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For Family Fun Afloat, Rent a Houseboat

by Sandra Scott

Houseboating is a great multi-generational experience. I love water, I love boating, I love history, and houseboating provides all of that. I especially like to houseboat on a canal where it is life in the slow lane—and, I can’t get lost.

Rideau Canal, Ontario

My first houseboat experience several years ago was on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are over 200 kilometres of waterways to explore from Ottawa to Kingston. We only spent a long weekend on our houseboat but enjoyed every minute. We found a private island to tie up to for the night and went swimming in the refreshing waters. There were three generations on the voyage and we all enjoyed visiting the locksmith’s house and going through the locks, which are still hand cranked.

Rideau-Canal

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Erie Canal, New York

I taught American history for 25 years and always wanted to experience the Erie Canal. Today New York’s Erie Canal is a quiet, tree-lined waterway but at one time it was so busy that boats had to wait days for their turn in the locks. Our three grandchildren joined us on the trip. They were up fishing with the sunrise. Locking through historic locks in Lockport was a hands-on history lesson for them. There were great side excursions including a tour of the Lockport Cave with a short boat ride on the underground river. One night we tied up in Holley and hiked a trail through the woods to beautiful waterfalls and watched the salmon struggling to get up stream. Each day was a new adventure.

Lake Mead, Arizona & Nevada

Four generations of our family (8 months to 80 years) celebrated American Thanksgiving on Lake Mead, 50 miles east of Las Vegas. Forever Resorts offers “A Bird and a Boat” for the holiday. The contrast of the blue-black waters and the robin’s egg blue skies divided by a thousand shades of desert red was mesmerizing. We passed rock formations and places with names that would make good book titles: Coyote Cove, Boat Wreck Point, Plane Crash Island, Monkey Cove and Wild Burro Bay. Life doesn’t get much better than fishing and swimming by day and roasting marshmallows around the beach campfire and stargazing at night.

Lake-Mead

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Lake Mohave, Arizona & Nevada

On a quiet New Year’s Eve we tied up our luxurious houseboat in a beautiful secluded bay on Lake Mohave, where instead of watching a fireworks display we counted the shooting stars. New Year’s Day we all—young and old—joined the Polar Bear Club with a swift ride down the waterslide into the frigid waters followed by a warm-up in the hot tub.

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

North of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is Lake Ouachita, designated as one of the cleanest lakes in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency. We only spent a day out on the houseboat but it was a great teaser! We have it on our “to-do” list. There is over 1, 000 miles of wilderness shoreline, with hundreds of islands to explore, along with great fishing and wildlife—we even spotted a bald eagle.

Lake-Ouachita

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Tips:
  • Everyone, both young and old, should pay close attention to the boating instructions.
  • Keep things simple. Pack less, plan easy meals, drive less, park more, and explore the area.
  • If you can drive a car you can drive a houseboat, but if it gets windy find a place to tie up because a houseboat in windy conditions is not fun to drive.

 

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