First Time Houseboaters – Crane Lake Stories Episode 8

Published On: October 6, 202114.3 min read
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A Weekend Living on the Lakes with the Family

In this episode of Crane Lake Stories, Matt is joined by Joe and Alyssa Anderson to discuss the adventure and beauty of houseboating on the lakes and waterways of the beautiful Crane Lake area. Hear Joe and Alyssa talk about making the best of a rainy weekend, how nights up north hit way different than those in the cities, and how a weekend away from people and gadgets is a great way to unplug and unwind.

Summer may be behind us now, but there are still opportunities to take advantage of the calm and wonder of Crane Lake ahead! Visit us at to learn more about what the area has to offer!

Thanks for stopping by today, and we hope you enjoy the interview.




What You’ll Learn In This Episode

  • The Crane Lake area is a perfect spot to unwind.
  • There’s more to take in and experience than just a weekend will let you catch!
  • Crane Lake is a great spot for a family vacation.


Episode Transcript;

Matt Addington: Hey, folks. Welcome back to another episode of Crane Lake Stories. Appreciate you coming by again. Summer has obviously been a super busy time for everybody, especially those folks up in the Crane Lake area, people visiting, people working, the livelihood of the resorts and marinas. So it’s been a little bit of a challenge to get folks to come on, but we’re lucky this week that we’ve got Joe and Alyssa Anderson, who recently did their first trip to the Crane Lake area. They are from Crystal, Minnesota, down in the northwest part of the cities. And Joe and Alyssa did the houseboat thing and rented a houseboat from Voyagaire and ventured off into the north country. So Joe and Alyssa, thanks for coming on with us today.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. Thank you.

Matt Addington: So let’s rewind just a little bit. You guys were up there in August. Where did the idea to do the houseboat thing come from, or what prompted you, or where did this crazy idea come from?

Joe Anderson: I think it was more or less seeing billboards on the way to and from maybe Brainerd, we saw some. And it just stuck with us as some sort of vacation that we’d never done before that sounded fun.

Matt Addington: Yeah. And you guys have three kids. I would imagine when you told them you were going to go live on a boat for a few days, that was something they were pretty jacked about?

Alyssa Anderson: Yeah. They were excited. When we got there, they were not. Sorry.

Matt Addington: Were they a little apprehensive to go out on the boat or …?

Alyssa Anderson: Yeah. They were apprehensive. One of them was nervous like, “How are we going to be out on the water at night? What if there’s a fire on it? What do we do?” Just all kinds of questions. “What if it sinks?” All the questions…

Matt Addington: All the questions. And I think you said your kids are from ages seven to 12, so understandable that they’ve got concerns with something that’s a floating campground, if you will, that’s going out into the wilderness.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. And I think they also were expecting to be out on the water a lot, as we were too. But then we realized as we were out there, we ended up spending a lot more time actually pulled up and docked and using the boat more as going from place to place and sleeping on it.

Matt Addington: Yeah. So tell us about the trip. You guys left out of Voyagaire right there off the Gold Coast and Crane Lake. What did it look like from the time you guys got on the dock and threw your stuff on to where you went to?

Joe Anderson: Well, unfortunately, when we got there, it was raining, and it was supposed to rain the whole time we were there. So that was a little bit of a bummer. But we got all on the boat and started going, and the rain luckily died down. And it was beautiful, just lake and shore and pine trees.

Alyssa Anderson: And no people.

Joe Anderson: Yeah.

Alyssa Anderson: So the resort was super helpful on getting the van unpacked into the boat, which I appreciated. Because I was like, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to do this? It’s raining, and these kids don’t know what to do, and they’re not be helpful.” But the guys took everything. I hardly had to carry anything. It was really nice. And then once we got out on the water, I thought, “Oh, are we going to see a lot of other houseboats?” But we hardly seen anybody. It was really nice.

Matt Addington: And logistically, did you find it a challenge at all to get going? You obviously went across Crane. You went into the King Williams Narrows, which is that first little channel that goes up into Sandpoint and to the next lake. How far did you go? What was the whole getting used to just driving the houseboat? What was that all like?

