I asked if anyone knew what used to be back along this trail. I honestly didn’t expect to find anything out, but the user jOhn33y informed me that there used to be an old drag strip back in the forest that operated from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s before being shut down due to noise ordinance violations. Interestingly enough, one YouTube commenter says that as a boy he remembers asking his mom why they shut down the race track, and she replied “the rich people on the hill didn’t like the noise so they shut it down”. Also reminds me of the stories I hear about the old Grandin Ave Viaduct over Delta Ave, but that’s a story for another day.

Map Image and Beechmont Dragway Logo are from Queen City Motorsports Historical Page

Now that I look at the satellite map, it makes perfect sense. The actual drag strip was on the other side of Beechmont Ave so I can’t say for sure whether this trail was simply alternate access to the strip, part of the racing strip in general, or something else entirely. Either way this opens up a new piece of Eastern Cincinnati history that I was completely unaware of. Once these storms die down I plan on exploring the old Drag Strip to see what still remains. There is some footage on YouTube of someone else’s exploration, as well as an old silent film (with audio commentary removed due to copyright violations… grrr). Here’s some awesome old footage of the 1960s drag strip:

Sometime after these thunder storms die down I’ll go exploring back there to see what still remains of the old drag strip. There’s some footage on YouTube but there looks to be much more to the site than just the small area where the video is taken. The original source for all of this information is from this Queen City Motorsports page.

The overlook @ Ault Park.


Sunrise 65: Ault & Armleder Park (Little Miami River, Cirrocumulus Sunrise, Snake Tracks)

The Sunrise @ Armleder Park

Blue Gradient over East Hyde Park


Looking away from the sunrise at the Little Miami River.

Oh man. The past few days have seen a slight increase in cloud cover as the week has rolled by. First the storms went through. Then the skies were clear. Then there was a bit of light whipsy cloud action. Finally, this morning hit critical cloud cover and the skies were ablaze with all kinds of cloud formations. It was seriously breathtaking!

I held good on the promise I made myself yesterday (more like challenge) to see today’s sunrise in Armleder Park. This week was unique in that I hit all of the major spots: Alms Park (twice), Ault Park, Lunken Airfield, and finally Armleder Park. I haven’t been back to Armleder Park since just after the major floods receded. Has it really been 36 sunrises ago? How the time flies. Summer has settled in comfortably since my last visit to the park. I ended up checking out the Little Miami River as well. Lots of animal tracks, including a giant snake track, coyotes, raccoons, and deer. This is a bigger set, around 30 pictures in all.

The sunrise was a unique one for sure.

A close-up over the valley

Lots of different patterns going on in the sky.

If you’d like to see the rest of the post, including giant snake paths and coyote tracks (25 more coming right up) and you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 64: Ault Park (Deep Blue and a Spring Chill)

Deep Rich Blue and Orange Sunrise over the Little Miami River Valley from Ault Park

The most notable thing about this morning wasn’t the clear blue sky or the rich orange sunrise. It was, in fact, the temperature. After the blazing hot start to this week with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees with thick humidity, this morning was was almost chilly. There was very little cloud cover this morning even though the humidity was apparently around 70%. The temperature was about 65 degrees and for a few minutes I wondered if I really should have grabbed a long sleeve t-shirt or if I was just being a baby. It felt like a sunrise from late April! Today’s high is only around 83 which means tonight’s group ride with Element Cycles (first time in several weeks!) should be awesome.

I switched it back up and spent my first morning this week in Ault Park. Monday and Tuesday were in Alms Park with some brief stints through East End and yesterday was entirely Lunken Airfield. With the fog being pushed out of the valley, it was nice to get a sunrise through the clear air at the basin of the valley. Just to keep it diverse, I’ll have to come up with another location for tomorrow’s sunrise. Perhaps the prairie of Armleder Park?

Dawn is coming later each morning. This morning’s sunrise wasn’t until 6:23am! I kind of like the earlier sunrises. These late sunrises are making me feel like summer is already heading out the door!

I am, however, still setting my alarm for 5:50am. It took me a long time to get to this point, I find that I’m enjoying the early wakeups.

Look at those rich colors.

I realized I hadn’t taken a western view of Lunken Airfield for quite some time. There were small patches of fog nestled in the corners but otherwise the valley was clear of haze.

Armleder Park is looking healthy as ever. A plane takes off from Lunken, banking sharply.

Overlook shot with the valley illuminated by the morning sun.

Last shot of the sunrise with a nice little lens flair.


Sunrise 60: Ault Park (Dying Oak, Annual Cicada Macro, Dense Summer Fog)

After about an hour beyond sunrise, the fog has receded but is still visible a few hundred yards away.
Final shot of the cicada from the side. I tried to capture the dark rich green color of the body.

Green -> brown -> black. Another beautiful organic gradient in the wing pattern.
Foggy Sunrise

This morning made me have the realization that I need to start thinking of Cincinnati as a city with lots of fog. We are well into the summer month now and the morning sunrise fog shows no intentions of going away. Cincinnati does, after all, sit between the seven “hills” if you want to call them that. The fog this morning started off light but actually got more dense as the sun heated up the valley air. There were sheets of the fog blowing into the park from the Little Miami River Valley. For more pictures of the cicada, check out the bottom of this post. The lighting was perfect.

