A Modern Day Noah’s Ark


Thursday, Day Four didn’t get us very far, but that was by choice. After breakfast at another Cracker Barrel, we drove for another fifteen minutes to the popular themed attraction that was the reason for the campgrounds being full – Ark Encounter. Friends had told us about seeing it, so we thought we’d take a look.

This mammoth wooden Ark, built to the size mentioned in the Bible – 510 ft. long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high, sits high up on supports on a hill, outside Williamstown, Kentucky. It’s said to be the biggest timber-frame structure in the world, and for the price of $38 each, we got to do the tour through exhibitions and videos.

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The gardens on the way inside were beautiful, completed with some animals.

Inside the bow.

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It was interesting. I was relieved to learn that the “animals” in the many cages are not real, but created with 3-D computer sculpting, as are the animated people at the various stations. There are recorded sound effects, and voices.

Animals Two by Two

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Dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs??

There were a few live animals in an open area.

Family life aboard the Ark

There are three decks.

The work put into it is really quite amazing.

I found it to be a good glimpse into what life was possibly like so many years ago, but the brochure states: “all three decks of the Ark are full of state-of-the-art exhibits that will amaze and inspire you to think differently about the biblical account of Noah’s ark.” I have to agree with this statement, but my different feeling probably isn’t what the creator of Ark Encounter had in mind. I felt that the videos that tried to convince us that everything in the Bible is true, confirmed as being the absolute and only truth, were propaganda, an attempt to create a profitable theme park.

That might be just my opinion, but I saw few people looking very revered as they strolled through the exhibits.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has been on the tour. Tell me how it made you feel.

When the tour was over, we were ready for the delicious buffet meal at the onsite restaurant. It was huge, fresh and inexpensive. And there were more beautiful gardens on the other side!

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A Day of Exploring Scottsdale with Good Friends


It’s amazing to find how much more there is to learn about the places we’ve visited before. We’ve been to the Scottsdale area when we went to the Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of Instrumental Music (MIM) both of which I’ve written about before, but after being introduced to the blog. Chocolatour, by a friend, I knew we’d missed some interesting things in the downtown. So one Sunday morning we picked up our friends, Alice and Joe, and headed out.

The drive from Mesa is a good hour and a half. Once we found parking we decided that the best way to find what we wanted to see, and a place to eat, was to hop onto the free trolley. We stayed on it until it made a stop at the Western Museum, and then we got off to take some pictures outside.

When we discovered that it had just opened, we went into the lobby and the gift shop for a little exploring.

There were some incredible works of art.

We were getting hungry so we didn’t take time to do the tour. That will have to be another time. We set out on foot to see what we could find.

We were looking for Zak’s Chocolate that Doreen had mentioned in her blog, but we couldn’t find it. While waiting for our lunch at David’s Hamburgers (I enjoyed a very thick and tasty BLT while the others got their mouths around the tall Texas Burger), we learned from a Google search that Zak’s was a few miles out of the downtown core, and unfortunately, it isn’t open on Sundays. Of course the couple who run it, and make all of the chocolate with little help, need a day or two off, but our taste buds were disappointed. That will have to be next time!

However there were plenty of other things to see and explore!

After lunch we visited “Old Scottsdale”. We admired the old architecture and wondered at the antique farm equipment on display outside the many antique shops.

We took a tour of the beautifully restored Mission Church.

Back in the “new” downtown, we did some window shopping, lusting over the intricate, jeweled, had-made belt buckles and other dazzling jewelry that we knew we could never afford to own. We sauntered down Frontier Town where Alice satisfied our sweets craving by sampling some fresh fudge at Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars. We made our only purchase of the day when we split on the special deal of three pieces, to take home. Yumm.

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The sound of music drew us toward this beautiful park and museum area, which I later discovered was the Scottsdale Civic Centre Mall.

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This memorial depicts Scottdale’s founder, Chaplain Winfield Scott, welcoming newcomers, with his wife Helen seated on their beloved mule “Old Maud”

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Herb Drinkwater and his dog Sadie, Scottdale’s Mayor 1980-1996

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This Lagoon is filled with fountains and bronze statues and ducks

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We tried to catch a trolley back to where we’d parked the car, but kept missing it. Once we got walking in the right direction we discovered it wasn’t as far away as we’d thought, but we were all tired after that busy day. Next season we’ll try to return to explore the things we’ve still missed.