Joe Anderson: The actual physical driving of it wasn’t too bad. Luckily, they suggested we download an app on our phone before we left that had GPS and mapping. I can’t remember exactly what the name of the app was, but I’m super glad we had that because otherwise I would have been really lost. But it was fun. Yeah.

Matt Addington: Once you got going, did the kids, were they a little bit more excited then once you got out on the water and things were moving and you were doing your thing?

Alyssa Anderson: Yeah, they were very excited.

Matt Addington: Good. Good. And so I know you said you ultimately went up to Namakan. Did you get all the way up there the first night and then pull into a cove and anchor and base camp out of there?

Joe Anderson: The first night, I believe we just got slightly past the narrows, the initial bit of the narrows, and then found a place. Because we took off, we probably didn’t get on the boat until about 4:00 or 5:00, so we didn’t get up too far the first night.

Matt Addington: Gotcha. And so talk a little bit about that first night. I can imagine, coming from the twin cities, you’ve probably never seen a night sky as dark as that. Did the kids take in the wilderness nature of being that far away and stuff as well?

Alyssa Anderson: They really liked being outside. So they really took advantage of the beach a lot, making sand castles. And if you dug down deep enough, we actually found clay. So they were making clay castles, I guess, and stuff. So they thought that was pretty cool. And with the paddle board that we brought, they were old enough to strap on the life jackets. They could take it around the whole cove and go about themselves. They had a lot of fun.

Matt Addington: So what did you have? Obviously you pulled the boat along. You had your paddle board that you brought. Talk a little bit about some of the activities that you guys and the kids enjoyed, besides just the ones that you’ve mentioned so far.

Joe Anderson: Well, the houseboat had a slide on the back, which was pretty fun. So we used that pretty much every time we stopped, a few different times. There was also a hot tub on it, which we used. So that was super nice. We brought board games. We like playing board games as a family. So when we were on the boat, a lot of board games, reading.

Alyssa Anderson: And we attempted to fish with the fishing boat, but we’re not avid fishermen.

Joe Anderson: No fish caught by us.

Matt Addington: You gave it a shot though. When in Rome.

Alyssa Anderson: Tried.

Joe Anderson: Yeah.

Matt Addington: Good, good. Did you stay then? You said you went past the narrows. How many different places did you guys go? How many days were you there? How many different places did you go in and beach up and set up for the night?

Joe Anderson: I think we were there four total nights, and we stayed at three different spots, but a different spot each night. So on the way back the night before we had to return the boat, we ended up staying at the same spot where we stayed the first night, just because we really liked it there. And we also knew it was somewhat close to get us back. So three different locations.

Matt Addington: Yeah. And did the weather turn for you guys? Did you end up having nice weather?

Joe Anderson: It was good enough. It probably wasn’t perfect, but we were expecting it raining the whole time, and it definitely didn’t do that. So it was a little overcast most of the time besides the day that we left. Then it got super nice and sunny.

Matt Addington: Of course, right? That’s the way they tempt you into coming back again for the next trip. You guys mentioned … Off camera, you talked a little bit about the stars and sneaking out at night to look at that and how the kids were hard to wake up because I’m sure they were exhausted after a day of playing on the water and stuff. But talk a little bit about what that was like to see a night sky like you saw.

Alyssa Anderson: It was beautiful. It was just so dark, and then with a matter of minutes we seen shooting stars, three different shooting stars. And I think we both were kind of like, oh, it’s so bright over there on the other side of the trees. And when we were in bed, we realized it was the moon. It wasn’t like the light from the city is what we’re used to. It was the light from the moon. So that was fun.

Matt Addington: Very cool. Very cool. You said you got into Namakan. Did you get all the way up to Kettle Falls and get to see the hotel and stuff? Or is that another trip?

Joe Anderson: We did not, so it’ll have to be another trip.

Matt Addington: Okay. Alyssa, I know you had chuckled about that earlier. It’s one of those hidden spots back there that definitely I would recommend if you guys do choose to go back again. It’s really worth the trip. And to see something that’s the history of a place like that, that’s just tucked back in the wilderness that 100 years ago the trappers and everybody came to is pretty cool. Would you plan on going back again? Are there other things that you’d want to do besides maybe Kettle Falls and things to see again, if you were to go back?

