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My Blog

A Vacation on a HouseBoat

Good morning to everyone.  Well ,the heat continues here in the Chicago land area.  But we have storms headed our way for tomorrow.   I hate to hear about storms and a cold front when the weather has been this hot. That is always a mixture for disaster. 
Today when I thought about what to write about, I remembered a vacation that I took with my family and some friends.  We had decided one year that we would rent a houseboat.  It was the year that we had such a drought that the Mississippi River was way down and that was a huge concern that year....so we decided to rent a boat in Kentucky on Lake Barkley.
Now the houseboat was great! 
We packed our 2 girls and one of their friends into the car and one of our married friends followed us in their car as we traveled down to Kentucky.   I had packed a cooler with some frozen things and we just figured we would stop in the town and do the rest of the shopping for food there.  Once we hit Paducah, we stopped at a Piggly Wiggly and purchased the rest of what we needed...Breads, lunch meats, etc., and onward we traveled until we reached the boat.  
Wow...it was pretty big!  There was a big front porch to it where we loaded everything on.  Sliding glass doors lead us into the living room dining room combo.  The couch they said pulled out into a Queen sized bed.  Then there was a full kitchen and across from that were bunk beds.  A bathroom and then a master bedroom.  There was an upper deck the entire length of the boat and a small back deck for fishing.  The gentleman that lead us on, then  gave us a tou,r was also the man who would teach us to drive the boat.  He took us out for our first ride.  As we went up and down Lake Barkley he began his directions and a tour.  We were taught how to steer the boat, pay attention to the depth finder...you didn't want to find yourself grounded and ruin the propellers.  He taught us that it takes a while for the boat to turn once the wheels are turned and that we needed to watch out for any barges...becuase they don't stop!  As we went up and down the Lake, he pointed out the different coves and what we might find there.  How we might enjoy dropping anchor for a night in one of the coves.  He also pointed out the different Marinas and explained that if we came back to their Marina we could hook up for free...If we decided to go to one of the other Marina's, we could hook up as well for the night but they charge a fee.  If you didn't hook up for the night for lights and air conditioning, you then were on the generator. 
After we returned to the Marina and the man dismounted the boat.  We were on our own.  I must say it was an unbelievable and memorable trip.  We took off on our first adventure.  We were like these brand new captains on the ship.  Each of us took a turn at the helm.  There was this huge map of the lake on the wall in the living room on one side of the room, just opposite where the captain sat at the wheel.  At one point, our friend Kenn was at the helm steering the boat, ehile his wife, my husband and myself were on the other side looking at the map and trying to make heads or tales of it.  We were in the middle of a discussion when we realized suddenly a fourth voice...it was Kenn!  He had left the wheel and was there with us.  The wheel was turning and so was the boat....slowly,  and there in it's path was a barge. We asked him what he was doing?  And I ran back to the wheel to take hold and turn the boat.  We never allowed him to man the boat again .  I thought my biggest worries on this boat werre to keep the children out of any mischief...in that moment I discovered that I now had a fourth child on board to watch out for. 
The week was so much fun.  Kathy, Kenn's wife and I had made a deal.  She didn't like to cook and there was a real crew of 7 on board, and for me to cook for 7 was no big deal, so I did all the cooking and she did all the setup and cleanup.  Worked out great.  After dinner and some chatting the girls got ready for bed and while Kathy cleaned up, I laid on the bed with the girls and read a chapter every night of a Nancy Drew book called The Haunted Showboat.  It was an awesome way to spend time together with my 2 girls and their frined Kathy.  Yes, I didn't make a mistake...we had 2 Kathies on board. 
Each day was a new adventure.  We would have an amazing breakfast, and then head out into the open waters. 
One day we decided that we all wanted to swim....all except my husband.  So we fired up the boat and traveled out down the lake into one of the coves.  We dropped anchor.  I put life jackets onto all of the girls and we all jumped off the boat into the water which the depth finder told us was appoximately 30 feet deep. I warned the girls to stay close to the boat while they swam, since Kenn and Kathy had swam off and I was the only adult there in charge with three young girls.  They were ages 9-10.  We swam around laughing and having a great time while my husband sat on the rear deck watching, when all of a sudden we hear a yell  for help coming from Kenn.  OF COURSE....he decided he wanted to investigate the unknown area and swam himself right into a bunch of seaweed and got all tangled up.  I told the girls to board the boat and swam across to where Kenn was ....with Kathy struggling to help him, together we were able to get him out.  Again, I will repeat...I now had 4 children to watch.  And if that wasn't bad enough, he had gotten a leach attached to his beard.  We couldn't do anything to that until we got back on board the boat.  It was a good thing that I had long nails at the time and was able to slide my fingernail under it...which by the way was a tricky thing to do since he had a pretty scraggly beard.   
