Sunrise 110: Lunken Airfield (Ohio River Fog, Ides of March?)
This morning was another foggy sunrise in Cincinnati. I had to make a choice when I got up this morning. I could tell that there were clear skies above me but around the edges of the neighborhood there were patches of fog. I could chance seeing a clear open sky sunrise at Ault Park, or drop down into the Ohio River Valley and visit Lunken Airport in the fog. I haven’t been down to Lunken in a couple weeks so I decided to check it out. As I rode down the 400ft descent past Alms Park, the air slowly became thick with humidity until I reached the basin. When I popped out onto Eastern Ave and pedaled past the late 1800s river town business buildings, schools, and churches, I was soon engulfed in a thick, freezing cold, but quiet fog coming off of the Ohio River. The temperature was about 38F or so and I forgot to put on gloves. My bike had water condensation from the air, and it made my hot coffee that much more enjoyable.
There was no chance at seeing the sunrise this morning, so I enjoyed the fog and the peace and calming that it brings. It’s funny how fog tends to amplify some sounds and muffle others. I could barely hear the traffic or the hum of the commuter planes waiting for the fog to clear up, but I felt like I could hear the gossip of every Canadian Goose from miles around.
The only reason I bring up the “Ides of March?” in the title of this post is because I recently saw the movie Ides of March featuring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney. I’m not much of a political drama kind of guy, but I sure did enjoy recognizing all of the neighborhoods and cubbies that were showcased in the background of the movie that is set in Cincinnati. There is one specific scene where one of the actors (I can’t remember who) is getting on a plane at Lunken Airfield. That scene kept flashing through my head as I stared at the terminal building in all of its art deco glory. I couldn’t find an actual clip from the movie, but if you check out the very brief flash at 47s of the official trailer, you can see Ryan Gosling walking through a gate onto an airplane. For all I know, it’s one of the airplanes I see coming in most mornings from Ault Park. In that scene, the terminal is behind us (and was just shown but the trailer doesn’t have that part) and the Little Miami River and levee is in the background. Just a bit of fun trivia.
Approaching Lunken Airfield is the old railroad that runs through East End. One day this may be a bike trail that connects downtown to Mariemont and beyond.
The parking lot outside Lunken Airfield, servicing the trail head for cyclists, roller bladers, and joggers
Welcome to Cincinnati! This scene is featured in the Ides of March.
Remember earlier when I linked to the video of Ryan Gosling hopping on a plane in Ides of March? This is the gate that he is walking through.
The “yard” of Lunken Airfield.
This is the small access road that runs along the airfield, disappearing into the fog.
A lone walker, stern in his dedication to his pedestrian ways, walks into the fog.
Sometimes the fog creeps me out. If I were some kind of large creature of the night, I would definitely feel a bit more comfortable creepin’ around in the dense fog.
On the way back home I pass by St. Stephen’s Church. I’ve tried on several occasions to take a decent picture of the steeple but the sky is always bleached out. The fog provides a nice soft backdrop. It’s a classic italianette style, something that you can see all over this area in the architecture of the buildings that were constructed during the late 1800s.
By the time I got back to Mt. Lookout Square, the fog had actually crept in from the valley and it was denser than when I left a half hour earlier. It isn’t often that the fog makes it this far inland.
This is the steeple of Our Lord Christ the King Catholic Perish & School on Linwood Ave. It’s positioned well so you can see it anywhere on Linwood Ave or in Mt. Lookout Square. Here we see it catching the first rays of sunlight that are penetrating the fog.
Tall & Skinny Jesus says “Peace, dude”. The 15 cars that were waiting at the traffic light ten feet away were probably wondering what I was up to. Or they didn’t notice at all.
Continuing up Linwood toward Ault & Alms Park, I couldn’t help but taking this final picture. I was hoping that tree to the left showed brighter. It is just blazing in red color. I need to find out what kind of tree it is.
Sunrise 108: Alms Park (Fog & Century Oaks)
Looking down the hill from Alms Park.
The base of this huge century oak tree is wider than my bike is long. Almost two of my bikes, in fact.
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 107: Ault Park (Cold, Wet, Signs of Light)
I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to head up to the park this morning. Rumor had it that there was a small chance of breaking skies so I figured it was worth the bet. The morning sunrise was quiet and calm, and I actually did get a bit more of a show than I expected considering the recent three days of wet rainy mornings. When I left the apartment to head up to the park, the atmosphere had a dark shade of gray and it looked like there was no hope of seeing a sunrise. When I started climbing the hill, however, I saw some hints of light through the backyards of the local homes. As it turned out, there were several patches clearing up above Lunken Airport, but unfortunately the clear patches were not far enough east to allow the sun to make an appearance. Either way, it was a pleasant, but cold – about 42F, morning and my hot thermos of coffee came in handy!
A morning like this reminds me of the first few sunrises in early April.
I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Fall Back”, when day light savings ends. It’ll be nice to get out for another 7:00am sunrise before winter sets in.
Looking out across Lunken Airfield where the sky is showing signs of clearing up. Interestingly enough, the atmosphere did not change at all in the 20 minutes I was at the overlook. There seemed to be no wind at all.
I caught a rather large jet taking off from Lunken as it crossed through the bright patch of sky.
Kind of a weird picture, but I was trying to capture just how dark and gloomy the left side of the horizon was. The sun is lost somewhere in that gray mess.
Armleder Park. To the right we can see the Mt. Washington water tower, known for its Art Deco style.
Sunrise 106: Ault Park (Colorful Sunrise & Autumn Acorns)
An airplane approaches Lunken Airport at sunrise
I got another lucky break this morning for Sunrise 106. The forecast called for both rain and mostly cloudy conditions for this AM (although the forecast has since changed to accommodate a more sunny outlook for the week). The atmosphere ended up being clear with whisps of a low-lying cloud slurry, one of the best combinations for a pretty sunrise. The clouds help to reflect different colors and phases of the sunrise light as the sun comes up over the horizon.
So far the weather has really been great this Autumn. I’d much rather have a week of overcast and gloomy weather followed by a week full of bright clear skies and dynamic morning sunrises. These sunrises feel a lot like the spring sunrises, except that in the spring there seems to have been more of the puffy cumulus type clouds. The morning temperature started off chilly – around 40F – and it looks like today will be another warm one with the temperature rising into the mid 70s.
Over the weekend my wife and I visited family in Dayton . On the way back we swung through Waynesville, OH to explore some of the antique furniture malls. I found a couple of really neat “Cincinnati Park” themed postcards with postmarks dating back over 100 years. I’ll share them on here sometime this week. One of them features the Elsinore Arch and the other, I think, features the Twin Lakes. I’m going to go find the location that the pictures were taken and see what it looks like today. I’m really excited to own these two postcards because they’re in the same artistic style that I keep running across in my Internet Travels I embark on while doing research for this project. Cincinnati Views has a great archive of many of them, although I still have to search it to see if mine have already been documented. Stay tuned 🙂
Briefly, here’s a gallery I found while searching for postcard pictures. Lots of artistically rendered Cincinnati greeting cards.
