Tag Archives: Norris Lake

Saying good-bye to an AMAZING week!


good friends

It has been a wonderful week.

This was a vacation built around rest and relationships…

Exactly what we stood most in need of during this season of life.

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With our shared path forking into multiple directions in the coming month, this week of connection with friends and family was a wonderful gift before everyone embarks on their individual adventures.

The houseboat provided us the forced rest and stillness that is so hard to find in most other vacations we take. Rather than soaking up local sites and experiences, we soaked up sun. We moved through our days at a languid pace with no agenda or responsibilities driving us.

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It was a week built on simply being present,


And was such a blessed gift.

Much of our week was spent floating in the water with the sun warming our faces,


But we also spent time pampering ourselves,

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Playing games,

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Feasting on good food,

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Making friends with the local wildlife,


Toby came very close to accidently stepping on this copperhead hiding in the brush.


Soaking up the beauty of God’s creation,


Capturing it through our lenses,

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And enjoying the blessed gift of laughter with friends.


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It was sad to see our time on Norris Lake come to a close, but all good things must come to an end.

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On Friday morning we prepared to disembark at the marina. The boat had to be returned at 10:00 am. Knowing this, the kids woke early for a final swim and kayaking through the morning fog that had settled on the lake.

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Bags were packed and piles we gathered as we headed back to the marina.

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We enjoyed a final ride on the top deck, soaking in the scenery and reflecting on the beauty and blessings of the week.

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Then it was all ashore as we unloaded the boat and repacked our cars for the trek home.

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It was an amazing week…

Simply magical.


How grateful I am for this time of rest and renewal and the people I got to share it with!


Ready for an Adventure!


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Part of the fun of vacationing on a houseboat is the fact that you aren’t tied down to one area and one view for the week. Each day we are able to untie from the previous day’s location and go exploring for a new “home.”

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Riding on the top deck while we are moving from one location to another is my favorite part of houseboat vacationing. It is so thrilling to head out on the water with the wind blowing your hair, uncertain of what you will find around the next bend.

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On Wednesday, we found our best cove yet!

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It was tucked away off the main channel, and was stunning!

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The rock formations erupting from the water made the cove appear magical, as if at any minute we would spot a mermaid sunning herself on one of the rocks or Peter Pan and the lost boys peeking out from the surrounding trees.

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It was our favorite stop so far!

We spent the afternoon enjoying our private cove.

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Some of the kids headed out on the paddle boards to explore.

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And Gracie took Tyler and Olivia out for a ride in the boat.

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When everyone returned home from their adventures, we reconvened in the water and watched as the kids jumped from the upper deck.

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Eventually, our numbers started to thin as some took a break from swimming and others left in the fishing boat to try their hand at fishing.

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Those left behind decided to undertake an adventure of their own and swim a ½ mile to check out the cluster of massive rock formations at the mouth of our cove. It was an impromptu decision, made with enthusiasm.

With everyone grabbing a board or floatation device we began the swim, eager to check out the garden of boulders rising from the water.

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We arrived and the kids climbed atop the rocks for some cool photos and the opportuning to jump from the boulders to the water below.

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It was amazing!!

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Well worth the laborious swim to get there!

Just as we were preparing to swim back to the houseboat, angels of mercy arrived in the form of Woody and Tyler in the fishing boat. Back from their excursion, they volunteered to tow us back to the boat a few swimmers at a time.

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It was a lovely turn of events as everyone was a bit weary from the against-the-current swim it took to get there.

Toby and I were the last group to be towed back to shore. I climbed aboard his paddle board and enjoyed the ride back to the boat.

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This wasn’t an adventure planned ahead of time,

It was one of those spontaneous, magical adventures that we find ourselves stumbling into when we are cruising along with the Hudak family.

Oh, how I love moments like these!



Pretty as a Picture!


The area we have been sailing this past week is as pretty as a picture.

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The views are stunning…

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Well-deserving of a portrait.

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So, on Wednesday afternoon we pulled out the brushes, paints and easels we packed, in preparation for our planned painting party.

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We usually plan a craft or two when we vacation together and as we were planning this houseboat vacation Lana suggested we bring supplies for everyone to paint a memory of this houseboat experience. So, we each gathered the plethora of supplies we have acquired as a result of our kids’ membership in mural club, and planned an afternoon painting party on Norris Lake.

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Tyler, still chasing down fish, opted not to participate,

But everyone else gathered on the top deck to paint.

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The scenery inspired creativity.

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Some opted to paint the views from the upper deck of the houseboat,

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While others chose to paint a particular favorite memory from this vacation.

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It was fun to watch everyone work and see their personal artistic styles unfold on the canvas before them.

