|My Ark Encounter Trip|
I had taken a couple of big trips in the last two years. Each was special in its own way. I was looking at taking something again this year, but things didn't seem to pan out. After praying about it, I received a letter in my mail about the Ark Encounter trip through the Seniors Adult Ministry of the Minnesota District of my church. I saw it as an answer to my prayers!
Since I didn't own a car, I planned to ride on a shuttle van from Rochester to the Twin Cities for the trip. However, I wasn't sure exactly how to make the connections, since I didn't have a cell phone, either. The Seniors Ministry director was very helpful. In addition, I thought I should buy an inexpensive cell phone in case there were any delays.
Surprisingly, my son called me just a few days before the trip and asked if I would like to use one of his cars on a continual basis. Besides making my transportation to the bus tour much easier, it would also simplify getting together with his family. I've been hesitant on getting a car because of the expenses and my desire to walk as much as I can, but we worked out something that should work!
Having gotten the car just the day before, I got up at 3:30 AM because I didn't know how long it would take me to get to the pick up point due to road construction and rush hour traffic.
Following a Google Map I had printed at the public library before the trip, I started driving around 5:30. By God's grace, I arrived at the church forty-five minutes early, even though it was a large church and I didn't know where we were going to meet. That would be resolved later.
While I was waiting, I accidentally dropped my back pack onto a hard floor. Then I noticed that the floor was wet. My hard plastic water bottle had broken and the bottom of my back pack wast soaked. I'd have to get water by some other means.
A while later, two couples arrived, followed by a pastor of the church. I was glad that things were coming together. The pastor gave me some bottled water, which was very kind of him.
The pastor got a phone call from the tour bus. They would arrive really late because of road construction and rush hour traffic. They were picking up passengers at two other churches before the one where I was waiting. They finally got there about an hour late. At least I wasn't late!
Once we got on the tour bus, we were introduced to the director of the senior adult ministry, the tour guide and the driver. They showed a video about the building of the full sized replica of Noah's Ark, which we were planning to see on Wednesday.
Around 11 AM, we stopped at a McDonald's in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The cost of the meal was covered in the tour package. However, I eat gluten-free vegan, so they let me buy apple slices and an orange instead.
Once back on the bus, they showed the movie, "Princess Bride." A few of us had seen it before.
The next stop was the East Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin. We were told to get food from the food court and bring it back to the bus because the driver was trying to make up for lost time.
Some people were in line at Kato's Cajun restaurant. I was told I could get just vegetables, so I ordered fried rice and mixed vegetables. Somehow, I forgot to pickup plastic ware, so I improvised by tearing off a piece of the Styrofoam carryout container and used it as a spoon. Whatever works!
While we were traveling, I noticed a couple of things along the way. In one area, I saw something that looked like a board walk under overhanging power lines. I later asked the bus driver about that and he said that they were railroad ties used for supporting heavy equipment while working on the power line. Later down the road, I saw a lone wind turbine. Nowadays, they are found all over.
On our way after having seen the "Princess Bride," they played the movie, "The Ultimate Gift." I really enjoyed it! I'm planning on checking it out from the public library and watching it again to catch what I may have missed on the bus.
Before reaching the hotel, we played a game where we had to match the fifty states with their nicknames. I got twelve of them right. The embarrassing part is that I didn't know the nickname of Minnesota. My excuse is that I was born in Iowa.
Upon arriving at the Drury Inn & Suites in Champaign, Illinois for the night, we were given plastic room keys before entering the building. Hotel employees took the big bags inside. I planned to pick up my carry on bag from the bus after I ate.
Having gotten some vegetarian food, I sat down with a couple who were driving home to Appleton, Wisconsin after spending the winter in Florida.
When I had finished eating, I retired for the night around 9:30 PM in Room #402. The entrance to the room was on the balcony overlooking the lobby.
After getting up at 3:30 AM on Sunday and Monday both, it was refreshing to get up at 5 AM instead. I showered and went downstairs after 6:30 to eat breakfast. I ate some fried potato chunks, dry Cheerios, and orange juice. I sat down by the couple who sat in front of me on the bus the day before. They attend the second largest Assembly of God church in Minnesota. They knew the Senior Pastor of my church in Rochester since he was a boy.