Just before sunrise. After stopping at UDF to get my coffee on free-refill-Monday, I made it up to Heekin overlook just in time.
Looking out at the sunrise from the lower overlook.
A vertical picture showcasing the gradient into the dark blue of the upper atmosphere.
A close up of the sunrise. At this point the sun is being directly obfuscated by the cloud bank.
Acorns are all over the place under the oak trees surrounding Heekin Overlook
(A widescreen version). Browns are the color of choice here.
Sunrise 105: Ault Park (Suprise! Clear Skies)
Honestly, I didn’t expect much out of this morning’s sunrise. It’s been stormy and overcast for the past few days and last night our softball games were cancelled due to rain. When I woke up and saw the familiar warm glow of the twilight sky through the trees in our backyard, I realized that sometime during the early morning the sky cleared up. Even the forecast last night called for rainy and cloudy skies today. Weather is weird like that sometimes.
The morning started out chilly and ended up ice cold! As the sun came up and began to stir up the atmosphere, the wind picked up and shook the trees. It ended up being what I’d consider to be a “classic” autumn morning – chilly, clear skies, and a bit of a breeze.
Continuing in the vein of short updates (late sunrise times push my posts too far into the morning!), Sunrise 105 is another brief and sweet one. In a couple of weeks when day light saving ends and the sunrise comes up before 7:00am again, there will be a bit more time. I’m looking forward to it!
There were some light clouds just above the horizon that were changing colors along with the atmosphere.
Heekin Overlook. Lots of leaves on the ground, but the valley forest is still mostly green.
The light was really strange this morning. Either the sky was completely bleached out, or the foreground was completely black.
It’s hard to capture all of the colors that a clear sky has to offer on my little camera. Under the canopy of the shedding oak trees, the view out across the valley is bright and orange.
Half-staffed flag and the moon.
20 minute later, after the wind picked up. The moon moves quickly. About this time I saw two young red tailed hawks floating around through the gardens. The larger one was probably the same one I saw earlier this spring @ Sunrise 10.
Looking down Observatory Ave with the sun coming up behind me. This was about the time it was getting icy cold.
This little “park” is always decorated for the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s maintained by the Cincinnati Parks or if it is a local resident.
Sunrise 104: Ault Park (Quiet & Calm, Neighborhood Ash Trees)
I was hoping for a bit more color out of the sky this morning, but in the end I got a cool, quiet, and dark sunrise. Last night’s sunset was really pretty with lots of color and a sprinkling of light whispy cloud cover. It looks like our streak of pure clear skies is being challenged by a change in weather. The forecast for today still puts us at mostly clear skies, so I’m curious what the rest of the week will bring.
Even though it was darker than ideal in the park, I took the chance to document the pretty Ash trees that line the road by Heekin Overlook. I waited a few days too long and they’re mostly done shedding their leaves, but I realized that at a minimum I needed to get a picture of them because it is possible that they only have a few years of health left in them. I covered the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle a bit in sunrise 102.
It’s amazing how quickly the autumn colors are marching in. Summer is behind us now. With all the rain we got this year I imagine the forest will be among the most colorful in recent years.
The dark morning @ Heekin Overlook.
Behind me, to the west, there were open skies and shades of light pink and yellow. Out to the east, towards the sunrise, there was a low lying bank of thick cloud that blocked almost all of the morning light. That’s OK though, it was a great morning to watch the squirrels scurry about trying to collect all the falling acorns.
A bit of a dark picture, but these are the Ash trees that line the road. They are among the first trees to completely shed their leaves. I hope this is a species specific trait, but I fear that this is due to their probable Ash Borer Beetle infection. It could also be a side effect of the treatment that the park service has them on to prolong their inevitably doomed life :(. It is my understanding that there is nothing you can do to save these guys. It appears the park service hasn’t given up yet, though, because so far there are no new young trees planted along side these aging ashes.
Heading out of the park, I notice that the western sky has several patterns and colors. I think the rule of thumb is that if you want to see what the sunrise colors were 15 minutes ago, look at the western sky. The opposite is true with the sunset: If you want to see what the sunset will look like in 15 minutes, check the eastern sky.
On the way home I found a young Ash tree that still has its full set of leaves. We can see the color is a burnt red that fades into a light yellow. I can see why the tree is called ‘ash’. As the colors fade into the mostly yellow shade, the leaves begin to droop. They do sort of look like they’re barely hanging on, like whisps of newspaper rising in a heat column above a bonfire.
Sunrise 103: Sawyer Point & Downtown Cincinnati (Sunrise Skyline, Riverboats, Kayaks)
As the atmosphere takes on a distinct shade of yellow, I arrive at the eastern edge of Sawyer Point coming into downtown Cincinnati.
Rowers heading up the Licking River and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in the distance
A sailboat and the Reds Stadium. Featuring Carew Tower and the Great American building.
This morning’s update is a doozie! This is actually yesterday’s sunrise but I got carried away on such a pretty day and took way too many pictures. I didn’t have time to finish the processing yesterday, so it’s coming at you a day later. I retraced much of the route I took during Sunrise 9 in April. Has it really been 6 months?
I woke up Sunday morning with only 5 hours of sleep under my belt. We were out late for a friend’s birthday party the night before but I had already made up my mind that I was going to take advantage of this amazing October weather. I originally set my alarm for 6am, which was way too early considering sunrise was 7:41am, and accidentally slept for another hour. It worked out perfectly and I was thankful for the late sunrise time. I was out the door with my bike and coffee by 7:00am, armed with the goal of seeing the sunrise over the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati. I ended up being swept up in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer run/walk where over 12,000 people came out in the 15th annual event. The walk provided a rich texture to the acoustic backdrop to my four hour morning exploration of Sawyer Point and Newport, Kentucky because the speaker system could be heard anywhere along the banks of the Ohio River. I ended up hanging out in General James Taylor park in Newport, Kentucky, a park that until now I had no idea existed. With nothing but water and open air between myself and the headquarters of the walk about half a mile away or more, I listened as the walker told their survival stories, did the electric slide, and got themselves pumped up. The timing of my morning ride couldn’t have been more ideal because by the time I got to Sawyer Point, the first of the crowd was already starting to show up. I ended up getting stranded in Kentucky for about an hour as I waded, slowly and patiently, back to Ohio on the Purple People Eater Bridge through the torrent of thousands of pink-clad people. I actually found it kind of hilarious because I never considered how dependent I was on the only pedestrian bridge that links Newport and Sawyer Point!