The dawn sky. Light pink with a bit of haze.

Looking out from Heekin Overlook. Nothing down there but fog. It’s about to get thicker.

As I’m sitting in the overlook I notice the black spots on the nearby oak tree. I noticed them for the first time on Tuesday and hoped it wasn’t the result of fireworks damage. Today was the first time I looked up and realized that the old Oak was dying. The spots are where the bark has peeled away and revealed the black wood underneath. The squirrels were clamoring around and couldn’t help knocking off huge pieces of bark from the top of the tree. Makes me sad to see such a great tree die. I wonder how long until they chop it up?

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. More oak pictures, sunrise shots, and cicada macros coming up —> (more…)


Sunrise 59: Ault Park (Muggy Orange Sunrise, Baby Mushrooms)

Sometimes you’ve just gotta change your perspective up a bit.

Baby Mushroom, probably came up last night.

This morning’s sunrise was a long slow clear skied one that finished off with beautiful orange accents. The humidity was high today and the valley was full of fog that didn’t show any signs of letting up. This haze caused the atmosphere to stay keep a pink/orange color for most of the early morning. The first ten minutes of sunrise, however, were beautiful. The sun has crept a bit more to the right of the tree line, back towards the center of the valley, which means I get a good view of it earlier than I did even two weeks ago. With the haze hiding the features of the ridge and valley below and also serving a second purpose of keeping the sun’s brightness in check, the sun seemed to just hang in the sky slightly below my eye level.

I think today might be a hot one. If not hot, at least wet and muggy!

Dawn. Super Foggy. Didn’t realize you could see the sun peaking through the trees until I reviewed the picture on my computer!

Overlook. Check out all that fog!

I just love this light pink to blue gradient.

The sun! This picture doesn’t do it justice – the color was a deep saturated magenta red that was easy to look at for the first few minutes of the sunrise.

The sky is starting to take on a bit of orange. I tried not to overdo it with the pictures this morning and enjoy my coffee.

An attempt to capture the gradient of the sidewalk. Pseudo Successful. See the small ants running around? They were on parade this morning down by the lower overlook. I couldn’t get a picture of them because of the low light – they showed up as blurs!

Macro Sidewalk. Jury is still out on how I feel about these. They’re meant to be a kind of textured picture that I can use as a wallpaper but didn’t turn out quite as crisp as I’d like.

This little baby mushroom no doubt pushed up over night. There were three of them coming up through the wet grass. The head is about the size of a dime.

Mushrooms are so neat. They’re almost too perfect in their smooth form and delicate pattern. You’ve gotta catch them within a day of their sprouting and before they’re damaged by rain if you want to get a clean picture.

Final picture of the morning. The ridge in the distance is well hidden indeed! I swear the more I come to Ault Park for sunrise, the more I realize how neat of a vantage point Heekin Overlook is. Where else in Cincinnati can you look “down” into the sunrise across a valley that changes its appearance by the day? As much as I despise prohibition to the core, I am thankful that Ault Park (and the surrounding hills) were never developed further after the fall of the vineyards.


Sunrise 54: Ault Park (One-of-a-Kind Sunrise, Blooming Yuccas)

Beautiful Sunrise

Bloomin’ Yucca

In preparation for our trip, I had an early morning appointment yesterday that didn’t allow me to see the sunrise. We’re heading out tomorrow to San Fransisco and Sacremento, California, where I’m attending (and doing a brief talk) a medical device commercialization conference for work. I was hoping to put together the “best-of” for sunrises 11-20 but ran out of time! I’m thinking that our trip will be a good time to knock a couple of the best-of posts that I’ve been meaning to generate. I’m also hoping that while we’re out there, I will get the opportunity to do a couple “San Fransisco Sunrise” and “Sacramento Sunrise”.

Approaching the Park

Armleder Parkin the morning sun

Classic Overlook

This morning was meant to be a brief sunrise due to the fact that I still have to finish getting ready for the trip! I was about ten minutes late to the sunrise but when I arrived it was evident that the morning display was going to be one of a kind. The air was warm and a bit damp, but there was only a light mist down on the valley that provided great lighting dynamics without casting Armleder Park in a thick fog.

The bench and the bike

The sun had a respectable clearing just above the horizon that allowed the sunlight to bathe the valley in a deep orange color. There was a thin but highly textured cloud layer above the horizon that seemed to be changing by the minute as the sunlight crept over and through the many openings that revealed the blue atmosphere. I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

A bit of a lighter shot

If you’re on the front page, click to continue! About 20 pictures in all today. (more…)


Sunrise 53: Ault Park & Lunken #3 (Pink Dawn & Airplanes)

A plane prepares to land at Lunken Airfield down below.

Sunrise over the Airplanes @ Lunken Playfield (Full Circle!)

When I left the apartment this morning to head up to Ault Park I could tell it was going to be a good morning. My legs were feeling strong, the sky was starting to light up with a purple hue, and the air was brisk and comfortable. I actually wore a light sweatshirt this morning to fend off the 55F temperature. After the heat streak of last week (we were up around 95F) this cooler temperature is greatly appreciated.

