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…)
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…)
You can tell today is a Monday. I got all the way up to the park before I realized that I had forgotten the camera. The last time this happened, the sun rise was so spectacular that I had to make do with my camera phone. This time, however, the sky was overcast. This meant that a difference of 10 minutes didn’t really matter as much. I whipped back home, all down hill, and grabbed the camera from the table. The second ride up the hill wasn’t as hard as the first; being warmed up helps substantially when you’re on a bike.
The forecast for this week looks pretty miserable. Thunderstorms are expected for every morning until friday, when they drop their electrical charge and just become “rain storms”. This morning, however, was a great example on how not to get discouraged just because the forecast sucks. The temperature was warm, the air was thick. I actually ended up taking off my sweatshirt when I got to the overlook – it was that hot. The rain held off until just before I walked in my door (for the second time). In general, sunrise quality withstanding, it was a very promising beginning to an otherwise gloomy sunrise week.
As the sun rise came up behind the eastern hills, I started to see a possible opening in the clouds. I hoped that the hole was deep enough for the sun to be able to pop through. For a few seconds it looked possible, but in the end I only got some nice orange highlights.
The fog was thick over the Ohio River and it was starting to creep over across Lunken Airfield. You can see a small commuter about to take off while the gettin’s good. Next to the red lights. At this point it was only a matter of time until the storm arrived to make me eat my words about the morning being pleasant and dry.
The focus of today’s sun rise, and most of the last week, has to be Armleder Park. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the park (and dog park on the western side) are looking pretty water-logged. The water has advanced up to the center park “shelter”, and it even looks like it has crept up a foot or two. The Little Miami river has officially taken over the park. But this brings me back to the fishing theory that I touched on last week. I heard rumors that the park may have schools of giant grass carp swimming around, no doubt taking advantage of the soccer fields and prairie grass. Once the rains stop and the water recedes back into the river, I imagine that many large fish will find themselves hiding out in the “deep” part of the prairie – the small fishing pond near the soccer fields. I imagine this will be one of the best years to go pond fishing at Armleder Park. Who knows what monsters will end up taking residence in the tidal pool pond.
On the way home I stopped to take a picture of a tree that I have noticed in the past week. Now that the cherries and pears have dropped their blooms, the few blooming trees that are still blasting their colorful coats stand out. Most of the purple magnolias have dropped their pedals as well. But this one particular species bloomed two weeks later than the other magnolias. Its leaves are smaller, and the branches expand in a kind of planar pattern, rather than a blooming bush-like pattern. The pink is so vibrant, especially in low light. Does anyone know what these are? I may be completely wrong, perhaps it isn’t even a magnolia.
These purple hanging flowers must have bloomed in the last week. The bush is hanging across the sidewalk along one of the side-routes I take to get home. As I took this picture the rain started to pour down.
While I had the camera out I wanted to capture this wooden mushroom sculpture that always catches my eye. There are a handful of wooden sculptures in the neighborhood that appear to be carved out of the still-in-the-ground stumps of old trees. I’m not sure if this is a single hunk of stump, I got out of there before I got too soaked. Looking back on the picture, however, I think it is. You can see the ring of the original stump at the base of the mushroom.
Stats from this morning (curiously, it looks like Lunken had a power outage, the data is incomplete).
Sunrise: 6:47am EST
Temperature: 60F / 16C, (felt 15 degrees hotter than that with the humidity)
Sky: Overcast with cloudy holes, a western moving front
Sunrise: Muffled but orange. At least we got some color!
Bird Chatter: The cardinals were noticeably loud. There were several around dominating the spectrum, almost forcifully
People: A few runners were out taking advantage of the “dry” morning.
When I first woke up this morning, all I could think of was how sore I was going to be. Last night I participated in my first ever “group ride” with the friendly people over at Element Cycles in Mt. Lookout / Hyde Park. I found out about the event only two hours before it started. Yesterday afternoon I was browsing through the Cincinnati bicycling blogosphere when I came across an announcement by Queen City Cycles (and Urban Cincy) about how May is “Bike Month”. There are going to be all kinds of awesome events, including Bike+Brew, an event that involves a bike pub crawl through the bars in over the rhine, down town, and newport / covington kentucky. It sounds like a blast. Along with the announcement about Bike+Brew there Queen City Cycles had a picture of the official Bike Month t-shirts. I saw that one of the locations to pick up a t-shirt was at Element Cycles, which just so happens to be in my neighborhood. I remembered passing the shop just last Sunday for the first time so I decided to check out their website / facebook page. As it turns out they do Thursday rides @ 6pm. Being familiar with the weather for this week and realizing that yesteday was probably the only beautiful day (and the only clear sunrise!) I sucked it up and decided to check out the event, for better or worse.
I was pretty nervous to say the least. Could I keep up with these “real” cyclists? Would I get left behind, struggling and over run by traffic, somewhere in the eastern hills, 20 miles from my house? I sucked it up and headed over to the bike shop on Observatory to see what it was all about. It ended up being an absolutely fantastic ride. I was probably the only person in the group who didn’t have clip-less pedals, a bike computer, or a sweet-ass aerodynamic bike outfit – but in the end it didn’t matter. We had a group of about 15 people, all of whom are what I would consider to be regular cyclists. A few of the riders were obviously serious about speed, quite intimidating at first, but they ended up breaking off and doing their own route which left us mortals to climb the grueling hills at our own pace. Everyone was friendly and didn’t seem to mind my nervous tick – talking and talking and talking (“Did you know this building was built in the early 1900s for downtown commuters? It doesn’t have a parking lot because there used to be a rail line that went through here. So have you heard of the Cincinnati Subway? hehe) The route ended up being about 21 miles, averaging about 14mph. We went up to Madeira, over through Indian Hill, and back up Wooster to Madisonville. There are some beautiful hidden (and steep) roads out through Indian Hill. Fortunately for my legs (and sanity) we took a break every 5 miles or so to recuperate. It was a great experience overall. After the trip Brett, the owner, hooked me up with a craft beer from Utah, Four+Brewing’s Wyld Organic Pale Ale. I knew right then that I was coming back :). I’ve never had a craft beer from Utah, and even now it appears that it was a rare occasion – I don’t think the brewery even has a web site. I look forward to many more Thursday rides.
