Did you know that Cincinnati is actually in the same climate zone as the southern United States? It’s true. It’s also something I didn’t really consider, or think about, until I started this project. We’re in a northern tip of the Sub-Tropical Humid zone, which comes up from the South and just barely pushes north of the Ohio River.
I’ve spend the majority of my life growing up in central western Ohio (light blue in the map), where the summers are dry and hot and the winters are cold and full of snow. Although, being at the northern tip of this climate zone, we do get some serious snowfalls – something that as a Midwesterner I absolutely love. As I explore the parks and forests around the hills of Cincinnati, I find myself fascinated with the deep green and lush foliage. Even the grass in the local neighborhoods stays green and fresh, although I’m sure that is mostly due to the careful consideration of the homeowners. The fog that comes in from the river keeps the hillside forests wet and healthy. We even have an intense local kudzu population. Some friends of ours told me that Kudzu is also known as “The plant that ate the South”.
Why do I bring all of this up? I bring it up because this morning’s sunrise was exactly what I’d expect to see in a humid subtropic climate. It was another dark misty sunrise with a deep purple sun that slowly rose out of the gray cloud layer. It was a cool, dark, quiet morning in the park with the full moon setting high in the western sky.
An attempt to channel Sunrise 09’s iconic sunrise picture. Just isn’t the same with such a low-light sunrise!
(Self Plug: “like” Ault Park Sunrise on facebook!)
This morning was an experiment in the appreciation of dawn. I’ve been showing up to the sunrise a few minutes late over the past couple of weeks and I wanted to take the time to take in some of the subtle colors of the atmosphere before the sun comes up. I picked an excellent day to do this because the sky was cloud free and crisp, allowing the pre-sunrise light to accent the clear atmosphere quite well.
At 6:15am I pulled myself out of bed with the intention of catching the sunrise and opening act down at Lunken Airfield. I’ve been a bit lazy lately, allowing myself to snooze from 6:00am when my alarm goes off until 6:35am. With the sunrise being even later, around 6:42am, I have started getting comfortable with sleeping in a bit. Well, not today!
I rode down Mt. Tusculum into East End and arrived at Lunken Airfield at about 6:35am. The sun has crept further to the right along the horizon. Interestingly enough, this means that at Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook, the sun is coming into view without being obstructed by the ridge to the left. At Lunken Airfield the sun has moved from the clear opening on the horizon to behind the ridge to the right. Although, to be fair, there is no bad location down at Lunken Airfield! Due to the sun coming up behind the ridge, “true sunrise” was delayed by about 18 minutes. This gave me a full 20 minutes to enjoy the subtle lighting of the beautiful clear blue sky over Lunken Airfield. I haven’t been this early to a sunrise for a long time, I’m embarrassed to say, so it was a great change up in the routine.
This morning was chilly! Holy crap. I think it was seriously like 55F down in the basin. I could have worn a sweatshirt and been just fine. My ears hurt when I got back home from the cold! The cold air, however, made for a beautiful bright clear sky sunrise. The sunrise was a brilliant bright blue color and the skies were crystal clear, likely a side effect of this cold front. The pinks were almost non-existent, as I’ve come to expect in a sky with no clouds, and the sun came up over the ridge blasting a powerful yellow light.
One of the neat things about this morning’s sunrise was the bird activity. As soon as it became obvious that the sun was going to be coming up in about 5 minutes, the field seemed to explode in airborne activity. At first I could see swarms of bats flying about, likely grabbing a final snack before retiring for the day. There were also swarms of sparrows, swallows, and robins. Oh, and also airplanes. The airport was busy this morning.
On my approach back up the impossibly steep Stanley Rd, the large cumulus looms in the background. Also gives you an idea of the steepness of Mt. Tusculum, a climb I have to make every time I visit Lunken Airfield!
This morning was a scorcher! It was one of the few mornings where I actually felt like I had jumped into a pool by the time I got home from the ride. Part of it certainly had to do with the fact that I had thick basketball shorts on with a cotton t-shirt, but typically it doesn’t feel like walking out into a sauna!
I rode up to Alms Park again, today. I was feeling pretty good and wanted to climb the Alms Hill once more. This morning’s sky was an interesting one because it felt overcast but also had spots of clear skies. I noticed that the sunrise was hidden behind a bank of clouds but at the same time it looked like I had blue skies above me. I also was wondering why there wasn’t any fog around as I would have expected with this morning’s dew point being only 2 degrees away from the ambient temperature. But I think I figured it out!
