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

Posts tagged “little miami river

Sunrise 143: Ault Park (Thick Humid Sunrise, Airplanes & Helicopters)

A Humid Sunrise 143 over the Little Miami River Valley

The Tree of Heaven rising into the sky as our organic spaceship spins towards the solar globe that is giver of all life.

After missing a brilliant magenta show during the early stages of Sunrise 142, I was determined to get up to the overlook with time to spare… just in case. As it turned out, Sunrise 143 was not unlike some of the early April sunrises. It was incredibly humid this morning, with a dense mist that limited visibility. The distant ridge line faded into the gray atmosphere and the thick moisture prevented the sunlight from scattering into the upper atmosphere. During these humid mornings, the sun rises slowly without an introduction. She typically comes up through the gray horizon, glowing a deep majestic purple that one can stare at for a few minutes before the curvature of the earth and the less dense mid-atmospheric air allow more light to get through.

Sunrises such as this are likely the reason why I was so surprised to find that a low-humidity sunrise can begin lighting up the sky up to an hour before scheduled sunrise time. It isn’t all that surprising to see a “Spring Seasonal” sunrise right now, considering that the temperatures of the last few days have risen up into the mid 60s. In fact this morning was so pleasant that I didn’t wear my winter jacket and ended up removing my gloves for most of the sunrise. While I am enjoying this unseasonably warm weather, it makes me wonder what kind of winter surprises Mother Nature has planned for us in early spring. I’m hoping for an April snowstorm, personally ūüôā

The early twilight sky was dark with only a light glimmer of orange developing against the gray. Black and White mode helped bring out some of the contrast in the low light.

The lower overlook and the single tree that hangs out over the valley, a favorite hangout spot for the local birds. The birds were quite active this morning, by the way. They’re loving this February spring weather.

About ten minutes before “First Light”, the sky shows little sign of the impending sunrise.

Heekin Overlook against the misty valley.

High overhead a big airliner ascends into the upper atmosphere. I’m going to take a guess and say that it recently took off from Dayton Airport, given the fact that it was still rather low and it was not heading for Cincinnati Airport ¬†from what I could tell.

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. 14 pictures total in today’s humid pseudo-spring sunrise post. (more…)

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Sunrise 139: Ault Park (Ice Storm, Deer Skull, Frozen Cherries)

An icy, foggy Ault Park lawn

Tree of Heaven silhouette… with ice

Ice branches in the forest

Winter’s Bone

The ’77 Fuji S-10S in an icy, foggy Ault Park

A misty view of Ault Park Pavilion.

Did you know that cherries shrivel up like a rose when they’re engulfed in a globe of ice? Me neither. Or perhaps they were already shriveled before being frozen. Either way, it adds a bit of color to this otherwise¬†grey-scale¬†set.

This post is coming a day late! The weather has been downright crazy in the past few days and so it’s funny to see that by the time this is posted, all the ice is gone and it almost feels like t-shirt weather!

Late Friday night an ice storm rolled into the tri-state. Saturday was marked with careful maneuvering over exposed sidewalks. It rained heavily in the early morning, and then the temperature dropped out and froze everything. The trees glistened all around, covered in a half inch of clear ice. Sometime late Saturday afternoon I realized that I really wanted to get a picture of my “Tree of Heaven” silhouette while it was still covered with ice. I headed up to the park early Sunday morning for “sunrise” and found that the park was an icy wonderland. This is particularly interesting because all the ice was melted away by Sunday afternoon and today’s high was 63F. 63F! In January! We had an ice storm followed by t-shirt weather within 36 hours. Insanity!

I saw this on /r/columbus today and thought it was appropriate. A hat tip to the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The park this morning was particularly solemn. On one hand, it was a Sunday. This meant that the commute up to the park was quiet with little car traffic. However, normally a Sunday means that there is more people in the park on their day off. This morning, while there were certainly some dog walkers hanging by the sidewalks, I found no patrons who ventured much beyond the ice-covered streets.

There was a lot of moisture in the air which made a light layer of fog that hung in the backdrop, blocking the view of the valley through the forest. It also had that quality that I love about fog – the muffled air effect. Far off sounds, like an airplane landing at Lunken Airfield, become drowned out as the fidelity is lost. Other sounds in the foreground, such as bird calls and branches straining under the cold, bring themselves more to the front of attention.