A Visit to Wickenburg, Arizona


After a few days of stressful times, both good and bad, I felt a need to just get away for the day. Jim suggested driving to Wickenburg. The trip should have taken less than two hours, but we were slow to get away and had to stop for lunch. Then after we got back on our way we realized we’d made a wrong turn somewhere. We had to consult the GPS. It did get us to Wickenburg eventually, but we had to back track. As a result, it was 3:30 when we parked in front of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, only to find that it closed at 4:00. When we got inside we knew that we wouldn’t have time to see all that was there, but they didn’t charge us for admission. We did a quick tour, taking lots of pictures, and vowed that we would return another day.

The main floor, in the main building, is divided into art exhibits that are on permanent display on one side, and art exhibits that are on loan on the other. We took in some of this.

Then we went downstairs to see the exhibit that depicts life in Wickenburg during the early 1900s.

Inside Mercantile Store

Inside the Mercantile Store this fellow appeared (by projector) and told us about life in Wickenburg.

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Looking into the local Saloon

Looking into the local Saloon

The museum staff was waiting for us when we climbed back up the stairs. They told us that there is another whole building yet to explore!

All of the buildings that make up Historic Downtown Wickenburg, no matter what business they hold, have been restored to match the original old western town that it was in the early 1800s.

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We strolled around the town, stopping to take pictures and captured the the historic first train to arrive in Wickenburg on January 26, 1895, just as a modern locomotive streaked by on the modern track.

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Jim and traveler

Jim welcomed this pretty train traveler to town.

We stopped to watch some flamingo dancers performing for a gathering in a Mexican church courtyard.

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Dancers at some sort of Spanish Festival in a Church courtyard

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Unfortunately, most of the interesting-looking shops and buildings had also closed at 4:00, but we did get into a few antique/second-hand stores where we saw many things that we wouldn’t see in similar shops back home.

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This guy didn’t talk much either

Prospector

He didn’t notice Jim looking through his pack

One shop in particular had textured tin ceilings and bold ornate wallpaper and plush floral carpet on the stairs to the second floor that contained several small rooms. We were told that the building had originally been a hotel, but it had become in such bad repair that all but the original room walls upstairs, which made up the hotel bedrooms, had been completely gutted and the foundation replaced. The tin ceilings and beautiful old wallpaper was all new! We never would have guessed.

Climbing the velvet staircase

Climbing the velvet staircase

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

New "old" tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

New “old” tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

There were no crowds. I think we were the only tourists about, which made it very relaxing – just the medicine I needed.

By the time we got back to the car daylight was nearly gone and pretty Christmas lights shone on the lampposts and the train.

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As we were leaving we saw this lit sign indicating an Arizona Cowboy Christmas Town that might have been interesting to explore.

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Next time we go, we will leave home earlier and use the GPS from the start!

Sites of El Paso and the End of the Journey


We’ve been in Mesa Regal for two weeks now, and I’m finally getting this post done. Because of competition for internet connection, I decided the only time I was going to be able to get the photos added was to work during the night. So here I am.

We finally got our windshield replaced on Monday, November 6th and were on the road by early afternoon. Once we got back into New Mexico, Jim searched out a State Trooper, hoping to file an Accident Report, but he told us it was too late. However, after seeing how upset Jim was, he offered to give our “friend” Mark a call and try to mediate a settlement. It turned out that Quality Towing was on the rotation in that part of New Mexico, so Mark was a little worried when he got the call. However, he first said he didn’t remember the accident, then had a great excuse as to why he wasn’t paying – “They wanted me to pay for their accommodations, and food as well as the windshield!” We sat with our mouths hanging open. Sure, he should by rights pay for the extra days at the RV Park, but we’d never mentioned that. The insurance company just might, though. Anyway, he finally agreed to have Jim call him to work out a settlement. Before we stopped for the day, Mark called us and asked Jim for a mailing address. He said he’d have a cheque for the window in the mail the next day. As of the date of this posting, the cheque still has not arrived. Fortunately the insurance company paid for all but our deductible, but we had hoped to get that back and pay the insurance company back. Enough of that saga.