While hanging out at General James Taylor Park in Newport, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River, I was greeted with the breathtaking view of the Cincinnati Skyline at sunrise. And a beautiful sunrise it was. I had known that I wouldn’t have an excellent view of the eastern sky so I had planned to wander around looking for a strategic spot to drink my coffee and enjoy the crisp and clear autumn sunrise. While chillin’ at the park, I saw a team of rowers practicing on the river, observed the local fishermen and watched a barge barrel down the river and do some impressive maneuvers as it banked into the Ohio River. The BB Riverboat also made an appearance and there was even a small sailboat that moved gracefully throughout my panoramic view of the skyline.
I’ve always loved the Cincinnati Skyline but Sunrise 103 really helped to solidify that feeling for me. I’ll go on record as saying that of the cities I’ve visited in my relatively inexperienced travel ventures, Cincinnati’s Downtown Skyline has to be one of the most beautiful skylines in the country, if not the world. Every city’s skyline is unique and beautiful in it’s own right, of course, but I feel like Cincinnati’s has the perfect combination of several properties.
For one, it’s relatively small. You can “see” the entire skyline without having to pan around. I can take it all in with a single view.
Second, What’s a skyline without a proper view? The view from the Kentucky side banks of the Ohio River is seriously amazing. The river and air is open and the banks in Kentucky are not overdeveloped by any stretch, providing easy access for anyone wanting to take it in.
Third, the architecture really tells a story, although I imagine this is common with many cities. You’ve got several remnants from “Old Cincinnati”, the late 1800s boomtown that was rivaling Manhatten with it’s urban density. The PNC building and Carew Tower (which was used as a model for the Empire State Building) rise to the western edge of the skyline. As I gaze at the buildings, I can imagine what a magnificent sight this must have been in the early 1900s. It isn’t too hard to ignore the Great American Insurance building (for now). The ending animation (35seconds forward) of the evolution of the New York Skyline in the movie Gangs of New York really made me aware of how the skyline of a city can tell historic story. I also like that we can see both the Bengal’s and Red’s stadiums as well as the US Bank Arena. There is the new Great American Insurance building, a shining example of modern architecture. A quick side note on the GAI building though. I like to think of the GAI as a young punk business executive. On one hand, it stole the “tallest building” title from Carew Tower, which held it for over 70 years. That’s OK though, progress marches on. It’s a beautiful building! It just makes me a bit nostalgic because I have a special place in my heart for Carew Tower and it’s legacy. They did pay respect, however, in the form of keeping Carew Tower at a higher elevation as to not upset the balance of the skyline. Yesterday morning, however, I realized something else! Something that I probably wouldn’t have thought about except through the contextual lens of this project. The Great American Insurance Building is aligned perfectly in such a way as to entirely block out Carew Tower from getting a view of the sunrise! I watched in a partial trance as the shadow of the GAI’s tiara moved from the top of Carew Tower down to the bottom. I’m being a bit dramatic, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from envisioning a quirky anthromorpized prime time sitcom featuring all of the buildings in Cincinnati’s Skyline living together in a small London flat and the tension between Carew and Great American being thick enough to cut with a knife. Now that I think about it, maybe I spent a bit too much time staring at the skyline… 🙂
As it turns out, the James Taylor park in Newport Kentucky is a memorial to a defensive battery that protected Cincinnati from the “Indian Wars” in the early 1800s, and later provided the final defense against an approaching Confederate Army during the Civil War. Whenever I find out about pieces of trivia such a this, I always think about the classic well-deserved nickname for Cincinnati: “The Gateway to the South”.
Some of these pictures are a bit redundant. The lighting was so accommodating and there was a lot going on. I am just throwing them all up on here, as usual, and letting the reader figure out which pictures they like the most (if any!).
When I left, the sky was dark but showing a hint of light. Looking East down Columbia Parkway in East End.
A blurry view down the Ohio River of the Cincinnati Skyline. I’m always so impressed with how much distance I can cover so easily on my bike.
The unfolding of a sunrise in a clear sunrise takes about 40 minutes. This morning was no different! The 25 minute ride to downtown was far from dull! I felt like I was racing the sun to Sawyer Point.
Another blurry view across the bend in the river.
I always get a full look at this building. Cincinnati Water Works, constructed in 1907. I finally ran into someone whose father works for the city. It turns out that the building is very much used today, but the stone wall that runs around the perimeter was built for “homeland security reasons”. Damn it. It’s so ugly.
Behind me, the atmosphere has started to show some signs of red. Better hurry along now!
St. Rose Church on Eastern Ave. If that clock is right, I’ve got 15 minutes to spare.
If you’re on the front page, click to see the rest of this post. About 73 pictures total! (more…)
Sunrise 102: Ault Park (Ash Trees, Beechmont Dragstrip, Project Autumn Tree)
The weather this week in Cincinnati has been downright beautiful. After the couple weeks of overcast and stormy skies, we’ve been blessed with a streak of clear skies with cool mornings and warm afternoons. This feels very much the same as biking in the early spring at the start of this project because the mornings are chilly – between 40 and 55F – but the afternoon warms up to the high 70s.
This morning in the park was another pleasantly cool and misty morning. The Cincinnati Fog made an appearance but stayed down in the lower basin of the valley, providing a true clear sky sunrise. These clear sky sunrises are a beast unto themselves because of how early the sky lights up, and how quickly after sunrise the oranges give way to the bright yellows of a full day sun.
I arrived at the overlook this morning about 15 minutes before sunrise, which is now somewhere beyond 7:40am it seems, and the horizon was already overflowing with a deep orange gradient. I went out in a tshirt this morning, braving the chilly elements. I found that the 45F temperature didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I could have used a light pair of gloves, but overall it wasn’t uncomfortable. The first warm cup of Trader Joe’s medium roast coffee certainly helped.
I met Dave and Penny, a gentleman from Mt. Washington and his young golden retriever. Dave filled in some information about the old drag strip and the beechmont levee. I didn’t actually realize that Beechmont Ave. was built on top of a levee. I know that there is a levee system between Lunken Airfield and the Little Miami River, but what I didn’t realize is that the levee takes a sharp turn and continues toward Mt. Lookout, running between Armleder Park and Lunken Airfield. Dave said that in the 1970s when he originally moved to Mt. Washington, there were no trees on the levee so it was obvious. Now, however, the forest has matured and it is harder to see it. Interestingly, however, Dave mentioned that “Old Beechmont Ave” still exists in pieces at the foot of the levee on the Armleder Park side. That old drag strip that I learned about over the summer utilized the pavement that was once part of old Beechmont. That makes a lot of sense, thanks Dave!
One final thing before I post the few pictures from this morning’s sunrise. I have a new idea for a focus for the remainder of this Autumn’s sunrise posts. As the Cincinnati forests change their coats into their autumn shades, I’m finding myself picking out patterns in the tree-lined background to my morning rides. Just as I observed the various species of trees break out into bloom in a well syncronized seasonal change into spring, I’m noticing the many local species of trees that are changing colors (or even blooming) together while their green brethren hold out until they are ready. I’d like to focus on a specific species of tree for a morning and find all the locations in the neighborhood where this tree has found a home. In the forest, in yards, and placed in the park and the city boulevards by the park service.
