No Relief in Sight
The sun had not officially come up yet and it was already too hot. Out on the patio trying to wake up, hoping for a gentle breeze to help cool me down, my coffee tastes lukewarm compared to the 90 degree morning start. Our heat wave has backed off for now but our local news promises the triple digits will return. Sleeping has been rough. At night I wake up, neck sweaty from hot flashes. The only sleep I get lately comes when I lay next to a fan blowing directly at my face.
Mindlessly I scroll through ads on my phone. Ads for pools. Above ground pools. Escape from the heat I could order now and have delivered to my door or I could pickup in a few hours.
I close my eyes. I picture me, three inches taller, two sizes smaller, my butt is firmer, my skin is flawless and golden. I look amazing in my tiny swim suit, huge sunglasses and hat, effortlessly gliding on clear tropical water. A palm tree swaying nearby. Big blue sky. The smell of coconuts in the air. Instagram Perfection.
I open my eyes and squint.
Obviously weeks of Arizona’s triple digit heat has brought on hallucinations of grandeur. There is no water anywhere in sight. No pool. No palm trees. Just sweaty me in cut off shorts, sticking to my chair on a hot patio with morning sun rays now piercing through my eyes.
There is a saying “Crazy from the heat.” I believe it is true. I just might go nutty if I don’t cool down soon.
I see it. The ad I’ve been hoping for. A 7ft. White and blue inflatable pool with two seats, head rests and cup holders! I am only 5 foot 6 so that leaves plenty of room for my feet. On sale now at Big 5 marked down from $50 for $29.99! My heart raced! I knew if I could get my husband to agree, I was positive I could create a relaxing vacation type environment somewhere on the side of our house and it would not cost very much at all.
But it wasn’t going to be as simple as buy it , inflate it, flop it down and grab a hose. I was going to need his help to make this happen. I head inside and walk over to Jay’s desk and slide my phone to him. He looked at the advertisement then looks up at me and smiles. The answer is yes. Let’s go get you a pool.
Our house is old and small. According to the paperwork at least some part of it was built in the 1940s. It sits on 3 acres including a hill, giving us incredible views of the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding valley. However,6 years ago when we first came to view this well priced, one bedroom home we were informed it had no tub, shower only and no pool to go along with all the other quirks old, privately built homes come with. Due to the type of solid granite like ground, putting in a pool would be costly. The home uses its own well for water. A built in pool would require truckloads of water to be brought in and steep $$ to initially get set up. A full bathroom remodel would need to take place for me to have a tub.
In my mind, as someone who was born and raised in the desert, you need to have water nearby not only to cool off but for the mental health it provides. No pool or tub to soak in had always been a major deal breaker when it came to where I could live happily. So there I was, faced with the real possibility of owning an adorable little old home, on a hill with a million dollar view, in an area I should not be able to afford to live in, only if I was willing to live without a pool or tub. To ease this minor setback I bargained with Jay. He would need to keep me semi sane during the very real heat of AZ by taking me away semi regularly to a hotel to be able to fulfill my strong desire to simply float in water. He could go golf or hang with me or do whatever he wanted to but just let me float in a pool. He agreed. It seemed very doable at the time. I signed the papers.
Reality set in fast as our work schedules, pets, timing, bills, etc. life in general kept getting in the way of my pool getaway.
The Cost of Doing Business
A hotel stay is expensive. Period. Room fees, fees for pets, food and drinks, entertainment, tips, it all adds up. Oh I’m sure if you are fan of a particular large fancy hotel chain you would argue that there are plenty of perks and free vouchers that make the cost seem minimal. Convince me. I’m a freelance writer. I call it as I see it and experience it. I would love to write all about how I got spoiled rotten by your hotel for free.
But going to a hotel also requires getting there in the first place. Freeway driving comes with stress free of charge. Gas prices, even for a local staycation, can now cost well over $50 in your tank and forget about driving for hours to stay overnight somewhere. Consider the wear on your vehicle, and what road/travel stress does to your mind body and soul. By the time you unpack and truly relax it’s time to turn around and head back home.
Flying? The “cost” of todays flying experience can’t truly be measured in dollars alone. From arriving at the airport and either trying to find parking in a maze or getting dropped off without getting run over by a bus, to your full body cavity and luggage search, to sitting snuggly on your plane next to a snoring stranger, to actually safely landing at your destination unharmed by a fellow passenger or flight attendant to navigating a city style transportation drop off system to search for your luggage on rotating carousels could only be described somewhere between terrifying and laughable and in an entirely different article I can write about later.
In Jays defense he would randomly offer to take us away somewhere but I would shut him down giving this list of practical reasons why we shouldn’t even though I’m the one who really wants to go cool off in a pool in the first place.
