I thought I would revisit a “Bucket List Item – Value Added” from years passed. I call this one Ricky and Lucy Houseboat Lake Powell.
I play the part of Lucy which would make my hubby Ricky (and our daughter Little Ricky…let’s just go with it).
We try to take turns with our annual vacations of marking Bucket List items off of our respective lists. September 2000 was his year and Ricky decided we would rent a house boat on Lake Powell.
It turned out to be one of my favorite domestic family vacations.
But true to Ricky and Lucy fashion, we had a few hiccups.
Initially we rented the houseboat with another couple (that would make them Fred and Ethel) but at the last minute, they backed out. We decided to go anyway, with me as the co-pilot instead of our friend Fred.
Remember, we are city folk. Not quite the blind leading the blind but almost.
Off we go with a map of Lake Powell and its 2,000 miles of shoreline. We wanted to find a specific place that somebody told us about and was tucked back off of the main lake, supposedly very quiet and private.
After a couple of false starts, Ricky told me to jump on the Sea Doo (we were towing 2 behind the houseboat) and check out this particular inlet. In fact, I took this photo and then sped ahead of him.
Since I can go so much faster on the Sea Doo than the houseboat, I jetted into the inlet and sure enough, there it is tucked back behind a couple of hills and turns. I beached the Sea Doo and decided to run, swim, run, swim, run over the little bunny hills and across small chunks of water to flag down Ricky from the mouth of the tucked back spot.
I ran over hill, swam, ran over hill, and nearly collapsed. I couldn’t BREATHE! Whew, out of shape. I run up one of the bunny hills and try to flag him down…but he doesn’t see me.
By then he’s turning the boat around to leave.
I run, swim, and barely make it out of the water to run again to the Sea Doo. Already I experience a near drowning and we haven’t even got the houseboat tied down yet.
Props to the aquathoners. I’m not one of them.
I get the Sea Doo back in the water, start it and off I go to try and catch him before he makes it out to the main channel.
I drive up to the boat and flag him from the side. I still can’t breathe.
He opens the captain’s window and says…”where have you been all this time? This is no time to go for a ride, we need to find that place.”
REALLY Captain Bligh (I hope he never finds this blog)? That’s what I thought, but I couldn’t get enough breath to force words out of my mouth. So I just pointed behind us.
Ricky turned the boat around and followed me in the somewhat winding passage into the back inlet, but O.M.Gosh. It was beyond words beautiful.
We finally get the boat tethered to shore and made ourselves at home in our little slice of Southwestern heaven.
You can barely see a couple of the hills (in my defense a couple are out of the photo) on the left in the above photo that I tried to run, swim, run, pass out.
Doesn’t that rock positioned precariously look like a human bust? A large heavy bust. I thought about an earthquake but remembered I was not at home. Since it’s been up there for thousands of years, I reckon 4 more days won’t hurt.
We had dinner and our daughter (Little Ricky remember) fell asleep on one of two full beds that folded out. Big Ricky and I climbed to the roof of the boat and laid on our backs to see the millions of stars he had told me you can see in the desert at night.
Just one problem. No stars.
It was pitch black. I felt like I was on the inside of a cow.
Then it started. Lightening, thunder, and pouring rain. I mean like God opened up the skies and threw everything at us.
Remember, we are from So Cali. We don’t have rain, and on the off chance we do, it is not accompanied by all of this lightening and bone rattling thunder.
Ricky was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Snoring in fact.
I on the other hand, was wide awake. So was Little Ricky.
I climbed in her bed and we sat terrified every time the sky would light up (it seemed like it lit up in many places all at once) and then a clap of thunder would craaaaaaaack over top of us.
Lake Powell storms are legendary, but reading about them and living through them are two entirely different things.
Then I thought about the flash floods I’d read about in order to prepare for this trip.
Wait…weren’t we at the bottom of a very narrow wash between two high cliffs? I pictured us being buried under mounds of mud and water before we could even untether the boat from shore. What do you think happened here?
That did it. I woke Ricky up.
“We have to move the boat out to the main part of the inlet” I told him.
“Why?” he said.
This is the look he gave me and promptly fell back asleep.
So I stayed awake all night worrying and he slept. This is the nature of our relationship.
