Sunrise 114: Alms Park (Colorful Autumn Skies, 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati)
A bit later in this post I talk about a paper that was sent over the November Cincinnati Parks E-letter that covers the 7 “Valleys” of Cincinnati. For reference, I saved it locally to my server for historic purposes. It’s a quick and interesting read. “The City of 7 Valleys”
After Tuesday’s perfectly clear skies and yesterday’s clear skies with a touch of cloudy, I was curious to see how this morning’s sunrise would come to be. The forecast called for 40% cloud cover which puts us right into the possibility of a very colorful and unique sunrise, depending on if the cloud cover is whispy, thick, patchy, or anything else. As it turned out, the cloud cover was what I would consider to be “whispy”. The sun was partially blocked as it came up, but it did eventually shine through in a bright orange aura. It was a bit of a humid morning, I think, because the colors did not really spread out through the open sky as you would normally expect. Rather, they stayed compact around the sun’s opening location, keeping the sky looking beautiful and full of reds and oranges. If this gradual build up of cloud cover with minimal wind continues, tomorrow should be either breathtakingly dynamic or boring with full cloud cover. No signs of the rain storms that are forecasted for today, but seeing as how it’s rained every Thursday for the last 5 weeks I wouldn’t hold my breathe! Our Thursday night Softball league is more backed up than a vegetarian after their first experience with a 17-meat extra cheese pizza.
On my ride up to the park I was treated with a spectacular deep purple show. It was one of those mornings where I could have arrived a half an hour early and had plenty to watch. As the sun approaches from beyond the horizon, the light in the low-wavelength spectrum shows up first. That would be the deep purples fading in from blue. I’m not sure about the science behind it, but it probably relates to why you can hear bass through a wall but no vocals or high-hats. Low-frequency waves tend to penetrate further. But I digress. The entire low part of the atmosphere, from the east to the west, was lit up with this magenta color that was not noticeable in the mid or upper sky. I was hoping to get to the park in time to get a picture of the colors, but they were gone as quickly as they showed up. That’s the funny thing about sunrises – you really never know what you’re going to get. It all depends on how clear or cloudy the sky is and what the humidity is like.
I arrived at the park about 5 minutes before sunrise. The sky was already ripe with orange colors and the clouds were reflecting brightly.
At this point the purples are all gone and the orange is starting to blaze.
To the right we see the historic deco Mt. Washington Water Tower. Do you know what’s really neat? I read this document from the Cincinnati Parks on how this area used to be as flat as the rest of Ohio. About 40,000 years ago the glaciers melted and the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers were born. The thing that makes Cincinnati’s geography so neat is that all of the peaks of the controversial “Seven Hills” (or as the document put it: the Seven Valleys) are at almost exactly the same elevation. I’ve come to know this personally as I bike around for this project between many local parks. There are several parks that I wasn’t even aware of until now. The parks that all live at the peak elevations of various hills are: Ault Park, Alms Park (forgot about that spectacular picture of thunder heads), Larz Anderson Park, Eden Park, Devou Park, Bellevue Hill Park, Fairview Park, Mt. Echo Park, French Park (no overlook), Drake Park (looks like there are no quality pictures of the view from this park – it’s on the way to my work so I’ll have to stop by some morning for sunrise), and probably a few others. (By the way have you picked up on it, yet? Cincinnati Park Board is amazing).
But the point, dear reader, is that all of these parks are at the top of their respective hills, and most have overlooks that look out over the Ohio & Little Miami River Valley. At one time, about 40,000 years ago, you would have been able to walk directly from any one of these hill-top parks to any other hill-top park without changing elevation. It was flat! That may seem obvious given what we know now about the formation of the glaciers, but I find it uniquely Cincinnati that all of the parks are at about the same elevation but they are located all over the region, scattered between Cincinnati Proper, outside the city limits, and into Kentucky. I also find it hard to believe that I am just now discovering (or, rather, discovering with purpose and detail) how fantastic Mt. Echo Park is. Did you see the pictures of the overlook?! That’s a sunrise location if I’ve ever seen one!