The sun has just started to crest behind the trees

The Pink Dawn Sky

The dawn sky took on a pinkish hue that peaked just as the sun crested over the horizon. The sunrise was a quick one. It seemed as though the “climax” was just after sunrise, within about 10 minutes. The few minutes leading up to the actual sunrise were marked with bright skies and deep purple atmosphere. On mornings like this you want to get up 20 minutes earlier and catch the sunrise from both ends. I’m not sure how to predict ahead of time what kind of sunrise you’re going to get, but if you want to be sure just show up early 🙂

Armleder Park – Look ma, no fog!

A vertical shot capturing the color of the upper atmosphere

Believe it or not, the sunrise colors had faded by 6:20am to a light mix of yellow, orange, and pink. I was impressed with the dramatic display of colors so soon after sunrise time and decided to try my luck down at Lunken Airfield, doing the same loop (via Eastern Ave) that I mapped out yesterday. We’ll call this “Lunken #3” – a pattern I hope to keep up.

Looking out at Heekin Overlook

At 6:24am, about 12 minutes after sunrise, I took off from the overlook to knock out the third run of the so-called ‘Eastern Lunken Loop’. I didn’t know if I was going to do the entire loop (heading all the way down to the Ohio River Launch Club on the Ohio River) but I was curious how quickly I could get to Lunken from Alms Park without stopping, and how much time it would take to get back to Mt. Lookout Square.

Lunken Sunrise

I arrived at Lunken Airfield at 6:35am. The trip from Heekin Overlook to Lunken Airfield was uninterrupted as I ignored my own advice from yesterday and didn’t stop to take a picture of Linwood Public School.

For the rest of the story, and if you’re on the front page, click here –> (more…)


Sunrise 52: Ault Park (Lunken Loop #2: Marina, Barges, Airplanes)

A shot through the trees and the billowing smoke.

Perhaps my favorite sunrise picture of the morning. The airplane, having just taken off from Lunken Airfield, heading off into the sunrise.

Up the East/West runway down at Lunken Airfield. Not a single plane took off while I was there.

Looking up river around the bend. There goes the barge.

This morning’s sunrise was a bright one. It was one of the classic spring mornings where the fog is thick across the valley and the sky is mostly clear. I got up a bit late so I arrived at Heekin Overlook just as the sun was coming up. As I’ve mentioned previously I don’t actually have a direct view of the sunrise any more from Ault Park, due to how far to the left the sun has moved as we approach Summer Solstice. After June 21 the sun will revert back along the path to the east, eventually aligning once more with the Ault Park Pavilion. It is possible now that I think about it that the Pavilion might be aligned with the Winter Solstice (December 20-21), as that would be a point when the sun would be much further to the right (looking out at the Little Miami River Valley). I’ll have to make a mental note of that.

I unfortunately won’t be in Cincinnati during the summer solstice. Amanda and I are taking a trip out west through San Fransisco and Sacramento California. I hope to get some sunrise pictures (depending on our schedule and where we’re at) along the way. I *definitely* intend to get a sunrise for Summer Solstice but I’ll have to wait until next week to find a vantage point.

This morning would have been a great time to be at the Overlook 20 minutes before the sunrise. The haze was doing two main things to the sun light. First, it was scattering the rays throughout the sky, causing the twilight atmosphere to light up substantially prior to the sunrise. The second thing was that it was also blocking most of the orange / yellow light, so the early morning sky had a bright pink / purple-ish tint to it.

Ault Park

I spent the first 20 minutes after sunrise in Ault Park. After watching the sun come up, and peering down into the valley at the thick foggy layer, I decided that I wanted to try out, for the second time, the new route that I “created” that takes me from Heekin Overlook to Lunken Airfield to the “Marina” to Alms Park and back to Mt. Lookout. I was feeling up to task of knocking out the 9 mile loop in under an hour. I am considering adding this route to the daily (or psuedo-daily) morning ritual. I think it would be neat to start at Ault Park, do the loop, and take pictures at the same landmarks along the way. It would be an extension to the existing Ault Park Sunrise project. The landmarks along the way would be:

  • Ault Park – Heekin Overlook
  • Linwood Public School – at the base of the hill under Ault Park
  • Lunken Airfield – the bench looking out at the sunrise over the airfield
  • Wilmer / Carrel Trail – the railroad art monument
  • The Ohio River Launch Club – the marina out on the Ohio River
  • Alms Park – Lunken Airfield Overlook

There are many other smaller, or auxiliary, landmarks along the way. Cemeteries, churches, the airport terminal, historic  homes and old industry. In fact it would be neat to make an Android or iPhone App that provided drop-dead simple ways to “check in” and upload a picture at each landmark. A kind of collaborative urban cycling picture project. There is enough diversity along the route, and it is relatively quick with low traffic, that I think a lot of people would enjoy riding it. Here’s a map of the route: Ault Park -> Lunken Airfield -> Ohio River Launch Club -> Alms Park

Speaking of bike routes, yesterday marked a new achievement for me. I biked to the University of Cincinnati’s Campus from Mt. Lookout. Google Maps provided me with a route that skipped most of the major roads and was almost entirely urban residential. It was an awesome, if not exhausting, experience. I’ve mapped the route (one-way) on mapmyrun. Mt. Lookout to the University of Cincinnati via Fairfax/Lincoln Ave. The way to campus took about 35 minutes and was, to my surprise, almost entirely uphill. The ride back, however, was fun and more than made up for any discomfort from the ride in the opposite direction. Almost entirely downhill (slight grade mostly), I was able to get home in about 20 minutes and for the most part maintain a decent speed on par with the light traffic. The traffic was almost non-existant in the morning when I left, and on the way back (around 4:30pm) there was moderate traffic but because 80% of the route is through residential areas, traffic was mostly at a minimum.

