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

Posts tagged “spring

Alms Park Sunset #2 (Mushrooms & BB Riverboats)

As you may or may have not noticed, I wasn’t able to post a sunrise picture this morning. Today we found ourselves out of town for a funeral and viewing of a family member. I imagine it was a great sunrise this morning, but there will be many more to come! Amanda and I were feeling a bit beat after getting home tonight, so we decided to head up to Alms Park to check out the sunset. We learned our lesson last time that you’ve got to arrive 20 minutes *before* sunset time if you want to actually enjoy it :). Alms Park was as quiet and peaceful as ever. The trees and bushes were a lush green and there were only a couple of people walking around enjoying the crisp spring air. Perhaps everyone was out celebrating Cinco de Mayo? ūüôā

The eastern view of Alms Park looks down the Ohio River into the bend. Downtown Cincinnati is just behond the bend, and you can actually see the tip top of the Great American building and Carew Tower over the Kentucky Hills on the other side of the river. The overlook certainly reminds me of the Heekin Overlook in Ault Park with the open top and wooden supports. (If you’re on the front page, click “more” to continue with more pictures) (more…)


Sunrise 23: Ault Park (The Storms Have Broken! (for now…))

After witnessing a spectacular sunset last night on the way home from work, I had great expectations for this morning. The forecast for this week called for 100% rainstorms all day today. I assumed that this morning would be my fourth morning in a streak of wet sunrises. Not so! The birds started their day off extra early today after having lost so much time to the rain storms of the past few days. When I woke up the sky was taking on that familiar shade of a muted dark blue, indicating that there were no clouds in the sky but there was a good deal of haze. I grabbed my coffee and camera and headed up to the park.

The air was thick and I could tell that dew point was exceptionally close to the ambient temperature. It wasn’t quite fog but you could see blurry halos around all of the street lights. The atmosphere slowly started to light up and I was getting excited for the show as I pedaled up to the overlook. This morning’s atmosphere was of the type that I have come to recognize as the “post spring storm” display. The upper atmosphere was clear with some small cloud streaks, and just above the horizon there sat a huge cloud bank. There have been several other days that looked similar to this. With luck the lower clouds have holes in them that provide a nice red/orange skirt as the sun rises above the cloud layer.

I sat down and took the usual pictures – one of the “dawn” sky, one of the overlook, and one from the overlook out into the valley. Unfortunately as soon as I reviewed the fourth picture of the day, my camera died on me. I must have left it plugged into the computer too long yesterday. The battery indicator on the camera really doesn’t help at all – it is either full 3/3 battery, or almost dying. I tried to coerce the battery into one more picture – rubbing it to make it warm, sticking it in the ground to make it cool, leaving the camera off for minutes at a time – but nothing worked. I ended up taking two more pictures with my phone, the quality of course doesn’t do the sunrise justice. But considering that today was scheduled to be another overcast rainy morning, I am thankful that I got a handful of decent pictures.

A consequence of having the sun come up so high into the sky before you can see it is that the sunrise becomes more of a yellow rather than an orange that you’d expect as the sun is close to the horizon. This morning’s sunrise had some unique things to it, including the familiar orange “skirt” that is caused when the sun rises through the sky and its rays shine down through the lower clouds onto the earth. There also was a oh-so-subtle hole in the cloud bank that provided a nice preview of sol before it popped above the cloud bank 10 minutes later. By the time the sunrise was “over” it was probably 30 minutes after the sunrise time of 6:36am.

As a related side note, I want to share an article about the project that was just posted on a local cincinnati.com blog “Eye on the East Side”. It should run in the next couple of weeks in the Cincinnati Enquirer as part of a small weekly special that talks about community events in eastern Cincinnati. Last week I met with Lisa Wakeland at Ault Park and we talked about the project. Thanks again Lisa ūüôā Lisa also mentioned the project to the Ault Park Advisory Board and it looks like they find it interesting.


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 ūüôā (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 17: Ault Park (Punching through a hole, Alms Park Sunset)

After the rain we had over the night, I was expecting to wake up to a gloomy wet morning. When I woke up I was happy to discover that there were light clouds in the sky but no rain. The forecast said today would have a “100%” chance of thunder storms. As it turns out they were correct, but the front didn’t move in until about 09:15am.

The dawn light had some definite color to it. (More after the “click to continue”) (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 15: Ault Park (warm spring day and pink magnolias)

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.

That’s alright though, it just might be the most colorful sunrise I get this week.

The clouds had some interesting patterns that were forming over head. The eastern front, likely having dumped its payload over night, was being pushed out by the western thunder heads.