This morning started out with so much promise. The color of the twilight sky was the gray that I’ve become so familiar with this week. It was not, however, quite as dark as Monday or Tuesday. There were streaks of a hazy bright gray, almost blue, through the atmosphere, giving me some hope that there may be a sunrise after all. I’ve found that you can tell a lot about the sun rise by how much light is in the atmosphere about a half hour before the sun rise. If the atmosphere is bright you’ll obviously have a great sun rise. And if it is still as dark as you’d expect to be in the middle of the night, you’ve got a completely overcast situation. But there are levels in between. From a 0 (stormy / midnight) to a 10 (clear with no clouds) today was probably a 4. I made my coffee (oops I forgot all about it last night), hopped on the bike, and rode up to the park. I arrived just in time for the official sunrise. The air was surprisingly warm, and while it was a bit wet out, I wouldn’t say that it was unpleasant. The air smelled sweet and there was a surprisingly high volume of bird chatter. It must be mating season for one of the local species because it sounded like a constant overlapping between one specific kind of bird call. I’ve noticed that the cardinals tend not to yell over one another – they take turns and sync up. I’d say that this is a good example of an optimized game theory strategy. This other bird though (I know what it looks like, but not what it is called) isn’t quite so courteous. There was a consistent baseline of song, partially shrill and indistinguishable, in the backdrop of the forest soundscape.
The sun never did come out. Armleder Park is still holding strong down in the valley, having been underwater for over two weeks now. I can’t imagine how many giant carp or catfish are grazing the prairie grass and soccer fields. I just realized that you can fish in the small pond that is located on the eastern side of the park – does that now expand to include the whole park? Hmm. I may have to go get a fishing license after all. I also wonder what effect this will have on the fish population in that small pond. If the prarie is the flat basin of the new “Armleder Lake”, the pond would be the deep trench that the catfish would probably want to hide out in. When the water recedes, I bet we’ll see some giant fish pulled out of that pond.I’d like to imagine a young kid and his dad heading out to Armleder for a quick fishing trip after work. By this point, lets say late August, the 4 foot grass carp hasn’t had a good meal in weeks. He’s desperate for some protein. The kid feels a yank on his line, and the next day his dad can tell his work buddies that his son caught a 100 pound grass carp in a tiny pond next to the soccer fields. Heck yeah!
Lunken Airport is a bit under water, too, but that doesn’t affect business. The run ways are elevated, perhaps because they got sick and tired of getting flooded out over the years. Or maybe they built it that way originally. Who knows.
Normally I would over look these smaller flowers, but now that the cherry blossoms, magnolias, and daffodils have moved on they stand out against the green backdrop. (More after the jump) (more…)
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…)
I got out of bed this morning, bruised and aching. This was one of the toughest mornings yet, physically. Yesterday morning I went on a ride with a friend, Andy, through the rolling hills in the Kentucky countryside. It was absolutely beautiful, quiet, and scenic. Along the way I noticed that my left pedal was starting to act up again. Last fall I had put a lubricant on the bearings, thinking it would be helpful, but somehow the lubricant managed to break the seal on the pedal. I had forgot all about this until yesterday morning, because the problem doesn’t typically show up unless I start moving at a fast pace (all my sunrise rides have been typically in first gear only because of the steep incline). About 45 minutes into the ride I noticed that the pedal had seized up and was starting to unscrew itself from the bike. I stopped twice to screw it back in and free the bearing. I kept eye on the pedal as we cranked up and down through the farmland, trying to plant a firm mental reminder to get it fixed.
About an hour and a half into the ride we’re cruising along on a flat stretch of road. Then it happens (at this point I’m really not surprised). I suddenly hear a loud crack as the threads on the pedal that hold it in place strip and send the hunk of metal skittering across the road. My balance is thrown off to the left, I overcompensate and lock the handlebars to the right. I remember a clear and lucid moment right before impact, looking down at the aphault, thinking to myself “well, this was inevitable I suppose”. Let’s just say that if I was trying to throw myself at the ground and miss, well… I didn’t miss. I haven’t had such an intimate encounter with the pavement since I was 10 years old and learning to rollerblade. At any rate, because we weren’t going too fast and my bike turned into a sled, I didn’t end up getting too hurt. My elbow took most of the impact on the 40-foot skid, and my tailbone hurts a bit. Nothing broken, just bruises and cuts. Another lesson learned: Don’t ignore your hardware when it is diligently trying to tell you that it needs fixed.
This lead to an interesting dilemma this morning. My bike is now pedal-less (bike shop was closed on Sunday), so I borrowed the wife’s bike for the trip up to Ault Park. She did just fine, although because it isn’t a road bike, going up the hill was slow. I’d say it was painful, but that might just be because of the bruises! In the end, I am definitely glad I was able to muster up the motivation to see the sunrise. Although I never actually saw sun due to the cloud cover, the view was beautiful. This was the warmest morning yet, it was downright pleasant out.
I also ended up meeting some of the local forest inhabitants just before the sun came up.
“Offical Sunrise Picture for Sunrise #4”.
(More pictures after the jump)