The rooms have no phones, and the only amenity is a tiny bar of soap ... you won't find turn-down service with mints on the pillow here, and you won't find shampoo, conditioner or lotion, either. The bathrooms have showers only. There is, however, satellite television and wireless Internet service at a reasonable daily fee for those who travel with wi-fi capable laptops.
The docks themselves are home to not only the houseboats but fishing craft, personal watercraft, rowboats, ski boats and small outboards with cabins. There's a store with groceries, sundries, fishing equipment and bait. The restaurant staff will fry up your catch for your evening meal, too.
Courtesy of Southern and Eastern Kentucky
Tourism Development Association
Houseboat rentals are divided into three timelengths, accommodating getaways for weekenders, mid-weekers and those who want a full week. Rates for the smallest of the houseboats, which hold six people quite comfortably, start at $1,700 per rental period, and go up in price depending on your length of rental. The most palacial of the houseboats have six bedrooms, two baths, a huge livingroom area and a large, efficient, fully-equipped kitchen. All of the houseboats have furnished front decks with grills, and smaller rear decks.
Landlubbers aren't left out either, as there is so much to do and see in Southeastern Kentucky it's mind-boggling.
Within an hours' drive of Grider Hill Dock are historic Civil War sites, craft vendors, several state parks and recreational areas, ferries that still operate on the lake, and the Big South Fork Railway, where you can ride an ancient steam locomotive through the Kentucky countryside.
BURNSIDE... AND MY PROUD CATCH
First light was barely peeping through the mist as I dragged my pull-along across the long dock that leads to Burnside Marina. Ray Turpen was just arriving, and I was leaving. This was my last day in Kentucky; I had an early flight out of Lexington, and had to be on the road before dawn. Ray, who grew up in Burnside, was coming to the dock --as he did every morning-- to set up the bait boxes and watch for fishermen (or fisherWOMEN, like me), who had questions. I thanked him for helping me out, and for sharing some of his history with me, and then said goodbye. He asked if I had caught anything.
"No," I said, looking glum. "Oh, well, I did catch a big old stick." Ray's face lit up. "'Round here," he said, "we call them 'wood perch!' You caught yourself a wood perch!"
I was considerably cheerier as I made my way up the parking lot to the van that was waiting for me. The others had caught bass and catfish, but I was the only one in the group who had managed to catch an elusive 'wood perch,' and I was feeling pretty damn good about it, too.
Ray grew up in the small town of Burnside, but some 52 years ago, when the dam was built, Burnside wasn't on the hill above the lake the way it is now. "I used to live right under where Boat Eight is," Ray told me, "and I used to shoot marbles under what is now the marina store." The entire town was moved up the hill when the lake was created.
This part of Lake Cumberland, the north-eastern end, seems more "citified" than the area around Albany and Grider Hill. Burnside Marina offers the same rentals --houseboats, jetskis, fishing skiffs, power boats-- that are available at Grider Hill, but Burnside seems more groomed, less rustic. The dock and marina are managed by Marinas Intenational, a company that operates marinas and boat rentals in several U.S. locations. There are also more towns around it, and more people. And, although the lake has the same gorges and limestone walls, you can see civilization up here, via the trestle bridges that span narrower parts of the lake, and the mansions that are perched on the bluffs.
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