One specific tree that has piqued my interest has been the ash tree. After talking with Aaron the horticultural, who takes care of the gardens at Ault Park, about the ash beetle’s western-moving front across the region and the defensive (but inevitably futile) measures they’ve implemented in the park, I’m finding myself seeking out local ash trees if for no other reason than to create a memory of a tree that my grand children may very well not know in their lifetimes as a native tree. They’re also known for their beautiful fall display, and I find it sad because many of the ash trees that I’ve found so far seem dull and withering. It is apparently of high probability that most of the trees I’ve seen so far are already infected with the beetle and there are no known ways to cure the tree. The only thing that can be done is give the tree a treatment that merely prolongs the life of the tree a few more years. Apparently Mt. Washington has already lost most of their ash trees, and western Cincinnati are just starting to receive their first positive contact reports :(. Interestingly enough, Ault Park has become a test ground where each ash tree is treated with a different anti-beetle program. Hopefully one of them is successful and can be used to save the trees that have not yet been infected.
Along the boulevards along the major residential roads that connect to Ault Park there is an interesting happening. Principio Ave is lined with fading ash trees, something I never realized until I picked them out this morning. I spoke with a local woman about the trees, and she told me something interesting. A few years back the city removed many of the ash trees because they were already dead or almost dead. The ones that remain today were the strongest, but they won’t last much longer. But what I find interesting is that this spring the city planted new young trees in place of the lost ash. You can find them all around the neighborhoods because their young trunks are still protected by white plastic so that the local population of hungry deer don’t get to them. I believe they are a kind of maple, but I didn’t check them out in detail (yet). I’m mentioning this because I am curious about what kind of tree is going to replace the ash tree in our local neighborhoods and boulevards, and also why the ash tree was chosen in the first place? I imagine there are many things that a city planner has to think about when designing a neighborhood’s arbor makeup. The ash trees do seem like a perfect size – large enough to be magnificent, colorful in the autumn, but not so large as to rip up sidewalk and otherwise be destructive.
That’s much more than I expected to cover regarding the ash tree, so when I do the “ash tree sunrise” in the next week, there may be a bit of repetition. Oh well, I’ll consider that a rough draft. I’ve mentioned previously that every autumn I notice this specific species of maple that explodes in this bright orange hue, but only for three or four days. I’ve still got my eye out.
The dawn at Heekin Overlook. Roughly 15 minutes before sunrise.
Looking over Lunken Airfield towards the Ohio River. See that giant plume of fog in the far background? That’s the Ohio River! The fog just piles on high in the air above the water.
A vertical shot encapsulating more of the orange->blue gradient of the sky.
A vertical shot of “First Light”
A closer view that shows the layers of forest and farmland buried in the mist.
See what I mean? In about 10 minutes the orange sunrise is gone and the sun takes a full-on yellow look. This is in drastic contrast to days like Sunrise 101 where the high humidity can make a sunrise last for an hour or longer. In this sense I’m defining a sunrise duration as the amount of time it takes for the light to cycle from deep purple to orange to yellow. This is relative to where the viewer is standing, of course.
I noticed that the third and final missing bench in Heekin Overlook has been replaced. I learned from Dave that the wood that these benches are made out of is a rain-forest hardwood called “teak“. Teak wood is valued as being water resistant and historically has been used for creating ships. And there you go!
Sunrise 101: Ault Park (Autumn Fog #2)
Another strange foggy sunrise picture
Ault Park’s Centeral Lawn & Garden
A quick post for this morning. I was surprised to find another foggy sunrise in the park. My alarm actually crashed during the night so I woke up right at sunrise. Luckily the fog had my back and hid the sun from view for about half an hour. The fog was misty down in Mt. Lookout, but just beyond the entrance to the park the fog was pretty thick.
A hazy orange sunrise at the entrance to Ault Park
Looking back into the park from Heekin Overlook
It’s strange, seeing the foggy sunrise with blue skies high above
This is the view out towards Lunken Airfield.
The trusty ‘ol steed at Heekin Overlook
The rest of the park was slowly coming out of the fog. There was quite a bit of activity, we had several joggers and pedestrians enjoying the chilly morning.
No idea, but I felt compelled to capture it. Thanks Portia.
Heading out of the park, we can see the sun is finally burning away the fog. There are several trees that are starting, just barely, to change colors for the fall.
In several pockets of the neighborhood there are these century-old magnificent oak trees. Like this one.
And this one! I have a feeling these suckers *love* these autumn fogs.
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.
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 99: Ault Park (Breaking Blue Skies)
After a series of intense storms throughout the region, the sky suddenly cleared up late yesterday afternoon. We were graced with a beautiful crisp and cool night that was marked with light whispy cloud activity through the atmosphere. I was excited to get out on the bike this morning as long as the weather held, which it did! As I write this in the late afternoon, the sky is already dark and gray. It looks like we got a small break in the drab overcast weather and now it’s back to business as usual.
The temperatures are dropping into the high 50s as time marches on and we entere the first official days of autumn. It is seriously hard to believe that summer is officially gone, but I look forward to brewing up some hard cider, enjoying the seasonal winter ales, and spending time with family. Speaking of brewing, I took some time over the last two weeks to figure out my new brew kit that my wife got me for my birthday. It’s been a blast to say the least, and I’m learning quite a bit. It’s a small1-gallon kit (and I got a second 1-gallon fermenter to go with it so I can keep up a rotating schedule) that brews up about 10 beers at a time. It’s great because I’ve developed a nice rotation where I can brew a batch every Sunday (and bottle two weeks later), giving me a monthly output of about 4 gallons. I am fortunate enough to live about 8 minutes from Listermann’s brew shop which gives me the unique opportunity to swing by after work and pick up any amount of grains and malt that I need. So far I’ve got a kind of dark amber ale brewing and I just picked up ingredients for a Bell’s Two Hearted clone. My amber ale only needed a 15 minute steep and 20 minute boil, which means that my entire brewing (without cool-down) was less than an hour. But we’ll see how it turns out…
I started off the morning a bit late. There was a colorful early sunrise atmosphere that was mostly gone by the time I reached the park.
The sun came up through a nice clean sky.
Before the light made it down into the valley, Armleder Park is dark with a beautiful sky above it.
The lower overlook below Heekin Overlook
The sun coming up over Armleder Park
I like the idea of these little vine leafs climbing up the tree without fully taking it over.
After a few minutes, the sun climbs up into the clouds.
I do a quick lap around the park and realize that the sky has lit up into a brilliant morning blue.
Looking out from atop the pavilion
It’s likely I won’t see these colors for several days… more gray for me.
