• A Unique & Affordable Waterfront Vacation

Well this is one of those posts where you’re either going to think I’m super cool or REALLY weird. I’m hoping for the first response. :) If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that we love our families… we also love our family vacations. However, MY family has NEVER been one to have a “normal” family vacation… you know, where you rent a beach house or stay at a hotel and go lay out by the pool or go to the beach everyday? I’m sure those vacations are super relaxing and enjoyable but for a family full of fair skin red heads, baking in the sun isn’t ideal. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen my dad sit and do nothing on a beach all day. That would drive him crazy! …. Same for my brother, Corey!

After knowing this about my family, it probably isn’t surprising to learn that we love RV’ing and boating! Well, if you want the EXTREME of both of these activities…. you rent an 80 FOOT HOUSEBOAT for your family vacation!!! We’ve done this once before and it was a ton of fun and round two didn’t disappoint at ALL! It was a new boat, a new crew of mostly first-timers and Michael and I got to stay the WHOLE time!! We have had this week blocked off for almost 8 months now and we have been looking forward to it ever since!

Last Sunday we drove to Knoxville, TN and then drove out to Norris Lake on Monday morning (after buying 7 carts worth of food at Sams Club!!) to load the boat! I’m going to walk you through our trip via our pictures so that if you have every wanted to do a fun, unique and affordable vacation on the water, you can learn all about it! This trip averaged around $300 per person and included food, lodging, and gas for the boat over the course of 4 nights and 4 days! So here you go! Welcome to our Houseboat Adventure 2015!

So what does DAY ONE look like on a houseboat vacation?! Well, you have to have an UNLOADING PARTY. And you have to view it as a party because let me tell you, buying and loading food for 19 people for 4 days isn’t fun…. unless you make it fun. :)

See! Perrin is having fun!!

Then, you take a little tour of your floating home for the next four days! Top deck layout area, check!

Top deck bar area, check!

Kitchen and living room…. YIKES! Don’t worry, after we put our stuff in our rooms, it was a lot cleaner!

Then, the captain (aka Daddy) gives us the run-down….

And then it’s time to blow up Tahiti Island! We see you Greg!

Then, we wave “Bon Voyage!” and set sail for the week!

And the speed boat and jet ski follow close behind as we leave the marina! Hey Ben!

And then you gather the whole crew for the inaugural cruise on the top deck!

And then you ask Michael to take cute sister pictures!

And again….

Then, you do a little dinner prep!

Then the initial cruise is over and it’s time to dock for the evening! …. It’s a dramatic ordeal!

And then?! The fun begins!!!


Just chillin! And sliding… and belly flopping… etc.

And then it was time for dinner!

Sometimes we ate up top…

Sometimes we ate down below!

Then time for a few glowy pics with sweet Sarah before heading down to the speed boat!

Then you take a cute picture of your brother untying the boat! This guy is about as selfless as they come. Ex: Us girls were chatting out on Tahiti Island one night and before he went in for the night, he brought out towels for us so that we wouldn’t freeze when we got out of the water…. what a guy. :)

Time for TUBIN’!!!!

And sunset cruisin’!

These pictures never get old!

Watch out Ben!

And daddy’s hair doesn’t always look like that….I promise!

We lost one!

And then day one ends with the a little night time swim… with the under water LED lights turned on! (THAT may be the most redneck part of the boat!:)

Day two!!!

Breakfast time! Now that I have bragged on my brother… let me brag on my sister for a second! She organized ALL of the food. All of it. She had a FOLDER full of recipes, spreadsheets and shopping lists. I have no idea how she did it… but I think if we’re lucky, she’ll do a little HMH post about it one day!

After breakfast, it was time for some fast cruisin’!

And the redheads put on their sunscreen!!! :) One shoulder one pieces for the win!

Yes I tubed in the middle of wedding season… But I try not to push the limits!!

Air born!

Three sister duos!

Just floating!!!

Lunch time! Yum!

Then it was time to do a BIG BOAT cruise to a new part of the Lake!! Push-off can be tricky! When an 80 foot boat settles into the shoreline, it gets stuck. So it requires some pushing on the front, jumping and extra weight on the back and sometimes a little tugging from the speed boat!

This push-off stirred up QUITE a bit of mud. oops!

Then daddy drives…

And the board games begin!

Some just enjoy the view from the front…

And some watch from the back!

Some read…

Some hang…. literally….

And some have dance parties!