The next four days were bliss. We used the houseboat as home base and road the Sea Doos, hiked, and found ruins of Native Americans along the way. We went canyon exploring on land and cave/inlet exploring from the water. Pictures cannot do this amazing lake justice. Especially the ones I took pre-digital camera. I had a waterproof disposable I think. Not the best, but you get the idea. I’ve included a few that are not my own. Here is fearless Ricky blazing the trail inside of a water cave. So beautiful.
There is something to be said for being unplugged and watching the sunset from your own bow (or is it stern?).
Little Ricky even caught her first, and last fish. She didn’t much care for it, and still doesn’t.
For all of its beauty, Lake Powell is deceptively treacherous. I had to ride the houseboat leaning over the front railing to watch out for rocks that randomly lurk just under the surface of the water.
The houseboat that came in just as we were leaving had a brand new Malibu ski boat that ended up just like this one on its first trip out to ski in the inlet. Sad but at least nobody was hurt, except the owner’s pride and pocketbook may have taken a fatal hit.
On our return trip back to the Marina, we discovered that Lake Powell wasn’t done with us yet. A huge storm came out of nowhere (I call it the Perfect Storm because the waves seemed as big as in the movie, though I know they couldn’t have been) while we were trying to cross Wahwheap Bay.
It seemed like we couldn’t get anywhere because both the wind and waves kept pushing us back. When I looked out of the sliding glass door in the back of the boat there was 3 inches of water above the sliding track.
I tried not to panic. I don’t do well in these natural disaster type of situations, I’ll be the first to admit it. My skill set is more around finding parking in LA. Not this. Not this at all.
Then one of those huge tourist boats passed us a bit close and the wake from this deep hulled boat literally went over our little bargain basement sized houseboat. We had to hold on for dear life to keep from being thrown to the floor and then battered as the boat rocked wildly.
Little Ricky was already laying on the bed coloring so thankfully she was good.
The wake wave was so big and powerful, it broke the CHAIN that held shut the swing door to the deck that you enter the boat when the gangplank is down (I don’t know what it’s called obviously. Sorry excuse for a Captain’s mate, I know) . The water then proceeded to pick up the giant ice chest that resides on the deck and pulled it into the lake.
Ricky is a pretty thrifty guy, in fact, with all of our differences this is the area where we are pretty much the same and why our marriage has endured.
Except I was fine with letting the ice chest go and getting back to the Marina with our lives.
As we were watching this action off of the front of the boat, Little Ricky could be heard yelling – “Oh no, here comes the Sea Doos” from the back of the houseboat. That didn’t sound good. We looked back just in time to see the Sea Doos come riding in on another huge wave and slam into the side of the houseboat.
We were under attack by our own Sea Doos.
Even with all of the rain and wind and waves I could see one of the Sea Doos had sustained a large crack in its hull.
So now we are in a race to make it to the Marina before the Sea Doo sinks.
What does Ricky do now? He says, “Take the wheel and keep the boat facing this direction…I’m going in after the ice chest.”
“I’m not paying to replace that ice chest” he replied.
And with that he was gone off of the front deck into the stormy water. I would have been mad about it, but he didn’t give me time.
I couldn’t even see him from my vantage point. I could see the ice chest and then his arm come over the top of it, but then the boat turned with another wave and wind.
I started up the engines of the twin outboards and tried to turn the boat in the direction he told me to keep it facing.
I had no idea he was under the boat at that point.
I was in a full panic now because I couldn’t find him. The ice chest was there, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Then I see him pop up and pull himself and the ice chest back onto the boat.
He fastened the gate with a bungee cord and back into the houseboat he came, like it never happened.
He said, “Why did you start the boat after I was pulled under it?”
I felt faint.
“You were under the boat?” I said.
“Yeah, I had a helluva time keeping myself from being sucked into the props.”
I couldn’t stand anymore.
I just hugged him while moving him back behind the wheel. Then I had to sit down and regain my composure without bursting into tears.
We hauled ass into the Marina. I mean literally into the dock.
They call it a dock, we call it an emergency stop.
We lived through our Lake Powell Bucket List Value Added vacation.
The houseboat didn’t have a scratch. The Sea Doo did not fair as well, but we had it repaired in time for the next summer.
I could go back there, but I think once might be enough.
Until next time dearest diary.