Sunrise 98: Ault Park (Foggy Park, Foggy Forest, and Observatory Fog)
The trusty old ’77 fuji hangin’ out in the fog.
One of my favorite places to take the Fuji’s portrait.
Arachnophobes should stay away from bushes in the fog.
The Cincinnati Observatory against a psuedo-sunrise.
Last night before calling it a night, I took a peek from our patio into the night sky. I realized that the atmosphere had cleared up and I could see the stars. I’ll admit it, I was excited to wake up early to a cool, crisp, fall sunrise in a clear and open sky.
However, when I woke up this morning I was treated to an even bigger surprise! This morning was one of the rare mornings that happen once every few months (and hopefully more often this fall with all this rain!) where the thick fog from the valley overflows and spills into the hills of Mt. Lookout. The fog was lightly patched around the square in Mt. Lookout, and even sparse on my ride through the neighborhood to Ault Park, but once I hit the park boundaries it was like riding into a hazy wonderland. I didn’t get the clear morning sunrise that I had expected, but the quiet and muffled morning in the fog was worth the exchange!
I was literally like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to see Alms Park, Lunken, Armleder Park, and all the residential no outlets that I’ve come to appreciate. But alas, time enough there was not.
The descriptions, unfortunately will be brief this morning. I’m on my way out the door to check out my first Little Brown Jug horse race up in Delaware, Ohio.
Coming out of a thick patch on the way to the park. Up ahead it is foggy. At the top of this hill is Ault Park.
As I enter the park, I can “hear” the fog around me as all ambient sounds beyond 50 feet away become muffled.
It’s even thicker up near the pavilion where the fog is still literally pouring in from the valley just 200 yards away.
Knowing that there will be no sunrise, I take a stroll through the quiet garden.
For the rest of the pictures, about 35 more, click to continue! (more…)
Sunrise 97: Ault Park (Misty Mountain, Compass Flowers, Beetles, Oak Stump)
The center of a compass flower.
A new view. We now see up through the park; before this would have been obstructed by the large oak tree.
A busy bumblebee pollinates a compass flower.
A yellow beetle surveys the territory from the top of a compass flower.
I’ve skipped the last several wet overcast mornings but today at 7:00am I ventured out into the humid streets to Ault Park. The sunrise this morning was at 7:22am, the latest so far. Looking back, Sunrise 1 was at 7:14am. I’ve broken through the calendar symmetry and am now proceeding into new territory! I never regret going out in a misty morning, especially on such a temperate day as today. The temperature was in the mid sixties, and other than some light fog here and there I didn’t get too wet.
It’s amazing how heavy my legs felt after taking a few days off. The climb up to the park was a good workout, and by the time I got up there I was ready for my coffee and a break. I discovered several new happenings at the Overlook, including a new replacement bench for the one that was destroyed by vandals, and it looks like the park service cut down the dead oak tree.
I came up with a great idea for what to do with the dead oak tree, but unfortunately it looks like my idea came about a week too late. I realized that this dead oak would have been an excellent opportunity to create one of those stump carvings that I’ve seen in the neighborhood. The stump is probably too low now to do anything with. It would have been a beautiful piece of art. Here’s an example that I found on the way home:
A dead stump turned into artwork. If only I had thought of this sooner for the oak tree at Heekin Overlook! 😦
I ended up making up for lost time and took about 40 pictures this morning through the gardens and around the overlook. I’ll just go ahead and put up the front page disclaimer now!
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue reading. I do this so that the front page doesn’t become too slow for older computers with lower amounts of memory. Click over here to check out the other 30 pictures: —>
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!
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!
An attempt to channel Sunrise 09’s iconic sunrise picture. Just isn’t the same with such a low-light sunrise!
I actually took this one while laying on my back after taking a picture of the clouds. Upside Down. Turned out alright, I say.
Sunrise 93: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Sunrise Resurrection, B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” Bomber)
The “Aluminum Overcast” B-17 bomber! For $400, you can take her for a ride. She flew in from Wisconsin to help Lunken Airfield celebrate their Lunken Days.
In the arboretum, someone left a small glass container. I really like this picture.
I’ve never seen a plant that has a fruit hanging out of the flower like this. Weird?
After what has felt like a season of hibernation, even though it’s only been about a week, I was finally *blessed* with both a beautiful sunrise AND a free Sunday morning to enjoy it. The left overs from Hurricane Irene have cleared up and are now history. The forecast originally put clear skies with “fog” for tomorrow morning, but I wanted to test my luck and see if I could catch a break a day early. As it turned out, luck was on my side and the sunrise came through with a deep moisture-induced pink. I ended up taking my time and riding through the East End Loop down to Lunken Airfield and back. This weekend is Lunken Airport’s “Lunken Days” featuring the “Aluminum Overcast” B-17 bomber, one of only 10 in the country that are still flying today. As anyone in the midwest will tell you, we ended up with a beautiful late summer day.
These first two pictures were taken in the neighborhoods of Mt. Lookout on the way to Ault Park. I am trying to convey the degree of incline that these roads have, something that I didn’t notice (very thoroughly) until I started biking them.
We can see the road drop off about 60 yards away. A worthy climb indeed. I always catch this hill at the beginning of the ride so it always seems worse than it really is.
Heading into Ault Park! At this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a sunrise at all. I got excited when I saw the colors over the hill, to say the least.
I arrived at the overlook just as the sun was cresting. The humidity and light fog in the air made the scattering light a deep pink color. This is a pretty unique sunrise for the summer season. I haven’t seen many deep pink hazy sunrises since the spring, and this spring was full of them.
Heekin Overlook against the early sunrise.
I love the color gradient in this picture. Taken from the lower overlook, I think.
37 pictures total! Click “continue” if you’re on the front page, homie. (more…)
Sunrise 92: Ault Park (Dark Hurricane Hangover)
I like this view of the pavilion because the sky isn’t bleached out. The darkness of the picture gives an idea of how dark the park was this morning just a few minutes after sunrise.
Good morning! Sunrise 92 was one of the darkest sunrises that I’ve seen so far. The atmosphere is thick with clouds that are left over from the East Coast hurricane Irene. I haven’t posted a sunrise for several days, but to be honest we didn’t miss much. The wife unit was out of the state visiting family over the long weekend and she borrowed the camera to take some pictures. At any rate, I am not sure that I’ve seen the sun in these parts for at least a week. I don’t have an excuse for yesterday, other than the fact that it was rainy and cloudy and my bed was dry and warm. Although it is interesting to note, quickly, just how easy it is to get out of an established routine. I helped out some family by dog-sitting over the weekend which gave me a perfect isolated weekend to work on my master’s thesis (still not done, but converging quickly). This morning’s ride was more difficult than usual, probably due to a combination of 4 days of not riding regularly and the pains of starting back into the early weekly routine.