… moving on. Here we are back at Alms Park (but I can’t stop thinking about Mt. Echo Park. Maybe I should take advantage of these late sunrise times and make it out there by 7:45am! Only two days left before DST ends…)
A final shot of Sunrise 114. While the humidity was apparently high, the sun light got bright quickly. I’m not sure what to make of that because normally in a high humidity atmosphere the sun stays muffled and it takes awhile for the light to penetrate the atmosphere.
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.
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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 81: Ault Park & Lunken Airfield (Attempted Perseid Meteors, Cloudy Sunrise)
The trusty old 1977 Fuji S-10S, featuring the souvenir “Carew Tower” water bottle 🙂 And yes, I need to replace my handlebar wrap.
The sky is starting to brighten up, preparing for the sunrise
This morning I attempted to get up early to see the perseid meteor shower. Amanda and I actually meant to check it out late last night but we fell asleep early! I pulled myself out of bed at 4:50am and rode to Ault Park where I hoped the top of the pavilion would provide a clear view of the northeast sky. A clear view indeed it provided, but unfortunately I only had about a 10 minute window after arriving before the clouds rolled in. In the end I did see a single meteor streak, enough to make it worth it! Next year I’ll try to be better 🙂
I experimented a bit with long exposure times. There was a full moon, mostly hidden by the clouds, but it provided enough light to play around with.
I was surprised at how early the first walkers showed up. There were several cars that rode through the park at around 5:30-6:00am. There was an elderly couple that started walking laps around the pavilion at around 5:45am, a full hour before the sun came up.
Mt. Lookout and the full moon at 4:55am. Close by there may or may not be some late-night party animals walking back home.
Playing with long exposure from atop the pavilion
These pair of street lights have a blue tint to them
Looking out at the lawn. Interestingly, I notice that miles away I can see the hills of western Cincinnati.
The only picture I saved that shows what the night sky looks like about 50 minutes before sunrise.
Look at the street lamp! That’s a blur-of-a-walking-elderly-couple
The sky looks like it is going to cloud up for the sunrise, so I decide that if I’m not going to get a pretty sunrise I might as well get a Saturday morning workout in. I head down to Lunken Airfield to see what’s going on. The bench on the bike path levee has become one of my favorite sunrise locations.
Not too much going on in the sky, but we can see that an opening in the clouds may provide a nice quick display.
Up above there were some interesting cloud formations. Through the hole in the clouds I saw a ripple effect high up in the atmosphere.
The sun punches through that opening in the clouds for a brief 4 minute display.
I ended up meeting a couple fellow cyclists and talking about bike hardware. I found out, again, that there are some damn sexy steel frames that you can get brand new. They have a very similar look to my Fuji’s steel frame. I learned that a steel frame, while heavier, flexes more than an aluminum frame which is why some riders prefer them if carbon isn’t available (or you just don’t want carbon). Apparently a steel frame isn’t quite as jolting when you hit bumps in the road. Interesting!
If I can pull the strings correctly, I may have a treat for sunrise 82. I’m heading back to my hometown of Troy, Ohio and hopefully (weather permitting) I can do a nice little sunrise exploration of the historical landmarks that I grew up around but never fully sought out. There are old canal pieces, welded steel homes, and much more. Hopefully I don’t end up eating my own words!
Sunrise 61: Alms Park (Orange Fog, Lunken Overlook)
Beautiful shot of the early-orange sunrise.
The trusty old steed at the overlook landing.
I overheard the weather guy last night say that this week would be hot, wet, and with lots of thunderstorms. To me this means two things: 1) I might get wet out there in the mornings, and 2) Fog!
This morning was the perfect blend of fog and clear skies, with a touch of purple cumulus that showed up just before I left Alms Park. The ride to Alms Park is more steep than Ault Park so I typically save it for a particularly beautiful day, or as was the case today, when I want to get a challenging workout in. I skipped last Friday because there was a storm in the area. But if I am to be honest with myself – I think I just wimped out! We had a late night (Amanda had a softball game down in East End and the after party ended up coasting through the night) and it was dark and wet.
This morning’s trip up to Alms Park was a pleasant one indeed. The fog was thick down in the valley and especially on the right side, looking out over the overlook, where the Ohio River’s fog patch was creeping over into Lunken Airport. The park itself had a hazy mist about it but fortunately it wasn’t enough to drown out the sunrise.