I could see the dark front approaching from the west.

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.

The river has become one with the flood plains. Even the fields in the back of the ridge are under water. The valley is having flashbacks of the massive river it used to hold.

This was a first. A huge jet took off from Lunken, definitely the biggest I’ve seen. As big as one you’d expect to travel on internationally. It seemed like a 747 class jet, as unlikely as that is.

A picture for the timelapse. The flooded prarie is starting to creep up the hill to the office buildings.

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
Visibility: 9mi
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.


Best-Of: Sunrises 1-10

One of the side effects of making daily posts is that it is easy for some of the “best” pictures to get pushed off the front page. For that reason, I’m doing something a bit different. I’m going to highlight some of my favorite pictures from the first 10 days. As I sit here listening to the storm outside, knowing I won’t have a clear sunrise for at least 5 days, it is nice going back and looking at some of the beautiful mornings I’ve been lucky enough to experience. I’m also highlighting some of my favorite macro (closeup) pictures and seasonal changes that have taken place in Ault Park in the past three weeks. There may even be a couple of pictures that didn’t make the daily cut. So far I’ve uploaded over 227 pictures to this project in 14 posts. There are at least three times that many pictures that I have packed away.

Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

Sunrise / Weather


Macro / Closeup

Arboretum and Misc.


Sunrise 14: Ault Park (Warm Air, Cold Rain)

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.

I took the opportunity to try and get some pictures of the small flowers that were popping up in the green low light foliage around the overlook.

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…)


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 11: Ault Park (Misty Mountain Hop)

Early this morning an intense thunderstorm rolled through the area. It woke Amanda and I up several times, although I have no idea when. My phone actually died rebooted in the middle of the night at some point. This is the first time I woke up on my own before sunrise without an alarm, but expecting the alarm to be functional. To me, that means that project sunrise is working. It is changing me, for the good. In the back of my mind I can jump out of sleep when the birds start chirping. Who needs an alarm clock anyway? ūüôā

Now that I think about it, however, I’m not even sure it was my phone’s fault. Ive been known to do strange sleep walking activities. I never know or remember unless there is some evidence left over the next morning. Waking up in a different bed than I went to sleep in, for example. Last week I sent a “sleep text message” to my twitter account that I still haven’t exactly been able to account for. Earlier in the previous day I signed up for a twitter account. In the process you can add your cell phone number so that you can post to your account by a text message sent from your phone. They give you a randomly generated word (my word was “GO”) that you have to send from your handset to prove that you have access to it. I took care of that and moved on with my day. Sometime early the next morning, my brain floating atop a river of melatonin, I must have had a dream in which “confirming” my twitter account was high on my priority list. Your guess here is as good as mine… Apparently around 3:20am that morning (a full three hours before I actually got up, and a full three hours after I went to bed), I went into my phone, found the automated message from the twitter-bot (which meant I had to scroll down through several other messages in my inbox), and replied “go well” to it.¬† I didn’t find this out until later that day when I noticed there was a rogue twitter post on my profile. Why did I add the “well” to the message? I imagine it made perfect sense at the time.

Anyways, this morning was gloomy and wet, but pleasantly warm. I biked up to the overlook and was met with patches of misty fog.

The atmosphere was a dark gray on the misty mountain top, and I was alone in the park. Even the park crew didn’t show up until later. Fortunately for me, it didn’t rain much more than a drizzle, and the haze made the lights of the incoming planes stand out nicely.

I’m not sure if the street lights are on a timer or if they use an ambient light sensor. I would think they were on a timer like the rest of the city lights, but they were on all morning (at least until 7:40am, 40 minutes after sunrise). (More after the jump) (more…)


Sunrise 10: Ault Park (Overcast, Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk)

After all the excitement from Saturday’s sunrise, I took it easy today. The weather this morning made the decision even easier. The morning was dry and overcast. It was calm and gray, and the birds and squirrels made for relaxing entertainment.

Otto Armleder Park (and Dog Park) is still under water. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to get google hits for people trying to find out if Otto Armeder is still underwater, so I’ll try to continue to take a picture every morning so we can watch the water levels.

After my coffee, which I drank quickly, I took a quick stroll through the arboretum. The trees have officially started their burst into new leaves.

The grass looked a vibrant green in the overcast light, and the trees that were blooming only one short week ago show only worn out remains of their floral coats.

I was about to head home and make a quick morning of it, when something catches my eye overhead.¬† A red tailed hawk! I’ve never seen a hawk in the park before. I hopped on the bike and rode in the direction that he was flying. The thing about big hawks is that you don’t have a hard time finding them once you know they’re in the area.