They started loading the bus at 7:30 and left around 8:00. The morning devotion was from Genesis, which was appropriate since we were heading for the Creation Museum.
We stopped for a twenty minute break at a truck stop. I ended up buying an orange. I asked someone what city we were in and the answer was, "Indianapolis, Indiana." This brought back memories from my short stint as a truck driver. After having two different trainers, I got a truck to drive by myself at the Werner Enterprises terminal in Indianapolis.
From there, we were headed for the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky, which are near Cincinnati, Ohio. When I was driving the truck, I worked for Werner Enterprises but hauled Hillshire Farm products from a warehouse near Alexandria, Kentucky, which is twenty miles southeast of Cincinnati.
When we got to the Creation Museum, I found out that we were in the Eastern Time Zone. We had a limited time in the museum, but it was definitely interesting. There was so much to see. The displays went from creation to the Great Flood, a period of over 1650 years. Much of what we saw compared two completely different world views: evolution versus creation. In actuality, that's a comparison of fiction and nonfiction.
There was a fairly good sized display regarding Noah's Ark. I looked forward to the following day when we would visit the Ark Encounter.
At the end of our visit at the Creation Museum, they gave everyone ice cream, or in my case, orange sherbet.
We headed for the Drury Inn & Suites in Middletown, Ohio, where we spent the night. I took my carry on luggage to Room #202, where I was staying. For my evening meal, I got some gluten-free vegan food and sat with a man who was on a business trip. He was communicating with his family via texting.
When I was through eating, I was asked if I had any extra luggage in my room. Later on, I learned that they had located some missing bags, but there was still one that hadn't been found.
Since I had some time before going to bed, I decided to take a walk outside. I walked past a Kroger Marketplace and went completely around a Sears store. I was glad to get a little extra walking in at the end of the day.
I checked my email and headed for bed. 5 AM comes quickly!
I showered and went to breakfast. I saw a man I hadn't met yet sitting by himself, so I asked if I could join him. As it turned out, we had a few things in common. I enjoyed his company.
Once we headed out on the bus, it was mentioned that the missing suitcase had been found. It had been placed in the wrong room, but the person residing in that room had been sleeping and wasn't aware of its presence. Mystery solved. Praise God!
We boarded the tour bus and headed for the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. Once we arrived on the Ark Encounter property, we had to wait awhile before we could actually go into the ark. I was utterly amazed how big the ark really was. This replica was built to full scale according to the dimensions that God gave to Noah, as recorded in Holy Scripture: 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.
There was so much to see inside the ark that I ran out of time. I hadn't allowed myself enough time for the third floor, which contained the most written information. Nevertheless, I'm glad that I went!
The ark was filled with cages, vases, sacks of grain and oats, and so much more. The kinds of animals, lighting, family quarters, workshops, and much more were addressed. The displays also told how man had sinned to the extent that God sent the flood to destroy most of mankind. There were only eight human survivors who rode it out in the ark, along with an estimated 1398 kinds of animals.
There were a couple of videos to watch, also. A souvenir store was located just before the exit. There was also a restaurant outside near the ark, as well as a zip line for the adventurous visitors.
After the ark, we picked up a tour guide near Cincinnati, Ohio. He gave us a quick tour of the area. He gave a lot of interesting information about the Cincinnati, including the sports parks, many bridges, large murals, impressive buildings, etc. I was amazed at the number of bars and breweries that were there at one time, much because of a large German population. I knew that Milwaukee was big on such things. There were many other things that we saw.
When the bus tour was over, we headed for a dock on the river. We took a cruise on the Ohio River. Once seated, we ate a good meal while listening to a versatile guitar picking, banjo strumming, violin playing lady. Then we went upstairs on the boat and looked out at the scenery as a special tour guide gave us facts, as well as history, of what we saw.
Then we went back to the hotel in Middletown, where we spent another night. I charged my camera battery, for I had taken a lot of pictures that day. I went to bed at the usual time.