So back to the sunrise. This morning’s sunrise was non existent, just like the other sunrises over the past week. But this morning was also really, really dark. If sunrise 80, with its clear skies and colorful dawn, was a 10/10 for atmospheric brightness, today was definitely a 1 or 2. By the time I got home at 7:40am, a half hour after the “sunrise” of 7:11am, the morning commuters still had their car lights on as if it were night time. Oh, and the temperature was cold! It was probably about 53-55F, a full 35F degrees cooler than some of the sunrises from just a few weeks ago. I really should have worn a sweatshirt. I stayed warm by not hopping off my bike for more than a few minutes at a time. I ended up riding through the arboretum in Ault Park, then down through Mt. Lookout past the Observatory, all the while making sure to pay much attention to the morning commuters.
That’s one side effect of these late sunrises that I forgot would show up. Biking at 7:30am is much different than biking at 7:30am! The banks of the streets fill up with more traffic and the overall feeling that I get while biking around feels more aggressive, even if it is unintentional. The later in the morning, the worse it gets, because you can tell that some of the later cars are starting to run late. I try to be as respectful as possible while biking, by taking routes mostly through old residential areas and always sticking to the outside lane. But nothing is more scary than an obviously impatient driver that may or may not be paying attention.
Due to the dark light, cold temperature, and wet air, the park was empty with the exception of a single park crew truck. The street lamps were still on, and the canopy of the tall oak trees provided a surreal darkness against the bright gray overcast sky. The crickets and cicadas were still swelling with their summer buzz which provided a great stereo effect as I biked through the heavier forested areas of the park.
Heekin Overlook under the great Oaks
The sunrise was pathetic! Here we are, looking east-ish over towards Lunken Airport.
One interesting thing about this dark overcast sky is that I can take a picture that includes both the foreground and the sky without one of them being incorrectly exposed. Normally I have to choose one of the other – either the sky (making the foreground dark) or the foreground (making the sky bleached out white).
Looking out across the wide pavement into the Arboretum. The Heekin Overlook is directly behind me, and I’m standing on the sidewalk that winds around to the overlook.
Heading out of the park down Observatory Ave. The street lamps are still on and the air is a bit misty. This part of the park is always fun to bike through because it is downhill, wide, and you can smell the moisture coming out of the forest at the base of the hill.
Continuing down Observatory Ave, we pass Observatory Ct where the Cincinnati Observatory is located. There is a utility truck at the end of the street flashing his hazard lights at me. I like how dark these pictures are, and at the same time the reflections off of the pavement add some contrast.
A shot of a typical Mt. Lookout neighborhood lane. These neighborhoods mostly date back to the early 1920s so the trees, if they’re not from the original forest which a lot of them are, have had many decades to grow up around the deign of the urban residential neighborhood. You can see on the house to the left that there is a “triangular” shape to it. I’ve found that there is a specific architectural design pattern that exists in many of the homes that were built probably around the same time period by the same developers. They have huge triangles throughout the frame of the home that start at the ground and reach all the way up to the point of the roof, with the largest triangle usually containing the front door. Some of the homes’ triangles more pronounced than others. This is probably just one of the many urban trends that live just under the layer of consciousness. Or maybe it’s just like any of the other historical trends that I’ve found in Cincinnati: they’re mostly unknown except by a handful of people who know them very well and love to talk about them :).
A final shot down one of the small auxiliary outlets from the residential neighborhood. This gives us an idea of the kind of hills that I’ve come to expect when I bike through the eastern residential neighborhoods.
This one’s just for fun. I’m kind of a hoarder when it comes to certain things, and it is a behavior I’m trying to get better at! I’ve been collecting 6-packs over the past 8 months with the purpose of using them with some kind of art project. I was originally going to cut out just the front and frame them, but the wife had an idea of just framing the entire 6-pack. I really like the way these ones turned out, and I also like that the 6-pack is almost entirely intact, with the exception of the bottom panel that we had to cut out so the 6-pack would fit.
It’s amazing to look at all of the artwork and subtle design that goes into most of the modern American micro-brew packaging and labeling. I strongly feel that we’ll look back at the last 15 years of beer culture in the American micro-brew scene and not only talk about the quality and breadth of beer, but also the art, design, and culture that came along with it. By culture, I’m talking about the cases in which a brewery becomes a manifestation of some other local culture, one that they either emerge out of or help to create. That’s one of the most important distinguishing facets about the passionate commercial venture that is the modern brewery in America. Most of them are supported by a local culture, which is crucial to the success and evolution of the brewery.
In case you’re not familiar, the three 6-packs are (from left to right): Bell Brewery’s Oberon (Summer Wheat), Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch (Belgian India Pale Ale), and Lagunita’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (American Pale). The oberon’s packaging is simple and minimalist, chosen to help balance out the business of the other two 6-packs. The center frame features “Raging Bitch”, which is one of my favorite designs because of how intense the artwork is. Flying dog has an interesting theme to their packaging of the entire line of their beers, and they manage to include both Hunter S. Thompson and the artist Ralph Steadman. Steadman is probably most famous (at least to me) for the artwork he did for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which of course was a psuedo biographical story about Hunter S. Thompson, played by Johnny Depp. In fact, now that I read about it, Flying Dog’s page about their philosophy is a great read. They tie in Ralph Steadman, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Stranahan as the “Godfathers of Gonzo”. I’m going to dig more into this. The final beer on the right is by my favorite brewery, Lagunitas. I always enjoy their humor and care-free worldview. They make excellent beer and their beer always has a great story. In the case of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, the bottom of the 6-pack notes that they find joy in watching the Internet Beer Rating Sites try to figure out how to classify it. They typically have some small typos on the personal under-side rant, which adds to the charm.
Sunrise 91: Ault Park (Summer Flower Garden, Ailanthus Webworm Moth)
A “cosmo” pointing up toward the sky.
Beautiful macro shot of a red/orange/yellow summer flower.
This morning I felt it was definitely a time to recollect and enjoy a cool morning summer in the park. The last two mornings I skipped the sunrise. I tell myself it was mostly due to overcast conditions but in reality I think there are several different reasons. I almost feel as though these late sunrises, happening at 7:05am, are no longer a “challenge”! The 6:15am sunrises, which came up before rush hour and when the city was still asleep, had more of an air of secrecy to them. I’m either going to have to find a new challenge (like getting to the park by a half hour before sunrise, and then leaving as soon as the sun crests) or search for more motivation. Time will tell! It’s just depressing to me how deep into the morning my routine is taking me if I wish to take my time at the overlook or in the gardens. That’s life, though, I suppose.
