Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ohio Street, August 26

It is somewhat amazing that it is already late August and I have not been to Ohio Street. The reason is probably with Mike's Evanston beach passes, we are too lazy to go anywhere else. This week Mike has been feeling out of sorts and I have started working again, so I have been content to swim in the local outdoor pool. Except for Friday when the water was inexplicably 85. Somehow I got through a mile, but only because this guy Paul badgered us into extending our workout set. Paul and Ken, the lake swimmer who appeared in the diary last summer, actually swam 4000 yards in the heat.

Today, taking advantage of a break in the stormy weather we have been having and being Mikeless I decided I needed to do Ohio Street at least once before big shoulders. I parked near Diversey and rode my bike the short distance to Ohio Street, getting there about 8:00 AM. The lake, bikepath and bike racks were packed with wetsuited triathletes, but I did find a spot for the bike. And the fucking lane lines are back in. On the whole the lake looked calmer than it has been recently, but lots of chop, the Ohio street area was actually rough for that spot, but still much better than we have had in Evanston. At the beach there was hazy sunshine and it was already warm and muggy. But the water was a suprisingly pleasant 73. There seem to be currents and I made a mental note for the race that I need to look where I am going frequently, something that I have gotten lazy about at Evanston. I swam to the new red bouy marking the end of the sanctioned swim area and back. I won't really say it was a pleasant swim, but one I needed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Evanston, August 16

Last night was rough on both of us. Mike woke in the middle of the night with pain in the elbow from an old baseball injury. I was up suffering from my allergy to all the algae we have had in the Lake recently. But today looked like the best swimming of the week, plus neither of us will be able to go to the lake until next week.
So here we are, albeit late since Mike slept late after a night at, ironically given his injury, the White Sox.

At first conditions looked like those we expected yesterday -- small swells. And the going was easy enough outbound. But from the wall it was clear that there was a goodly southeast breeze with 2 foot waves associated with it. It looked like a tough swim home. Mike wanted to go slowly with his elbow, I wanted to spend as little time in the lake as possible with my allergy. So we did what swimmers should not do: split up and swam back seperately. I was on the beach a good 15 minutes ahead of Mike who didn't arrive on land until after the guards were actually on duty. Fortunately this group knows us so Mike was only given a half hearted warning whistle for being on the wrong side of the "do not swim north of this" sign.

The water is now 73. While at the wall I went and tried to get the attention of the lady on the cell phone. It seems that she was on the phone so long that the cell phone gods have turned her into a statue. Hopefully we will see more of this penalty on the beach which was full of cell phone talking women. Today, which was another of our recent perfect beach days, was bring your kids to the beach day and there was a mob of under 5's, including 3 who looked like triplets of about 6 months getting their first therapudic taste of the E-coli at the edge of the water.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Evanston, August 15

After several wavy days we were looking forward to a nice gentle swim. True, forcasts were for 1-2 foot waves but we were expecting gentle swells. The 1-2 feet were accurate enough, although closer to 2, but the "gentle" was not. There were light northwest winds and the waves were coming in from the northeast so we decided to try and make it to the wall. Mike almost went back for his cap after testing the water, but, at the end, was happy to not have it. While it was hard to tell at the beginning, by the time we got out away from the break zone it became clear that we had trochodial waves, but larger than we had ever seen. Usually they are only about 1 foot. As usual swimming out against them was tough. The lake was partly clear so we could just see the bottom in most places. This magnified the impression that we were rising an falling, which often is not so apparent swimming in waves. At the wall the woman of the house is still on her cell phone call of last week, will she ever finish? Also as expected coming back was much easier, but we still got tossed around a bit. The water was 71 so at least it was delightful. Another perfect beach day, full sun, light breeze and moderate temperatures. Not many beachgoers to enjoy it and we also had to leave early, unfortunately.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Evanston, August 12

What is so rare as a day in June? A perfect June day in August. Full sun, air temperature in mid 70's and a mild wind keeping the bugs away. Perfect for beach goers. It was not quite so perfect for swimmers, the reported 1 foot waves were more like 3 feet and again from the southeast. Today we are at Lighthouse beach, which is a bit smaller than our usual beach. An out and back situation but with the wall at the south end of the beach this presented a bit of a complication. So we go out, then upwind until we are even with the wall. This was hard as we were not making much forward progress against the wind. Now we have maximum flexibility to follow the waves in and not hit either the wall or the poles at the north side of the beach. Not much of a fun swim. Water is about 70. We tried riding the waves but they were of low quality, quite disorganized, so only a couple of good rides.