Now this was not the only crazy thing Kenn had done.  One day, when we asked him to throw out the anchor...he was so busy flapping his jaws that he forget to let go of the rope....and almost flew off the deck with it ,until my husband caught him. 
Now as for the coves, they were all uninhabited.  One was an animal sanctuary.  One night, we decide that we would spend the night in the cove, so we dropped anchor and sat on the the deck of the boat watching the sun set and the animals that came down to the water to drink at dusk.  It was awesome to see those animals in their natural habitat.  When the sun went down we all went in to bed.  We took turns with Ken and Kathy on using the master bedroom and that was our night.  It was terrible...the generator was right off that end of the boat and the rumbling noises kept us awake almost the entire night.  From that point on we had decided that the best way to end the evening was to dock the boat at the Marina. 
Now the one thing that we learned that was somewhat of a  mistake to do, was to rent the boat in mid July.  It was stiffling hot outside...not a great time to go fishing.  Now me, I love fishing and would be the only one up bright and early in the morning.  I would take my rod and reel and go outside and fish on the pier.  The shade of the boat and the pier allowed me to catch some bluegills early in the day.  My husband would be up next, and when he realized I was out fishing...there he came with his rod and reel.  I would pull one fish after another up and he was on the opposite side of the pier and could catch nothing.  He decided that I had the lucky side...so he would move to my side of the pier, and still nothing...before I knew it...he was just about right on top of me and still nothing.  I moved over to the area that he was fishing and once again, caught fish after fish.  And once again there he was..next to me.  I moved to the other side of the pier....continuing to catch fish.  He was so frustrated.  Me, I was like a peacock spreading her feathers....I had caught lunch for the day.  I walked down to the clean up station to scale and clean out the fish.  He went back in the boat to read. 
Now after the 5 days of pleasure on the seas was over...we packed ourselves back into the car and headed home.  As we were driving we decided  to make some stops along the way.  We stopped and toured Shawnee National Forest.  When we drove into the town, we felt as though we had been transported back in time.  There, in the center of the town was a bench with a couple of old timers just sitting and chatting the day away.  It was almost like an Andy Griffith show.  We did tour the Cave in the Rock along the Ohio River where Pirates at one point used to hide treasures.  Because of the drought, the waterfalls that would normally be trickling down,were absent and we could stand in the rock and overlook this beautiful scenery.  Now at this point I was not feeling well...my ear was really starting to bother me...Kenn began not feeling well either.  We thought maybe some of the water from the river got in my ear and perhaps some type of parasite.  I just wanted to get home at that point, but as we drove north, we passed the town of METROPOLIS....the home of Superman.  Well, we of course stopped to see the town and show the girls.  There we stood in the town square admiring this 15 foot high statue of Superman.  There were museums and stores to go in and out of.  We did a brief tour and continued our trek towards the North when we came to the town of Arcola and a place called Rockome Gardens.  Another place to tour.  I trudged along for the girls sake...by now I was running a fever.  They got to ride the pony and get a slice of tree cut by the saw that was attached to the horse.  We walked the gardens that had numerous walls and statues, fences and homes built from rocks and stones and even 7-up bottles.  I must say they were gorgeous.  Flowers bloomed everywhere and by now everyone was hungry, so we enjoyed an Amish dinner in their restaurant.  The time finally arrived to take the last 3 hour leg of the trip home.  The girls had fallen asleep in the back seat on the way home.  I was grateful that my husband was driving.  I couldn't wait to get some aspirin and crawl into bed.  The next day, I went to the doctor for antibiotics and then upon arriving home, began the task of unpacking and doing the  laundry.  Even though I had gotten sick in the end, it was an unbelievable trip to remember.  I was so pleased to have given the girls the opportunity of something that was different and unusual.  I would love to go back and see some of those sights all over again.  I would love to rent the houseboat again as well.  I am not sure how well I would steer it these days.  I remember the first time pulling into the slot.  It was a hair raising experience.  It wasn't quite as easy as one may have thought.  But after the first time...it got easier and easier.  How many people could have said that they had that type of experience...it was as though I was Tammy in the movies....living on a houseboat...only this was luxury compared to what she lived on.  In case you don't know who Tammy is...There were a series of Tammy movies from the 50-60's starring Debbie Reynolds, that I was crazy about....Tammy and the bachelor, Tammy Tell Me True, Tammy and the Millionaire and Tammy and the Doctor.  Well at least the Debbie name was the same and the houseboat part were the same!  If you have never seen the movies...I recommend them...and if you have never rented a houseboat for a vacation...I would highly recommend that as well. Life is too short..take every advantage to spread your wings and go on an adventure.

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