Hey look! I’m in a picture! Thanks Perrin! :)

Norris Lake is full of little floating houses! They’re so cute!

Time for another tie-off!

The feet get a LITTLE muddy…

Ohh this is fun! ….Some of you may think it’s weird… but it’s hard to get shower time with 19 people on board and only two showers! Sooooo we had a few shampoo parties in the lake!

Day three! We didn’t have enough bedrooms for everyone so some of the boys had air mattresses that were deflated each morning…. this morning it was deflated by the parents!


Another day of water fun!

Michael’s hair… we’re aware that it was struggling.

Day three included cliff jumping!


PARENTS going tubing!!! What?!

This is my momma and Michael’s momma!

ha!! I have no idea what was happening! But I’m assuming his back was burnt! I just think this is hilarious!

The scariest thing about tubing isn’t falling off… it’s when someone else falls off and the un-manned tube goes ROUGE!!!

Watch out PERRIN!!!!

Then the rains came…. and they broke out Settlers of Catan!

And then Corey and Michael B made us custom milkshakes!

And then the blender exploded!

Every night we all got together and had a slideshow of that day’s pictures!!

and just in case you were wondering how we kept the speed boat and the jet ski close, we tied them to either side of the big boat and we only had one of them flip the whole trip! :) It was the jet ski… no big deal!

I think what I loved the most about this trip were the conversations…. you just don’t get time to talk like this when you’re in the midst of normal life!

The last day included some more tubing… and falling..

and pushing!

And more pushing…

And some magic!

Snuggie for the win!

And the whole reason this group of people know and love each other is because these three guys have known each other since high school! It all began in Winchester and we’re so thankful that it did! Loved seeing Daddy get to spend quality time with some of his best friends! :) And I’m so thankful that not only do they love each other… but their families love each other too!

The sistas!!!

The whole crew!!!

Until next time houseboat! We will see you again!!!

Details: $300 per person included: Houseboat rental ($1000/day), Gas for the big boat (around $500), Food for all four days. They train you on how to drive the boat. Just daddy was in charge of ours. It does help to know how to drive a regular boat though! :) The speed boat and jet ski belonged to families on the trip but you could rent those as well if you wanted to. Tahiti Island was $100 and you can find them at Costco! :)

xoxo, Katelyn
45 Comments Personal
  1. amanda veronee reply

    what a fun post!! what a lovely lake!

  2. Erin reply

    Ohhhh I loved all of these pictures! Thanks so much for sharing your vacation and making it a fun read too! You totally make me want to do a vacation like this! I don’t know how you get so many great pictures on vacation. Usually when I bring my camera I get a little stressed with trying to enjoy myself by take pictures. I’m glad you do take pictures of all your fun stuff, I love your blog posts!

  3. Urška Majer reply

    This looks like such a fun trip!

  4. Christine Bradshaw reply

    What a beautiful place! Looks like great friend and family time !!! Loved the pictures, Katelyn!!!

  5. Lauren Swann reply

    Such a fun vacation!!! Love this peek into it, Katelynb

  6. Brett reply

    Wow!!! What a FUN trip!!! It looks like you guys had an absolutely amazing lake trip! xoxo

  7. Rici reply

    Such a fun summer post!! Thank you for sharing! Your family looks like TONS of fun!!

  8. Dennis Bullock reply

    What a blast!!

  9. Megan Kelsey Marcus reply

    This read like a Dr. Seuss book… and it was awesome.

  10. Brenda James reply

    KK, thank you so much for capturing all of these wonderful memories for our family! Now just to clarify . . . a houseboat and LED lights are NOT “redneck” (ha ha) . . . it would be redneck if we had pulled our RV onto a homemade barge and hung tube lights along the sides of it!!!!! :)

  11. Elizabeth reply

    that LOOKS like so much fun — I was hoping you would do a blog post on this trip….maybe this is something I can do with my family and inlaws. Thank you for sharing. It truly was a trip that you can all cherish for many years to come.

