Jenn (me), Mom, and Krissy sitting in the front of the houseboat while cruising for another little cove.

Once the houseboat’s pilot handed the wheel over to us, I don’t remember cruising the lake for very long because I was in the kitchen, throwing cheesy potatoes ingredients into a crock pot. According to Charlie, the guys were given a map of the lake that showed areas where we could beach the boat. However, the lake level was very high, covering or hiding the beach areas. Plan B: tie the houseboat between a couple of trees. The plan sounds easy and simple: a couple of adults jump in the lake with rope in hand, swim over to a sturdy tree, and tie the rope around the tree.

Out of the six bedrooms on the boat, Charlie and I crashed in the "hobbit" room. Thanks to Jason's height and Becky's claustrophobic issue, the "hobbit" room was the only one where Charlie could comfortably sleep. The only issue we had was we couldn't stand up -- so we changed in the nearby bathroom.

Tova standing in front of the entrance to the "hobbit" room. Charlie and I had to duck every time we entered the room. EDITOR'S NOTE: Lining up the two photos and making sure the text fell below the pics was hard work and took forever. So, please appreciate my effort. Thanks!

So, my dad heroically jumps in the lake first — without a life jacket. Then I think Becky’s husband, Pat, jumped in — he might’ve had a swim noodle. Lesson learned: when tying a houseboat to a couple of trees, arm yourself with a life jacket. If Michael Phelps was on the houseboat and wanted to help, I would have strapped on a life jacket on him, too. Anyway, once the boat was tightly tied, all the kids donned their swimsuit gear and jumped in the lake. OK, they had adult supervision and life jackets (required by the state of Missouri).

Even though I blogged about a new swimsuit for the vacation, I was still hesistant about throwing it on and jumping in the lake with my nephews and niece (who by the way, all of them are fish — if they had their way, I think they would’ve been in the lake more). One, I didn’t want to look like Shamu the Whale in my swimsuit. Yes, I’ve packed on a few pounds, and I’m a little insecure regarding the weight.

Two, I can’t remember the last time I went swimming. Las Vegas in 2007? Probably. I know how to swim, and I love water but neither statement is going to save me from drowning in a lake. I was a little scared about jumping in. Would all of the swim lessons that I took when I was younger fail me now as an adult? Should I have retaken the swimming course I failed (Krissy was in the same class and failed it, too)? After failing, Krissy and I begged Mom that we really didn’t need any more swim lessons. We knew what we were doing in the water. She caved to our constant begging and whining.

Tate was the only kid who wasn't a complete fish. He likes water and swam around most of the time, but I don't think he loved the water as much as his cousins.

Anyway, I eased myself into the lake. I had no intention of using the waterslide (on the back of the boat) to welcome myself to the lake and jumping in didn’t sound like a good idea. Using the boat’s ladder, I eased myself into the water and found my happiness. I love water. The day was hot, and the water quickly cooled me off. Not to mention, swim noodles are the best invention EVER (that will be a separate post)! The water was amazing, and I just loved floating around the boat with a swim noodle. I spent the next three days floating around on the lake with swim noodles or a kickboard or inner tube. Life in the water was amazing.

When I heard the houseboat had a waterslide, I thought it was going to be small and for children only. I was totally wrong.

And I did go down the waterslide a few times. I screamed the first time because the experience was a little scary. Yes, I’m a big pansy. I loved the four days on the houseboat, spending time with family and laughing at memories. And Charlie and I had the lake to ourselves during our final swim. The moment was sweet and perfect — and then the kids on the upper deck ruined it with, “Ewwwww, Mom! They’re kissing!” “If Jenny is in the water, I can go swimming too?” The trip was amazing. We had plenty of great food to enjoy and opened our fair share of wine bottles (yum!). We should’ve brought more water, and that’s a lesson learned for next time.

Categories: Jennifer Elliott

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