Halloween on a Houseboat – Part I

Halloween on a houseboat? How in the world can you make a “summertime” event Halloween-esque?

Celebrating Halloween on a houseboat is a splendid alternative to the average night full of trick-or-treaters. Part I of this blog will give you ideas for Halloween on a houseboat with kids. Part II will give you ideas for Halloween on a houseboat without the munchkins.

Courtesy of northshorekid.com

Courtesy of northshorekid.com

Spooky Décor

When you first arrive on the houseboat, it may be fun to have the kids help spookify it! Most kids love arts and crafts, and creative décor will help set the mood for the

Courtesy of kidskubby.com

Courtesy of kidskubby.com

exciting adventure of houseboating on halloween. Some great DIY décor ideas include:

  1. Glowing Eyes: Made with old toilet paper rolls and glowsticks. Hide them around the galley, main salon, deck ….or even in the wilderness outside! (Just be sure to retrieve them later of course!)
  2. Lawn Ghosts: Poke a styrofoam ball through the top of a garden stake and cover it with white fabric. Great for kids to have the freedom to put the ghosts where they decide.
  3. Hanging Bats: Made with black craft foam, googly eyes and fishing line. Kids can hang them wherever they see fit!
  4. Paper Mice: Cut out these Martha Stewart templates and paste them on the stairs.
  5. Glass Jar Luminaries: You can apply acrylic paint with a sea sponge, wait for your base coat to dry, and then either use paint, Sharpies, or paper to add your embellishments to the mason jars. Just add a glow stick or electronic candle!

With the houseboat all spookified, the activities can begin!

Tricks and Treats

Most obviously, the best part of Halloween is the candy! However, there are other delicious treats you can have the kids help make. Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs, Candy Pretzel Bones, White Chocolate-Covered Strawberry “Ghosts”, Marshmallow Pops, and for the health nut, a Spooky Fun Fruit Tray with clementines and bananas.

Courtesy of fansshare.com

Courtesy of fansshare.com

Have a scary movie marathon

If the kids are old enough, pop in a creepy flick and shut off the lights. Relax (as best you can with a scary movie) and grab a blanket for hiding when things get too bloodcurdling to handle.  Of course, some scary movies aren’t suited for younger kids. So skip the Saw series and put in a Halloween favorite like “Hocus Pocus”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Halloween Town” or  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.

Have a pumpkin-carving contest

Everyone can get into pumpkin carving! Are your kids feeling creative, or even competitive? Put everyone’s skills to the test by challenging the kids to a pumpkin-carving contest. Cleanup can be easy with some old newspapers on the deck, or out front on the beach!

Tell spooky stories by the campfire

Grab a flashlight and some blankets and head out to the bonfire. Roast some marshmallows to make s’mores and throw in some candy corn and orange sprinkles to be more festive. Tell your best scary story sitting lakeside on a crisp fall night next to a crackling fire. See who raises goosebumps first!

Tune in next week for Halloween on a Houseboat – Part II!

2014 e-newsletter Group Winner

This week houseboats.com has chosen the winner of the 2014 e-newsletter contest. The winner of this contest gets a FREE houseboat vacation!

So without futher ado, this years winner is….

Drumroll please…

Mike H. from Mendocino, CA!

Congratulations Mike! Enjoy your FREE houseboat vacation!

How to enter

You may be asking yourself: How can I enter this simple contest?

Mike won his free houseboat vacation by opting into houseboats.com’s e-newsletter mailing list. You can opt-in to our e-newsletter mailing list on any page of our website!

Look down and to the right on your browser window.
You’ll see this box:
Simply complete the few questions and that’s it, you are automatically entered! Its that easy!

Free houseboat vacations

There are many more ways to win a FREE houseboat vacation with houseboats.com including entering the Full Pool Contest, Clean Boat Contest or Video Contest. Check out all of our ways to win a free houseboat vacation here.

Houseboating Recipes: Carne Asada & Grilled Peaches

Image courtesy of houseboats.com

Image courtesy of houseboats.com

Cooking on a houseboat is a different and fun experience, but where to start? Most of our guests use a collaboration system for meals and cooking. You’ve got Friday, I’ve got Saturday, etc. Depending on which model you choose for your adventure, check with us to make sure you’ll have the appropriate cookware for preparing what you’ve planned. We provide most of what you’ll need, so your list of what to bring is sure to be a short one! And keep in mind, you’ll need to bring a selection of condiments and spices to dazzle your group’s taste buds! Since summer is winding down we would like to share an Indian Summer favorite, one of our favorite delicious and easy houseboating recipes - Carne Asada tacos.