On the the sunrise.

Morning “Dawn”

The smoke / fog over on the left was obscuring the sun.


If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Linwood Public + Lunken + Marina —-> (more…)


Sunrise 51: Ault Park (Black Eyed Susan & The Dentist)

My favorite picture of the morning.

This morning was a quick trip up to the park! 6 months ago I made a dentist appointment for June 13 2011. I was feeling a bit masochistic so with a bite of dark humor I scheduled the appointment for as early as possible – 7:00am. “Haha that’ll be a surprise for my future self” I thought as I scheduled the morning visit. Deep down I was doing myself a favor by providing a reason to get up early on that fateful summer day. Fast forward six months and I find myself in the middle of project Ault Park Sunrise. How ironic it is, then, that my morning ritual had to be cut short so that I could make it to the Dentist. I’d like to think that my 6-month-younger self would have been pleased (and quite shocked) at my creative early morning ritual.

The Dawn Sky

The clouds are starting to light up ahead of the sun

I arrived at the park a bit early this morning. The sunrise was scheduled for 6:11am (we’re approaching summer solstice – the earliest sunrise of the year!) and I arrived at around 6:05am. I realized that as the sun has started coming up earlier and earlier in the past few weeks, I haven’t been adjusting my arrival time at the same interval. The dawn sky this morning was a perfect reminder of how part of the excitement of the sunrise comes from watching the light unfold across the clouds. It is hard to tell what kind of a show you’re going to get so you really just have to watch it happen.

There were some great light dynamics going on at the top edge of the cloud bank

Too bad I won’t get to stay until the end.

The sky this morning was clear and blue except for the cloud bank lying over the horizon. I was only able to stay for 20 minutes so I ended up leaving the park before the sun came up over the clouds. It would have been a good delayed sunrise, though, because the clouds were starting to light up nicely and there was some high contrast between the sky and earth. It was one of the mornings where the perfect time to watch the sun come up is about 40 minutes after sunrise. With all the recent storm activity I wasn’t quite sure what the morning sky would be like.

A peaceful shot of Lunken airport. No fog today!

For more pictures (and flowers) click to continue if you’re on the front page –> (more…)


Sunrise 50: Ault Park (Hot & Rainy)

This morning was just all around a hard time for me! I forgot to make my coffee last night, so that was the first thing that went wrong. I was up a bit late – which wasn’t that big of a deal – but paired with the group ride in the heat last night (we did a 20 milers out through Indian Hill) I was beat.

Pink Hazy Sunrise at Ault Park

There really wasn’t too much to report about Sunrise 50 which is a bit disappointing I suppose. I fell asleep twice at the overlook (haha). The sky was misty and gray, and there was small spits of rain and distant rumblings of thunder. A young couple sat down at the bench next to me and probably wondered what was up with the cyclist that couldn’t stay awake.

There wasn’t much fog down in the valley, and overall it was warm and wet.

The park crew was busy setting up for the big event this weekend, the Concours d’Elegance Car Show. There were tents all over the park in preparation for the several hundred (thousand?) attendants coming from all over to see the fancy old cars. I probably won’t be making it, personally, but if you’re into classic rare cars definitely check it out. You can get tickets online until 10:00pm Saturday night.

Also check out this new local website, venture pax. I haven’t used it much yet but it looks like a great resource for finding local bike routes, places for hiking, fishing, etc.


Sunrise 49: Ault Park (Storms to Come?)

An hour later the sunrise arrived

The trip up to the park this morning was pleasant if not a bit dark. There was a cloudy layer across the sky, a new development that must have occurred over night. I sat at the overlook and enjoyed the view out over the misty valley, listening to the birds and squirrels in the trees around me.

Overcast with thin patches exposing the atmosphere

The sunrise was non-existent behind the thick layer of clouds but the sky was actively moving around. After about twenty minutes, I started to notice that the ambient light seemed to be getting darker around me. The overlook seemed to be in shadows while out in the valley it was still a bright gray.

The wind picked up and gradient gray cloud was blown across the valley. It got dark fast, but that didn’t last very long.

I turned around behind me and saw that there were dark clouds coming. The wind picked up, a warm humid breeze, and the birds quickly died down their chatter – no doubt waiting in anticipation to see what the sky was going to do. The wind maintained a steady force for about fifteen minutes, gusting here and there and moving the dark clouds over my head and across the valley.

The high cumulus clouds were dancing in the atmosphere like giant ink blobs

Soon, however, it became apparent that the newly arrived clouds were more of a puffy cumulus type and they quickly pushed out the flat gray layers that were blocking the sun. In the upper atmosphere above me I watched as, ever so slowly, several inky formations started to appear against the light blue sky. This was all happening at a position in the sky much higher than the sun, so there were interesting shadows and illuminations that were caused by the sun’s rays coming in from “below” and behind the clouds.