  12. Jacinthe reply

    Such a fun vacation recap, Katelyn!! Thanks for sharing all of these fun and happy images with us! So glad you and Michael had time to relax and disconnect in the midst of wedding season! I bet you came back refreshed and quite happy. :)

  13. Siri reply

    We have been considering renting a houseboat with a few other couples…thank you for the tour of fun! I LOVE that you mentioned that you did tube for a bit even though it’s still wedding season. I totally get that! I am so careful too! Glad you took the step to block out that week for family…all the busyness in the world is nothing if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor with those you love:)

  14. Gail reply

    This looks SO SO SOOOOO fun! I’m sharing this with my mother in law. Every year we hunt for the perfect vacation for NINETEEN people–I feel like it’s fate that your post and the number (exactly!) both line up–add to it TN being an EXCELLENT midpoint for all of our families and this could be an amazing Werner trip for 2016. So happy for you that you got to sneak away for another year to enjoy it!

  15. Elizabeth reply

    SO fun and such a creative idea!!

  16. Ashley Durham reply

    This looks like so much fun!!!!

  17. Ashley B reply

    This is amazing and looks like SO much fun! Love all of the photos. One question… where/how do you rent a house boat!? Is there a VRBO of house boats?

  18. Alicia Wiley reply

    Looks like a fun time! Amazing photos capturing your trip!

  19. Natalie reply

    Katelyn, at some time could you post some details about the trip, like the approximate cost of the boat, and if having a “trained” captain is necessary? Thanks!!!

    • Katelyn James Photography reply

      Natalie, the trip was right around $300 a person for the boat rental, gas (for the houseboat, jet ski and speed boat) and food for the week. You don’t need a “trained” captain… just someone with a boater’s license who feels comfortable with driving it! :) It’s a blast, definitely worth it!!

  20. Tina reply

    Oh my gosh – this looks SO fun!! I need to get on this for next summer! Love it all! :)

  21. Annetta reply

    You take the best tubing pics! What a blast of a vacation. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Michelle Stoker reply

    You are so blessed to be able to do this with so many loved ones!!

  23. Kathy Wilfong reply

    Small world – I grew up in Winchester! If one of those folks with your dad is Greg, his dad was my mom’s boss for years. Wonderful family. Looks like a lot of fun – fun post to read.

    • Greg Duvall reply

      Kathy, it is so good to hear from you and what a small world, indeed. Please give my best to your Mom and Dad. And try the houseboat vacation – it was amazing!

  24. Kristina W. reply

    AWESOME!!! Looks like a super fun vacation! :)

  25. Anne reply

    I want a house boat now! And wow, its definitely affordable when you get enough people!! Looks like you had a blast :)

  26. Johane reply

    Wonderful !!! Did you use your 50mm most of the time ? You always have a lot a fun during your vaca

  27. Sarah Sta. Ana reply

    Omg! I’ve been looking for a houseboat for our family vacation (22 people!!!). I’ll have to check this out!

  28. Shanna reply

    this is so awesome!! What a perfect, unique, & SO FUN vacation!! You guys are the coolest.:)

  29. Amy Demos reply

    Smiled through this whole thing!!!

  30. Perrin reply

    These look incredible!!! Thanks for being the best trip photographer ever! :) Love having these to remember our trip!

  31. Laurie Williams reply

    Great photos of family & friends!! What an adventure!

  32. Wynona reply

    Oh my goodness! These looks like fun! And thanks for the details as well, it’s in our next family reunion list. ;)

  33. Wayfaring Wanderer (Jessica) reply

    You captured the adventure so amazingly! What a fun trip. How do you protect your camera—from water, sand, etc.—when you are doing vacation photos? I’m usually too paranoid to just have it out to snap pics, but I would love to capture our upcoming beach vacation this weekend by getting casual photos of us having fun with friends! Where do you store yours during the times in between shooting to keep it safe? Do you change lenses at all or do you keep a wide angle on?

    Thank you for sharing this behind the scenes look at your vacation. It’s getting me even more excited about my beach trip this weekend! WOOT! :-)

  34. Kate reply

    This looks so fun, especially the water slide!

  35. Dawn Miller reply

    Where did you rent your boat? Did you rent the tubes?

  36. Sarah Anne Hayes reply

    Okay, yea. Definitely need to make this kind of vacation happen at some point because this looks AWESOME.

  37. Harrison reply

    That slide is insane!!

  38. Macy reply

    What a trip!! It looks like so much fun. I am going to have to look into this for next summer!

  39. Emily reply

    Could you share what marina you rented from? Looks like a great boat! THANK YOU.

  40. Janet solomon reply

    We r having our 50 wedding anniversary on lake Powell in July. 20 people 6 days. I would love to have your sisters food lists and preparations. I think that will be the hardest part of the trip. Thanks for sharing. 6/6/17

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