The long climb up to the top of Alms Park, with a bit of mist in the air.
The valley was thick with fog. We can see where the sun is getting ready to break through on the left side, where the sky is starting to take on a pinkish color.
The greenery was lush. Seriously, the Cincinnati forests are so healthy right now after all of this rain. I keep remembering the span between Sunrise 10 and 30 where it seemed almost every single morning was an overcast storm.
This is the “Lunken Overlook”, although it has no official name. The grass lawn is well kept and allows us to see right down into Lunken Airport. At this point in the morning I was surprised to see several runners out jogging around Alms Park. I think Alms Park might get more morning activity than Ault Park, although it probably also has to do with the fact that there is only one road through Alms so it appears to be more compact when in reality Ault Park simply has more room to roam.
The sun has started to rise. A deep orange color is apparent through the thick haze. I found out that my camera has “fixed aperture” that is dependent on the zoom. So the only way for me to “increase” aperture (f-ratio) is to zoom in. Weird in a way, but it does feel nice now that the aperture selection isn’t “random”. I imagine that this is the reason why I am able to get the lines of cloud through this early morning sun.
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Sunrise 45: Ault Park (Adopt-a-Garden Blooms, Young Roses, and Harvestmen)
I was as surprised as you, faithful reader, that I was able to get a picture of the valley and the sky without one of them being out of contrast.
A beautiful lily in the adopt-a-garden
What a beautiful rose! The lighting turned out perfectly on this sucker.
Waking up this morning was difficult. My body felt beat up even with 7.5 full hours of sleep. Last night I went on the group ride with Element Cycles. The route we chose was a new one, going down into Kentucky and over to Devou Park through downtown. It was absolutely beautiful, and really hilly. The climb up to Devou Park is no joke – about 2 miles at a 3.5% grade. Even with the uphill climbs (both at Devou Park and back up through Mt. Lookout) we did the 26 miles in 2 hours – averaging 13mph and peaking at probably 30mph on the downhills. It was an excellent workout and I probably only had about 5% left in the tank when we got back. Needless to say, it was a bit hard getting out of bed this morning.
Orange sun punching through the opening above the horizon
As I left our apartment I looked up into the sky and saw mostly overcast clouds. But there were spots light where the layer was thin, exposing the dark blue morning atmosphere. I took my time getting to the park, figuring that the sun would be non-existent this morning, but was pleasantly surprised to see that just above the horizon there was a familiar break in the clouds. The sun shone through the open sky for a few minutes after sunrise, casting a moving shadow across the cloud ceiling. The sun was a bright orange but the light was quickly absorbed by the patchy sky.
The clouds were looking well textured as the sun slipped behind the bank
I took the opportunity to simply sit and enjoy my coffee. I wasn’t in the most chipper of moods. Getting up early with fatigued muscles isn’t the most fun thing to do, but I was thankful that I wasn’t actually sore. I have the last 44 morning rides to thank for that 🙂
A view of the adopt-a-plot garden, very similar in shape to the garden of old roses
I love these flowers! Not sure of the species. They’re just finishing up their spring bloom.
Too bad I couldn’t get a clear shot! Before they bloom they look like little packs of chicklet gum.
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Sunrise 42: Ault Park (Spring Haze, Ants & Pillbugs)
An old prop plane with its wing tips folded up takes off from Lunken Airfield into the sunrise
This morning was a great start to the short holiday week. When I crawled out of bed, a bit stiff from a holiday weekend and slightly out of routine, I could hear the birds chattering about the hot day ahead. Today should be another scorcher with a high in the mid 90s. This morning, however, the day was still young and the temperature was a comfortable 65F. The atmosphere had a thick accent of haze, indicative of the high humidity we’ve had recently. I’m not surprised to see thunderstorms in the forecast for the week.
The fog was thick down in the little miami river valley. You could see the tops of telephone poles just barely popping above the surface.
The sun has drifted so far to the left that I no longer have an unobstructed shot. You can see it in the above picture just behind the tree, a dark reddish purple sphere.
I had to patiently wait for the sun to get this high above the tree. The camera doesn’t quite do it justice – the richness of the sun was a saturated magenta.
