Thursday, July 27, 2006

Evanston, July 28

For various reasons neither Mike nor I were particularly eager to swim this morning, but the early NOAA forcast was too good for either of us to pass up. Conditions out were about as perfect as a casual lake swimmer could possibly want, flat clear water, mostly sunny with calm winds and 72 degree water. (We would prefer 68 degrees to declare perfection.) On the way back some wind and small (3 inches) waves were apparent but it was still very nice. We were glad we made room in our schedules to come. After the main swim we took advantage of the clear water to do a bit of fish observing and saw some bass and a large carp, not too many small fish.

I will be gone for a week so probably no posts for a while. Lake swimmers should be aware that, with the forcast heat, conditions are ideal for the midsummer inversion which drops lake temperatures temporarily 10 or more degrees. Could happen next week so bring a cap.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Evanston, July 25

For once listening to the weatherman was a good idea. In spite of overcast and even some light drizzle I decided that the actual forcast this morning, predicting that the expected rain would not come until afternoon merited a trip to the lake, rather than the pool. Mike was not so sure when I called, but decided a quick trip to the lake couldn't hurt, even if it was raining. But the rain not only held off during the morning, but the rest of the day turned out to be sunny and hot. Our swim to the wall and back was flat and mostly windless. The water quality was a little better than yesterday, but now 74. Another good swim, except for some goggle problems.

The plan was to return right after the swim, but it was so nice that it was hard to extract Mike from the beach. Even the flies, which were quite bad in the absence of wind, could not dislodge him. Finally, because he had intrusted me with his car key during the swim, I threatened to take his car and return alone, he agreed to leave the beach.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Evanston, July 24

Finally the wind has shifed, coming from the southwest. The beach was very hot, on arrival, and conversely the water felt cold even though at 73 it was the warmest we have seen yet. The lake appeared flat with wind ripples. It was an easy swim to the wall, although as we approached it was clear that there were 6 inch waves under the ripples. Coming back was harder, but not too hard. So a good swim. The water is still cloudy and tasted a little garbagy, so not a great swim.

Some clouds came in while we were swimming so it was more comfortable on the beach after the swim. Mike prepared tea, rather than coffee, for a change. I kidded him that with his skills at preparing beverages I really didn't need a beach mistress. He didn't find that amusing. Several other men older than us did come with their beach mistresses which made us both jealous.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Evanston, July 22

As I mentioned yesterday, my original strategy was to skip yesterday and swim today with smaller waves. Fortunately I ditched the strategy because the waves were bigger today, the 3 to 5 foot variety. They were slightly more organized, but still basically wind waves. Today we swam at Lighthouse beach which is better known as a body surfing beach. Again, out and back, but this time back had some punch. We actually found some waves to ride. Water was 71. It turned out to be a nice beach day, although somewhat windy. When we left the water our friend Rich, who hangs out on weekends at this beach, was there so we sat with him for a while. Again the lifeguards did "open the water" but only after first testing it to see if the waves were rideable.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Evanston, July 21

I have been gone for a week and was impatient about getting back in the lake. But yesterday it thundered all morning. In the afternoon I checked the NOAA web site and it predicted big north-northeast winds this morning focusing all the waves in the lake on our little beach, 4 to 6 feet. So reluctantly I called Mike and suggested we wait until Saturday which looked better, but still not good.

So I went to the pool for the 6AM swim. There was little wind and partly sunny skies, it looked like a beach day. So I only swam a warmup, came home and called Mike and said we gotta get to the beach. He agreed. And I was right, the waves were only of the 1 to 2 foot variety. They were disorganized wind waves, not nice swimming waves, and Mike thinks today was harder than July 4, but I didn't think they were so bad. We didn't even get much of a push on the way back. Water is now 72.

We planned to have a quick cup of coffee and head back but the sun came out, sort of. So we went on the beach and it was fairly pleasant. We noticed someone swimming by the bouys doing a side stroke, it looked like one of the regulars but when we looked again a short time later he had disappeared. He certainly had not gotten out of the water. I decided we better investigate and so I first went to check out the most benign possibility, that he swam around the wall. That turned out to be correct, he was part swimming, part walking towards Chicago. But he had a long way to go for someone of his swimming ability so I watched from the wall and Mike came and joined me. About 200 yards down he headed towards the rocks and small illegal beach and got out of the water. Mike noticed he did not seem to have a suit on, on further inspection I agreed he was completely nude. After walking down the beach a bit he found his clothes in the rocks so we went back to our chairs, excitement over.