The atmosphere this morning was cloudy so I took the time to check out the flower gardens. By this time, late into the summer, the bushes and flowers have grown up healthy and lush. There is an opening that reveals a grassy aisle into the center of the flower garden that is in the center lawn. The last time I really explored this area, the ground was bare and I was left wondering “hmm, what’s going to grow here?”. The black-eyed-susans, cosmos, and other flowers are now towering over my head and full of beetles, bumblebees, spiders, and ladybugs. I was surprised to find how thick the isolation felt once I walked into the flower garden. On several occasions, while I was stooped in observation taking pictures of the flowers, a jogger would glide by only a few feet from me but on the other side of the flower wall. It reminded me of just how private a forest or meadow can become during the late summer months. I need some time to rebalance and sunrise in the garden was a perfect fit :). I got a bit carried away with the pictures, mostly just having fun with the color and finding all the insect life hidden under the pedals.
This is actually a deer in the forest behind our place. I tried feeding her carrots, but she was only interested in green foliage. Next time I’ll bring broccoli.
The sunrise was boring! Off to the garden.
These first few are darker, I was lucky to get any kind of macro focus. A deep orange flower that I think is a “cosmo”
The centerpiece hidden inside the flower garden.
For the rest of the pictures of flowers and insects, click to continue if you’re on the front page: (more…)
Sunrise 90: Ault Park (Cool Overcast, Metamora Indiana)
The sunrise this morning was overcast, quiet, and dark. There was a bit of orange display happening just above the horizon and the sun poked through a hole for about a minute before rising up into the clouds. There were many patches of sky along the horizon that provided some excellent lighting scenes, but they were impossible to capture on the camera.
Overcast with a small hole above the horizon
Great Ohio Bike Adventure, 2011. This was left behind and now that I see it is a decade old, I regret not picking it up and leaving a note. Hopefully the person who left it remembers where they last saw it and come back for it! The Great Ohio Bike Adventure (GOBA) is a week-long bicycle trip around a different loop in Ohio every year. I’m tentatively hoping to try it out next year.
Over the weekend we camped with some friends and family. On Sunday we visited a small town in Indiana called Metamora. I had never heard of the small town before, but my mom had visited with my grandfather many years ago. I didn’t have my camera, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures! I was really surprised to find out that the small town is maintained as a “canal village” that dates back to 1838. The “whitewater canal” is still intact and you can ride a passenger boat that is pulled along on the tote path by two 2,000lb Belgian horses. There is also a train rides along the rail line on the tote path to take passengers down a 15 mile trip through the Indiana countryside. The buildings were all in the familiar 2-story mid-1800s architecture style that I’ve come to recognize as the midwestern hallmark.
There was one thing that was curious to me and I found myself thinking about this morning when I was heading into work. There was one building that was titled the “I.O.O.F” building. I recognized the IOOF acronym, although I’m not sure from where. On my way to work this morning I took an alternate route through the heart of historic Madisonville, where there are many buildings from the late 1800s that have seen better days. I passed right by a small 2-story brick building and was surprised to see, sitting at the apex just below the roof, the words “I.O.O.F”. As it turns out, IOOF stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a fraternal organization dating back to 1811. There are 51 chapters still around in the United States, and I’m sure that the Metamora chapter is still around. I swear I’ve seen another I.O.O.F building at some point in the last year, either in Cincinnati or up around the Columbus area. A quick google search reveals many buildings around Cincinnati. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out and see what else I can find. It looks like the particular building I saw this morning, located on Mathis street, isn’t even included on the previously linked registry.
Sunrise 89: Alms Park (Kudzu: The Vine & Clear Summer Skies)
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:
- I heard a rumor that Kudzu was used originally to beat out the invasive Honeysuckle plants. This worked, of course!
- The flowers of the Kudzu plant are sweet and pretty, great for ornamental purposes.
- The foliage is edible! Goat farmers could grow the hardy, fast growing Kudzu on otherwise baren land to feed their herd! It makes sense when I think about it – all you need to do is tend to the base, and the vines will quickly spread out over the soil to collect solar photons while not needing to take root.
- The anti-erosion qualities of Kudzu were used for natural soil control
- The vine has been used by southerners to create baskets.
- A root extract is said to date back 2000 years in Chinese medicine for treatment of alcoholism
- The roots can be used for cooking as a starch base
- Soaps, Lotions, etc.
By 1953, however, it was apparent that the vine was growing too well! It was deemed a “weed” by the government (whatever that means).
In the next few weeks I’m going to keep my eye out for the growth of the Kudzu. I’ll hopefully get to check out some of the purple blooms by the end of the season.
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 88: Ault Park (Summer Rain)
This morning’s ride up to Ault Park was cool and wet. At first I couldn’t tell if the sky was overcast or just hazy, but once the atmospheric light started to open the sky up, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to see a sunrise. There were small spurts of rain and a quiet wind. There was only a single other patron of the park who chose to venture out into the potential elements this morning.
A misty rainy “sunrise”. Looks like we’re approaching choppy August weather. That’s OK though because I absolutely love summer storms.
Looking west towards Lunken Airport. Check out the contrast between the dark atmosphere and lighter clouds just above the horizon. I’m about to get wet.
Another view of the upper atmosphere clouds moving through the area.
As I finished my cup of coffee, I felt the wind start to pick up and then quickly die off. I looked out toards Lunken and saw a wall of rain moving towards me. I decided that if I was going to make it to work, now would be as good of a time as any to pack it up and go! I ended up getting into work slightly wet but the downpour that was threatened never seemed to kick into full gear. As I write this, the skies are breaking up and I can even see some patches of blue.
Sunrise 87: Ault Park (3 Amigos)
The Overlook @ Heekin in Ault Park
This morning was a cool, quiet, overcast summer sunrise. There were highlights of pink in the mid atmosphere but the sun didnt make any kind of appearance. That’s OK though because sunrise 86 was enough of a show to last me over for awhile!
I enjoyed the dark morning light and my morning coffee. Today’s actually a special day, too! It’s my birthday! Another year older, and I find myself even more glad that I started the Ault Park Sunrise project. It has been a great creative exercise for me and has also enabled me to explore the local history of my area and meet some great people. Indeed it has truly become a kind of journal for myself, something that I will look back on many birthdays from now with nostalgia and pride. I hope that the thought of this project conjures up feelings of mobility, freedom, and the passionate pursuit of personal exploration (both internal and external).
A zoomed-in view of Armleder Park.
Tonight, even though it’s my birthday, I’m working late on my thesis software project. I brought along the “3-amigos” to join me while I listen to Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and delve into the guts of RTCmix and PyEvolve.