The hazy sky meant that the sun was visible but not blinding. A great morning to look directly into the sun without consequence… for the first five minutes at least.
The upper atmosphere didn’t have the deep blue that I’ve seen on the days with less humidity. It was more of a muted navy blue.
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Sunrise 31: Ault Park (Cold Front Morning, Pre-Glacial Ohio River)
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.
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.
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.
Looking down on the office buildings below with a plane taking off overhead. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)
Sunrise 25: Ault Park (Foggy Valley, Crusade Castle Vineyard, St. Ursula Villa and R.K. LeBlond, Columbia-Tusculum, and Alms Park Vineyard)
This post is technically
a day late two days late but that’s better than never :). This write up took much longer than I had anticipated, but extra depth was required to get the background information ready. Every time I look for history of buildings in this area, I’m lead to even more websites referencing even more history. It could be a full time job!
Saturday morning I took the chance to do an extended exploration – one of my favorite things to do on a weekend morning with no commitments before 09:00am. I ended up discovering an “ancient” vineyard down below Ault Park that I had no idea existed. The history of the vineyard has led me down a rabbit hole of Cincinnati history. Often times I try not to rely on Google for discovering information about the history of the area I live in, preferring to discover (and sometimes make up my own versions) the history on my own. However if used appropriately the Internet can be a powerful tool in augmenting the exploration of the real world that we live in. More about the vineyard (Crusade Castle), Cincinnati wine, Columbia-Tusculum, St. Ursula Villa and RK LeBlond’s legacy, Alms and Eden Park after the pictures of the sunrise. The ride ended up being about 3 hours from start to finish, and it was one of the most fun rides I’ve been on in a long time.
I started off the morning knowing that I was out of coffee. I left 10 minutes earlier than usual and swung by our local coffee roaster in Mt. Lookout Square, Lookout Joe‘s. I couldn’t believe it – they were closed! OK I can believe it, 6:15am is a bit early to be open on a Saturday Morning. I ended up swinging into the local UDF and was absolutely pleased to learn that they let me fill up my 26oz Nissan thermos for $.99! Thanks UDF! (UPDATE: as of the writing, on Monday, I learned that it is free refill day. $0 is even better than $.99, thanks UDF!) if you’re on the front page, please click continue to read more. I promise you won’t regret it. (more…)
Sunrise 24: Ault Park (Bursting Cumulus, Green Leaves, Caterpillars)
After seeing the cloudy front take over the sunset last night, I was worried that the sky this morning would be overcast. When I got out of bed and looked out the window, the was indeed a bit cloudy but it was a light covering with pockets of dark blue sky showing through. The atmosphere was on the “heavy” side of light overcast. I rode up to the park for the 6:34am sunrise but as I made my way up the hill I started to notice that the sky was darker than I would have expected. There were not any signs of orange, indicating that there was a low cloud cover over the horizon. It is worth mentioning that this week I have continued to “default” to using the second gear on my bike to go up the hills. This is something that I was unable to do even two weeks ago – the added difficulty is a welcome addition to my morning rides that are becoming easier by the day as I get into shape. Feeling a bit of pent up energy from the many rain storms, I could tell that if the lighting conditions are right I’d be taking lots of pictures today.
The sky was indeed filled with a low overcast cloud bank. The sun came up over the horizon and shined through the misty layers. Just as I was sitting down to enjoy my coffee, my assumptions about a conservative and boring sunrise started to gather doubt. I noticed that directly above me the sky was starting to break, I could see the clear blue sky pushing away the clouds. The clouds were moving east allowing the clear skies to slip closer and closer to the sun rise. (If you’re on the front page, please click to continue –>) (more…)
Sunrise 22: Ault Park (Stormy krs Picture Hunt)
This morning was a repeat of yesterday morning but at about twice the “volume”. Spring showers with no sunrise. The rain storm that came early yesterday morning was young, having been only a few hours behind the thunder front. This morning’s rain storm, however, felt strong and confident. Thick clouds and dark skies with no thunder. The sky was so dark when I woke up that I ended up snoozing for about 15 minutes and left around sunrise time. There just isn’t much hurry to get out there into the dark wet rain. The rain was noticeably colder this morning, compared to yesterday, and the wind was making me wonder just how wet that emergency pair of gloves in my backpack is. While yesterday morning was relatively warm with a light drizzle, this morning was chilly enough to take the euphoric edge off of my morning ride. I decided to take a few pictures of the overlook and head up to the pavilion. In other words, it was a man-made shelter kind of morning.