Behind me, above the park, blue skies.

I realized that there might be a chance for a sunrise after all so I hopped on my bike and headed over to the arboretum. The formations were partially blocked by the trees at the overlook but in the lawn behind the pavilion the sky was open.

Ault Park’s Pavilion. I sat at a bench to see if the sun was going to show up

As the large cumulus clouds shifted about, there was a period of about 2 minutes where the faintest orange highlight slowly grew into a bright blaze as the sun came through an opening above the clouds. At exactly 55 minutes after true sunrise, I finally got a morning show. Sometimes you’ve just gotta wait it out.

Surprise Sunrise! (rp => n)

The last few days were full of clear skies in the morning. Today was different with a low cloud layer and moving cumulii. (I just made that word up). If I were to guess, I’d say that later today there is a good chance of some more dynamic pressure movement – namely a chance of thunderstorms :). Looking at the weather forecast it appears that I’m late to the party. As I write this the sun is shining through a bright blue/gray sky.


Sunrise 48: Ault Park (Looking Like Summer, Concours d’Elegance)

The red sunrise

I decided on my way to the park this morning that I was going to have a “light” day on the pictures. I felt like re-connecting to the first posts of the project, over 40 sunrises ago. And this is exactly what I did! The sunrise was peaceful, serene, and warm. The birds were chirping loudly and the squirrels were flitterpating. I saw several pairs of squirrels running around through the streets and loudly clamoring up and down the trees.

30 minutes post-sunrise, orange skies and misty mountains

It makes for an entertaining show – watching as the squirrels play a game of tag back and forth through the trees, no doubt a side effect of the female testing potential mates for traits that would help her young survive. I’ve noticed that Ducks seem to be the masters of this. There aren’t any Ault Park Ducks but I’ve watched several ducks down by the Ohio River and at lake behind our friends’ home. The females can take off in a tear, weaving and dodging between trees, swimming quickly around the boats and obstacles, and take off again. The female can be followed by anywhere from a single male up to a group of four or five. Every maneuver she makes sheds one from the pack, until at the end of the obstacle course a lucky male is left with the female’s attention all to himself. Their babies will, of course, have this predisposition for an intricate mating ritual, perpetuating the genes responsible for the behavior. Mr. Peacock would have something to say about picky females.

From Ault Park’s Lower Overlook

After about twenty minutes at the sunrise, I was joined by a gentleman who wanted to check out the sunrise. We ended up talking for about half an hour; a welcome break from my morning solitude of the past couple of weeks. Biking around checking out the neighborhoods is a great activity, but it is nice to switch it up a bit every once in awhile.

The gentleman, Bill, was a chauffeur for a driving company. He told me about all the big time executives that he interacts with on a daily basis, learning about their lives and their stories, before they disappear back out into the world forever. He said that being a driver is, in a way, kind of like being a barber or a bartender. In the solitude and privacy of a car, people relax and open up. Bill’s well-honed skills of listening to a stranger found a good match with my talkative nature, I only hope I didn’t hog the conversation too much.

Bill was probably the first person who I’ve had a detailed discussion about the sunrise project and morning rituals in general, outside of a person who discovered Ault Park Sunrise on their own or someone who I told directly. We even talked about an idea that he had about taking a picture of all the random places he travels to in a given week to pick up people. I imagine he has enough interesting stories to fill up several books!

One thing Bill told me about that I am going to try my best to check out is the upcoming car event at Ault Park. This Sunday there is a car show, one that sounds classy and features the traveling high-end rare classics. The event is the Concours d’Elegance and occurs every year in Ault Park. This year is their 34th year in Cincinnati. There are only a handful of locations in the United States that the Concours d’Elegance rotates through. Tickets look to be $20 pre-sale and you can buy them online up until Saturday night at 10:00pm (the event is Sunday). There looks to be something called the “Countryside Tour” which you can do for $35 per car (that sounds like a good deal if you’re allowed multiple people per car!) The ticket allows you to ride in one of these classic cars through the countryside of Ohio and Kentucky. Here’s the gallery page from the 2010 tour. Not sure yet if I’ll be in attendance but it sounds like a fun time!

It is really starting to feel like summer. The trees are thick with leaves and the air was humid and warm.


Sunrise 47: Ault Park (More Spring Blooms & Scented Geranium Garden)

Purple and Purple.

Sunrise Over The Valley

Orange Bloom. Love the center of it.

A harvestman. I love his white and black pattern.

This morning was another beautiful sunrise in the Cincinnati Valley. The sun seemed to come up about 10 minutes late from the scheduled time, something that bothers me when I think too hard about it but I know can’t be possible. In fact I didn’t even see the sun until about 6:25 due to the haze in the sky. By the time it made itself visible it wasn’t even that far above the horizon. Weird…

Looking at Armleder Park through the shallow mist.

Purple Sunrise through the clouds

A deep orange/red sunrise through the haze

I decided to stay in Ault Park this morning and enjoy the clear sunrise. With my recent bouts of wanderlust I haven’t had a great chance to get pictures in that small window that occurs after the sun is above the horizon but before it gets so bright that you can’t stare directly into it.

Zoom of the orange sun

Lookin’ at the layers of fog across the trees.

