Friday, September 30, 2005

Ohio Street, September 30

Follow the sun! The sun is in the south now and since it was cold in Evanston earlier this week we decided to follow the sun south, all the way to Ohio Street. Mike was still hurting from the cold of our last swim so Ken and I got on our bikes and rode down the lakeshore from Irving Park to Ohio Street. Air was cool, 60's, but skies were clear with a intense sun. The water felt much warmer than Tuesday, but in fact it was only 62, Ken said it felt like 67 though. We went all the way to the "do not swim farther than this" line and back. Along the way the Chicago Fire Department scuba team waved at us, but we noticed that none of them was getting in the water. When we arrived back to our bikes they were in deep shade from the apartment tower south of the beach, so we had to go further up the beach to find a warm place to dry off and change. We then went to Starbucks for the obligatory "after swim at Ohio Street" coffee and when we got back the bikes were back in the sun. Overall it was an awesome swim reminding us once again that, weather cooperating, the Chicago lakefront is the greatest in the world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Evanston, September 27

End of the Season? It was a picture perfect fall day, air lower 70's, bright sun and little wind. Smooth long 1.5 foot swells. Only the water felt chillier than the actual 61 degrees it was. We cancelled our more ambitious swim plans and just went halfway and back. Then we (Mike, Ken and I) just enjoyed the beach, which we had mostly to ourselves, for about an hour.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lighthouse Beach, September 20

What can we say other than a great September swim. Warm air and bright sun made the 67-68 degree water feel cooler than the same temperature last week, but once we got swimming it felt great. Classic trochoidalwaves but they were harmless. Mike, Ken and I went our usual mile and a quarter and then sat on the beach for the better part of an hour just to enjoy the nice day.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Evanston, September 15

Surfs up! It wasn't clear from the weather reports what we should expect today. It certainly was cloudy and cool with air temperatures in the 60's. Even looking at the lake it didn't seem that bad, we couldn't decide on
whether to do a regular swim up the lake (from our regular beach) or an out and back swim. Once we were actually in the water, it felt warmer than Tuesday because the air-water differential was less but the water actually was 2 degrees cooler at 65, we opted for out and back. We made the right decision as when we got 10 minutes out the waves seemed to be about 6 footers and the swimming got quite rough. So we turned back and swam in with the waves. It felt faster but Ken had his watch running and and said we were actually a minute slower.

Back near shore we tried body surfing but Mike, the Maui surfing expert, characterized the conditions as "shitty". We each did get one or two small rides for our efforts. As we walked back to the car one of the workmen on the sewer project, they are in the process of cleaning up their mess, commented that we must be freezing to death but we just smiled and told him, truthfully, that it was warmer in the lake than out here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Evanston, September 13

The weather people promised a hot day, the third in a row, no rain and water in the mid 70's. They lied. First of all it rained. And second, the water temperaturetook one of its sudden tumbles, more typical of August, but often associated, paradoxicly, with hot weather. It was only 67. We had a guest today, Ken has, at leastfor now, joined our little group. We took him to our usual beach, the construction crewswere taking a day off so parking was possible. Fortunately Ken is also able to handlecold water so his lack of a cap, along with Mike, wasn't a problem. I probably had an extra latex cap in my bag anyway. From shore it looked quite calm and the swim out wasfine, Ken is comparable to Mike and me in speed so we swam in formation. At the turn the flag was limp which I took as a good sign as the wind was to be from the south. But we were again deceived, the small waves were much less friendly going back. By the time we finally arrived we had scattered, Mike to the right, Ken to the left and me, who onlywanted a cooldown from Saturday, bringing up the rear in the middle. Part of the problemis that we were aiming for the lifeguard perches, which, as has happened to us before thistime of year, were being moved by park staff to safer ground. Ken claimed to be impressedwith our swim so we may see him again.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ohio Street, September 10

The weather could not have been better for Big Shoulders, the annual 2.5 and 5K races in the Lake, which is somewhat a shame since many competetors get little lake practice, unlike me. The water was about 77, with small swells near shore but it did get quite wavy out by the far turn (the one closest to Oak Street). The nice thing is that the waves were coming in along the wall so it was possible to get a pretty good ride on the homestretch. With the 2.5K national championship there were many swimmers from out of town, about 300 swimmers in all. Still about half did the 5K and the format was somewhat different. I swam late with the old dumb-farts, those of us who should know better than to do 5K so there was not too much congestion except at the start. The organizers didn't get it that they would be starting us just as the hot-shot 2.5K guys were coming in. It didn't bother us so much as it may have bothered them. For the 14th year I survived physically. Mentally I'm a bit bummed as the organizers maybe screwed me out of a 3rd place national medal for the 2.5 K by letting some people swim both races but not allowing me that option.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Evanston, September 8

Today was cloudy and pleasantly cool with a moderate northeast breeze. Since I will be swimming Big Shoulders Saturday I merely wanted a short swim to stretch out, so back to Evanston. The water was 72 with 2 foot waves so it was 10 minutes out against the waves and then back more quickly. It would have been totally uneventful except that while we were still at the car a woman named Mary that Mike used to swim in the Lake with 20 years ago jogged by. Mike had related many stories about swimming with her to me so meeting her in person was actually interesting.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Howard Street Beach, September 6

Finally after waiting all summer the LAKE IS OURS! Magically after Labor Day all the people have vanished, especially those who's job it was to try to hinder our swimming! Being able to go anywhere we wanted we chose Mike's old haunt, Howard Street. This beautiful day with 73 degree water, about 8 feet of underwater visibility, and only moderate swells we ended up swimming all the way to Pratt pier and back, about twice our usual swim. What else to say but a great swim.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Evanston, September 3

An almost perfect day. We hadn't planned on swimming but Mike decided to let his wife sleep late and called on the off chance that I was available. My wife was off to a morning at the beauty shop so I jumped at the chance and we got out early. Back at our usual beach the construction crews were taking the holiday weekend off so we figured that signs or no we could park, and we could. The water was supposed to be flat, or close to it, from shore it looked only like chop but from the water there were real 1 footers. Swimming was easy anyway. My only problem was the sun in my face on the swim out but it was warm on my back during the return. The water was 71 and clear enough to see ones toes. Das Boot came by right on schedule and caught us near the far wall, but this was off private property and they did not even give us a glance. We enjoyed the sun and beach for a little while after the swim but we had to get back to the wives and were gone before any of the beach crew showed up. By the time we left a strong north wind had developed and the waves had increased noticibly so we probably had the best part of the day.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Evanston, September 1

Today we try Lighthouse beach, the famous but somewhat hidden beach at the north end of town. The wind from the last two days has died down and the water is almost flat except for very long low swells which are only visible through the small breakers that occur by the shore. The main legacy of the storm is that the water, which was almost clear two days ago is now very cloudy, one cannot even see ones hands and feet in the water. At this beach there is a close wall but no far wall, there is, however Wilmette Harbor and the output of the former sewage canal. On the side are a row of extremely nice houses and the Bahai Temple. We didn't make it all the way to the end but did what we calculate by the time to be our usual distance swim. The water is still a very pleasant 72. The same guard who appeared at the other beach last time appeared here at 10:15, but without a briefcase to keep him company, to try and keep us out of the water. But he didn't kick us off the beach so we had a pleasant hour to enjoy the sun emerging from behind the clouds. The beach merges with private, but today vacant, beaches to the north and those patrons who wished to swim simply slipped over there out of sight of the guard who had parked himself at the entrance gate.