This juvenile red tail impressed me with his size. Although that isn’t saying much when I’m used to looking at the robins, blue jays, and cardinals! I’d say the top of his head was a good two feet off the ground, and while it is hard to judge his wingspan, it seemed to be at least a meter in width. His tail was a rich rusty red but unfortunately I couldn’t get a good picture of it.

I found him perched on top of a small tree, looking around. He didn’t care that I was watching him, but he also didn’t stay in one spot long enough for me to get a close picture. I will say, he was intimidating. Those talons don’t mess around.

One of the park crew said they thought he was about a year old or so. We joked that he was a terrible hunter. He made lots of noise and kept fidgeting around in the branches of the trees. He did take a couple of half-hearted swoops at a squirrel.

He stayed up on his pine perch for awhile before heading over to Heekin Overlook. After a few minutes in the oaks above Heekin, he hopped up and glided out over the river valley.

Stats from this morning:
Sunrise: 6:58am EST
Visibility: 10mi
Temperature: 55F / 13C, not much wind at all
Sky: Dry and overcast. I thought the sun would burn through the clouds, but no such luck.
Sunrise: Non-existent.
Bird Chatter: Lots of song this morning, and the red tailed hawk made an appearance.
People: One or two runners, and some teenagers walking around through the arboretum, perhaps before school started.


Sunrise 9: Alms Park (Barge Races, Earth Day, Downtown Cincy)

It’s official, I’m addicted. I had every reason to sleep in this morning. I was up late and didn’t have any morning plans. I didn’t even set an alarm. But when the birds started chirping at 6:18am this morning, I awoke from my slumber. I even tried to go back to sleep but it didn’t work. “Fine”, I thought to myself. Let’s go see if that cold front has broke yet.

I took the opportunity to switch it up a bit. I have been curious about whether Alms Park, which is the Yin to Ault Park’s Yang, is set up appropriately to see the sunrise. There is a western facing overlook that makes for a beautiful sunset, but I haven’t noticed any particularly eastern-facing points.

The central overlook in Alms Park looks right down into Lunken Airport and provides probably the best vantage point to seriously watch the planes land and take off from 250ft above the basin.  I biked around the small loop in the park, and even went down into the off-the-normal-path reserved area where there is a small shelter. More after the jump

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Sunrise 7: Ault Park (Japanese Maples and the Cincinnati Observatory)

(Sometimes you just get lucky.  A small commuter jet coming into Lunken AND a set of Canadian geese flying north for the summer).

This morning was another beautiful day in Cincinnati. The sunrise was similar to yesterday’s: clear, vibrant, and warm.¬† I arrived at the overlook with 5 minutes to spare, taking time to get set up for the show. Lunken airport was fairly busy this morning, and I actually “accidentally” caught a couple of sunrise pictures with airplanes coming in on approach.

There were these thick pockets of fog scattered through the valley.¬† This is the first time I’ve seen these since I started this project.¬† Typically the fog manifests itself as a smooth mist evenly distributed through the air.¬† Lunken had several pockets hanging out on the runway, interestingly enough.

(More pictures after the jump) (more…)


Sunrise 6: Ault Park (Mushrooms, Tulips, Coyotes?)

I almost couldn’t wait for my alarm to go off this morning. After the past two gloomy mornings I was ready for a clear, crisp, beautiful sunrise.¬† We checked the forecast last night and realized that there was supposed to be nothing but clear skies this AM. When the alarm went off at 6:20am, the skies were already starting to lighten up.¬† The birds were in full-on chirping mode, and I was starting to get that familiar nervousness that maybe today the sun would break the laws of physics and come up a half hour early.¬† I was also excited because Amanda said she wanted to come up to the overlook this morning! Before we left the apartment she even commented on how bright the sky was, it seemed like the sun was already coming up a full 20 minutes early. In hindsight, I ended up taking a lot of pictures – way more than I probably should have. I imagine I had some pent up energy after sitting through two rain storms ūüôā

I arrived a bit early and caught the ambient atmosphere before the sun crested the hills. I rode my bike and actually beat Amanda, who came by car.  It was a chilly morning for sure, we brought hooded sweatshirts and our breathing left thick clouds of moisture hanging in the air.  The air was crisp and clear, and down below in the valley you could see a thick patch of fog to the east.

(More 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 4: Ault Park (Caught in the storm)

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)

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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.

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Sunrise 1: Ault Park

Welcome!

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! ūüôā

More pictures after the jump.

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