In 1981, my parents fulfilled their dream of having a home on a lake by building on Hyco across from the old CP&L smokestacks (now Duke Energy Progress). The 20 years I spent coming to Hyco Lake as a teenager, a college student at NC State University and then into early married life were packed with great memories. Back then, there were not a lot of houses around us and going to the lake felt like escaping 100 miles deep into the country. We would take the boat out cruising for hours, sometimes without seeing another boat or person the entire time. I didn’t realize it much then, but the mesmerizing peace and tranquility that a lake trip brought was sure to eliminate any life stress and lower the BP.
My parents built a beautiful two-story log home off South Point Trail that is still standing and occupied 40 years later. I remember at age 15, with my freshly minted driver’s permit, my dad would allow me to drive the family up to Hyco from our home in Jamestown, N.C. Since my brother and sister were off at college, I was on my own exploring the woods, fishing, boating, swimming and even taking the 12-gauge shotgun out to do some target shooting. Since there were few houses close by, I would just wander down the gravel road and shoot whatever target fell victim. Talk about serious freedom! We had 16 feet of depth off the dock, so climbing up and running on the dock roof and jumping in was a common occurrence. I remember swimming and something bumping into me that seemed as big as I was. It was a large beaver. This 15-year-old came close to running on top of the water!
Then came the college years. Roy, Scott, Bill and I were all childhood and [Ragsdale] high school friends from Jamestown. Roy and I were roommates at NC State, burning the candle at both ends all week while chasing degrees in mechanical engineering. Many times, Friday would come and we would all look at each other with bloodshot, burned out eyes and say simultaneously “Let’s go to the lake!”. We would pack my big, ugly two-tone van with bodies (and beer) and head to Hyco Lake for the weekend. It was the perfect antidote to the school grind. The door at the “cabin” would fly open and the first thing unpacked and turned on was the massive stereo and speakers. Roy, Scott, his brother Todd and I had a band at NC State, so we spent the whole night jamming in the basement with the volume turned up to 11, with my wife Angela and others acting as faithful fans and roadies.
The scene was consistent. When morning came, we rolled out of bed, ate multiple pop tarts washed down with Cheerwine and got ready for a day on the lake. Zero agenda, just living life not thinking about much but the present and catching air on the Hydro Slides; remember those? I remember the daring dock starts we would do on the Hydro Slides. We packed the 80’s ski boats with gear, bodies and, yes, more beer. We used to refer to the Hyco Lake Authority as “Hyco Vice” as we were on our way for the day. The radio was cranked and we had great fun skiing, cruising, talking some smack and just being great friends. Saturday night would start with much needed showers, maybe a 30 minute nap, and firing up the grills for serious hot dogs and burgers and, that’s right, more beer. After dinner, there would always be a dusk boat ride across the lake. Then, once again, we would head to the massive and sparsely decorated cement wall basement for another band jam session. The important thing to point out here is that there was no cell phone, no Internet and only three channels on the TV but we didn’t care or know any better. A great and memorable time was had by all.
My parents sold the lake house in 2001. After 28 years of marriage and four great kids, I began thinking about the old Hyco days often. Angela and I started kicking around the idea of possibly getting a place of our own on Hyco so our kids and their friends might make some great memories of their own. After much back and forth with the real estate agent, we were able to build a small log home on a great lot a mile or so west of the boat launch. I was also able to rekindle the long-time friendships with Scott, Bill and Roy. They have made several trips up to our log home and we basically picked up where we left off, except we are older, somewhat wiser and talk a lot more about our aches and pains. My kids bring their friends and spouses up often and are well on their way to making some long lasting memories of their own.
The new log home we recently built is much smaller than my parent’s home but cute and homey and just enough room for family and friends. We love it and can’t wait for summer 2021.
Hyco Lake will always be our home away from home and is much more like a familiar friend than an address on a map.
Rich and Angela Zemonek. Feel free to email Rich at email@example.com.