Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Daydreaming of Summer Vacation

The Houseboat Trip


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I’ve been watching mornings silently unfold on this lake and over these hills snuggy against the four a.m. chill in my faded yellow, Dale Hollow hoody, perched under the rooftop canopy of a 60 foot houseboat in our favorite cove, tied to the same worn, barkless trees for twelve years. Even as nothing really changes here and as familiar as it always was, like a favorite childhood memory, this view never gets old. The huge expanse of water and trees and open sky is so absolutely still, it takes waking to a few of these silent mornings to be truly comfortable with what quiet really is.

I pine the entire year for those moments, alone;

being a very early riser has it’s benefits.


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The only sound is the occasional sipping of that first and always best tasting morning cup of coffee, brewed in a dented, blue and white speckled enamel, campstyle percolator pot. That old coffee pot has been stared at anxiously for the blup, blup, blup of coffee to bubble up in the little glass dome for decades. Woefully small considering the number of empty cups that need filling when everyone finally wakes up, not surprisingly, not a single one of us would ever suggest buying a new one.

No, we all like things just the way they are….and just the way they’ve always been.


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Ms. O. (my wife for the uninitiated) has been accompanying her parents, her brother and invited friends on this trip every summer since she can remember and she just turned fifty this year. No, we’re not exactly roughing it but there’s certainly nothing fancy about the accomodations on these old houseboats that were built sometime in the ’70’s.

It’s…well, let’s just call it close knit family style cozy.

Five small bedrooms, a bare bones, corner kitchen, dining table for 8 connected to an open living room, a bathroom with a tiny shower, a small t.v. with a dvd player and all the entertainment, food and drinks you’ve remembered to pack.


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Planning is paramount; there are no grocery stores, no towns actually for miles, no cellphone or internet service either, only the C.B. marine radio to the Dale Hollow harbor where we rent the boat, connects us to civilzation.


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We are in one of thousands of inlets and coves of natural, steeply sloped, shoreline that contains 27,000 acres of water, surrounded by 24,000 square miles of mostly untouched, undeveloped land.


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from WIKI:Dale Hollow Reservior

Dale, or Lily Dale, no longer exists. The community was one of those flooded to create Dale Hollow Lake, yet its name endures in the choice of the lake’s name.


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Dale Hollow Dam and Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946. The project was completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1943, making the lake the oldest artificial lake in Kentucky.[1] Hydroelectric power generating units were added in 1948, 1949 and 1953. The project was designed by the Corps of Engineers and built under their supervision by private contractors. The hydroelectric generators of Dale Hollow Dam are used to supply power to the surrounding countryside. The dam, powerplant and reservoir are currently operated by the Nashville District of the Corps.


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This isn’t everyone’s ideal vacation but I was hooked, lined and sinkered the very first time I was invited. I fit in immediately. It helped that I knew how to waterski because we always rent a small powerboat and a giant rubber tube too. If you’re a waterskier like most of us, there isn’t a site more beautiful than still water. Water still as ‘glass’ is why this is the cove we return to, year after year.


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It’s a good half hour from one of the many choppy, well traveled thoroughfares that connect the larger lakes, by midday choppy is perfect for a bumpy tube ride.


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We explore, we hike, we spot wildlife, we float around, we read and write, play games, sing songs and play guitar, sunbathe and at sundown everyone joins in to cook dinner then watch a movie or two before retiring, usually before midnight.

March is the month I always find myself daydreaming about Holly Creek. I imagine it all again and again on these cruel cold days, feel the warm clean air on my skin, hear the clear water gently slapping the sides of the houseboat, taste the quiet 4am coffee and remember the good natured small talk and giggles with my family. I love knowing these 10 days are already crossed off the work calendar.

It’s important having things to look forward to.

August is waiting, it always is.


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  1. as well as those actually on the boat. It’s good to have things to look forward to, especially those so nourishing.

    I have a number of things coming up, as well, though perhaps not as peaceful and embracing as that. 🙂

  2. Jk2003

    THat my parents and my daughter (5) and I are going to visit my aunt and uncle in OK two weeks.  It will be my daughters first plane ride.  I will have to mask my fear of flying for her.  My husband is going to stay home with my son, he is a crazy two year old and my aunt is fighting breast cancer so we want to keep the madness away.  This is my first trip since my daughter was born in 2007.  I have never spent a night away from my son.  It is time.  And it was near 80 at their house today.  Looking forward to some outside time with my parents and daughter and beloved aunt and uncle.  Weird to be so excited about a trip to OK But that’s the truth.  

  3. Abra Crabcakeya

    It’s Huck and Tom , Siddartha , blues musicians , fishing slow and easy – it’s life at it’s grandest no matter what level of flash and sizzle or muddy cutoffs and cool swims. Lord Gawd , I really do hope the wind stays low in April & May…

  4. There should definitely be a Moose Meet this summer. Google Maps has that an easy 150 miles from my lake to yours. I drive farther for a good doughnut.

    August should be a good time, we will have our old Icebreaker back from Canada by then. If you can stand the company for a night there could be a tent pitched nearby and significant searing of steak of an evening.

  5. Avilyn

    Puts me in mind of the summer vacations we used to take when I was a kid – Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos.  My grandparents would rent a cabin for a couple of weeks, and for a week my family, my Uncle’s family (mom’s brother, his wife, & their 3 boys), and my Aunt Norma & Uncle Harry (technically great-aunt and great-uncle) would meet up there as well.  Fishing, hiking, playing shuffleboard; was one of the best weeks of the year.  🙂

  6. dear occupant

    and just so you know, i’m often notoriously detail free on family arrangements. Ms. O tells me what, where and what to wear and i show up, sometimes. 🙂

    the dates we reserved the boat are August 12-18, for Ms.O and i it ends up being a 10 day trip with all the travel both ways back to Illinois. we have departed from longtime tradition and rented a much newer and larger boat from Sulpher Creek marina. a large corporate conglomerate bought the Holly Creek marina and true to form cut back on maintenance and staff which proved more than problematic for us last year.

    i will speak to the parents this weekend, we’re not sure which of the the 3 boats was reserved, most likely either the 80′ 0r 82′. both of them have 6 bedrooms and a large hot tub on the roof. the hot tub is a nice feature but it takes up much of the flat space folks have used to pitch their tent. again, i’m not familiar enough with the exact dimensions up top, it’s entirely possible there is room if that’s the way you want to roll.

    regardless, the core group is 2 couples, 2 single adults and 2 13 year olds. if all show up as planned (again not always likely) including your family, it will be 5 couples, 2 single adults and 5 children. what we usually do is have folks start arriving late in the week, most folks, to coincide with work schedules arrive on Friday and depart Sunday to leave enough time to travel back home and start a regular work week on Monday. Monday ends up being a half chill down day and half pack and prep to return the boat for the core group, so not the always the funnest day of the trip.

    the inside dimensions of these new boats are much larger, which leave a lot of open floor space for sleeping bags and the like. i own the couch, always have, always wake at 4am and make my coffee.

    Little O was very excited at the prospect of meeting 2 girls her age, last year was the first time she invited a friend and it worked out well.

    she’s at that age now….;-}

    so if it works out that everyone arrives we’ll just figure things out, we always seem to. it’s a pretty chill group of folks and as i said earlier, if the musicians make it, campfire time will be memorable.

    is the e mail you list on your profile still active?

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