There is a small period of time, maybe 3 minutes, where the sky sheds the red/orange hue and takes on a brilliant orange gradient. Soon the sun light becomes strong enough to hurt the eyes and any pictures featuring the sun will be washed out. It is hard to guess when this window will occur, but that’s half the fun. On morning like today when the sky is clear but the humidity is high, the window occurred about 25 minutes after sunrise. On an overcast or foggy day, that window might not be for 45 minutes to an hour after the sunrise. On a low humidity day with no clouds, the window could be as early as 8 minutes after sunrise.

Canadian Geese

The Jet.

As I was standing at the overlook taking a final picture before the sun became too bright, two things happened in a row that provided perfect picture opportunities. The first thing was that a crew of canadian geese flew right into the sunrise as I happened to have the camera on and ready to go. About 10 seconds behind them came the familiar jet that took off from Lunken also into the sunrise. I’ve seen this jet probably 5 times now, sometimes I refer to it as the jet “with the wing tips folded up or down”. I think it is an old WWII jet but I’m not certain. I wonder where it has traveled to since I saw it last week.

Once the sun light started to become more intense I realized that it was another perfect morning for checking out the spring flowers. This time I ventured down into the arboretum along the tree-lined sidewalk.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue and see more pictures –> (more…)


Sunrise 45: Ault Park (Adopt-a-Garden Blooms, Young Roses, and Harvestmen)

I was as surprised as you, faithful reader, that I was able to get a picture of the valley and the sky without one of them being out of contrast.

A beautiful lily in the adopt-a-garden

What a beautiful rose! The lighting turned out perfectly on this sucker.

Waking up this morning was difficult. My body felt beat up even with 7.5 full hours of sleep. Last night I went on the group ride with Element Cycles. The route we chose was a new one, going down into Kentucky and over to Devou Park through downtown. It was absolutely beautiful, and really hilly. The climb up to Devou Park is no joke – about 2 miles at a 3.5% grade. Even with the uphill climbs (both at Devou Park and back up through Mt. Lookout) we did the 26 miles in 2 hours – averaging 13mph and peaking at probably 30mph on the downhills. It was an excellent workout and I probably only had about 5% left in the tank when we got back. Needless to say, it was a bit hard getting out of bed this morning.

Orange sun punching through the opening above the horizon

Vertical Sunrise

As I left our apartment I looked up into the sky and saw mostly overcast clouds. But there were spots light where the layer was thin, exposing the dark blue morning atmosphere. I took my time getting to the park, figuring that the sun would be non-existent this morning, but was pleasantly surprised to see that just above the horizon there was a familiar break in the clouds. The sun shone through the open sky for a few minutes after sunrise, casting a moving shadow across the cloud ceiling. The sun was a bright orange but the light was quickly absorbed by the patchy sky.

The clouds were looking well textured as the sun slipped behind the bank

I took the opportunity to simply sit and enjoy my coffee. I wasn’t in the most chipper of moods. Getting up early with fatigued muscles isn’t the most fun thing to do, but I was thankful that I wasn’t actually sore. I have the last 44 morning rides to thank for that 🙂

A view of the adopt-a-plot garden, very similar in shape to the garden of old roses

I love these flowers! Not sure of the species. They’re just finishing up their spring bloom.

Too bad I couldn’t get a clear shot! Before they bloom they look like little packs of chicklet gum.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue! —> (more…)


Sunrise 42: Ault Park (Spring Haze, Ants & Pillbugs)

An old prop plane with its wing tips folded up takes off from Lunken Airfield into the sunrise

This morning was a great start to the short holiday week. When I crawled out of bed, a bit stiff from a holiday weekend and slightly out of routine, I could hear the birds chattering about the hot day ahead. Today should be another scorcher with a high in the mid 90s. This morning, however, the day was still young and the temperature was a comfortable 65F. The atmosphere had a thick accent of haze, indicative of the high humidity we’ve had recently. I’m not surprised to see thunderstorms in the forecast for the week.

The fog was thick down in the little miami river valley. You could see the tops of telephone poles just barely popping above the surface.

The sun has drifted so far to the left that I no longer have an unobstructed shot. You can see it in the above picture just behind the tree, a dark reddish purple sphere.

I had to patiently wait for the sun to get this high above the tree. The camera doesn’t quite do it justice – the richness of the sun was a saturated magenta.

The hazy sky meant that the sun was visible but not blinding. A great morning to look directly into the sun without consequence… for the first five minutes at least.

The upper atmosphere didn’t have the deep blue that I’ve seen on the days with less humidity. It was more of a muted navy blue.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Ants & Pillbugs macro-style –> (more…)


Sunrise 41: Ault Park (John Quincy Adams, Clear Warm Skies)

Happy Memorial Day! This morning I took advantage of the holiday and slept in. Some friends of ours came in from out of town and we stayed up a bit late last night. I did, however, get the 41st sunrise in yesterday morning with the help of my friend Mike. Mike brought his bike along with him and we woke up early Sunday morning to catch the sunrise.

After two days of overcast stormy conditions, the sky cleared up nicely for Sunday’s sunrise. There were scattered clouds in the sky but the horizon was clear. The air was pleasant and a bit warm, indicating that the coming day would be a hot one. The high for yesterday and today hit around 92 F, a drastic change from the mid 40s that marked the cooler days last week.