I found that the streets were mostly clear of ice, so I had no problem climbing the hill to the park. Upon entering the park, however, I was greeted with a Road Closed sign. Having wiped out several times over the past year on my bike, but curiously enough none in the past 10 months (I am a slow learner, but when I finally learn I’m not quick to forget!), becoming intimate with the asphalt was not something I was hoping to accomplish this morning. Apparently the city trucks do not service the roads through Ault Park (or at least not as a high priority) because beyond the park entrance the road was covered with a thick layer of ice. I had to walk my bike to the overlook, a task which made me appreciate the mobility that a bike offers oneself.

I quickly found that walking through the grass was much more safe than trying to walk over the sidewalk. I did slip a couple of times, and I was being careful! It was quite hazardous, but also quite beautiful. One thing that struck out to me was the distant calling of a murder of crows. It occurred to me that I only notice them in the fog. Or is it that they’re only noisy in the fog? I made up an armchair theory that they use their loud “cawing” to communicate the flock’s location in the low visibility of the forest fog. Last time I saw over 100 crows, so it takes some serious logistics to organize a murder of that size ūüôā

There was no sunrise this morning due to the valley fog. My little “Tree of Heaven” silhouette worked out nicely against the gray backdrop.

Please click to continue if you’re on the front page! 40+ icy pictures from this morning’s “sunrise”. (more…)


Sunrise 138: Ault Park (Purple and Orange Winter Twilight, a Crescent Moon)

Early twilight before Sunrise 138. Check out the crescent moon in the corner!

Heekin Overlook, looking out over the Little Miami River Valley. How many humans have seen the sunrise from this spot over the past ten millennia???

First Light @ Sunrise 138

If you were to look at the forecast right now, or even out the window, you would probably be surprised to find out that the sunrise this morning was another beautiful winter display. As I write this, the sky has filled with clouds and it looks like we’re hunkering down for some snow. But just two hours ago, the skies were clear and misty with humidity, and the sun rose amid a bright twilight display featuring some deep purples and bright oranges. Not bad for “71% cloud cover”, eh? Once again the changing weather has proven impossible to accurately predict.

I woke up a bit early this morning because my wife and I had the intention of trying out, for the first time, a 6am spinning class at the local gym. As 5:45am rolled around, it didn’t sound like the best plan. We continued to sleep, but fortunately I mustered up some mental energy and peered out the window to see if I could see any stars. What did I see through the silhouetted trees? Why, a misty halo surrounding a crescent moon! This was enough to get me up by 6:45am, catch up on some email, and then head down to Mt. Lookout for some coffee.

As it turned out, the atmosphere held off the clouds that vacated the sky last night just before sunset. There was a substantial amount of misty humidity in the air, causing quite a beautiful scatter of the early morning twilight colors. Purple was well represented this morning, probably due to the thicker haze that tends to keep the yellows and oranges subdued until just before sunrise. The fuchsia palette was present throughout the early twilight, but it wasn’t the dominant player. Just before sunrise, the sky exploded, for about 20 seconds, in this brilliant orange glow, similar to the shade I saw during Sunrise 137 that basked the overlook in its rich hue.

I imagine that the ice crystals up in the humid atmosphere have a lot to do with these extended winter twilight displays. I was worried about the winter, but as it turns out I love the winter sunrises just as much as the ones during the rest of the year.

Oh, before we continue, I’d like to share some exciting news. This week, the Eastern Hills Journal is featuring a follow up to the¬†May 2011 article on Ault Park Sunrise. It’s a nice piece and Lisa Wakeland, as always, did a great job. The journal is available at local book stores and other venues around the city. I picked up a copy at Joseph-Beth bookstore in Norwood.

As I peddled up the hill to the park, the moon hanging over this beautiful silhouetted tree caught my eye. We can see the sky starting to light up at the base of the tree.

I’m starting to amass a nice, but small, collection of twilight pictures with this tree of heaven as the subject. I was looking for a large tree silhouette, but I’m quite content with this little guy for the time being.

My friend, the adolescent Tree of Heaven. A new project favorite and the subject of an unexpected series.

The early twilight colors of Sunrise 138 over the Little Miami River Valley. The thick haze that hung high over head once again broke just above the horizon, similar to Sunrise 137. This time, however, the haze was thin and the opening much larger. My camera had no problem with the lighting today.