Armleder Park surprised me. The water appears to have retreated back from the main shelter, revealing most of the prairie and some soccer fields. The rain hasn’t really let up enough to warrant that much of a fall, so I’m wondering if the city engineers have dome something to help drain the field?
The pavilion was pleasantly dry. When you’re not getting rained on, the wind doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem. I stood next to my bike and wondered what I was going to do for the next 15 minutes as I dried out. I remembered that another Cincinnati blogger, krs, had tagged me yesterday in some Ault Park pictures that he took over the last few days. They were interesting pictures because they featured one of my favorite things about the Cincinnati Parks – the heavy duty metal utilities that you find in all parks. A water fountain, a bench, and a lamp post. The pictures are taken in such a way that you can’t exactly tell the context of the surroundings. Challenge Accepted! If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)
Sunrise 21: Ault Park (Maple Rain Shelter)
A new front rolled through last night. Sometime during the night I remember waking up to the loud crack of thunder. Fortunately by the time 6:15am rolled around, the violent part of the system had moved on and we were left with a quiet peaceful spring shower. The ride up to the park was filled with the surround-sound acoustic profile of water falling from the trees and guzzling storm drains. There was little wind and the rain was light enough to not cause me too much mis-comfort, while being strong enough to ensure I was the only early morning pedestrian.
The visibility from the overlook was only about a mile or so into the valley. The Heekin overlook structure doesn’t actually have a roof, so I decided that if I was going to enjoy a cup of coffee without having rain drops splash it all over my hand, I should seek out some kind of shelter. I decided to search around the arboretum for a natural umbrella – a tree shelter, if you will. I strolled through the arboretum, and found there were a few small trees that could provide some shelter, but most of the trees in the lawn were simply not tall enough or thick enough to provide a decent umbrella. I ventured up to the pavilion side of the lawn. Up against the retaining wall that separates the lower lawn from the upper pavilion lawn there are several older trees. On the west side of the stairs there is a family of 3 trees that provided excellent shelter. If you’re on the front page, please click continue for more 🙂 (more…)
Sunrise 19: Ault Park (back to gray)
My morning routine was the quickest yet. The birds woke me up at exactly the time I should have been in the park. As it turns out, I set my alarm to 6:10pm, not 6:10am; oops! My coffee was already packed in the thermos. I was up at the park within 10 minutes from being in bed – definitely a new record. In fact I had the bike in second gear the entire time – also a first! Fortunately the sky was overcast so I didn’t miss much. It was a nice opportunity to relax and check out the view. I took a few pictures of the sun rise, which ended up showing some color as the sun crept up into the sky, and headed back home for some early morning errands. More pictures, including the arboretum and japanese maple, click continue –> (more…)
Sunrise 18: Ault Park (Blazing Hills and Fibonacci Spirals)
I’m beginning to think that I actually like a week of thunder storms. Today’s forecast shows “chance of thunderstorms” in the morning, and “chance of rainstorms” all day. After the storms that whipped through yesterday and last night, the sky was left mostly clear in the upper atmosphere with low lying cloud banks to the east. So far the most unique sun rises have been on these days when a storm is expected to show up but doesn’t end up getting here until late morning or beyond. It makes me wonder if spring isn’t the best season for the sun rise? A summer full of clear warm days won’t make for a dynamic atmosphere. On the other hand, the lighting conditions that come with a clear sun rise provide great opportunities to take pictures of the plants and trees. Click “Continue Reading” to see more pictures if you’re on the front page. (more…)
Sunrise 16: Ault Park (1960s Bell telephone systems, with a special guest appearance by “The Sun”)
These overcast days have made me lazy. Last week I started setting my alarm at 6:25am, a clean 40 minutes before the sun rise. With the overcast mornings and rain storms we’ve had in the past week, I didn’t bother to re-think the alarm time this week. This morning I woke up at 6:25am and set out for the sun rise at 6:40am (5 minutes before true sunrise – 20 minutes before “overcast” sun rise).