While we were in El Paso, Shawn introduced us to many things that we would never have seen if we hadn’t been stranded in the city. As I mentioned before, he checked on us every day of our twelve day stay, and when he learned that we were not yet leaving, he took us out. One day was spent searching for a windshield wiper without success, followed by lunch and grocery shopping; another was spent trying to find someone to weld a very small spot on our old wiper after Jim had managed to fix it to work. Shawn saved the day when he thought of a friend who works for Job Corps. We took it there and had the job done by a student in no time flat!

On other days we saw the highlights of El Paso:

We drove up the mountain to view the city of 700,000

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We visited the Chamizal National Monument

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Cool Murals on the Outside Walls

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Jim and Shawn

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Interesting that the US and Mexican Gov’ts could come to an agreement

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The sculpture in the distance marks the US-Mexico border

We peeked through the gates of Southwest University Park, a fairly new Baseball Field that is seldom used, Shawn told us.

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We toured some of the History Museum

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A moving history lesson on the wall, controlled by the observer

History Museum Digital Wall

We had our picture digitally taken and emailed to our friend in Cincinnati

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A very Antique Fire Engine

We strolled through Concordia Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in El Paso. It was the Week of the Dead, following Halloween, a time when people visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and there are often parades through the cemeteries, but this one had few visitors. Except for the Monument to the Buffalo Soldiers, it looked to be abandoned.

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Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

We spent a good portion of another day enjoying the warm sun while walking through the very modern campus of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEL).

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Beautiful Buildings

Lovely Parks

Lovely Parks

University of Texas El Paso Campus, plants

Interesting Plants. Who knows what this is, at the base of a palm tree?

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By Sunday, Shawn’s wife was home and she and her mother met us downtown in the afternoon at the Art Museum where we found many interesting works of art, especially the Day of the Dead collages created by students from many of the local schools, mostly commemorating deceased music artists.

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We stopped into the Ysleta Mission, located in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operated parish in the State of Texas.

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On the way back to our “home”, at Jim’s suggestion, we stopped into the largest Harley Davidson Store in the country. I think we got Shawn dreaming of riding down the highway with the wind in his hair.

Again we expressed thanks to Shawn. We really did enjoy seeing the city through his eyes, and he said he enjoyed learning a thing or two about Canada. It worked out well. But by Monday we were ready to be on the road again.

A Visit to the Historic Brockville Railway Tunnel


Here’s something many of you may not know:  the oldest railway tunnel in Canada still exists under the downtown core of my home town, Brockville, Ontario, located on the shores of the St Lawrence River at the eastern edge of The Thousand Islands.

Until the waterfront area at the bottom of Market Street was revitalized and turned into a venue for various family activities, I too was unaware of its existence, and even then doors to the entrance were always closed. Both the northern and southern portals have been upgraded and maintained by the City of Brockville, since the tunnel was acquired as part of a waterfront land deal between the City and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Several years ago a short portion at the southern entrance (about 80 feet) was upgraded and opened to the public during the day as a sort of museum.

In 2011 a committee of Brockville’s City Council was formed with the goal to open the tunnel end-to-end for residents and visitors and to eventually see the tunnel and its north gorge area connected as part of the Brock Trail system. Renovation construction started in August of 2016. On August 12, 2017, as part of the City’s Rails to Trails Festival and its Canada 150 celebrations, the renovated interior of the tunnel was opened to visitors to enjoy during the summer months.

This past Saturday, a beautiful autumn day, Jim and I joined my son and my brother, and his friend on the walk through. We were very impressed. The atmosphere has been complimented with music playing and sometimes the sounds of train wheels turning and whistles blowing. The strips of every changing coloured lights passing through the tunnel give the impression of train lights approaching and reflect off the stalagmites and dripping water on the walls.

Unfortunately, while packing to go to Brockville the day before, I neglected to check my camera. When I tried to shoot some photos, I discovered that I had left my SD card in my computer at home!  I had to rely on my cell phone. Next time I go I’ll make sure I have everything I need, including a tripod, but for now, here are a few shots.