Image courtesy of pieceofmypuzzle.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of pieceofmypuzzle.wordpress.com

Carne Asada
Chopped onions
Cilantro Salsa
Chipotle crema


Chile pepper
Lime juice
Ziplock bag


  1. First, you marinate the meat in a ziplock bag with salt, pepper, chile powder and lime juice. Stick the ziplock in the fridge for 4 hours.
  2. After the meat is well marinated, we fire up the grill with a medium-high flame. While the grill is warming up we will chop the green onions and cilantro as well as prepare the salsa and chipotle crema.
  3. Brush the grates with some oil to keep the meat from sticking. Grill the steak for 7 to 10 minutes per side, turning once, until medium-rare. Remove the steak and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.
  4. Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side on the grill, until toasty and supple.
  5. Assemble your tacos!

Delicious! If there are enough leftovers you can make yummy breakfast burritos in the morning. Two meals in one cooking session!

What about dessert? We would never forget our beloved sweets… One of our favorite desserts to make on a houseboat during an Indian Summer are grilled peaches with mascarpone and honey.

Image courtesy of brennansmarket.com

Image courtesy of brennansmarket.com

Grilled peaches with mascarpone and honey




  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high
  2. Place the peaches cut-side down onto the grill and cook until lightly charred- 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Take the peaches out, cut sides up, to a grill-proof baking sheet or dish and drizzle evenly with honey.
  4. Place the dish on the grill and cover the grill. Continue to cook until the peaches are soft, about 5 minutes, depending on the grill.
  5. Remove the baking dish from the grill and divide the mascarpone evenly among the plates and drizzle with additional honey, if desired. Serve immediately.
Image courtesy of houseboats.com

Image courtesy of houseboats.com

Your easy and delicious carne asada tacos and sweet, but simple, peaches are best enjoyed out on the deck with your family and friends at sunset. You won’t forget it!







~”Food is essential to life therefore, make it good”- S. Truett Cathy~

Fall Houseboating Myths Debunked

 Happy October!

The seasons are changing along with the colors of the trees. Smells of pumpkin spice and talk of the weather cooling down fill the air. Why not make these seasonal changes even more enjoyable aboard a luxury houseboat? Houseboating in the fall is Shasta Lake’s best kept secret. The sunshine is bountiful and with the summer crowd gone, nature and the marvels of the lake can be absorbed peacefully. So despite what you might think, houseboating during the fall season is one of the best times to be out on the water. Here are a few fall houseboating myths debunked.

sunsetMyth #1: The weather is colder

Actually, fall offers near-perfect weather for houseboating. The sun continues to sizzle and the water is still balmy.  Then, once the sun goes down, the temperature does drop giving you a bit of a break from the heat, and the opportunity to sit beside a warm campfire melting marshmallows or the cozy up to the fireplace in the main cabin. Delicious!

Myth #2: The lake never slows down

The summer buzz dies down at Shasta Lake with the start of the school season.  Unfortunate for them, but fortunate for you, as the weather is remarkable and the views become more and more beautiful with the changing colors of fall. The lake and marina slow down, making it easier to ‘just breathe’ and enjoy the quiet stillness. With less people on the lake, there are endless opportunities for amazing fall fishing in the morning and evening, as well as perfect water during the day for all types of watersports!

Pirate Kit 0032

Arrrr! Watch out for Pirates ahead!

 Myth #3: The lake is too slow!

If the thought of serene calm water isn’t exciting enough for you, maybe hosting a Houseboat Halloween party is!  Creative types have found that throwing a Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas party on a houseboat is a complete hit, and only possible during fall houseboating. No one ever forgets a holiday gathering on a houseboat.

 Myth #4: It’s not like I am getting a deal, right?

With the fall season, the rental rates at Jones Valley Resort drop dramatically.  Did you know you can save over 40%  from the peak summer rates? You can’t beat that! Without a doubt, Shasta Lake is not the “same ol’, same ol’” in the fall. Come journey our temperate, pristine waters, discover magnificent views and revel in your chosen watersports… and at lower fall rates!

~ ~ ~

 “Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson

Fall Bass Fishing Cheatsheet

Bass fishing by houseboat

Bass fishing by Jones Valley Resort’s houseboat

The 2 best times of year for fishing are in the early spring and the early fall, before the winter weather.

And with fall arriving this week, it’s time to grab your gear, cooler and binoculars and read over this fall fishing cheatsheet!

Why Early Fall?

In order to be the best fisherman you can be, it is best to understand why early fall is the best time for bass fishing.

To put it simply, bass fish school together in the early fall when the weather cools down. When the weather cools down, so does the water, which equals more oxygen in the lake. With more oxygen in the lake bass become more active!

Get those bass hooked!

This is the season when bass will strike at about anything you throw at them. However, some patterns work better than others.

