01 May Floating House Adventure
I can remember as a kid being so jealous of people on the river that were fortunate enough to be on a houseboat. I was already a lucky kid just being out there, but I remember those huge vessels just dwarfing my dad’s eighteen foot boat. I thought, for sure, these people had to be millionaires or royalty to be able to afford a luxury like that. As it turns out, you don’t have to be King Louis or Daddy Warbucks to rent a houseboat (although it wouldn’t hurt).
Like a lot if things nowadays, what was once reserved for the financially elite only is now much more accessible to middle class families. Speaking from recent experience, it’s a great way to explore the outdoors at your own pace all while building a family “crew” as everyone pitches in on the many, many things to do while aboard. First: Rent your houseboat. Houseboats come in a variety of sizes and floor plans that can accommodate a family of almost any size. If your family is too big or if you’d like to “double date” with another family, rent two boats and split the costs; this has “memorable weekend” written all over it. Just don’t invite Clark Griswald. If you’re familiar with a particular body of water, do a bit of research and see if there are rentals available for that area. Or you can always just go “Ponce style” and make it a real adventure. (Disclaimer: if you choose to go “Ponce style” to somewhere you’ve never been before as mentioned earlier, familiarize yourself with the area, bring maps, compass, GPS, etc. Don’t be a dummy). Second: Houseboat 101. No one in their right mind would just hand you the keys to their incredibly expensive boat without making you first sign some insurance paper work and also making sure that you know and are familiar with all the procedures and controls of the vessel. I don’t care if you’re Captain Ahab, make sure you pay close attention to these details!
Lastly, Enjoy! Houseboats have all or at least most of the amenities and comforts from home with one HUGE bonus that may seem all too obvious at this point, but what the heck; you’re surrounded by water and you can pretty much go where you want! It’s a floating hotel room without the smelly elevator or the kids next door that won’t go the sleep. So back and allow mother nature to be your tour guide. Take note at how slow and lazy the river behaves and mimic it. Most importantly, enjoy your time, enjoy your family and friends and enjoy Florida.
Cost: averages $2,650 for a week rental
Best time of year: winter, fall and spring
Kid friendly: If this isn’t, then nothing is
More Helpful Links: suwanneehouseboats.com
How to Cook Fried Mullet
Yield 4 Servings
Canola oil for frying
1 large Florida egg
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup all-purpose natural flour
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Four 6-ounce Florida mullet fillets
Florida lemon slices
Heat oil to 375 degrees F in deep fryer or deep saucepan.
Whisk together egg and water in a shallow dish. Combine flour, cornmeal, cayenne, parsley, salt and pepper; mix well. Dip fillets into egg wash then into flour mixture to coat. Deep fry fish in hot oil for 4-5 minutes until fish is golden brown. Drain and serve with lemon slices.
Green Bean Salad
1 1/2 pound Florida green beans, trimmed and blanched
1 Florida bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.