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Southern Entrance

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Inside looking out

Some History

The tunnel was built between 1854 and 1860 to allow the fledging Brockville and Ottawa Railway to connect the Brockville industrial waterfront area to the outlying areas lying between the St Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

On December 31 of 1860, the first small train, a wood-burning locomotive and two coaches came through the completed tunnel and the tunnel was officially open for traffic. The tunnel is arch-shaped, measuring 14 feet 9 inches from the top of the arch to the ground and 14 feet across. The overall length of the tunnel is 1721 feet in length and passes right under Brockville City Hall.

To learn more, click here: History of Brockville Railway Tunnel

Lavender, Motorcycles and Prison


It’s hard to believe that half the summer has slipped away and I’m a month behind with my posts. Guess that means we’ve been busy! I now offer a summary of what we’ve been up to.

1. Something to improve My Quality of Living While in the Motor Home

The installation of a new refrigerator in the motor home was exciting for me, and I was happy with the results when we spent a weekend in nearby Preston Springs at the Country Jamboree. We decided to try a house fridge instead of the usual two-way models used in most motor homes, mainly because the very hot, direct sunlight in the spring in Arizona sometimes causes freezing on those, and because the gas components take up a lot of space that I’d rather have for inside fridge space. Household models are also much less expensive than new motor home models. Since we already had a voltage inverter in the motor home, Jim just had to run wiring to reach from it to the fridge outlet, and install a switch so that we can use the coach batteries to power it when we are on the move, and then switch to 110 volts when we are plugged in at an RV Site. It was a bigger job than expected, but worth it.

 

2. Lavender Fields

In mid-July I made a trip to Campbellcroft to meet my Red Hat friends at the Lavender Fields, but  by the time we all arrived, heavy rain and the threat of thunder storms chased us away to the nearest shopping area and an indoor lunch.

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I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any pictures of the fields, so Jim and I took a drive out a few days later. There were so many people there that day, it was still difficult to get good unobstructed shots, but here are a couple.

 

3. A Motorcycle Ride to Picton

Last week, instead of playing pickle ball on a Wednesday afternoon, we joined our friends Steve and Sue on one of the few motorcycle rides we’ve taken this year. We left Hastings at 10:30 in the morning, expecting to be gone a couple of hours, but having no particular destination. By the time we stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm, we were in Picton in Prince Edward County, having explored many country roads and covered many more miles than anticipated. Picton is an interesting community that is heavily populated with tourists and cottagers during the summer months and well worth checking out if you are in the area. We reached it via Hwy. 49, but after lunch we took the Ferry across the bay to Glenora and drove along the shore of Lake Ontario before turning back north through the towns of Napanee and Tamworth, then cutting back west to Campbellford and home. That was the longest bike ride I’ve been on since my hip replacement almost a year ago, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the scenery and the perfect riding weather, but my joints and muscles were a tad sore when we finally got off at nearly 3:00 pm!

 

4. A Tour of Kingston Penitentiary

This past weekend we went to Kingston to tour the Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased operations on September 30, 2013, and was opened to the public just last year. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it, but the hour and a half passed very quickly. We were amazed by what we learned about this, the first British North American penitentiary, which sits on 8.6 hectares of land on King Street. It was constructed through 1833 and 1834 and officially opened on June 1, 1835 with the arrival of the first six inmates. Our various tour guides, many of whom are retired guards or wardens, explained the operation, the security systems, the routines, and enlightened us with stories of riots, escapes, work crews, rehab programs and building updates. It was well worth the $25 price of admission.

 

After a visit with family in Brockville over the next couple of days, we stopped in Napanee on our way home to have a lovely lunch with friends on the riverside outdoor patio of a relatively new restaurant that wasn’t there when I used to live in Napanee. How things change in thirteen years!

 

Next week I’m flying out to British Columbia for three weeks to visit with some more of my family. Because they are spread from southern BC to Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, it has been a challenge arranging the various modes of transportation needed. It will be an adventure. Stay tuned!

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

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We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.