Thanks to the confidence TFP gave me last season, I decided to open my pool myself this year (with some help from a pool-savvy neighbor). No sense paying the LPS $400+ just to pull the cover, thread in some plugs, and prime the pump...
So, we started by removing the Loop-Loc cover, and this is what we found:
Got the pump primed and running strong. Checked my FC level and found it to be 0. CC was also 0. I should mention there was a dead rat in one of my skimmers -- that's probably the reason I had zero chlorine in the water.
Added 1.5 gallons of 10% chlorine to get to 6 ppm, checked after 2 hours, and FC was down to 2. CC was negligible (which I found surprising...).
I'm now just over a week into a "partial SLAM," i.e., maintaining FC above 16 ppm (CYA is at 40) and brushing periodically. Lost quite a bit of FC for the first few days (including losing anywhere from 4.0 to 6.0 ppm overnight), now down to only losing 1.5 to 2.0 ppm overnight.
My biggest question right now is this: Does everyone have to SLAM their pool with each seasonal start-up? Or should I have done something differently when I closed it back in the fall?