Alyssa Anderson: So if we went back, I guess because of the time that we went in the year, it was so much cooler than I think the bugs were not a big issue for us. So that was a big positive, but I would want to try it when the weather is a lot nicer and warmer and we could enjoy the water a little bit better.

Matt Addington: Right. Especially with kids. I know the kids, it could be 50 degrees, and I’m sure they were all about that slide. And mom and dad are like, “We’ll be in the hot tub,” kind of thing.

Alyssa Anderson: There’s Indian hieroglyphics and stuff up there that I wanted to see, but we didn’t write down where it is. So then we had no idea where to go for that. So I really wanted … That was the one thing I wanted to do, and we didn’t get to that either.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. I think a lot for this trip being the first time up there and on the house boat, because on the maps, where they show the different spots where you can pull up, it looks nice and easy when you’re looking on the map. And you’re driving around and you’re like, “Is that the spot?” I don’t know. So take a little bit to be like, should I really be driving the boat this close and pulling up here? And then, ah, it’s okay.

Matt Addington: Yeah. Things definitely look the same. You can look out there and see 20 different islands, and they all look the same, and you definitely need to pay close attention to the map. But it sounds like you guys would be pro ship captains, if you were to go back again and be able to experience those things. That’s one of the things that, as we bring people on with Crane Lake Stories and even tell the stories of all the things to do, you really can only scratch the surface with your first trip. The other first-time guests we’ve talked to on Crane Lake Stories, or just in general, have said, “This time we came up to fish, but we’d really love to come and do this.” Or there are just so many activities that I think being in that part of the state is really unique to people, and hopefully we’ll make it a tradition to come back again.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. And I think even besides the different activities, just the peacefulness of it up there, that was the best part, just quiet and no cell phone coverage, which was really nice as well to get away from all that.

Alyssa Anderson: I think that’s probably why we didn’t almost care if we were doing what we intended to do or not, because I had him all to myself, no screen whatsoever distracting him.

Matt Addington: Yeah. Are your kids old enough that that was a major adjustment for them? Or with 12-year-old being your oldest probably not-

Alyssa Anderson: He doesn’t have a phone yet, so-

Joe Anderson: Yeah, didn’t have anything yet.

Alyssa Anderson: But they didn’t seem to mind not … A lot of times we’ll watch TV in the evening or something, but it didn’t bother them one bit.

Matt Addington: Well, we’ve talked to folks that have kids older than yours, myself included, that getting there, it is such a unique experience to shut it off and just to turn it off and take in the … You get to know quiet like you don’t know quiet when you’re at home, and you get to know dark at night like you just … If you live anywhere south of there, it’s really hard to describe to folks. I’m glad you guys got a chance to enjoy that part of it. Super.

Well, hey, I really appreciate you guys coming on to share your first-time experience up at Crane Lake with Voyagaire and the houseboats and all the adventures. And I know other people that have been there would definitely encourage you guys to come back again sometime. In a parting comment, what would you share with somebody that was maybe thinking about a unique vacation experience next summer with their family? Would you recommend this to another young family as a unique vacation opportunity?

Alyssa Anderson: Yes. Yeah. I would definitely recommend this for someone else, for other families. There’s a lot you can get out of it, whether you want to bring another family with you or if you want to go alone with your own family, whether you want to take advantage of the trails or the waters or however you want to make your own vacation, there’s a lot up there.

Matt Addington: For sure. Awesome. Well, again, thank you guys for coming on to talk about your first time. And we appreciate the time and the opportunity that you guys had. Hopefully you’ll come back and experience a little more of the Crane Lake area next time.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. We’d love to. Thanks, Matt.

Matt Addington: Thanks. Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of Crane Lake Stories. We appreciate Joe and Alyssa coming on to talk about their first experience in the Crane Lake area, bringing their young family up, taking a houseboat and just going off and exploring and enjoying just a little bit of all of the great things that the area has in store for folks of all ages. So until next time, we’ll see you again here on Crane Lake Stories.

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