We visited friends up in Columbus, Ohio last weekend and on the way back I made a stop at the local carry out. I always try to pick up some beer that I can’t get down in Cincinnati. Typically this includes some Lagunitas (pictured right) or a local Columbus micro-brew. The store was actually out of Columbus Brewery’s India Pale Ale, and the guy behind the counter suggested Elevator Brewery‘s 3 Frogs IPA. I have been impressed with this beer as it shows elements of a well balanced classic IPA but I’ve only had one so far, so my opinion of it still needs time to develop. The middle beer is the “Double Dog Double Pale Ale” from Flying Dog Brewery. It clocks in at an impressive 11.5%, just barely under the max ceiling of 12%, a limit you can’t exceed if you wish to sell beer in Ohio. This was a birthday present from a friend of mine, a great present indeed! The third beer is Lagunitas’ Undercover Investigation Shut Down, one of my all time favorite brews from one of my favorite breweries. I’ve been bugging Lagunitas for months now to try and coerce them to sell their brews down in Cincinnati, but apparently there is some strange stale mate between the distributors in Ohio so for now I have to drive to Dayton or Columbus to snag ’em. Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is a healthy American Strong Ale that clocks in at almost 9.9% ABV and has the alluring crisp house flavor that I’ve come to appreciate in Lagunitas’ beers, resulting from their unique strain of brewer’s yeast. The history behind the Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is rich and hilarious, and you can check out the video here. Quality is kind of awful, but the audio is intact.
Interestingly enough, these three beers range from all sides of the country: west coast (Lagunitas), east coast (Flying Dog), and the midwest (Elevator).
Sunrise 86: East Cincinnati Loop (Foggy & Clear Summer Sunrise)
Looking North/East up the Little Miami River Valley. This used to be the pre-glacial Ohio River Valley, several hundreds of thousands of years ago. Up on top of that ridge, if you have good eyes, you’ll see Heekin Overlook.
After checking out the Cincinnati Observatory, we stopped by Heekin Overlook at Ault Park. The view into the valley was stunning.
Sunrise 86 was one of the more beautiful summer sunrises of the year. If the ideal sunrise of the spring is a partially cloudy and humid morning full of late-sunrise oranges, the ideal summer sunrise is one of a clear atmosphere with dense fog in the low-lying valley and a bit of a cold bite to the air. This morning’s surnise was exactly that. I had a friend with me this morning, who stayed over to redeem a long-standing offer to join me on a morning sunrise ride. We did a nice loop through the eastern hills. After taking advantage of “free coffee refill Mondays” at the Mt. Lookout UDF, one of my favorite things to do, we cranked it up the hill at about 6:30am, 20 minutes before the sunrise at 6:50am. We started off with the dawn opening and sunrise at the Cincinnati Observatory, then off to Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook for the remainder of the early light. Heekin Overlook had a breath-taking view down into the foggy valley over Armelder Park. We dropped down into Linwood to Armleder Park, checked out the foggy meadow, and then hightailed it over to Lunken Airfield before climbing Mt. Tusculum up past Alms Park.
The dawn sky, about 10 minutes before sunrise
The sun is starting to creep further to the right along the horizon as summer continues on into fall.
Just before sunrise! The sky turned a deep teal color, a shade that doesn’t stick around too long.
Sunrise @ The Cincinnati Observatory
It was a perfect mixture of fog in the low elevations, with a clear blue sky above.
If you’re on the front page, click to continue. About 11 pictures total: (more…)
Sunrise 85: Ault Park (Acorns & Blue Berries)
So this is weird… due to a strange artifact that has been present on the lens, but only visible when I zoom in, I haven’t touched the zoom for several weeks (maybe even a month or two). I tried it again today and suddenly the artifact is gone. It left as quietly as it arrived. It was definitely internal to the lens, but I had the feeling it was like a moisture bubble or something similar. Hopefully I don’t have many wet mornings in the near future. Maybe I’ll start carrying the camera in a zip-lock bag.
Ault Park has officially celebrated its 100 year birthday! There was a big party in the park last night, true to the “Ault Park style”. “Ault Park Style”, in my experience, includes music, beer, food, and lots of people. It always amazes me to see just how well supported the Ault Park events are by the local community!
Amanda and I have ran the local Reggae Run 5k twice in the past three years, and it has become legendary for the huge after party that takes place in Ault Park. The Reggae Run after-party includes a live band, delicious food, and lots of my favorite two things: beer and people :). The fireworks display for the 4th of July was also jam packed with people.
So it should come at no surprise that last night’s 100 year birthday party was anything less than a big deal! Unfortunately (and awesomely!) for our writer, I had my first co-ed softball game (which was a blast!) last night so I wasn’t able to check out the festivities until later, between two games when I had to run home on an errand, and even then I only had time to drive through the park for a quick visit. I was, however, blown away at how much the party was still hopping at 9:00pm when I drove through! If I were to guess, I’d say the attendance of the night easily surpassed 1,000 people. Easily! It looked like an excellent time and I do regret not being able to check out the “history room” that I saw advertised on the facebook posting. (Also: shameless self-plug for Ault Park Sunrise’s facebook page)
It’s also interesting to me to contrast the social night-owl version of Ault Park: with the loud kids running around, blanket and young couples lying in the grass, sparkler glowing in the night, elderly and college kids with beer in hand, overflowing trash bins, loud music, and full of city life, with the early morning sunrise Ault Park: quiet and peaceful, with park service diligently pruning and nurturing the plants, birds and squirrels loud in the trees, and the rising ambient sound of the city slowly waking up. Considering the fact that I have now spent roughly 80 mornings in Ault Park, and perhaps only 3 evenings during the same period, I’ve come to mentally view the park through my own bias of experience. To me, thoughts of Ault Park conjure up images of gardens, privacy, and nature. Every time I visit Ault Park at night during a social event, I’m reminded of the many hats that a healthy city park wears throughout its life as an extension of the community it lives in. And that’s one of the primary things that makes Ault Park so special to me: in these days of budget cuts and sad economic stories, the park shines as an excellent model for a true “city park” that can only be possible with the help and will of the local community.
That being said, when I rode up to the park this morning I was curious what kind of “leftovers” I’d find from the big bash last night. After the 4th of July party, I found all kinds of trash, spent fireworks, lighters, and other obvious signs that the party ran late and people left, quite hastily, in the dark. I was surprised, however, to find that Ault Park looked… completely normal. Other than some full trash bins, the park looked clean and not hung over. I’m not sure how late the event ran, but whoever was responsible for the cleanup did a great job!
The sunrise came up through a dense hazy layer of moisture. This was one of those sticky damp atmospheres that blocks the majority of the sun’s rays for a few minutes after sunrise, causing the sun to appear a dark blood red. Once the sun peaks out over this dense valley moisture, it can blast through the atmosphere within a matter of minutes.
A dark orange sunrise. At approximately 7:00am, it’s getting too late! 😦
A vertical sunrise shot, for the ladies.
We’re coming into acorn season! I heard these puppies falling all over the vicinity of the overlook. They were dropping at a rate of about one per 3 minutes. There were bits of them shattered all over the concrete. I’ve noticed a lot more squirrels giving me death stars and fake promises of running out in front of my bike lately. They must be ramping up to get ready for the acorn foraging season.
Several months ago, I asked a rhetorical ‘what will this white flower turn into?’. Well now I know. These little blue berries are growing on the plant that I previously examined when I found that it was a host to the aphid-herding ants.