Bill Parker bought the 26-acre woods in 1974 as an investment. “I went to a realtor friend and told him that I wanted a piece of land on or near the lake. It was totally undeveloped. We didn’t do much with the property until I retired in ’95.” Dr. Bill Parker had an orthodontic practice in Paducah for over 25 years.
The Parkers always had a connection with the lake area. “We had a sailboat and a cruiser. When I retired in ‘95 we did the Inland Circle cruise. We cruised down Kentucky Lake to the Tom Bigby Waterway, around to the Gulf and back up the East Coast, over to Michigan, back down the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers then back over to the Lake.” After that year-long adventure, sailing Kentucky Lake seemed anti-climactic to the Parkers. That’s when they decided to build Parker Lake Lodge in Lyon County.
Parker spent a year clearing the land for their log house. He cut the long driveway up the hill to the site. With a backhoe he mounded a levee for the future lake. In the middle of the lake Parker created a small island and planted a willow and cypress trees for shade. It took two years for the lake to fill. This tiny island is now inhabited by a mother mallard and her ten ducklings and a resident goose or two. Besides holding back the water for the lake, the grassy levee serves other purposes: horseshoe pitching in the summer and sledding in the winter.
While excavating the property, Parker discovered an abundance of rock, which he used for the two fireplaces. “It was a great discovery. Rather than having to haul stone over long distances, we would backhoe the rock and let it roll down the levee; then, pick up whatever shape and size we needed,” Parker explained. The rich earth tones complement the natural wood of the walls.
After a year of preparing the land, Parker started building the 2,700-square foot log house that he, along with three carpenters and a painter, finished in five months! When asked if he had doubts of tackling such a project, he answered, “Never. I loved every day I spent building the house.” Jane Ann added, “It was Bill’s pet project.”
An open floor plan makes entertaining comfortable in the den and kitchen area where the extended family gets together often. “We do Christmas and Thanksgiving here every other year. We love winter with the two wood-burning fireplaces,” the Parkers said.
Off the den is a screened-in porch. Jane Ann pointed to fish mounted on the wall, “Every fish was caught by members of our family.” An upright, glossy-finish rowboat decorates one of the walls of the den.
“We named each of the four bedrooms to make reference easier and each room’s décor carries out that theme,” Jane Ann explained. The master suite, the Wild Animal Room, is furnished with animal print window treatments and duvet cover. Trophy antlers, some African, are mounted on the walls. A deck wraps around the den and master suite’s double doors. “We can see everything that is going on at the dock from our deck,” she said.
The bunk room upstairs is furnished with full-size built-in bunks. The Parkers fondly call it “the children’s loft.” Cherished, child-size cowboy boots and other memorabilia that belonged to now adult grandsons decorate the room. “We built the house at the right time when our oldest grandsons were small. The grandsons played cowboys and Indians for hours in this house. The day they didn’t put on those boots was a sad day for us,” the Parkers reminisced.
In the basement, the Duck Room, Bear Room, and Deer Room all give one the feeling of being close to nature. Two of the queen-size bed frames were carved by Bill.
When not in use by the family, the Parkers offer their log home for others to rent through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner). “We tell our renters about all the interesting places around: Adsmore museum, the wineries, horseback riding, golf courses, and antiquing; however, once they get here they don’t want to leave,” Jane Ann said. “Most of our renters are repeats. They had a great experience before, so they come back.” Many of their renters are mother/daughter groups. The home can accommodate eight adults.
Up the hill from the house is the shallow frog pond for fishing in warm weather and ice skating when frozen. A primitive tree house built by Bill and grandsons Sammy and Nicholas overlooks the pond.
Down the hill by the lake sits the dock house. There Bill keeps his fishing tackle. One can even take a quiet nap on the bunk. Fishing photos of him and his dad hang on the wall. The dock house also serves as a changing room for swimmers (unless they prefer skinny dipping). There at the lake one can escape to a different world. Birds. A breeze blows through the trees. No loud motors. Only the slight whir of a trolling motor.
After a weekend of fun the grandkids hesitantly have gone home. The Parkers are already looking forward to the next big gathering when their son and his family in Hong Kong will visit. Only the Parkers with their two adult children from Georgia remain. As daughter Lori Long says, “Nobody ever wants to leave here.”
Fun at Parker Lake Lodge
The Cat in the Hat says “It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how.” The Parkers have built a wealth of memories for the family at their lake home. Here are a few of their fun times:
All of the older Parker grandchildren’s first driving experiences were driving the trails in the Mule.
The scavenger hunt tradition
The family is divided into two teams and given a list of items to find
Find the buried treasure
Participants find the map under the swords. Using the map they find the buried treasure.
Each person is given a paper bag. Perhaps the bag contains a straight pin and a spool of thread with instructions “first one to catch a fish wins.”
To build a fire
Each person is given leaves, twigs, a match and a piece of flint. The first person to burn a piece of string in half that is stretched across the fire between two sticks wins.
First canoe to the island and back wins.
King on the mountain (levee)
Family and friends gather around the campfire at night and tell ghost stories. They roast marshmallows and Grammie makes s’mores while Granddad plays his banjo.