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Here are some of the finished works of art:

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What a perfect way to memorialize a wonderful week with friends!

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Lake Livin’


Yesterday marked our third day houseboating across Norris Lake.

Our days have found a comfortable rhythm and are filled with the easy-breezy, laid back activities that make houseboating an ideal vacation for our crew.

So, how does one spent their time on a houseboat, you might ask…

How do you fill a week-long vacation while trapped on the open water?

It’s easy!
Here is a peek into some of our daily activities.


The view from our bed. What a way to wake up!

Everyone wakes at different times with Woody, Olivia and Tyler usually up first. Woody usually heads out fishing while Tyler gets his meds and some cereal. We will usually put on a movie in an attempt to keep him quiet so everyone else can sleep in.

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Then the boat slowly comes to life.

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Our day seems to revolve around meal times, much like being at home, with meal prep, meal eating and meal clean-up anchoring the hours of our day.

Before we left on our trip, Lana and I sat down and made a menu for the week and split the grocery list. This is a chore that requires extra diligence as stopping at Walmart halfway through the week isn’t and option when you are cruising through the week in a boat.

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For meal prep and clean-up, we either take turns or cook together.
The kids have also paired off and each have a few nights when they are responsible for making dinner.


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Molly and Tatum also made a fruit pizza for dessert one day. Look at the artistry of their creation!

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Our daily schedule looks something like this…

After waking and eating breakfast, the morning is spent swimming and fishing.

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Around 1:00 we have lunch and clean up.

After lunch we untie the houseboat from the spot we “parked” for the night and we head out to explore more of the lake and find a new spot to tie off for the night.

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We all love riding on the top deck while the boat’s moving.


The stunning vistas paired with the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and the cool breeze against our faces, makes it a wonderful way to travel.

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The remainder of the day is spent exploring our new location,

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Enjoying the water,

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Riding the water slide,

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Playing games,

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And maybe even doing a little self-pampering…

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This is especially true for the girls who have loved this concentrated, uninterrupted time with their best friends. The added responsibilities of growing up and having to “adult” leave them with little time for each other in comparison to the time they were able to invest in their friendship at age 12.

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It has been a great blessing for all four girls to have had this week together before Molly and Tatum head off to college and the responsibilities of adulthood crash down on Olivia and Grace.

Yesterday we carved out some girl time with all four friends and the mommas too. I ordered some fun Color Street nails for this houseboat vacation so that we could have a manicure day.

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I ordered a wide variety of colors/designs to choose from and let everyone pick the set they liked best.

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It was fun pampering ourselves and prettying our nails as part of the summer vacation experience,

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And the finished results were adorable!

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Our nail party took place as we were traveling from one stop to another and it was during that jaunt that our move was rudely interrupted by a summer storm that came upon us with little to no warning. We were outside enjoying the trip to our next docking location, and choosing our nail sets, when we noticed a wall of rain moving towards us from the opposite side of the lake.

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Not even a minute passed before we found ourselves in the thick of it!

The manicures were paused as we scurried to gather towels and floats that were at risk of blowing away and carried everything inside.

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While we were buttoning down the hatches Woody was trying to keep the boat from capsizing, while Toby made sure we didn’t lose the fishing boat out back.

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It was short-lived but incredibly intense. To say it made for an exciting adventure is an understatement!

The following day our “typical” scheduled switched up by the need to stop at the marina for a gas tank and water tank fill-up.

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Part of the rental agreement states that we can’t drive the boat into the marina. Instead houseboat renters must call the marina and request docking. An employee will then drive out in a little boat, tie off to the houseboat and drive the big boat into dock. I’m sure this is for liability reasons, as they don’t want inexperienced boaters driving an eighty-foot houseboat through narrow passages lined with expensive yachts.

Once docked the kids were set free to walk around on solid ground and explore the gift shop.

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They were each allowed to get a treat at the café while dock employees unloaded our garbage, filled the gas tank, and refilled our water tank.

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This process took about an hour then we were driven out of the marina and set free to explore on our own, finding our next cove to call home for an afternoon of fun in the water.

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Evenings on the houseboat are laid back and relaxed, with the hot tub being a favorite place to congregate after dark.

The stars are gorgeous here. There are so bright, with the only ambient light being the beautiful blue lights that color the water around the boat.

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Then it is time for bed, with the adults usually turning in before the teenagers, who giggle, talk, and watch movies late into the night.

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Everyone sleeps hard after a full day of swimming and sunning.

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What a glorious way to spend a week!


The Lake through Molly’s lens



On our second day at Norris Lake, the kids headed out for a sunset exploration of the lake on kayaks and paddleboards. It was a magnificent evening and Molly was able to capture the beauty of the trip through the lens of her camera. The pictures perfectly  capture the unique way Molly sees the world and the beauty she finds in all that she sees.

