Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting to be a nice Spring

Wow, it’s getting to finally be a really nice Spring.

The water temperature of our pool is now 88F (about 31C). During the summer we usually like to keep it at 93F (34C), which is a really nice temperature for spending a long time in the water. We have an automated cover that we usually keep closed, which prevents evaporation, loss of chemicals, keeps dirt out and helps the water warm up. If we keep it closed during the summer the water can get quite hot – while not using the pool for two weeks last year upon opening it we found the water to be at 103F (40C) which ended up being just a little too hot for a pool, maybe nice for a hot tub but just a little high for swimming.

Saturday at sunset the air temp was also 88F and we thought we’d go in for a swim. Well, we don’t really swim we just kind of float around. But the pool is big enough to swim in – it’s 22ft wide x 42ft long (6.7m x 13m) and at one end about eight feet deep (2.5m). There is no diving board, to prevent jumping, but a long ‘diving platform’ along the deep end. The shallow end is around 3 feet (1m) deep, nice for sitting on the steps.

We stepped in, brought along a floater and some foam ‘noodles’ and just drifted around for a while, watching the sunset, listening to the birds singing, and waiting for the full moon to come up over the strip. It was quite pleasant. We have a quiet neighborhood, not much noise, mornings we can hear the roosters next door and the horses a block away. Our neighborhood is rated RR – Rural Residential, minimum half acre lots (some bigger) and horses and other livestock permitted. We don’t mind the roosters, their owner gives us fresh eggs.

The sunsets and sunrises in the desert are rather unremarkable. The nice red and orange sunsets are caused by moisture in the atmosphere, with our 5% humidity there is not enough water up there to make the sky pretty colors as the sun moves up or down. Sunsets rather are watching the sun go back behind the western mountains and the sky gradually turn from bright bright blue to deep black, with lots of stars visible and the glow to our east of the Strip casino neon. There is just enough dust in the air for the Luxor searchlight to be visible, reaching straight up. It used to be the brightest light on earth, noticed by some earlier astronauts, but I guess the electrical costs seemed a bit high and now the Luxor light is significantly dimmer. But still pretty darn bright, but not as visible from California fifty miles away as you are driving into town.

So we watched the sky get darker and finally decided to get out. By then the air temp had dropped (probably to 86f) so we climbed out and toweled off, then drove down to our local Sonic Drive-in for some late night food. If you haven’t been out west, Sonics are scattered around, we’ve got several in Vegas. They serve the standard burgers and fries, sodas, ice creams and shakes; you can pull up under the shade in your car, talk into a speaker, and somebody on roller skates brings a tray out to your car window.

It was about 9:30 and the place was full. About twenty cars full of people eating, and about twenty more people sitting at the tables out front. It’s a popular place to bring kids – fill up the mini-van, you can wear your sweats as nobody really sees you, and order some cheap food and let them beat each other up over the last French fry. If the kids get to noisy let them out to run around on the grass. We sat there eating and enjoyed the show. The group sitting was rather young, and it was interesting watching the girls flirt with the guys. Of the two waiters on skates one was pretty good, and we kept waiting for the other to fall down (but he never did). After we ate we hit the supermarket to get stuff for our Sunday group BBQ.

It was a very pleasant evening. I don’t know how late they are open, but I think it’s well after midnight. Most of the fast food places have drive through windows, but Sonic is the only one that also comes out to your car. Just like in the old Happy Days movie, hooking a tray on your window if you want. Being Vegas there are always indoor places to go (24 hours a day) including the supermarkets. So if you get off of work at 2am you can still go shopping. When my son was staying with us he worked the night shift, getting off at 7am. He would hit Big Dog’s Saloon, right across from Sonic, and get a burger and some beers (hey, it was the end of his working day, he wanted dinner not a breakfast). Sonic is about four blocks away, and we sometimes walk down, but since we were hitting the market after we drove over.

Sunday we had the kids and Canadian grandparents over, did some meat on the grill and sat around the pool. It got up to 103F, and the Canadians kind of melted. No one got in the pool (which still was nice), but we jumped in again after they all left.

So what are your favorite summer evening pastimes?

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