We’ve had some storm runs through the state, particularly up north. About 80 miles north of us, through Dayton and Columbus Ohio, there were some serious pressure systems that moved through the area. I imagine this changed the pressure of the entire region. With my non-existent weather theory experience, I’d like to think that the pressure prior to the storms was high enough to “press” the fog down into the bottom regions of the valley. Now that the pressure systems have done their thing, the fog is actually a few thousand feet up above Alms Park. And that would make sense, right? If everywhere except for the sky directly above me looked gray and hazy, it would appear that there was indeed fog – it was just way up above me :).
A beautiful white flower fights for room among the native vines. I think the vines are from the old vineyards that have gone feral. They’re not breeding for space not for grapes. By early fall the hillside will be a vine blanket.
With the sunrise being on the weak side, and the sky still dark 10 minutes after sunrise, I decided to hop down to Lunken Airfield via Columbia. As it turns out, the weather changed it up a bit and the sky cleared out. By the time I was at Lunken, about half an hour after sunrise, the sun was able to break through some of the larger cumulus clouds that rose out of the horizon. Nothing too impressive, but any color beats an overcast sky :).
One thing that I find interesting is how much I am enjoying riding through the old neighborhoods in the river basin (map). Every single time I ride through Columbia/Tusculum, East End, and Linwood I find something new. East End is actually pretty big relative to the small sections that are technically Columbia-Tusculum (and even smaller, Linwood). There are so many old buildings that have been re-purposed or sit empty. It is such a fascinating example of three small towns that at one time had their own economy and dense populations, but have since simply turned into quiet residential areas. Some parts lay in abandonment, others are well kept and lush with gardens. I believe it is of critical importance to think about how the construction of Columbia Parkway, the large 4-lane through-way that runs from Downtown Cincinnati to Mariemont and beyond (through East End, Columbia, and Linwood). Now-a-days most of the traffic through this area are local residents trying to get up to Columbia Parkway. The side effect is that River Road provides an excellent bike route to Downtown Cincinnati.
Most young people (transplants) that I know who live in Mt. Lookout and the area have never been through historic East End. But why should they? There are very few businesses other than the bars and restaurants that sit in the small region at the intersection of Delta and Columbia Parkway. The only reason I have explored East End, Columbia, and Linwood is because it is a great place for a quiet bike ride outside of rush hour.
The thing that this really makes me think about, in general, is just how influential the automobile is in the shaping of urban centers. Here’s the thing. I get the impression that the Columbia area and Linwood at one time, maybe fifty years ago, was a shining example of a healthy urban area. The fact that the old Italianate Cincinnati Public Library is located on Eastern Ave is enough to allude to the local culture that at one time supported a healthy art district. Now-a-days the library sits empty. In fact I only know it used to be a library because of the architecture and by talking to local residents. It is well kept and looks beautiful, but I believe it is mostly used as a venue for weddings. There are several schools in the district, one of which is already sitting empty. These structures all date back to sometime in the early part of the last century.
I am continually interested in thinking about the potential future of the area once the Little Miami Bike Path gets connected through to Downtown. In the future of my fantasy world, East End will go through a revitalization that is only possible through the very reason that the businesses left in the first place. Low volume automobile traffic. If Eastern Cincinnati’s young population (and bike culture) continue to grow as they have been in the past few years, I hope a critical threshold will be reached. If there is any place in Cincinnati to settle a “cycling neighborhood” outside of the urban core in Downtown, I think it would be in East End. There seems to be plenty of space (for now), lots of old business buildings, river view, access to many places by bike (Ault & Alms Park, Lunken Airfield Loop, Armleder Park Loop, Northern Kentucky, and Downtown) and history. Oh, by the way, in this fantasy world I’ll be running Eastern Cincinnati’s first brewery (based heavily on bike and urban culture with access to the bike trail) in one of the turn-of-the-century Italianate commercial buildings. I’m calling it now, Dibs!
It’s like a little forgotten section of Eastern Cincinnati. But then again, so many small villages inside the 275 loop have suffered the same fate. At least so many areas in Columbia, Linwood, and East End seem to have a healthy sense of community. There are many run down buildings but only a handful seem to be outright abandoned. I hope no East End residents take offense at my “outsider looking in” perspective.
Today I found the old “East End Bank Building” sitting next to another building that actually had a name. Something like the “Fredrick” or “Douglas” building. Not sure. No pictures, I’ll save it for a more thorough exploration of the area. Both likely from the turn of the century. I’ve rode past them dozens of times now and never noticed them.
I overheard the weather guy last night say that this week would be hot, wet, and with lots of thunderstorms. To me this means two things: 1) I might get wet out there in the mornings, and 2) Fog!
