week's home away from home is a houseboat on the waters
of Northern Minnesota's Voyager National Park. We are
enjoying all the comforts of home, even hot and cold
We boarded our palace afloat at the
southern end of Crane Lake. Our adventure, however,
began months earlier at the Minneapolis Sports and
Camping Show where we met Jim Janssen, Proprietor of
Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats.
We were there to check out the latest in travel
trailers and motor homes. A houseboat vacation was
nowhere on our radar. Why we even stopped at Jim's booth
is still a mystery. We simply had never dreamed that
travel on a houseboat could be such an enjoyable
experience. We are thankful to Jim for opening our minds
and helping us through later period's of buyer's remorse
as we began to contemplate a week without TV, Internet
our departure date approached, Jim sent information
describing what to expect and offering suggestions on
what to bring. We found it an easy jump from Jim's info
to menu planning and making wardrobe decisions.
Crane Lake is about 260 miles north of the Twin Cities,
an easy five-hour drive, on mostly four lane roads. We
planned our arrival for a day early to try out Jim's B&B
offering. Our room was not fancy, but was clean and
Following check in, we accepted Jim's suggestions to
hike to Voyageur Gorge and walk about the town of Crane
Lake. Following these very worthwhile experiences we
retired to Voyagaire's open-air deck where we enjoyed
dinner while watching seaplanes arrive and depart from a
very busy, neighboring sea plane base.
By all means, plan your arrival a day early to enjoy
the entire Voyagaire experience.
Voyagaire charters a broad range of boats from the most
basic to four bedroom mansions, many of which sport hot
tubs. We selected a Suncruiser 360 - no hot tub, but
otherwise, 36 feet of compact comfort.
Boarding was a memorable experience. We had packed a
ton of baggage and other "essentials". Voyagaire Staff
Members came running from all directions to help. Once
aboard, we were instructed on all aspects of boat and
sub-system operation. We even received "behind the
wheel" training for the first mile of our trip.
National Park straddles the US/Canadian Border.
Navigation is not difficult. We were provided marine
charts, marking main navigation channels as well as off
channel hazards to avoid. Each boat is equipped with a
marine band radio enabling contact with other boats as
well as back to base. A daily delivery service is
available to cover items left behind and/or to replenish
supplies. Up Lake Service stationed on Lake Namakan,
extend Voyagaire's hospitality well beyond base radio
range. We did not have many questions, but it was
comforting to know they were there to lend assistance if
needed. Up Lake Service also broadcast a daily weather
and fishing report plus host a do not miss evening
program billed as the "Best of Interactive Radio."
The national Park Service has established numerous
houseboat specific camping sites throughout the park.
Their locations are well marked and are easy to access.
Most contain fire rings and have established trails
leading to nearby scenic overlooks. But the beauty of
this area is best seen from the water. We found a
picture postcard view at every turn. Plus, we saw bear,
eagles and so many loons that we soon lost count. These
are primarily Walleye, Northern and Bass waters, and
fishing is excellent.
destinations include Kettle Falls, The Ash River Visitor
Center, a waterfall at the south end of Junction Bay and
a Canadian Trading Post on Sand Point Lake. Kettle Falls
is an especially interesting stop since it is a working
hotel and resort dating back to the early 1900's. It is
accessible only by boat or by seaplane. Period
furnishings bring thoughts of what life might have been
like for those early guests. Be sure to visit the Tiltin'
Hilton, a famous Lumberjack Saloon located within the
A GPS with mapping software was not on Jim's "bring" list,
but we found it helpful for confirming the location of
landmarks. We also brought hip boots that were
invaluable during evening beaching and tie up.
Will we do this again? Absolutely! We can't wait.