Saturday, September 4, 2021

Living On A Houseboat Pt. 1


I didn't plan on homeschooling this year. Hell, I didn't plan on homeschooling at all in our lives, but here we are. Gut instinct told me to start the school year this way. As I watch hell rise around me, I'm so glad I made that call. However, on the same day I decided that homeschooling for the 2021-2022 school year would be the way to go, I also made a promise that it would be how I'd always envisioned a homeschool experience to be: more playing, more traveling, more experiences. It's not easy run a business and complete this promise, but I'm attempting it!

I attempted it big time (and successfully) last week. We began our homeschool year by living on a houseboat in Northern Minnesota. It was all the good things: amazing, fun, meaningful, relaxing, and gave us all so many experiences we couldn't have gotten in the walls of our own home while reading a textbook. Instead, we took the books with us and did it in between kayaking trips and building sandcastles on our own personal beach. I had this idea months ago, so my research started at the end of winter.

I had first set my sight on houseboats in Voyageurs National Park. The only downfall is it's pricey. Very pricey. Since we have a semester full of travel, I was mindful of costs. So, I turned to Google and typed in "houseboats in Northern Minnesota." Kinsey Houseboats were the first to pop up and after researching, reading reviews, and speaking with the owners, I decided this was the one for us.

We went with a 36' boat that sleeps 6 with two double beds and a daybed that sleeps two. Each boat comes equipped with fresh drinking water, a bathroom, generator, extra propane, a grill, and decks. In addition to the affordable boat rental, you pay for the gas. The boats must be tied up each night at a designated "camping" spot. Check in is at 2 p.m. on the first day of your boat rental. They go over how to drive the boat and everything else you'd need to know in order to run the boat and live comfortably on the boat for a week. 

Naturally, on the day we checked in, we were running behind and didn't get there until nearly 4 p.m. (as we were coming from the North Shore). After unloading our vehicle and loading the boat, learning how to run everything, and slowly driving away from Kinsey, we had to learn how to navigate the maps they gave us. Thus, we wound up at our first camping spot on Aikio Island on Birch Lake in Babbit, MN. 

This was not an offical camping spot--oops! But no one cared and we spent our first night listening to the lake water hitting the rocks on the shore around us. We quickly learned the dog was not a boat dog and it took him until the very last day to get comfortable enough to walk down the plank. The minis learned how to dock the boat, tie it up, and how to pull the plank in and out. 

When we arrived on the island (and after tying up, of course), the first order of business was swimming followed by grilled hot dogs. Important stuff first!

Zeus was TERRIFIED of the plank. We literally had to throw him in the water to get him to shore to pee. It was not fun. The poor dog didn't pee for 16 hours until we were able to conquer his fear of the plank (once we were on our own personal beach).

The minis lived in their robes while we were on the houseboat. Whenever the water got too cold for them, they'd do inside, wrap themselves up, and get warm before returning to the water. Something we learned right away: after 3 p.m. the lake water is freezing. Somehow, in the morning, the water is warmer, despite the air temperature being in the 40's. 

I guess that's one way to eat a hot dog! We kept our meals easy on the trip: hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, almond butter sandwiches, Nutella sandwiches, Kettle chips, carrots, string cheeses, oatmeal, protein bars, applesauces and fruit cups, grilled veggies. 

We were up early after a peaceful first night sleep. When we discovered we were camped at a non camp site at dusk the evening before, we wanted to move after breakfast. The lake was foggy upon waking up, so we had a leisurely breakfast, looked at our lake maps closely, and decided on the spots we wanted to try to get.

The dog absolutely refused to leave the boat, so we took our time riding around on the lake to get to our next spot. The houseboat was easy to drive, but it's a large boat, so turning takes time. That's the most important thing we were taught because it came in handy many times.

Elizabeth was clearly a huge help with the ropes and plank.

Zeus loved to spend time sticking his face out of the boat as we glided through the water. The only issue was that he barked at the fishing boats in the lake.