We waited until the guards came out to see if they would "open the water". They did so we went in and tried to ride some waves, but they were too small both vertically and horizontally so it was hopeless.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Evanston, July 13

Today the northeast pattern is about over. Just some mild swells with a little wind chop on top. Mostly clear skies, warm. Mike felt a cold breeze from the lake when we arrived and decided that the water must be cold. So he wore his heavy cap. I disagreed and wore a light one. The water was actually 70, so he was the unhappy one. Other than that a nice, fast swim to the wall and back. Unfortunately I had to catch a plane so we couldn't stay at the beach. I'll be gone for a week so probably no posts for now unless I unexpectedly find some open water.

Evanston, July 12

A period of bad weather, lots of east, northeast winds, has kept us from the lake. It is not quite over this morning. More northeast winds and, since I have already done a half mile warmup in the pool, we do an "out and back". The waves look very tame from the shore but, as always, they look a lot larger from the water level swimmers view. But in fact, for once, the shore view is more accurate. These waves are fairly tame and we both miss the expected boost on the way back. Water is still about 69 F.

We are not in a hurry so we linger on the beach with Mike's coffee. There is a cool wind in our face and we are wearing windbreakers over our suits. We are alone on the beach. At 10:30 a lifeguard comes and stands silent guard over us protecting us from the lake creatures or whatever that might attack us on the sand. It is rather weird. But not as weird as the lady we meet on the street with a shih-tzu being towed behind her in a bike trailor.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Evanston, July 8

Today we are late. We don't get in the water until just before 10, time for a quick halfway swim before the guards are out, and if they are early we might get yelled at. They are not today, so we can do a little extra around the sanctioned swim area. The water is flat and warm, 69-70 with about 8 feet underwater visibility. I switched to a latex cap and Mike was capless so it was just about perfect. We were not in a great hurry so we enjoyed one of the great beach days of the summer. Before we left we went into the "open" water under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards. I found some sort of frisbee under the water and we tossed that around for about half an hour.

Added later: Apparently while we were having fun playing in the water only a short distance to the south the Chicago beaches were all closed due to E-Coli. We haven't had so many closures this summer, largely due to the fact that the amount of permissible E-Coli was increased by a factor of 4. But it seems that there was still too much. One action Chicago has taken is to hire dogs to chase away birds and water fowl who foul the water. Somehow this outbreak did not affect Evanston, at least not today.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Evanston, July 7

An earlier swim today. The water was almost flat, some very small swells but no wind ripples at all. The water was 69 and felt very nice, except Mike complained that it was too warm for our thermal caps, and I agreed. A pleasant swim to the wall and back. Even though we swam through the 9:00 hour no sighting of "das Boot", unlike two days ago when we had to delay our start until the lifeguard boat left the area. It was a nice day be we had stuff to do so we had to leave the beach shortly after our swim.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Evanston, July 5

Mike was right yesterday, it was officially a small northeaster. The waves are still around today although the wind, more from the east, is much lighter. Although they are still around 2 feet the waves were more organized with a much larger wave length and, consequently, much easier to swim in. But, because of the beating we both took yesterday, we did essentially an out and back. The water is 67 degrees now. We spent some pleasant, but uneventful, time on the sunny beach before heading home.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Evanston, July 4

Our traditional Independence day swim, often the official start of Lake swim season. On the way to the Lake Mike and I argue as to whether it is a north wind or a north-easter. I have the advantage of the NOAA marine web site with its new wind model while Mike must rely on his instinct. Its a draw, it is much wavier than predicted, 2 foot waves, but they are wind driven and too short a wavelength to be a real north-easter. We decide to swim north-north-east directly into the waves as far as we can. I should add that because of yesterday's morning rain I worked out in the pool in the evening with the team and took a beating from our coach Jerry, so I was not really up for a hard swim. We fought the waves for about 30 minutes ending up in a line with the shoremost part of the wall, but about 100 yards out, we purposely avoided the area around the wall. It was a quick 15 minute swim back with the waves, with Mike, as usual, ignoring our agreed upon line to better ride waves, but also getting stuck swimming crosswise the last 500 yards. It was interesting that our total time was consistent with our time Sunday when it was perfectly flat, proving some physical conservation law.

With the wind we did not stay too long at the beach, even though this was the first nice sunny day in a while. One indication of how strong the wind was is that not only were the roof tiles on the restrooms flapping, but the top of a woman's bikini completely blew off uncovering what appeared to be some very expensive synthetic tits.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Evanston, July 2

Today was overcast with occasional light rain but no wind at all. The water was perfectly flat and an easy swim. To the wall and back. It was a bit cold getting out and rain was threatening, so we sat in the park outside the beach to drink our coffee. The flies and knats were annoying, so we did not stay long. Water is now 68.

Evanston, July 1

A quick swim, we had other stuff to do. Besides, there was a strong south wind and the return trip would be hard, so only a half-way swim. The water looked smooth, with wind ripples from the beach, but, especially coming back the wavyness was very evident from the water. The temperature was 67. Did chat with some of the locals who, by now, recognize us as regulars.