I spent the last two days of my Kentucky sojourn doing almost nothing; in other words, exactly what I wanted to do. My companions went exploring, riding the raft under the "Niagra of the South" at Cumberland Falls State Park and Nature Preserve (with the only known "moonbow" in the northern hemisphere), visiting with Chris Ramsey, (a premier woodcarver who owns the renowned Knot Head, and who makes wafer-thin hats out of single pieces of wood), and going to the potteries and craft stores in the area.
Not me. I had a little cold and didn't feel like getting misted under the waterfall, and although I regretted my desire for solitude when I saw some of their purchases, I was happy with the way I spent my days. I did nothing except enjoy my houseboat "hotel," sipping tea and fishing off the dock and the back end of my floating "home." My companions came back with wood carvings, western-style hats and other Kentucky crafts, but I was the only one who could boast catching a wood perch.
The houseboats fascinated me. This area of Kentucky is home to most of the manufacturing operations of the luxury houseboats in the U.S. And luxurious they are, the six-bedroom homes like the one I occupied sell for around $300,000. They're ingeniously designed, too, with the upper level beds raised on "boxes" that actually are the ceilings and headroom of the bedrooms underneath. The houseboats at Burnside Marina were über-elegant, with wetbars and hot tubs on the covered upper deck, a twisty tube slide, a 50" television in the living room, a fully-equipped kitchen, DVD and VCR and a whole-house sound system. Ooops, I almost forgot the most important part... there are dual inboard engines, too, making steering very easy. Unfortunately, according to one of my guides, a houseboat of that size uses about a gallon of gas for every two miles traveled.
I was there in mid-fall, and it was stunningly beautiful, with the leaves changing color and reflecting in the water, morning mists and brilliant sunsets. The days were warm and pleasant, the nights with just the slightest chill. The houseboat that was my "hotel" for a couple of days was in the process of being winterized. There were late-arrival fishing parties staying on some of the other houseboats, too, but not a lot of them were out meandering the lake. My companions and I all piled onto one of the big houseboats and went out for a sunset cruise; since there were about 25 of us, it gave a great sense of how many people these vessels can handle without feeling crowded.
Of course I intend to go back, probably in late spring or early summer. The houseboats are perfect for a family vacation, but they're also great for corporate meetings, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and even for honeymoons. And when I do go back, with the help of Tony Sloan at Grider Hill Dock and Ray Turpen up at Burnside Marina, I intend to join the legions who catch stripers and leave the wood perch to someone else.
WHEN YOU GO
Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association: 1-877-868-7735 www.tourseky.com (They'll send you a trip planning kit)
U.S. Airways: 1-800-428-4322 www.usairways.com
Albany, Monticello, Burkesville, Pine Knot, Stearns, Whitley City
Grider Hill Dock and Indian Creek Lodge 606-387-5501 www.griderhilldock.com
Conley Bottom Resort 606-348-6351 www.conleybottom.com
Dale Hollow State Resort Park 270-433-7431 www.dalehollowpark.com
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area 423-569-9778 www.nps.gov/biso/
Burnside, Nancy and Somerset
Burnside Marina 606-561-4223 www.burnsidemarina.com
Knot Head - Turned Wood of Distinction 606-677-2466 www.knot-head.com
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park 606-528-4121 parks.ky.gov/cumbfal2.htm
Picasso's Bistro 606-561-0404 www.picassobistro.com
Houseboat Manufacturers (you can make arrangements to visit)
Sumerset Houseboats 606-679-9393 www.sumerset.com
Stardust Cruisers 606-348-8466 www.stardustcruisers.com
Page One | Page Two
Back to Front Page