In 2020 the plague hit. COVID stopped the world in its tracks. No longer was it even a question of when we could get away from this intense desert heat, travel everywhere was restricted. The entire nation now ordered to stay home . For some, being “stuck at home” or even working full time from home isn’t too awful. For others it was their worst nightmare coming true. At first I felt the isolation. Working from home I had no one to talk to besides my husband and I didn’t want to drive him nuts. For a long time in my life I would have said I was very social, a “people person” . However, given the forced time away from “it all”, it didn’t take long for my creative brain to enjoy quiet.
My wants and desires started to change too. Oh I still daydreamed of a pool but now I wanted less people around it. Now that I can hear it, silence is lovely. The idea of going to a hotel for a loud pool party with DJs pumping dance tracks , lined with hot girls in high heels and bros spilling drinks seemed exhausting. Privacy and the sounds of birds in nature has moved up higher on my list.
That’s Not Hot?
There has always been this weird stigma about an above ground pool or an inflatable pool, not being a hip thing to have. I’m not exactly sure why. There are actually quite a few practical reasons for owning one.
-What if the ground you have available is unsuitable for digging into?
-Not everyone can or wants to make long term commitments like a built in pool, that require long term maintenance, on their property for a few months of “fun in the sun”.
-Some folks don’t own the property they live on so making permanent decisions like digging out a pool isn’t an option.
-Unlike a built in pool, if you move you can take it with you.
-You can easily incorporate an above ground or inflatable pool into your yard with a deck or patio furniture if image is an issue.
Still, above ground pools get little respect. It will take Internet Influence to switch the image around to Instagram Worthy.
Dose of Reality
To be honest, I had no understanding or care what a few thousand gallons of water looked like, how it arrived somewhere or what it costs until I owned a home with a water tank containing all the water my home would use. As a young adult I had always lived with city water and the supply seemed endless. Now, not as young , owned a home with a built in pool and sold that home, I know a bit more. Selling a home with an older pool can be a struggle. Everything seems to focus on the surface of the pool and its equipment and zero focus on the actual house. Luckily our pool was still in good shape but the deck would need repair. I now know better about all of it now. Water is a valuable resource we here in Arizona and other nearby states are running out of. Water Conservation in the desert is crucial.
A real life rumbling tanker truck comes to fill the water tank for our small house. How often he comes depends on our usage. When my husband explained to me that some of the metal sided above ground pools I had been looking at would require multiple trips from our tanker truck driver I felt my chest tighten. Size does matter. Simply affording the initial lower cost of an above ground pool wasn’t the only thing to consider. Just because the pool is above ground doesn’t mean the water wouldn’t need a filter or chemicals. Where I wanted to put a pool mattered as well not only in terms of convenience but also safety. A large above ground pool holding thousands of gallons of water, if punctured, would certainly destroy parts our hillside.
I asked myself the honest question “What did you really want or believe you needed out of a pool to make you happy? Is it to cool off? To tan? Swimming? To float? To relax? Use it for exercise? What would this pool need to give my soul peace?”
-100 percent it was for my mental health. A pool helps me to relax.
-Not having the ability to go soak in a hot tub for awhile when your body parts ache sucks.
-I want to just lay there. Do nothing. That’s all.
-In enough space to not feel silly.
-Bigger than a standard tub.
-Long enough my toes couldn’t reach the side.
-Large enough for water to cover me.
-A pool to myself. No need to question “is there pee in the pool?” The answer is NO
-Low to no maintenance.
-Inexpensive but built to withstand this intense AZ sun.
– Cheap enough to replace if a wild animal destroyed it.
-Bathing suit optional.
Once we got back from Big 5 we still needed to go get sand from the local fire department. You can shovel sand bags to your hearts delight over there for free. We didn’t need much so we figured 5 sand bags worth would do the trick. To set up our pool we cleared the rocks down to the hard ground and then put sand. The biggest hurdle we now faced was how to blow it up. We used a small air compressor, a hand pump and our mouths. It wasn’t the fastest way but still we got it done. Threw the hose in, turned on the water and before we knew it our pool was ready for action! Grabbed two bright beach towels, a couple of chairs and small table from the patio, and a grass pad we had from our daughters recent baby shower and VOILA!
I slid into the warmish water and let out a sigh. Then I giggled. My husband slid in next to me. He sighed. Then we both giggled. What took us so long?!? This inflatable pool literally was doing everything we needed it to do and more! For $30 and a days worth of work, we had what felt like the impossible, the perfect place to soak.
Thank You Bestway and Big 5. So far our pool has held up a solid week in this intense AZ sun. We have used it daily if not more than twice a day. Every time I climb in, I still let out a huge exhale, and a giggle.