A soft textured sky as the colors begin to shift up the energy spectrum from blue/purples to orange/yellows.

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. There are about 22 pictures total for this morning.¬† (more…)


Sunrise 137: Ault Park (Stormy Winter Skies, Ft. Ancient Preview)

The twilight sky before Sunrise 137

First Light @ Ault Park’s lower overlook

It “warmed” up a bit this morning to just under freezing, a brisk 30F. The sky was clear last night before bed, but by the time sunrise rolled around most of the sky was filled with clouds. The horizon, however, was mostly clear. The forecast for this week puts us with some rain tonight and hopefully some snow later this week. The clouds that started to fill the sky this morning have successfully blocked out the night skies as I write this post late in the day. (I had to make a trip to the dentist this morning which pushed my schedule behind quite a bit!). Actually the dentist visit went great. It was one of those things where modern anesthesia makes getting a cavity filled a mere inconvenience, where as 100 years ago it would have been a memorable event marked with lots of whiskey and excruciating pain.

While I drove out towards the Mt. Carmel office, I found myself winding through the Little Miami River Valley, upon which Ault Park and Alms Park sit. I have recently been in contact with a graduate student who studies the Ft. Ancient culture, specifically the earthworks and burial sites that were at one time located in the Little Miami River Valley. Hopefully we will be working together in the next few months as we piece together old documents that he has uncovered from the late 1800s. These documents were surveys of the valley and identified interesting ruins and burial sites uncovered during the development of the region. Just a few miles over in Mariemont, a large serpent mound was recently uncovered and it may be the world’s largest. Matt tells me that this area would have, at one time, been home to tens of thousands of mounds. How many are left after 200 years of development? It would be most excellent if we are able to locate some of these sites that have not been documented in recent history and help set into motion the necessary actions that would lead to their protection. It is fascinating to me that while I’ve been concerned with the last 150 years of history in this region, there is a much larger and older story that dates back several thousand years. Matt has identified several old buildings and landmarks that may go by different names today (or be gone all together). It is my hope that with the resources I’ve explored in developing this project I can help Matt put some of these historical landmarks into the context of modern day. There are some old estates that are referenced that have probably long since been sold to developers, and also lots of locations that are given relative to old rail lines, tresses, and stations that existed in this area in the 1800s. Stay tuned, it should be a fun project.

On to the sunrise! This morning’s sunrise was a strange one. The thick cloud layer over head broke right above the horizon. This affect is always interesting because it can expose the open atmosphere to allow the sunrise colors to become visible, but at the same time the puffy pseudo-cumulus clouds can be just as interesting to watch due to the nature of the shadow patterns that dance around while the sun is rising and the light is changing. The clouds take on this bright blue/gray color with sharply defined boundaries. It’s very hard to pick up on the camera, but with the human eye it looks interesting. Speaking of the camera, this morning was one of the hardest sunrises to get a decent picture of. The bright twilight sky was restricted to being just above the horizon, while the rest of the sky was dark with clouds. This made my little camera’s sensor very confused as to what its white balance and exposure should be. A more configurable camera would have come in handy. Oh well! I turned down the exposure so that the twilight colors weren’t washed out and away I went.

One last thing about the sunrise this morning. Right when First Light peaked over the ridge line, the park was bathed in this brilliant deep orange glow. I caught it on camera but, as usual, the picture doesn’t do it justice. It was one of those shades of color where my vocabulary simply is at a loss to describe it. A deep red/orange/neon/yellow. Very rich.

Looking South/West towards Lunken Airfield.

Heekin Overlook, 30 minutes before sunrise. Dark with a brightening twilight horizon that was difficult to capture.

This is like -1 exposure, about as dark as I typically am comfortable doing. That’s the only way I could get a picture without the entire horizon looking bleached out white! This is my new favorite sunrise target. It’s a tiny little “Tree of Heaven” that rises up in front of the lower overlook. I used to get a bit annoyed at it when I realized the sun was moving across the horizon and it would be in the way.

So I think this little guy is an adolescent Tree of Heaven. Wikipedia tells me its latin name is¬†Ailanthus Altissima. Want to know something interesting, fair reader? I hope you do, because I’m about to lay it on you. The answer to a mystery I pondered earlier this year, coming together in a full circle of life.¬†Ready for it?