The sunrise was a deep orange in the clear sky before the light was scattered by the clouds

A great sight after several days of overcast mornings

Timelapse Photo. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 40: Ault Park (Achievement Unlocked! and Alms Park Sunset #3 with Mountainous Cumulus Clouds)

The sunset from last night; a fitting picture for the 40th sunrise write-up considering today’s overcast stormy conditions provided a non-existent morning sun

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.

This morning was gray and overcast. A fitting environment for writing and looking back on the last 40 sunrises.

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.

Good old Lunken Airport in the distance, looking south/west

Classic time-lapse shot.

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…)


Sunrise 38: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Fog, Cumulus, Columbia-Tusculum, and a Clear Sunrise)

Behind Lunken Airfield after sunrise

This morning was downright beautiful. I woke up to a respectable fog in the area, something that always makes me excited for the morning ride. As I rode up to the park, I noticed that the air got more clear the further I went. This is an interesting trend I’ve picked up on – Mt. Lookout seems to get more fog than the peak of the overlook. Whether this is due to elevation (200ft difference), temperature, or wind I’m not sure.

Approaching the park

As I approached the park, the sky started to turn a familiar shade of orange. The sunset last night was marked with clear skies so I was hopeful that this morning’s sunrise would be the same. I wasn’t disappointed.

Foggy Dawn

Down in the Little Miami River valley the familiar thick fog was present. But there was an interesting difference this morning over the previous mornings. While the Eastern sky (towards the sunrise) was clear, and the fog was present throughout the entire valley, there was actually a thick low-lying cloud bank to the west. This caused a kind of dark floor to the sky over the lunken to the west.

The moon, out again and high in the air.

The pink cumulus over Lunken Airfield

The cloud bank provided this nice contrast against the upper cumulus clouds. They glowed a light pink at the opposite end of the arena from the sunrise. They also quickly disappeared as the moving cloud bank swept underneath them.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue reading! –> (more…)


Sunrise 37: Ault Park (Post-Storm Sunrise, Grassy Meadow & Young Berries)

I woke up this morning at 5:55am and hit the snooze button. I should have taken notice when my alarm first went off and I couldn’t hear it; perhaps snoozing wasn’t the best idea. We had a floor fan turned on that was generating lots of white noise, perfect for sleeping but not perfect for hearing a phone alarm on the lowest volume setting. I woke up in a fury at 6:21am, 3 minutes past sunrise. Was I too late?

Last night we had a behemoth of storms come through at around 8:00pm. Tornadoes were spotted in the sky up north and roofs were blown off of restaurants. I was actually out biking last night, likely feeling the itch after staying inside during the electrical armageddon of yesterday morning, and got up in the storm. Nothing gets the old legs pumping faster up the hills than running from a mega-storm. I was actually down by Lunken Airport last night when I noticed the dark thunder head rolling in from the west. My sister-in-law took a great picture of the storm moving about 50 miles up north in Dayton, OH:

I actually almost got blown off the bike a few times as I was cranking up the 250ft accent from the river basin to Mt. Lookout.

Back to the morning wakeup. I leaped out of bed and threw on my clothes. I looked outside – a light gray sky indicating a possible overcast scenario. Good! I thought. At least I won’t miss anything! I was out the door by 6:24am.

As I pushed up to the park, I noticed how sweet the air smelled. It wasn’t raining by now, and in fact the atmosphere and ambient lighting was getting brighter by the minute. The air had that after-rain smell to it, (I recently learned this is called petrichor) and the trees were still dripping. As I climbed the hill, I noticed that the sky had started to burst open in a light orange color. I pedaled as quickly as I could, mentally kicking myself for not being more prepared for a perfect “after-storm” sunrise. I’ve been noticing a lot of incoming google hits for phrases relating to “the sky after a storm” and “kinds of clouds after a storm” so I realized that this could be a great sunrise that I didn’t want to miss.

The bright orange sunrise. Little did I know that it wouldn’t last long. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


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

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

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

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

The Sunrise

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

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


Sunrise 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 🙂

The patchy foggy climb to the park

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.

Foggy Valley; dawn.

Foggy Valley; Armleder Park

The sky is just starting to turn orange. If you’re on the front page, please continue by clicking! –> (more…)


Sunrise 34: Ault Park (World War I Memorial, Lightning-Struck Tree, Unknown Conifer)

click for higher quality!

These overcast days have really begun to push my creativity. On a beautiful sunrise morning (hopefully like tomorrow’s if the forecast is correct!) it isn’t hard to get a couple of interesting unique pictures and call it a day. But on these mornings where the sky is dark and gray and everything looks the same as it has for the past five days, I find myself exploring areas of the park that I often overlook out of habitualness. Yesterday, for example, I found out that there were redwood trees in the park. Not the pacific northwest redwoods, but another kind of redwood that grows 100ft high none the less and is critically endangered.