This morning was the perfect blend of fog and clear skies, with a touch of purple cumulus that showed up just before I left Alms Park. The ride to Alms Park is more steep than Ault Park so I typically save it for a particularly beautiful day, or as was the case today, when I want to get a challenging workout in. I skipped last Friday because there was a storm in the area. But if I am to be honest with myself – I think I just wimped out! We had a late night (Amanda had a softball game down in East End and the after party ended up coasting through the night) and it was dark and wet.
This morning’s trip up to Alms Park was a pleasant one indeed. The fog was thick down in the valley and especially on the right side, looking out over the overlook, where the Ohio River’s fog patch was creeping over into Lunken Airport. The park itself had a hazy mist about it but fortunately it wasn’t enough to drown out the sunrise.
The greenery was lush. Seriously, the Cincinnati forests are so healthy right now after all of this rain. I keep remembering the span between Sunrise 10 and 30 where it seemed almost every single morning was an overcast storm.
This is the “Lunken Overlook”, although it has no official name. The grass lawn is well kept and allows us to see right down into Lunken Airport. At this point in the morning I was surprised to see several runners out jogging around Alms Park. I think Alms Park might get more morning activity than Ault Park, although it probably also has to do with the fact that there is only one road through Alms so it appears to be more compact when in reality Ault Park simply has more room to roam.
The sun has started to rise. A deep orange color is apparent through the thick haze. I found out that my camera has “fixed aperture” that is dependent on the zoom. So the only way for me to “increase” aperture (f-ratio) is to zoom in. Weird in a way, but it does feel nice now that the aperture selection isn’t “random”. I imagine that this is the reason why I am able to get the lines of cloud through this early morning sun.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue —> About 16 pictures total 🙂 (more…)
A zoomed shot of the sunrise. It is amazing the difference in size when there is no humidity to absorb the light. The tiny CCD on my camera has a hard time figuring out what to do in the center of the light orb.
This morning was another beautiful spring morning. The air was noticeably cooler and more clear. The humidity seemed to be pretty low which meant that today’s sunrise had a different palette to it. Without the haze in the atmosphere, the sky was brighter and the sun was more powerful. The morning dawn sky had scattered clouds and upper atmospheric haze that provided a different view. I decided to head up to Alms Park again, just like yesterday, to get a direct view of the sun. Currently Alms Park provides the best view of the sun, at least until we’re on the other side of summer solstice (three weeks away). I like the challenge of trying to get up to the top of Alms Park as quickly as possible, even though it typically leaves me gasping and with shaky legs.
Late Dawn Sky above St. Ursula Villa on the way to Alms Park. The stratus clouds provided an excellent highlight to the atmosphere. I believe there was a healthy mixture of cirrus and altocumulus clouds. Although I am really just guessing.
My young deer friend hanging out in Alms Park. As I approached the park she seemed interested in my flashing bike light. I got within 20 feet of her, moving cautiously, but she eventually decided to run off into the forest.
Notice how much more yellow the sun is compared to yesterday. This is probably due to the humidity being lower today than yesterday. The more rays of light that are blocked before reaching our eyes, the less intense the color of the sun is. Less intense apparently means close to purple.
(If you’re on the front page, click to continue –>) (more…)
After visiting Lunken Airfield yesterday morning, I thought that it would be nice to mix it up and try to catch the sunrise on the bike path that circles the airport. I set my alarm for 5:50am, giving myself about 25 minutes with a snooze to get down to Lunken. The sky had a shine of light orange and a mix of clouds so I wasn’t sure if it would be a worthwhile endeavor or not. There was the chance that there would be thick fog and I wouldn’t even be able to see the sky from down in the river basin at the airport. I decided the risk was worth it and headed down the mountain to the pre-glacial Ohio River valley where Lunken Airport snuggly sits underneath the Alms Park lookout.
On the right of the Lunken Terminal there is a levee that runs south along the western side of the air field. On top of the levee is the first leg of the 5 mile bike trail. There is a thick line of trees on either side of the trail. To the inside of the trail, the airfield side, there are several generous cutouts in the forest that allow you to look head on into the three main runways. There are also several groups of benches, both at the beginning of the trail and at the back corner of the trail, that provide a great resting place to watch planes come in and take off.
As I approached t the airfield I decided to pass the first set of benches that I sat at yesterday morning to continue about a mile down the trail to the benches that sit snugly at the south west corner of the field. The runway that intersects those benches is known as the “jet runway” so I was hoping to see some commuter jets come in or take off over me. I didn’t realize at the time that the sun would no longer be head on.
The lights that I can see from Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook – up close. Check out the Madeira apartment building in the background. That sucker is far away but you can see it anywhere on the east side if you look for it.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Beautiful shots of the blue cumulus skies that showed up a bit later –> (more…)