I knew something wasn’t right when I walked into the kitchen. I forgot to make my coffee the night before, so I filled up the kettle and set it on the stove in a sleepy haze. I cracked the window open to get a smell of the morning air and listen to the bird report. The birds were chirping loudly, and I looked up and saw a dark, deep blue sky. Good. Dark and… wait, deep blue? What happened to the gray? I panicked a little bit and walked out side. Sure enough, the sky was almost cloud free, save for what I could see along the horizon behind the trees. Now, because we’re only about 15 minutes before sun rise and the sky is dark, but clear, this can only mean one thing. A clear sky with a low-lying cloud bank sitting on top of the horizon, right? “This could be interesting”, I thought to myself. I checked the time – I should have left 5 minutes ago if I wanted to casually stroll up to the park and arrive with some time to spare. I rationed out the water in the kettle so that I had just enough water to fill my thermos, and gathered up everything I needed for the morning. By the time I got out the door and started riding up the street, I was met with an atmosphere that had started to explode in pink and orange. “Oh crap” I thought as I pedaled the hardest and fasted I could up the incline towards the park.
I ended up taking a few pictures on the way. Please excuse the blurry, I was mid-pedal.
I like the entrance into the park because it is appropriate for getting an “eyeball” of what the sunrise is going to do. The massive oaks and old pines rise up 80 feet above me, pointing to the sky but obscuring the horizon. I also noticed that there were gusts of wind, some so strong that I could hear the difference in tire speed as I pedaled into the park. As it turned out, there was an eastern moving front that was trying to come through the valley. You can tell in some of these pictures that the left side of the picture is bright and orange, but the right side is dark and gloomy.
Arriving at the outlook, I realized that I wasn’t too late. I may have missed the opening credits, the but show was just getting started. There was a low-lying front blocking the sun rise (so I didn’t quite miss it!) but the open sky above threw off an array of pinks, oranges, purples, blues, and whites. It reminded me a lot of the sunrise from April 16 (Sunrise 09) where I took my favorite picture, “Wheels of Fire”, against the sun rise. There are two parts to a sun rise like this. The first part is that the atmosphere doesn’t get colorful until about 10 minutes before the sun’s true sunrise time because the clouds are blocking the area just above the horizon. The colors come on quickly but are scattered wide into the periphery of your vision while the horizon itself stays dark. If you are lucky enough to have a completely clear upper atmosphere, the second part of the sun rise comes next.
It caught me off guard this morning while I was taking a picture of the almost flooded east/west lane at lunken airport.
As I turned around I remembered this familiar cloud formation from the aforementioned sunrise 9. The sun finally peaks over the low lying frontal cloud bank, and if you’re even luckier it can be obscured by a higher level haze allowing you to look at it directly. This is a close up taken just as the transition from “stage 1” to “stage 2” takes place.The light illuminates the upper area of the lower cloud bank and provides a rolling mountainous plane. It really is a sight to see. The camera does it justice in some cases, but in person it just looks outstanding. This particular low-lying bank had a unique feature. The lower pieces of the bank started to spread thin, allowing patches of deep orange to shine directly down towards the earth. This provided a surreal situation where you’ve got the bright yellow/orange illuminated upper mountainous region with deep orange spot lights poking through towards the forest.
Needless to say, this sun rise was the last thing I expected when I woke up this morning.
I found myself on the eastern part of the park. I took the long way home, past the observatory and down through Mt. Lookout square.
I had hoped to catch the observatory against the beautiful backdrop, but as I was leaving the park the eastern moving front moved through to block most of the light.
I took the chance to snap a picture looking west on Observatory across Delta Ave. This is just north of Mt. Lookout Square. Behind me is Ault Park and the surrounding residential neighborhood. Observatory runs a parallel east/west with Erie Ave and provides a popular flat stretch for the local runners (and part of the Flying Pig route), considering most of the area is made up of unforgiving hills.
On the way back home I passed a building that I often wonder about but haven’t checked out. It sits on the corner of a quiet neighborhood inlet and Delta Ave. The lawn is always well kept and the brick building sits confidently in the middle of the plot. You can tell it is still maintained but it isn’t labeled in any obvious way. There are newspapers piling up on the front porch – enough to indicate that there is life on the property but that they don’t use the front door. As I’m staring at the building, wondering how long after the “1940-1950s art deco boom” that is responsible for so many of the Cincinnati Water Works buildings, I noticed a plaque on the wall just to the right of the front door.
