I woke up this morning at 5:55am and hit the snooze button. I should have taken notice when my alarm first went off and I couldn’t hear it; perhaps snoozing wasn’t the best idea. We had a floor fan turned on that was generating lots of white noise, perfect for sleeping but not perfect for hearing a phone alarm on the lowest volume setting. I woke up in a fury at 6:21am, 3 minutes past sunrise. Was I too late?
Last night we had a behemoth of storms come through at around 8:00pm. Tornadoes were spotted in the sky up north and roofs were blown off of restaurants. I was actually out biking last night, likely feeling the itch after staying inside during the electrical armageddon of yesterday morning, and got up in the storm. Nothing gets the old legs pumping faster up the hills than running from a mega-storm. I was actually down by Lunken Airport last night when I noticed the dark thunder head rolling in from the west. My sister-in-law took a great picture of the storm moving about 50 miles up north in Dayton, OH:
I actually almost got blown off the bike a few times as I was cranking up the 250ft accent from the river basin to Mt. Lookout.
Back to the morning wakeup. I leaped out of bed and threw on my clothes. I looked outside – a light gray sky indicating a possible overcast scenario. Good! I thought. At least I won’t miss anything! I was out the door by 6:24am.
As I pushed up to the park, I noticed how sweet the air smelled. It wasn’t raining by now, and in fact the atmosphere and ambient lighting was getting brighter by the minute. The air had that after-rain smell to it, (I recently learned this is called petrichor) and the trees were still dripping. As I climbed the hill, I noticed that the sky had started to burst open in a light orange color. I pedaled as quickly as I could, mentally kicking myself for not being more prepared for a perfect “after-storm” sunrise. I’ve been noticing a lot of incoming google hits for phrases relating to “the sky after a storm” and “kinds of clouds after a storm” so I realized that this could be a great sunrise that I didn’t want to miss.
The bright orange sunrise. Little did I know that it wouldn’t last long. If you’re on the front page, click to continue –> (more…)
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…)
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.
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…)
It was difficult getting up this morning. For the past two nights we’ve had some serious thunder storm action. The front that rolled through last night was predicted to be substantial. While it certainly was intense, I feel that at least in our area it wasn’t as strong as the lightning storm that came through tuesday morning. The city of Cincinnati can be a bit trigger happy on the storm siren. Their policy is to blast it under “Thunderstorm Warning”. I’m sure they blast it under a “Tornado Watch” as well, but we haven’t had one yet this spring. As if the thunder storm wouldn’t wake us up, they made sure that we were awake by turning on the storm sirens twice, once around 12:30am and once around 1:00am. That made for a rough wake up.
Last night I tried something different that ended up working out perfectly. My thermos, as you may know, is an excellent insulator. I decided to make my coffee last night and fill up the thermos. This eliminated the largest time sink of my morning (about 8 minutes of the 15 it takes to get ready). It also allowed me to roll up to the park and pour a cup of coffee that was only 20-30 seconds away from being at a drinkable temperature. If I make coffee in the same morning I drink it, I can wait up to 4 minutes before I can touch it. The coffee was delicious, as expected, and I think I’ll be making nightly coffee from now on.
This morning the park was quiet, peaceful, and wet. The storm broke for me just like yesterday morning. There was no rain, but it was dark. The overlook provided a nice view of the storm clouds rolling through. It was a bit tough getting good pictures without them ending up blurry.
Armleder Park is now officially Armleder Lake (with the associated Armleder Dog Park Bay). It looks like the Little Miami and the surrounding fields / praries have become one. Could it get any worse? I’m not sure.
I sat back and enjoyed my 8 hour old delicious coffee. The rain must have just recently subsided because the birds were slowly building up their song. I heard a mourning dove for the first time along with the usuals.
I noticed, along the stone ledge, a large ant that was struggling to get around on the wet surface. Poor guy probably lost all of his colony’s pheromone trails in the rain. He is probably doomed to live out the rest of his days in an eternal wander. But it did get me excited – late spring and summer means more insects! It is kind of strange listening to the forest and not hearing crickets and cicadas.
Ten minutes after “sunrise” I was feeling a bit “antsy” (haha). I rode over to the arboretum and sat down at one of the benches under a magnolia tree. There were several downed branches from the recent storm. The ambient light was starting to creep up to more reasonable levels, and the green foilage was taking on that eerie glow that only comes around during a dark cloudy sky.
I hopped on my bike and headed home after the quick trip to the park. I was home by 7:40am, a half hour before I would have considered getting out of bed two weeks ago. On the way home I came across a cleanup crew taking care of a downed power line. Whenever I see civic services, like road crews repairing pot holes and bridges or firemen removing branches from downed power lines, I can’t help but think about a city as an organic living being. If you were to observe a city from a bird’s (or alien’s) eye view, and speed up the time interval so that a day was, say, a minute, what would you see? I imagine it would look a lot like an ant colony that regulates its defenses, attacks intruders, and cleans up damaged wings. Watch how quickly the city repairs the power line when a tree hits it! Did you see it tear down the bridge and re-route the traffic to the new bypass? Watch how it clears its traffic arteries of all the snow! Sometimes the city can die when the life force (people) move away from it due to ecological pressures outside of its control (job market, natural disasters). Cities that adapt policies to be friendly to certain job markets often are rewarded with a cultural and financial boost. Some cities are sick with financial or political problems that prevent certain sub-systems from functioning (police or waste service strike, budget crises). I could probably go on about this all day, and I apologize if this seems a bit disconnected. This is the first time I’ve put these thoughts down in writing, and they could use a re-working for clarity. Oh well, I’ll save that for another day. Here’s an interesting article I just found by Googling “City as Organism”
Stats from this morning (curiously, it looks like Lunken had a power outage, the data is incomplete).
Sunrise: 6:54am EST
Temperature: 70F / 21C, not much wind at all
Sky: Gray and Dark! Stormy, but I didn’t get rained on.
Bird Chatter: Quiet at first, but they came around.
People: No one except for a few joggers by the time I left.
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? 🙂
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.
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…)