Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Two by Two: The Ark Encounter


I couldn't help but think of the children's Bible song about Noah's Ark as we approached the Ark Encounter. 

It's kind of a silly song, but catchy nonsense songs appeal to kids. And they get stuck on repeat in adults' brains if given a chance, too. It says, in part:

The Lord said to Noah
there's gonna be a floody floody
Lord said to Noah
there's gonna be a floody floody
Get my children (clap)
out of the muddy muddy
Children of the Lord.

The animals, they came on
they came on by twosies twosies
Animals, they came on
they came on by twosies twosies
Elephants and (clap)
kangaroozies roozies
Children of the Lord.

So rise and shine
and give God the glory glory
Rise and shine
and give God the glory glory
Rise and shine and (clap)
give God the glory glory
Children of the Lord.

The Ark Encounter is located in Grant County, Kentucky, near Williamstown, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington off I-75.

It wasn't originally on our travel itinerary. But two Master Farmer couples suggested it after they heard that our next trip was to the Bluegrass State. So we added it.

It is BIG. The full-size Noah’s Ark is built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. It is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.

Taking a photo from the end helps give perspective in just how big it is. Can you see the itty-bitty human near the fence in the photo below? That gives some indication as to the mammoth size.

The Ark Encounter used a "royal cubit" since major construction projects in the ancient world were often based on them. The Ark's volume is approximately 1.88 million cubic feet, large enough to contain nearly 450 semi-truck trailers. It includes 3.3 million board feet of lumber and is the largest timber-frame structure in the world. Several different woods were used, including Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir, radiata pine and bamboo.

The Ark's door also gives some perspective as to its size. There are three "decks" of exhibits.

This shows some of the central structure.

The Ark Encounter creators admit that the Bible doesn't provide a lot of details about how the ark was constructed or how the inside of the Ark would have been configured to house and care for animals. 

They say:

Our Ark is based on the Biblical data and shipbuilding research, but we used artistic license in many areas, including the design of the ship's interior and exterior structure, as well as the mechanisms for animal feeding and waste removal.

We didn't tour the attraction's zoo or some of its other features. (We were tired of walking and we were going on down the road to our next destination.) It is definitely not inexpensive. You pay $15 for parking and even with a senior citizen discount, admission was pricey. Still, we were glad we'd added it to our travel itinerary. 

Bravo to you if you've stayed with me through all these blog posts. I'll wrap up our trip in the next blog post.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Bluegrass Country


Kentucky needs scenic overlooks. Their Travel & Tourism Department should get right on that. (Just kidding ... mostly.) 

Their narrow rural roads make it difficult to find a place to pull over for photos. It certainly wasn't like our National Park trip last fall, when it seemed there was a scenic overlook every few miles. (Of course, that created a whole other problem. You can't stop at every scenic overlook. But, what if you miss the best one? And a thousand photos later (literally), how do you whittle them down?)

Kentucky thought they were dry. But after leaving drought-stricken Kansas behind for our trip, the Bluegrass State looked anything but dry to us Kansas farmers. 

We shared our general admission bench at Keeneland Race Track with a man who lived in the Lexington area. After he found out that we were tourists, he asked if we'd done the bourbon trail tour. We had done some of that when we visited Brent while he worked at Morehead (KY) State in 2013. But our new friend suggested that we drive out by the Woodford Reserve Distillery because of the picturesque drive. 


We were too late for tours, but the distillery and welcome center were beautiful anyway. The drive was even prettier.

All the way there, I was itching to have Randy pull over so I could take photos. It was beautiful. The rural roads wound through small communities, but there were no shoulders and steep ditches. It was tough to find a place to park to satisfy my shutterbug addiction.

We pulled into a private driveway and I took a few photos, but it was threatening to rain, and I was having trouble with my regular camera. The horses were pretty far away for the camera on my cell phone.

At one point, Randy said there wasn't anyone following us, so he stopped right on the road. 

I hopped out of the car and told him to keep watch. He was supposed to give me enough time to scramble up and down the ditch and hop back in the car. (Remember: I've never been very fast. And I haven't gotten any faster!)

But the stop was completely worth my frazzled nervousness when a couple of curious horses came right up to the fence. They even let me rub their noses.

This one even turned its head so I could see the name on its bridle - Auspicious Babe. She certainly was for me!


This gray beauty also let me rub her face, too. But then a car turned a corner, and I scurried back to our Jeep.

It wasn't our only chance that day to get a closer look at horses. We spent most of the day at the Kentucky Horse Park.

 On our trip in 2013, we also visited there. Then, it was January and bitterly cold. Our April trip was a little cool, but pleasant.

At the Hall of Champions, we watched Mr. Muscleman get a bath. In his racing days, he was the Harness Racing Hall of Fame 2005 Trotter of the Year. He earned $3.58 million in his racing career, with 67 races and a record of 37-17-7.


Later in the day, Mr. Muscleman got to do a little grazing away from the barn.

Randy got to offer a treat to Point Given.

Point Given was the first Thoroughbred in history to win four consecutive million-dollar races. He had an off day for the 2001 Kentucky Derby and finished fifth. The 2001 Kentucky Derby was the only off-the-board finish in his entire career. In the 2001 Preakness Stakes, he took command early to win. Five weeks later, his stretch run in the Belmont Stakes brought back memories of another chestnut, Secretariat. Point Given won the Belmont by more than 12 lengths.

We also saw Funny Cide, the winner of both the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. His caregiver says he has an attitude.

These horses have a beautiful place to spend their retirement.


 In the Big Barn, we saw Conner getting a bath. 

The Belgian Draft Horse was born in 2010. He's 2,000 pounds and 19 hands high.


We didn't know it at the time, but Conner and his friend would take us on our trolley ride later.

We also enjoyed watching the Mounted Police gear up their horses and saddle up.

 Koda is ridden by Sergeant Johnson.

He's an 1,800-pound Persheron Cross born in 2015.

This was Junior, a 1,700-pound American Cream draft horse. He's newer to the mounted police lineup. It's quite a ways up there! No wonder the officer needs a boost.

We also watched the Parade of Breeds Show.

It was all about the animals at our next stop, too - the Ark Encounter. More on that next time.