The plaque reads “The Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Company”. Ahh. An old relic of the Bell / AT&T monopoly. I don’t know much about this history (AT&T alone is interesting), but the local telephone carrier Cincinnati Bell is one of the few fragments left that still uses the “Bell” moniker. The history of Unix is tied into AT&T history as well, of course, which means that your ANDROID phone (running linux) and even the iPhone (which can be traced back to FreeBSD/Unix) can be tied back to the legacy Bell computer systems. All of which are, in a 6-kevin-bacon-degrees-of-freedom kind of way, connected to this building. I bet there are some sexy analog switchboards hidden in the closets of this building. Judging by the brick and “modern” look, I’d place building to have been built sometime in the late 1960s / early 1970s. +/- 15 years, I don’t have anything to compare it to. A little bit more Googling and I find that this logo (seen above in the plaque) dates back to 1964.
UPDATE: The Cincinnati Bell History Page says that in 1971 the company officially changed names from “City Suburban Telegraph Company” to “Cincinnati Bell”. That places this building as being built between 1964 (when the logo was first used) and 1971 (when the name changed). Holy cow, I was really close in my original guess. The page also mentions that there were several switching stations, one was called the “East” exchange. Perhaps this is the building they’re referencing?
Sunrise 13: Ault Park (the sun is back!)
This morning was absolutely beautiful. It was everything I could have hoped for after these last two days of thunder storms, and more :). The atmosphere was crisp and clear, with a hazy cloud formation just above the horizon. The clouds provided a beautiful reflective orange pattern and there was a “slicing” effect caused by one of the lower cloud banks (I need more words for clouds…). I guess you could say today was a “mustache kinda morning” (thanks Mike!). Always remember – shaving your beard in preparation for summer is always an opportunity to wear a mustache (even if only for a single day)! Earlier this week I had a “mustache monday”; fortunately I only ran into a handful of people. Moving on…
This is my theme song for the day. Don’t judge!
The pre-dawn atmosphere was a pinkish color, no doubt influenced by the low cloud cover. When the sun actually came up, you could just barely see it through the clouds. It was so subtle and majestic. More pictures after the jump (more…)
Sunrise 5: Ault Park (Cold, Wet, Dark)
As I rolled out of bed this morning, my overwhelming mood was… uninspired. I cheated last night and checked out the weather forecast (one of the wonders of the modern world that I never got in the hang of using). I saw that this morning was supposed to be gloomy with thunderstorms, 70% chance of precipitation. Not exactly an ideal sunrise situation. Fortunately, however, there were no thunderstorms by the time 6:45am rolled around. The atmosphere was dark, gray, wet, with a light drizzle. In other words, project sunrise was a go.
I pulled another rookie mistake this morning. In my drowsy snooze-induced haze (who wants to jump out of bed to go sit in a thunderstorm? hah) I forgot that I charged the camera battery last night. I didn’t realize this fact until I was up at the park. Of all days to forget to bring the camera battery, I’m glad it was a day like today. I’m lucky to have remembered to bring my trusty LG 9900, so once again please forgive me for the quality.
The sunrise was literally non-existent. The ambient light increased a bit over the 20 minutes I was sitting out at the overlook. The rain was light but persistent. After the warm rain yesterday that seemed almost pleasant, today’s rain was downright freezing. The nice thing about it though was that it made me think about that beautiful sunrise from day 1. I thought about how necessary these spring rainy days are, and how beautiful the park will be in a few weeks when the storms pass and the sun comes out more often than not.
(More after the jump, including pictures that I didn’t put up last week) (more…)
Sunrise 2: Ault Park (in the mist)
This morning was interesting. After almost missing the sunrise yesterday, I made sure to be up at the overlook 10 minutes early. In contrast to the clear skies yesterday morning, however, the sky this morning was overcast and gray. Last night we must have had a light shower; the roads were wet and slick, the sky was dark and gray, and the ambient light seemed to be lagging behind by about 25 minutes. I honestly couldn’t tell when the sun came up. I took the opportunity to relax and drink my coffee, and think about the direction I want this project to go. Without the distraction of a beautiful sunrise, planning the day is much less stressful! Lunken airport had some light traffic, including a small commuter jet that took off in a hurry right after the supposed sunrise time.