This morning I also experienced another “first”. I met a nice woman who identified me as “the sunrise guy” – this is now the fourth of such encounters* – and she said that I was an inspiration to her new routine of getting up at sunrise and walking her golden retriever through the park. It was an exciting encounter and she even made the claim that this “sunrise movement” is going to catch on! Thanks Polly 🙂

* I probably forgot to mention it – but last Saturday at the Bike+Brew (specifically at the Lackman Bar in Over-The-Rhine) I actually met a guy who found out about Ault Park Sunrise from a post I submitted to reddit. I mentioned that I love the history of Cincinnati and asked him if he knew about Ault Park. He replied “hey that used to be a vineyard!”. I said “haha yeah! I just found that out myself because I’m doing this sunrise project…” and he replied “Oh! haha! I saw your website on reddit’s cincinnati section and thats how I knew it was a vineyard!”. I’m still recovering from that piece of mind explosion.

click for higher quality!Young cones on the conifer trees.

click for higher quality!The large conifer with a picnic bench underneath it.

As I entered the park this morning I stopped early and checked out the two large conifers that rise high above the playground on the west part of the park. I wondered if they, too, were redwood conifers. I don’t believe they are after inspecting the leaves. Also they are bearing small pine cones, something that I didn’t notice on the redwood. These pine cones are actually one of my absolute favorite “fruits” of the park, if you will. I collected several of them last year because they look so beautiful when they are just starting to grow. I didn’t even know what they were when I found them on the ground last spring, and the mystery wasn’t solved until almost a year later when I realized that the small fractal ball I held was actually a pine cone that had another couple of months of growth before it became mature. I actually have, sitting on my dresser at home, two sets of pine cones that I collected last year. One set is from these two conifers in Ault Park. They are large, green, and healthy with symmetrical features and fully developed leaves. The other two are from a park down in Hyde Park, where the trees are smaller and probably younger. The pine cones are small, a bit mishapen, and not as fully developed. Assuming that the trees are the same species and the cones were about the same age, to me it says that the Ault Park elevation, clean valley air, and low pollution provide the perfect environment for these large conifers. Perhaps they are Cedars??

click for higher quality!In a couple weeks they will be marble sized, perfect for collecting 🙂 (If you’re on the front page, click to continue – including the WWI memorial) (more…)


Sunrise 33: Ault Park (Another Rainy Day; Dawn Redwood Tree)

I have a morning appointment today so the trip up to the park was quick and pleasant. The air was again very wet and the sky was overcast. But it felt like this morning was a bit warmer than yesterday. It may be that I’m used to the cold already, or it may have been the humidity – but either way the morning was rather pleasant. The morning air was thick with humidity. It was the kind of humidity that is thick and sticky, where the acoustic sounds of the environment seem muffled and it feels more private as you move about through the park. It was almost foggy, but not quite. Armleder Park was mostly visible, giving me the impression that the haze was more evenly distributed rather than patches of thick fog.

I hung out at the overlook for a few minutes but once again got the itch to ride around through the park. The sky was pretty dark again and the trees were still dripping with rain or dew. I rode around to the back of the lawn where I checked out some of the tree displays and informational plaques. There is a specific species of conifer that has always drawn my attention but I haven’t taken the time to look at closely. I wondered if it is the same species of conifer that towers over the playground area and drops small little pine cones, but I can’t tell simply by the shape of this particular (smaller) tree. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)


Sunrise 32: Ault Park (Garden of Old Roses)

click for higher quality!
(Not sure what flower this is, but I really like it).

This morning was similar to yesterday morning in that the temperature is in the lower 40s (about 6-8 Celsius), except that today I was ready for it. Perhaps it was this preparedness that made the morning chill seem not too bad. Whatever the reason, I was determined to not let the thick overcast sky and the sharp bite of the wind put down my explorative mood. Today I set off on my friend Geoff’s Trek 4000 again, with its knobby tires and low gearing. I realized, after talking with Geoff last night, that in fact I had ridden the bike incorrectly yesterday morning. I commented on “how low the center of gravity was” on the bike, but what I really was talking about was how low to the ground I felt. As it turned out I rode the bike with the seat all the way down at the post – a position Geoff had set the seat to for storage purposes. After raising the seat about 8″, and suddenly feeling stretched out and more mobile, I set off towards the park at a much more comfortable pace. Eventually I’ll check out the “Garden of Old Roses” – one of the three lawns in the center of Ault Park, below the pavilion. The new growth in the garden is a bit young, having only been blooming for a week or two by now. I imagine in another month it will be exploding in color.

click for higher quality!

click for higher quality!The overcast cloud bank was thick. It was also relatively low to the ground. I lost most of the planes taking off from Lunken Airfield quickly as they rose up into the atmosphere. I decided that instead of sitting at the overlook, a location that has become familiar and comfortable, staring at the featureless gray sky, I would set out to the arboretum and have my morning coffee at one of the benches hidden back under the small trees. I set off for the pavilion to look for a photo subject or theme for the morning. Now that I have a new image processing script that takes the tediousness out of adding pictures to this post, I was prepared to be generous in the usage of my small camera. (Before my update to my script earlier this week, each picture would take, let’s say, 1 minute to add to a post individually. Now I can add all of them at once so it costs no time extra to take a few additional pictures).

click for higher quality!The kickstand-less Trek 4000. It is nice not having to worry about the gravel trails in the lawn, but the top speed is about half of my Fuji-S10s for the same effort up the hills.

click for higher quality!The sky was a dark gray; I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out the best lighting configuration with the camera. If you’re on the front page, please continue to see the roses and more. (more…)