A few years ago, we purchased a 22 foot, 1977 Sea Ray hardtop for next to nothing. Old, yes. But, to own a boat that was built the year we graduated from high school, and one so unique, was something we had to have. The teak wood was so well cared for. The fridge needed to be replaced, but everything else was on point!
We waxed her right away, which proved precarious walking on the bow! My dogs kept sliding off the sides! I had to teach them to stay on top of the deck hatch to enjoy the scenery!
The only problem with our beautiful new vessel was the toilet. It was housed under the bed. This seemed to make some logistical sense as it’s the only place on the boat that can be completely closed up. Private. But, the thought of sleeping on top of my own poop (or G-man’s more importantly!) was severely disturbing. An immediate redesign was necessary. Before any crisp white sheets or fluffy feather bed. Or cozy blankets and high-loft pillows. The outhouse had to go out of the house!
To the marine store before our maiden voyage. The G-man got rid of any evidence of the “latrine” post-haste. “Don’t let me see it” I screeched. The mere idea of it made me dry heave! My wonderful man positioned a brand new, smaller “throne” at the aft under one of the seats. Pushed all the way back under the seat to avoid any visitors eyes (or mine, unless I needed to use it! :)).
The new boat was just how we wanted to travel on the water. Independently on any waterway. Self-sufficient. Our first trip to Bartlett lake, we tucked into our cuddy cabin – a perfect size for two with little dogs (who prefer to sleep way inside the bow or up on the shelf looking out the portholes). The cabin latches shut so we feel nice and cozy. The hatch opened at night over our heads is a site! The night sky beaming with speckles of stars and galaxies. Shooting stars! It didn’t feel like we were only an hour from home.
Once we’d spent several weekends on our local lakes troubleshooting any glitches, we were ready to venture up to Lake Powell for a weeks stay. Rain or shine. Our four-foot ice chest, which doubles as extra seating, full of ice blocks, bags of “drink” ice, beer and margarita mix and we were on our way. Our galley was freakishly packed with baskets of fresh fruit and avocados; herbs, spices, snacks, and red cups. Fishing poles in tow under the floor with our Kraken Bass lures ready to rock and roll.
It was late spring. Memorial Day. We started the 4 and half hour trek north towing our new/old Sea Ray with our new/old Chinook. An easy ride. To Flagstaff from Phoenix is a no-brainer. We’d both done it a million times in our Arizona lives. Through the land of Teva’s and armpit hair (on the women) we drove toward the Navajo Nation.
Around about the exit to Kayenta (bless you!), we started on the “roller-coaster” road. For miles, Highway 89 North becomes a butterfly inducing repetition of asphalt waves like nobodies business! Note to self: replace leaf-springs on Chinook. This episode of travel is eye-opening with respect to how badly highways can be built and how simply folks can live. We suddenly think we’re the ones who invented the concept of tiny home living. I beg to differ. Visit any Indian reservation. These people are the pioneers! Trust me!
Finally we arrive at the crest (the turnoff of Highway 98 east towards Page, AZ), and off to the west, one of the most beautiful sites you will EVER see in your life! It was just before dusk. I could see the flat, Paria Plateau and then, the path of the Colorado River as it bifurcated the landscape. It’s a vision that few have seen. The east end of the Grand Canyon! When I see things like this, I gasp. I have no words. Reminds me that the world is not my 1,800 square-foot home in central Phoenix with a $90 a year irrigation bill.
We arrive at Antelope Point Marina, pay the ranger and make our way toward the boat ramp. Dogs on board, and we’re rollin’! Since we were seriously burnin’ daylight, G-man drove us just a few miles to Navajo Canyon for the night. The lake is too deep to anchor so we find a small “beach” to rest our bow on for the night. We settle in, make some dinner and kick back after a long drive from Phoenix. We sleep soundly in our commode-less cabin.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of crisp apple-wood bacon, over-medium eggs and coffee, we made our way to the main waterway. Something’s wrong! The Sea Ray is overheating! Over the next several hours; my G-man at the helm inching our way toward safety (putter for 5 minutes, engine off for 15), we finally arrive back at Antelope. “We have to go home”, he says (he tends to be a bit over-dramatic at times, so I reminded him that we have the motorhome to sleep in). We had just had the engine serviced right before our trip to make sure nothing like this happens! I leash the pups as I watch my G-man pull the boat out of the water with the Chinook. He pulled up the ramp into the parking lot. In ten minutes he had a solution. The guy who serviced our boat forgot to connect the hose from the engine water pump to the lower out-drive. That was it! We were back in the water in minutes and headed toward Labyrinth Canyon.
We careened through Labyrinth Canyon all day! Still over 100 feet deep, no anchoring. Chuggin’ along slowly for hours. A group of jet skiers zipped by seemingly shocked that we were back in the Labyrinth that far. At dark, it began to rain…NO POUR!!! We frantically put the remainder of our canvas up, zipping as we snapped. With no ability to anchor, we got out some poles to keep us pushed off the rocks. We were suddenly elegantly maneuvered into a crevice that perfectly fit our boat. As the skies opened up on us, we discovered EVERY leak in the cover. The last bit of due diligence on our beautiful boat. As it poured, G-man pulled out the grill and browned a ready-made pizza crust to perfection, covering our meal with the red and white umbrella we got at Dana Point the year before. I pulled together the sauce, pepperoni, and cheese for our “pizza in the rain” party. We inhaled that thing!! THAT was the best pizza we’ve ever had…well, except for Little Italy! The waves and wind kept us nicely tucked inside the crevice all night.
For the rest of the week, the lake didn’t disappoint. The skies behaved for the most part. We enjoyed several evenings in front of a campfire and took showers with portable shower, except for the day the entire shower bag came open on the front window. I might say fishing was great because I fished constantly. But, no fish to speak of. Note to self: learn how to fish better. We slept like babies (huh, don’t babies cry all night?). Rather, we slept soundly in our feather bed laden cuddy. The only remaining evidence of an under bed pooper is the lovely brass toilet paper holder that still graces the cabin wall over the G-man’s beautiful, shiny head while he sleeps.