Renting a houseboat isn't cheap and the expenses don't end when you pay the rental company, but there's no way to put a price on the laughs and good times shared with some of your dearest friends.

Tailgate Central. Hotel Island, Lake Ouachita.

A little over a month ago, while discussing 2012 Razorback tailgating plans, we decided to rent a houseboat and take our tailgate to the lake. The date was set, boat was rented and we've been like kids waiting for Christmas morning to get here ever since.

This past Friday, the day we'd all been looking forward to finally arrived.  We loaded up the trucks (and I do mean LOADED), took care of last minute things in town and set out for Lake Ouachita to leave our worries behind for the weekend.

We arrived at Brady Mountain Marina on the south side of the lake around three Friday afternoon.  Sherry from Lake Escape met us on the dock and we headed into the office to sign and go over all of the paperwork while her son, Cole, and another employee hauled cart after cart full of our stuff from our vehicles to the boat. (Make sure you tip these guys, that's a big hill they're going up and down and their help makes loading/unloading SO much easier.)

Once everything was on board and everyone had claimed their room for the weekend, Cole went over everything we needed to know about the boat. He was very detailed and patient when answering questions. After orientation and all of our questions were answered, we were ready to head out.

Ladies, we understand Cole is single :).

Cole backed our 66' foot boat out of the slip and drove us out past the buoy's of the marina into the open waters of the lake where our friend Mike took over the wheel. As he drove us out, the rest of us settled in or took in the beauty of Lake Ouachita from the upper deck. We had sent another friend up ahead to scout out a location to park for the weekend, so we knew where we were headed as soon as we were in control of the boat.

Left - Mike decided to drive from up top on our way to the island. The island we're going to is in sight!
Right - Hanging out on the upper deck during the trip out right after Mike took control of the boat from downstairs.

After pulling her up to the shoreline and tying off, we set out to get everything setup. On the upper deck we hung dance lights, set up a sound system and hooked up a TV and video screen for our tailgate party. Downstairs the food was prepared and all of the accessories set out for our Friday night meal. By night fall, the boat was active with music and dancing going on upstairs and plenty to eat downstairs.

At night, our sun deck became a dance floor.

Over the next 36 hours we laughed, danced, swam, soaked in the hot tub, watched football, sang karaoke, took walks around the island and just had a blast hanging out and enjoying the company of our friends. The water felt great, scenery was absolutely beautiful and the weather couldn't have been any nicer. Of course, the Razorbacks let us down, but the game is usually just a side note at these get togethers anyway!

The Razorback game was boring, so we built a fire and kinda watched it from the hill beside our beach. That's our projector screen you can see from the top deck.

On Sunday, taking the boat back to the marina was a breeze. All we had to do was get it back close to the marina buoys and the guys from Lake Escape came out, boarded and took the boat the rest of the way in. After refueling the boat and parking it back in her slip, the Lake Escape crew made short work of unloading all of our stuff and taking it back to our vehicles (again, don't forget to tip!!).

If you think this is something you and your friends/family might like to do, give Sherry at Lake Escapes a call at 501-760-2659. This is a family owned company and they're great to deal with. They provide just about everything you need on the boat other than food (they have a linen service available, if you elect not to pay for that then you'll need to bring your own sheets. They also offer a satellite package with an automatic tuning satellite dish, so you don't have to worry about trying to line up a dish). Don't forget, at the end of the trip you have to pay for the fuel that you've used and that can be pretty expensive, so plan for that. Our fuel bill was $249 for the time we were on the lake.

All in all though, as expensive as this trip was, we will definitely be doing it again. We learned quite a bit on this trip like; don't try to go on the water slide until you turn the water on, make sure you have your ropes at a 45 degree angle away from the boat, make sure you bring medical supplies just in case, never agree to take someone back to the marina after dark and (for me) go down the slide feet first!

Look out below!!

Next time, we'll know better.