Jim and I usually do a summer trip or two and this last one had been in the plans and on the calendar since February. That’s when our pastor, Craig Fenske, first sought the commitment of 52 people to motor more than a thousand miles southeast on a bus.
When I told our grandson Ethan about it, he pictured us going that far on what takes him to school each day. Didn’t sound inviting at all. Too bumpy!
Let me assure you, this was no school bus. The wheels on our Diamond Tours smooth and spacious, video and restroom equipped motor coach went round and round until it stopped at places we read about – in the Good Book.
Our destination – the Blue Grass State of Kentucky to have an Ark Encounter. We didn’t realize we’d also get to stroll the paths of paradise.
Did you know that a replica has been built of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Ky.? Or that there’s a Garden of Eden near the Ark’s sister attraction, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.
Having heard rave reviews from people who have been to these sites, we were eager to hop on the bus bright and early the morning of June 11 for our week-long excursion.
This trip was especially meaningful for me. My brothers, Myrlin and David and their wives, Shirley and Margaret, were among the 52 passengers. We three siblings have not traveled together since our family went to the West Coast when we were kids.
That was eons ago when big brothers picked on little sisters. Or was it the other way around?
You’d have thought we were 52 kids on that bus. At times we were noisy as we joshed around, told jokes and sang songs. When we broke into harmony on, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” our driver said we were the best choir he’d heard lately. By the way, his name is Robert E. Lee, so we called him, “General.”
But, you could have heard a pin drop on that bus when we came over a bluff and there was the ark in all its mammoth glory. Believe me, it’s a jaw dropper.
Ark Encounter is the largest timber frame structure in the world, built of standing dead trees in part by skilled Amish craftsmen. At 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 52 feet high, it has 3.3 million board feet of building material.
The ark opened in July of 2016 and its design is based on dimensions from the Biblical story of Noah. God told Noah to build an ark and fill it with animals so they, Noah, his wife and their entire family could survive a worldwide flood. All three decks on the ark are chock-full of state-of-the-art exhibits and life size people.
Deck 1 shows the animals in their cages, how they were fed and how they were cleaned up after.
Deck 2 shows how Noah and his family maintained the ark and
Deck 3 is where the family lived. You truly can picture what Noah’s life was like as the ark floated on an earth submerged in water.
We spent hours on the ark and continued to marvel about it as we got back on the bus.
In nearby Petersburg, Ky., we also very much enjoyed the Creation Museum which Answers in Genesis, a Christian organization, opened in 2007. It contains 75,000 square feet of Biblical history displays which answer questions we might have about creation.
Before we entered the museum itself, we walked through its botanical gardens which are a true Garden of Eden. These acres are filled with gemstones in the form of blooming flowers, singing birds, greenery galore, babbling brooks, sunlight streaming through fluttering leaves and other exotic foliage. It’s an amazing exhibition of both horticulture and agriculture.
We had other stops both going and coming home, but the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum were the highlights of our trip. Pastor Fenske is a wonderful shepherd both in and away from the church setting. He’s a mighty fine trip leader who kept us amused with his Noah jokes. Here’s an example:
Why couldn’t they play cards on the ark? Noah was sitting on the deck
Why did Noah have to discipline the chickens on the ark? They were using “fowl” language.
Who was the best financier in the Bible? Noah. He floated his stock while the whole world was in liquidation.
Which animals took the most luggage into the ark? The elephants. They brought their trunks.
What kind of canning did Noah do on the ark? He preserved pairs.
Okay, just one more: Where was Noah when the lights went out? D’ark
We were grateful the lights stayed on when on Deck 2 of the ark, we heard a sharp, piercing crack followed by a long low rumble. It was thunder, lightning and pouring rain as a Kentucky storm raged outside. Talk about surreal.
Noah preparing to release the dove after the flood to see if the water had receded.