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Splish Splash!


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Day one of our houseboating adventure began at 3:00pm on Friday when we were allowed to check in. All our gear for a week on the lake was unloaded from the cars, wheeled down the dock, and put away in the boat. Day one was spent getting settled in and becoming familiar with the boat. Saturday morning was when the fun really began, and much of the fun occurred in the water as we enjoyed the beauty of our own little cove on Norris Lake.

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Connected to the back of our houseboat is a water slide that goes from the top deck to the water below. That slide got a lot of use yesterday!

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The slide wasn’t the only creative way to enter the lake. Others chose to jump or dive from the top deck. The lake is extremely deep and the shore is extremely steep with depths ranging from 40 to 80 feet, making such antics safe for those who are brave enough to try.

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Others chose more relaxed ways of cooling off and enjoying the water. We have a nice selection of floats to enjoy…

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As well as four paddleboards and two kayaks for the kids to use to go exploring.

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Regardless of how each person chose to make a splash, all found themselves in the water for the majority of the day. With the sun beating down from above and the water cool against our skin, it felt like summer.

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What a wonderful way to vacation!

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Houseboating Adventure- Round 3!


We were only home for a short minute before packing began again, this time for our long-anticipated houseboat vacation!

Toby and I arrived home on Monday evening after picking up Braden from his Pap’s house. We arrived home to find that everyone has survived our two day absence. The next two days were spent preparing for the next summer adventure as piles began to sprout up throughout the house in preparation for our Thursday morning departure to Tennessee.

This vacation has been on the calendar for over a year and when it was planned life was quite different. Ozzie was still at home, Braden wasn’t even a thought on our minds yet, Grace wasn’t dating anyone, much less engaged to be married, and we didn’t have any idea that Molly would be headed 2500 miles away for college in September. It is crazy how much life can change in a year.

How grateful I am that we took the plunge and booked this vacation before all the craziness of life kicked in, because now this week-long excursion is all the more needed and treasured, as it will probably be the last family trip before the family unit changes once again.

On Thursday morning we headed south. It was a nine hour drive south, broken up by bathroom breaks and quick meals along the way. We did stop make a quick stop at New River Gorge visitor center.

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Every time we head south we pass over this massive bridge, but this time we decided to stop at the visitor center and overlook.

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It made a good pit stop along the way so that everyone could use the bathroom and stretch their legs. I didn’t realize it was a National Park and we enjoyed strolling through the visitor center learning about the area and the construction of this mammoth bridge.

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We then walked the path to the overlook to check out the view.

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It was a great stop along the way and gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs and mark another national park off their list.

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It was then time to get back in the car and finish our journey to the lake that will be our home away from home for the week.

We will be spending the week in Tennessee on Norris Lake. We have rented a houseboat with our dear friends, and vacation buddies, the Hudaks. This isn’t our first trip with them and it isn’t our first time on a houseboat. This vacation will mark the third time we have gone on a houseboat vacation together. Each time has been wonderful and filled with marvelous, memory-making adventures and we can’t wait for this week of fun with our dear friends.

On our first houseboat vacation we traveled to Sutton Lake, West Virginia. It was 2012 and Tyler had just joined our family, literally. He moved in on a Friday and on Sunday we left for a weeklong vacation on a boat. The timing wasn’t intentional. When we planned that trip he wasn’t even a blip on our radar, but it ended up being a great blessing because that week away accelerated our bonding in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened at home.

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The next houseboat vacation occurred in 2015. This time we traveled to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky and Ozzie was our newest addition. It was a beautiful lake and we created more exciting memories with our dear friends as we spent the week cruising the lake, swimming, fishing, and living the houseboat dream.

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Here we are four years later and we are houseboating once again. The location is a new one but the company is the same, with the exception of Ozzie’s absence and Braden’s presence. Ozzie was unable to join us on this houseboat trip, as the staff didn’t feel he was ready for home visits quite yet.

This week Braden will be experiencing houseboating for the first time. He is going to love it!

  We are looking forward to a wonderful week connecting as a family, resting from the cares of life, and making magical memories as we float our way through the week.

Let the Norris Lake houseboating adventure begin!!!

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Arriving and catching the first glimpse of our houseboat.

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It is beautiful!

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There are seven bedrooms and two bathrooms on board. Half the room sit below the water level and half sit above.

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On the upper deck there is a bar, grill, hot tub and a slide into the water.

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I don’t think there is any risk of going hungry this week!

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Some of our cruising crew…

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Everyone loves the slide!

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