You need to know these 3 things in order to catch premium bass:

fishing boat bass fishing

Bass fishing on Jones Valley Resort’s fishing boat

1. Understanding the natural feed in the lake.
2. Awareness about marine plant life in the lake.
3. Knowledge of areas of the lake where shallow water is closer to deep water.

Colder temperature makes bass more active, and with more activity comes a higher energy burn, thus the need to seek more food. Familiarizing yourself with the natural forage and plant life in the lake assists in picking out correct bait and finding the bass. Bass is usually found chasing shad or other forage fish, in their normal habitat of deep water with close proximity to shallow water.

 Apply what you know on Shasta Lake

The best place to start when going out to hook some bass is to locate the bait. Bass feed on the shad in Shasta Lake. The Jones Valley area offers the finest entrance to the Pit and Squaw Arms, which are considered the best areas for overall fishing.

Other common areas are located where the streams and rivers fill into the lake – McCloud Bridge, on the McCloud, and Riverview (Lakehead) on the Sacramento Arm. However, the Jones Valley area of Shasta Lake is known as the best bass habitat on the lake.

Head out from Jones Valley and look for bird feeding activity or where bait balls are pushed to the surface by feeding trout and bass.

Once you find your spot, its time to imitate the bait. We recommend using small blue and silver spoons like Hopkins “Shorty” spoons. To attract strikes, some people use rip bats through the schools.

Bass fishing with Hopkins "Shorty" spoons

Bass fishing with Hopkins “Shorty” spoons

This cheatsheet has provided you with all the information you need to catch “the big one” this fall – except patience!

4 Ways to get your kids to love fishing

Fishing is a great bonding experience to have with kids; the memories made last a lifetime. However, sometimes it is a difficult task to get kids to love something that requires so much patience.

1. Get their attention: Since kids nowadays are more tech savvy than many adults, going the internet route can really kickstart a child’s interest. fishingkids.com is a great resource to introduce your kids to the world of fishing in a manner that is informative but will also keep their attention. The website includes a glossary, characters, and many affordable books with exciting and informative information. You can also psych kids out by telling them your most exciting fishing experience. 2. Set them up: Kids love brand new gadgets! They are always way more excited about brand new gear rather than dad’s old stuff. There are many different types of kids gear available including Fishing Kids Box Sets, compasses, tackle boxes and a large selection of kids fishing poles and rods at the Jones Valley Resort store or your local sporting goods store. And don’t forget about fishing licenses if they are over 14 years old – Jones Valley Resort has those too!

3. Make it special: Fishing as a kid creates memories for years to come … if you make it a special time.  Maybe the night before the fishing adventure, get kids excited by going to the store to get special snacks for when you’re on the boat, you can even keep it themed with goldfish, swedish fish, or gummy worms! Once you get home you can make the trip feel special by preparing the fishing gear with the kids while watching “Finding Nemo” or your favorite fishing movie. Making fishing seem special will make fishing feel special to kids and keep them wanting more. Young girl with a fish 4. Positive reinforcement: If a fish bites on your first fishing outing with your child, they will be hooked (no pun intended)! But if the fish aren’t biting and patience is waning, try  taking a few breaks for your kids to rejuvenate. Kids do get bored easily, so add to the fun by  taking an afternoon swim break and enjoying the snacks you packed with the kids. And remember, keep the pressure off and the patience up. Kids will remember this time for the rest of their lives,  and may even carry on the tradition someday with their own children!

Indian Summer ~ 20% off Escapade or Titan weekend trips now through September 22nd! Call now!


•20% off a 3 night weekend trip aboard an Escapade or Titan

•Shasta Lake/Jones Valley Resort

• Now through September 22, 2014

•Call our Reservations Dept. today TOLL FREE at 1 (877) HOUSEBOAT
•Must mention this web weekly special when booking.

Fine Print: Does not apply to existing reservations.
•Not valid with any other offer or promotion.
•Applies only to NEW bookings for 3 night weekend trips

How would you like to spend Independence Day out on the Lake?


It’s the 4th of July Weekend ~ how are you celebrating America’s birthday?

Patriotic Boat

Are you planning on spending the day with friends and family?


Are you planning a cookout with delicious food?


Are you planning to keep cool?

Kids Paddle

Well, we are! Here at houseboats.com we celebrate Independence Day on the lake. It’s no secret that the best place to enjoy hot weather is on the water.

Want to join us?

Fireworks Display 2014

Believe it or not, it IS possible to spend 4th of July weekend on a houseboat on Lake Shasta. Lucky for you, Jones Valley has a few boats available this weekend!

Take a last minute weekend trip Friday through Sunday on a Corinthian, Escapade, Odyssey or Royal Star at Jones Valley Resort on Shasta Lake ~ call us for our last minute deals!