We sat on the beach with our friend Rich and his friend from Evanston enjoying the great beach day. At some point Rich decides to go in the water. He is a big older guy. Because of the waves and uneven bottom Rich falls. It soon becomes apparent that, although he is not in danger, he is not going to be able to get up by himself. The small lifeguard is watching him, but she makes no attempt to help. So Mike and I have to dash to the water to help him up and guide him out of the lake. After the guard finishes her half hour on duty she comes over to check on Rich and assure him that she would have taken action if he were actually drowning. Exactly what action wasn't clear.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Evanston, August 9

Normally wave refraction will force waves to always come perpendicular to the shoreline, but here we can have wave directions from northeast to southeast. Today they were from the southeast. The plan was to do about half of our normal swim, then swim directly into the waves back in line with the near wall and then follow the waves in. Early in the second leg Mike gave up, after our longish bike ride yesterday he said he just wasn't in the mood to battle waves, and we swam directly in, mostly breaststroke, across the waves. The water was about 72 and cloudy, the air was 74 and partly cloudy. It seemed to be dog day at the beach, lots of dogs. A friendly husky seemed unattached and appeared to want to follow us home, and although Mike needs a new dog, this one was shedding so badly that after petting this dog you have a handfull of wet sandy hair. He eventually spied his master and trotted off.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Evanston, August 7

The weather report called for west winds this morning with the wind shifting during the day until there is a full fledged northeaster this evening. We feel safe getting to the beach at 9AM, but the wind is already blowing strongly from the north. The waves are just wind waves so we guess that the swim out might be hard but it should be OK coming back. What we didn't expect was the water temperature: 67. Usually north and northeast winds bring in warmer water so it is not clear whether this cold water was due to the previous west winds or the fact that this rule of thumb does not necessarily hold during this part of the season; we have noticed that before. I brought a light cap and Mike had none but we decided it was not worth it to return to the car for our heavy caps, even though we were able to park at the closest possible parking spot today. Mike was not sure he was up for a full swim anyway. At the halfway point I suggested bagging it and returning but Mike was in one of his stubborn moods so did not answer me, he just put his bare head back in the water and resumed swimming towards the wall. Conditions actually got better from there and when we got in the wave shadow of the wall it became calmer and warmer. Perhaps this is evidence that the wind brought in the cold water. There was lots of garbage caught by the wall. And the woman with the bikini was still standing in exactly the same position as we left her on Saturday with her cell phone, probably the same call. As expected the swim back was quick and easy. We were late back but the guards on duty recognized us and merely inquired as to our opinion of the water temperature. By the end of the swim the water actually felt good so we didn't miss the warm caps at all. This was the clearest water we have seen in quite a while, even with hazy conditions we could see the bottom the whole swim.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Evanston, August 4

While I was away I swam in Lake George NY with my daughter, who is now far enough past her competitive days to be about my speed. We figured out a route about three fourths of a mile round trip. The 80 degree water, vegetation on the shallow bottom, and constant harassment from boats and water skiers made me appreciate our Lake Michigan even more.

In my last post I suggested that this past week was a good time for the August inversion which brings cold water to the surface just as the lake is getting warm. It turns out that, even though I was not here to experience it, I was right on. Mike reports that on Wednesday and Thursday the water temperature dropped to something like 58. Mike does not carry a thermometer, but he is very experienced in telling the temperature by feel, and when the water hurts he figures it is below 60.

Today he was not sure that the water had warmed up so, at his suggestion, we both wore our warm caps. This was not necessary as it is back to 74. But there was a strong south wind with 1 to 2 foot waves. It was only slightly difficult to swim out to the wall but, as we feared, it was a hard swim back. Probably the toughest swim of the summer. A relatively uneventful hour or so on the beach was our reward. Perhaps of interest were improvements in the private properties near the wall, someone has erected a landscaped garden by the lake that will last until the next northeaster and on a neighboring property there is a good looking bikini clad woman talking on a cell phone. She seems so still we might have confused her with a statue.