I got up a while after 5:00 AM, but got things ready for the trip toward home. After showering, I put my big backpack outside the door just in time. The suitcases were supposed to be there by 7:00, even though they we weren't planning to leave until 8:30.
It was damp and drizzling off and on when we boarded the bus. We started out with a scenic drive to our thirty minute rest stop. We had a choice between Wendy's and McDonald's, we thought. It turned out that Wendy's was closed. I had apple slices, a Cutie, and water.
We headed for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We couldn't take the tour on the race track because there were cars running on it.
Before we arrived, we played a game with clues for different types of candy bars. I got 8 out of 22.
Arriving at the speedway, we visited the museum. The track was first built as a testing grounds for new models of cars in 1909, but just two years later in 1911, the Indy 500 race was born.
We saw many of the winning cars through the over 100 years of its existence. When the time was almost run out, two of us were told that we could watch some cars practicing on the race track for the race on the next day. We didn't have time to go to the platform to take pictures, but I did get some shots from the parking lot.
Afterwards, we headed for Champaign, Illinois to the Drury Inn that we'd stayed in the first night of the trip. On the way, we watched three episodes of the Honeymooners. Then we stopped at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant to eat. I had a four course vegetable meal.
Then we went on to Champaign. I was given a key to Room 133. Then I went to the dining room and ate supper.
After eating, I decided to buy some trail mix for the last day of the trip. However, I couldn't find the store I was looking for, but then I saw two friends headed in my direction. They offered to take me to the Sam's Club. I bought a bag of nuts there and got a decent walk besides.
I set my alarm for 5 AM again, but kept on hitting the snooze button. I finally got up and took a shower. Then I packed my big backpack and put it outside my door a couple of minutes before the appointed time of 7 AM. After that, I decided to shave after all, so I pulled my backpack back into my room. I shaved quickly and put the bag out again.
After eating my usual breakfast, we piled into the bus around 8 AM.
We stopped at a truck stop, where the driver refueled the bus. Most of us got out to stretch, among other things.
Back on the road, we played a game where we had to finish some old cliches. I got 23 right out of 54. Then we watched some Jack Benny TV episodes. It's been years since I'd seen that show.
We made a lunch stop at a Love's Truck Stop. I had a side salad and curly fries.
A while later, we stopped at the Mousehouse in Windsor, Wisconsin. Some people bought cheese and other gifts there.
After some more traveling, we arrived at the Bloomington church. While going there, the director had drawn out a map for me for getting back on the proper freeway toward Rochester.
It was time to say "Farewell!" I enjoyed the trip immensely, but it felt good to plop down on my Tempur-Pedic mattress again. I thanked God for this fun, yet educational, experience that I shared with other seniors!
As I sorted through my notes and several hundred pictures, I couldn't help but be thankful for the opportunity to go with others on this adventure. I didn't know anyone else when I started out, but I was able to make new friends with some nice people.
I've listened to programs about creation on Christian radio, but it was exciting for me to actually go through the museums with literally dozens of others. The word others includes my gracious Savior. I was not alone!
I especially liked the way the museums compared the world view that is based on evolution (fiction) versus the world view that is based on the writings of our Creator, Lord, and Savior (nonfiction).
In the Ark Encounter, I watched a couple videos about scoffers. The Bible said that we would run into them. When I did some further research on the Internet pertaining to the museums, I saw some actual comments added to blogs by scoffers. Lord, help them to seek and receive the truth!
Our bus tour didn't end with these two museums, but we visited some other interesting sites, also. After we attended the Ark Encounter on Wednesday, we had a bus tour and river boat tour of the Cincinnati area. They were both fun and educational.
On Thursday, we went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I'm not much of a sports fan. That includes racing cars, but I enjoyed learning about some of its history. It was also fun to see some cars zooming around the track outside. They sounded like a bunch of chain saws, but there was something thrilling about them nevertheless!
More than anything else, though, is that in whatever I may be facing, I have a God who created me for a purpose. If I first seek His Kingdom, I will be greatly blessed, in spite of any hardships I encounter. He is infinitely greater than these and has a plan for me that I can't even imagine.
Praise the Lord!