One of the things I’m figuring out is coming up with a list of locations that I’d like to consistently take a picture from. The point of this will be to document the seasonal change of the park. I’ve decided that this spot fits nicely because it captures the Heekin Overlook and the valley below as well as several pieces of local fauna. The trees that don’t blossom and aren’t conifers haven’t started putting on their green show yet, so this spot should change over time. (Why do flowering trees blossom so early and always before full leafy non-flowering trees? Hmm.) I also have to remember that everything I see today I take for granted. During the summer you can’t see through the trees at all, and the overlook seems snug and crowded, in contrast to the panoramic view we get to experience today. More pictures after the jump.
Sunrise 1: Ault Park
Well, here we go! I’m going to try and hammer out the format of all of this as I go along. This is going to be a wordy post, but most of the later posts will be substantially smaller. Welcome to my project! The purpose of this blog, at least right now, is to document my ongoing attempt to wake up with the sun every day for the next few months (starting today), brew a thermos of coffee, grab my notebook (the analog kind), hop on my bike, and make the thigh-burning, wheeze-inducing, 12 minute trip up to the top of Ault Park (did I mention I’m miserably out of shape?). This will of course involve me getting up 2 minutes earlier every day until the middle week of June, at which point the sun rise time will hold steady for a few days (at 6:11am EST) before starting its retreat back to more sane times. One of the hardest things for me to do is get up early. I realized something recently, and that is that I never regret when I actually do get up and active before 8:00am. So thats what I’m going to try and do. Start off every day with an accomplishment of great magnitude. It is all down hill from there!
If you’re more curious about why on earth I’d do this (even I think it is crazy), I’ve got some ideas written out in the manifesto (which will probably be changing daily). I’ll also be exploring various other areas around eastern Cincinnati (at least as far as I can get on my bike), including Ault and Alms park, Armletter Park, the Cincinnati Observatory, Lunken Airfield, East End and down by the Ohio River, the marina / boat club, and who knows where else. I’ll probably take a break on the weekends, but I’ve also found that early Saturday mornings offer some of the best time to explore on a bike without having to worry about traffic. Along the way I hope to find myself becoming more proficient at writing, having more productive and inspired days, and discover more amazing things about the history of the area I live in. There are so many markers, plaques, cornerstones, and ruins hidden away in the local forest from the late 1800s and early 1900s that I’m sure I can only remember a small percentage of them off the top of my head. I also have a lot of pictures from the last two years of exploring the area (and finding those hidden ruins, markers, etc), so I’ll throw those up on here in time. I’m definitely going to be making a post for every sunrise I see (daily if I keep up the motivation), and hopefully I’ll find a few other pictures along the way that I’d like to share. This project doesn’t just represent a new way of looking at my life for the next two months, or as a way to savor every detail out of the early hours of the day, but it also serves as a way for me to create a historical log, with pictures, that I can look back on for the rest of my life and say “Hell yeah, I’m really glad I did that”.
So now it is official; I decided to make today the official start of the project! I got in late last night (I was at the reds game, we won!) and grudgingly decided to get my butt out of bed at 6:30am this morning. It was pleasantly warm out, probably a good 15 degrees (F) warmer than a few days ago when I did my second morning “test run” to Ault Park. The most surprising thing to me was clear the sky was, and how that affected the lighting around me. There were very few clouds in the sky which meant that I could see the sun crest over the ridge line. Earlier in the week it was cloudy after a storm, which meant that I had to wait about 10 minutes to really see the sunrise (and I couldn’t exactly tell where the sun was). I’m hoping to see another sunrise like that in the coming weeks, it was absolutely beautiful and didn’t really peak until the sun found a break in the clouds at about 15 minutes after sunrise.
Here is a picture of the Heekin Overlook, where I will be spending a majority of my mornings waiting on the sun. I don’t want to talk too much about it yet, I have to save some information for future posts! 🙂
More pictures after the jump.