  1. I found a caterpillar back in spring. Species Unknown at the time. (Sunrise 24)
  2. I found this moth back in the summer. I identified it as an Ailanthus Silkworm, and postulated that it may be the adult form of the caterpillar from Sunrise 24 (Sunrise 91)
  3. Now it comes full circle. As it turns out, this Ailanthus Altissima (Tree of Heaven) is a host of the moth. As the tree migrated north (apparently it is considered a pest in some circles), it brought it’s orange and white colored moth friend with it. Cincinnati is in the northern tip of the “Humid Sub-Tropic” climate, so there are a lot of species around here that have crawled up from the wet forests of the southern USA and survive here quite well.

I just scrounged around and found a picture from¬†Sunrise 48¬†that showcases this lovely little tree. Here she is (on the right) with a full coat of summer leaves, back in the middle of a hot and sticky day in Cincinnati. It’s also interesting to look back on this sunrise from the middle of winter. So much humidity. The sun rose that day with a shade of deep, blood red.¬†Note how far to the left the sun is.

Sunrise 137, you were a tricky one.

“First Light”. I could not, for the life of me, get a picture that didn’t include this bleached out white glow. In reality it was a bright and rich orange.

Reminds me of a stormy spring day. This is January, right?

A vertical shot, looking out over the Little Miami River Valley

An attempt to capture that orange glow that was permeating across the overlook.


Sunrise 128: Ault Park (Guest Sunrise #3, Mt. Lookout Luminaries)

Trent, looking out at Sunrise 128

A final shot of some of the neighborhood Luminaries in Mt. Lookout. Last night these would have been lit up by the candles that sit inside them.

This week started off with a great sunrise. Some friends of ours stopped by last night before heading back home to San Francisco. Trent decided to come along with me this morning on the ride up to the park. It was a cold ride, but there was a decent amount of light cloud action in the lower atmosphere to provide some nice dynamics. We also happened to catch the tail end of the Mt. Lookout Luminary, an annual community event that raises money for the local council. Technically the luminary was last night so the candles were all used up by the time we found them this morning.

I also have the first European guest sunrise from Laura in Estonia. Thanks Laura!

A cell phone shot of Sunrise 128 from Trent.

Laura in Estonia sent in this sunrise picture. Thanks again Laura!


We swung by UDF to grab some coffee and found some of the luminaries on the newly finished marble table in Mt. Lookout Square.

The late twilight sky was crisp and colorful. Interestingly, it looks like Armleder Park has suffered a bout of flooding after the recent rain.

A plane takes off from Lunken Airport over Armleder Park.

A close up of the misty farmlands in the Little Miami River Basin

The sunrise is just around the corner!

A hazy First Light of Sunrise 128

Looking out over the Little Miami River Valley

A cool and crisp Heekin Overlook. Thanks again for coming out Trent!


Sunrise 94: Ault & Armleder Park (Fog, Prairie Sunflowers, Clear Skies)

These are the shelters in Armleder Park that we see, on a clear day, from Heekin Overlook in Ault Park.

Blue Skies and yellow Flowers.

Sunrise 94 was the first clear sky sunrise that we’ve had in several weeks. The high humidity that is no doubt left over from the hurricane behavior provided a thick wet blanket across the Little Miami River Valley. The sun rose up in a deep red hue. It was one of those sunrises that you can stare directly into for a full 10 minutes after sunrise without worrying about it being too bright.

I took the opportunity to drop down into Armleder Park and ride through the prairie in the fog. It is amazing how fast the sun dissipates the moisture from the air. The fog rarely lasts longer than 25 minutes after sunrise. The river was flowing quietly and I climbed through the now lush 7-foot high river foliage where the packed mud trail has become a mere suggestion to emerge soaking wet on the other side. Cincinnati is in a northern-most tip of the “Sub-Tropical Humid” climate, the same climate that encompasses most of the South and South/East of the US. This fog is likely a crucial element in the ecology of the river basin plant life. The foliage is lush and green and it seems that almost daily there is a morning transfer of water from the river, up to the air, and then onto the plants as the sun warms the fog. I find it interesting that Armleder Park seems to always be foggy. The Little Miami River is smaller than the Ohio River, and yet the fog of the Ohio River rarely spills beyond the river’s banks. I wonder what’s up with that?

It looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day out there. It’s amazing how much that streak of overcast rainy days can make me appreciate these clear cool late-summer ones.

The early dawn was dark! Looking East over the Little Miami River Valley.

That’s where we’re about to go. Down the hill into Armleder Park.

The colors were dominated mostly by a light pink that is so hard to pick up with the camera.

Into the park we go. Most of these pictures are kind of dark so I’m sorry about that. Under the blanket of fog, however, there truly isn’t much ambient light unless you’re looking straight into the sun.

A vertical shot in an attempt to capture the blue in the sky.

I head straight through the park to the small dead-end that dumps us out in the forest.

The long smooth bike trail around Armleder Park

About 25 pictures total. If you’re on the front page, click to continue—-> (more…)


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

The Sunrise @ Armleder Park

Blue Gradient over East Hyde Park


Looking away from the sunrise at the Little Miami River.

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

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

The sunrise was a unique one for sure.

A close-up over the valley

Lots of different patterns going on in the sky.

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


Sunrise 31: Ault Park (Cold Front Morning, Pre-Glacial Ohio River)

click for higher quality!

I had a busy weekend and wasn’t able to get to up to Ault Park for the last two mornings. It ended up being overcast and rainy all weekend anyway, and I was hoping that there would be a break in the clouds for this morning. As it turns out, the cold front that came through sometime last night was not messing around. After having a week of temperatures in the mid 80s, this morning’s low 50s was a surprise (I didn’t check the forecast last night). Welcome to Ohio!

On Saturday my friend Tom came down and we participated in the second annual Bikes + Brew pubcrawl through downtown and northern Kentucky. We met up with the group at the third stop (we had to bike downtown first, which took a bit of time!) and continued from Rockbottom Brewery to Keystone in Covington, KY -> Haufbrau House in Newport, KY -> Lackman Bar (OTR) -> Market Wines (OTR / Findlay Market) -> Neon’s Unplugged (OTR). It was a great time and I would definitely do it again. One memorable part of the entire trip was that crossing the JA Roebling Suspension Bridge on a bike, something I haven’t done yet, is downright scary. The grating is really wide, allowing you to see straight down to the river. The metal surface can cause your tires to slide around, and there is a slotted metal clasp at the center of the bridge, probably for expansion, that has gaps that were twice the width of my bike tires. Needless to say, getting to the other side of that bridge (we hadn’t even had our first beer yet!) was, at least for me, a bit stressful.

On the way back from the event, my left pedal shaft started to come loose again. This has started happening over the past couple of weeks so I carry a socket wrench just in case I need to tighten the bolt that keeps the crank shaft attached to the frame. What is happening is that all of these hills in Cincinnati are literally tearing apart my aluminum cranks! I talked to Brett @ Element Cycles and he told me that it is an unfortunate side effect of riding in a hilly area. Putting your entire weight on the cranks while grinding up hill ever so slowly eventually causes the tapered square hole in the crank to get rounded out, causing slipping and eventually lossening the nut off of the threading that holds the crank in place. After the final trip home, the aluminum has stripped far enough to warrant a replacement. While I wait for the crank arm to come in, I borrowed my neighbor’s mountain bike for the morning. It was a completely different ride from my road bike with tis huge knobby tires and low center of gravity. The most convenient thing was that the gear shifters are on the handlebars (like most bikes from the last 20 years), a convenience I have done without but suddenly found myself enjoying profusely. The bike rode great, albeit a bit slow, and provided some nice diversity to my morning ride.click for higher quality!

The sunrise was, as you’d expect in a dull overcast morning after a cold front, gray and non-existent. With the air being a cool 50 degrees (F) it wasn’t even all that pleasant just sitting at the overlook listening to the birds! Part of it probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t able to get out to the park over the weekend, so my routine is a bit off on this Monday morning.

click for higher quality!Armleder Park, drying out.

click for higher quality!Armleder and Lunken, the two scenic views that garner so much attention from the overlook, are looking good. The flooding has all but disappeared and the scenic view has gone back to “normal”. There are two things I notice about Mondays in Ault Park. The first – lots of planes taking off from Lunken as we begin the week. Second – not that many people at the park this early, compared to later in the week; especially with the overcast cold air.

click for higher quality!Looking down on the office buildings below with a plane taking off overhead. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)