And though the water is low, there is still plenty of water to recreate on Shasta Lake. We still have lots of houseboaters enjoying the lake, and no one comes back having experienced any less of a good time. A recent note from a guest puts it best:

“…They are right, plenty of water… Back in 2005 or so a similar drought happened. I was worried that the lake was to low and we were going to be disappointed. 10 of us had the time of our lives. Went back 4 years in a row. Awesome! HIT IT!” – Ray Mikota, Ashland OR 7/2/14

So if you have no plans, or want to experience something new this holiday, come on out for a last minute houseboat trip! See ya out there!

A boy and his dog aboard a houseboat, celebrating the 4th of July

Lake Level & Our Guarantee to You

We all know California needs water…now let’s do something about it and take advantage of the sun while it’s shining.

The water is calm, the fish are biting. And rates are at their rock-bottom lowest this time of year.

So come on, help us make it rain! Just book and take a trip on any houseboat now until May 2, and while at Jones Valley Resort, do a rain dance before embarking on your houseboat trip and receive a certificate for 33% off a second trip to be taken prior to 12/31/2014.*

Excludes existing reservations.

Lake Level & Our Guarantee to You

As all Californian’s are painfully aware, a drought has brought our lake levels down. However, we are confident that Lake Shasta has adequate water storage to last through the 2014 recreation and boating season.

With the current depth of 380’ of water in Shasta Lake and 211 miles of shoreline (full pool boasts 365 miles), there is plenty of water for boating, fishing, and watersports. It is about 130′ from crest at this time, and water outflows have been drastically reduced in the past week or so.

To help alleviate concerns regarding prepayment of rent (our policy is full payment is due 75 days prior to your houseboat embarkation date), here’s your guarantee should Mother Nature fail to produce the needed rainfall:

During the 2014 season, Jones Valley Resort(Shasta Lake Resorts LP/houseboats.com) guarantees a refund of the full rental fee up until one day prior to your vacation start date if the marina is unable to operate houseboat rentals due to low water and unsafe navigation.* 

We hope Mother Nature changes course soon!

*No other circumstances will be eligible for refund, including guest’s decision to cancel based on low water level or any other reason (certain circumstances are insurable, we encourage you to explore and purchase trip insurance). Only applies to trips scheduled after  the point at which the marina(s) can no longer operate, if houseboat rentals take place for a partial season, all trips prior to the non-operation date will be subject to current reservation terms.


Top Ten Reasons Why Fall Houseboating Rocks!

The secret is out. If you think houseboating season ends after Labor Day, you have a big treat in store. There are dozens of reasons why fall is the best time to take to the lake. But we have narrowed the list down to the ten best. Please read on.


10.  Kids are gone – Yeah, we love kids and all. But once they have all gone back to school, the lake takes on a much more adult feeling. Fall is time to let the grownups have their fun.

9.   Lake is quieter – See “kids are gone” above. But in addition to the lack of young sounds, there are just quite a few less people on the lake. Drop anchor anywhere you want. Take your watercraft anywhere you want. The place is yours.

8.   Water is smoother – We have already established that the kids are gone and that there are fewer people. But fall weather generally brings days of absolute still air keeping the lake glassy. Time to really let rip with the wake boards and water skis!!

7.   Weather is the best of the year – Okay, we all like 110 degree days on the lake (or mostly “IN” the lake!). But how about some nice 90 degree days, plus 75+ degree water? You’re comfortable all day long in and out of the water. See the average temps at http://houseboats.com/shasta-lake/

6.   More romantic – You get where we are heading with this? No kids. No crowds. Quiet, smooth water. Nice weather. Fall is time for romance on the lake.

5.   Food tastes better – Time to put away the hot dogs and macaroni. When the weather is nice and the mood is slower, it’s time to spend a bit more time in the kitchen galley or on the upper-deck outdoor grill making some really special meals.

4.   Fish are hungrier – The fish are toning up their taste buds as well. They sense that winter is not far off and they are looking to eat. And fewer fishermen mean more bites for you.

3.   Wildlife is more abundant – This might seem contradictory to what we have said above. But we are talking about wildlife and not “wild life”.  Quiet lakes bring out the birds and beasts in larger numbers.

2.   Best selection of watercraft – It stands to reason that, with fewer people on the lake, you get the pick of the litter when it comes to the watercraft you want to rent. And while those super-fine models might cost dearly during the summer, read on to our number one reason why fall is the best time for houseboating!!

1.   Screaming deals – Yes, the best reason of all for fall houseboating is the price. Most prices drop by over 40% from the peak summer rate! Click here to see what sort of deals we have for you!!

Call Reservations TODAY at 877-HOUSEBOAT or email Reservations.