Greetings, friends! I don’t get out much, especially not now with the pandemic and all. That’s why I was so shocked when I learned that my family was going on a trip to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Who in their right mind would travel at a time like this?! I could catch a cold or something even worse. Not to mention I would have to pack about twenty of those flimsy blue masks to keep out the germs I will inevitably pick up on the trip. One for the airplane, plus three extras in my backpack just in case I somehow lose the one I’m wearing or it gets musty from inhaling my own carbon dioxide, one for each day of the vacation (plus extras packed for the aforementioned reasons), and several for the return trip.
Oh, I didn’t actually use all of the masks I packed. Just ten or twelve. Fortunately, I came to enjoy wearing one! That might sound weird, but just let me explain. While wearing one, it’s like I’m incognito. I’m a secret agent. Nobody knows who I am, and nobody could identify me to the authorities. (Er, I mean, it’s not like I’m doing anything illegal. I’m being a good citizen by obeying the thorough signage and wearing a mask properly over my nose and mouth!) I can totally see why no one objects to wearing them 24/7. There’s just something about wearing a mask that makes you (and others) feel safe.
Mask recommendations (and sarcastic quips) aside, I quite enjoyed the flight! As a writer, I draw inspiration for my books from my everyday experiences. With the lockdown going on, I have felt starved for adventure, and this trip gave me plenty of it.
Note: All Scripture quotations in the blog post are from either NKJV or NLT.
“You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind…” (Psalm 104:3)
Flying in an airplane is rather like riding on the back of a dragon, no? Well, it’s the closest I can get to dragon riding without using the Storywell to enter a book world. As a writer and general dragon enthusiast, I received much inspiration from that airplane trip. You know how some people are afraid of flying and have to practically be dragged on board? That’s not me. Airplanes are awesome. Taking off is my favorite part. The rising and falling sensation of gradually mounting into the sky might make some people’s stomachs turn inside-out, but I love it. Close behind that is experiencing turbulence when flying through a storm cloud.
Even though the flight across the country gave me plenty of material for my writing endeavors, the best was yet to come.
“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood…” (Genesis 6:14)
I have wanted to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum for years, but my family never had the opportunity to until now. How we actually managed it was nothing short of miraculous. For a bit of context, we didn’t even know we were going on the trip until about a week before the actual flight. (We traveled with some friends, so we got the same flight and hotel as them.)
The Ark Encounter was the first place we visited. After parking and getting our wristbands, we took the shuttle from the information building to the Ark. People always say they’re overwhelmed by the size of the Ark, not expecting it to be so big, but when I first laid eyes on it, I just smiled and nodded with satisfaction. I grew up watching and reading material from Answers in Genesis, so the size of the Ark wasn’t a shock to me. I was neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed. It just seemed…right.
While the Ark is certainly the centerpiece of everything, the grounds were so beautiful as well. I loved seeing all the trees and flowers—even the undeveloped forest surrounding the Ark. (We don’t have many trees where I live, so I enjoy it every time I visit a place with an abundance of them.)
Next, we entered the Ark itself by winding through a sort of “tropical forest” section and climbing a ramp that switchbacked into the underbelly of the structure. As we climbed, we were surrounded by sounds of rushing water, rain, and thunder—a really awesome atmosphere that made me feel as though I was actually boarding Noah’s ark before floodwaters decimated the earth.
Look, they even provided helpful social distancing markers shaped like pawprints! How cute!
“And the rain was on the earth for forty days and forty nights…and the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days…” (Genesis 7:12, 24)
Deck 1 was full of exhibits of animal cages to illustrate how Noah and his family could have housed creatures both small and large. (It is probable that most, if not all, of the animals on Noah’s ark would have been young and thus fit easily on board.) Each cage held a pair of representatives of a particular animal kind to show that Noah did not have to bring every single species we see in the world today. This deck also had many informational boards about ancient building techniques Noah might have used when making the Ark as well as estimates for how much space would be required for all the animals. As it turns out, there is plenty. There were also ideas for how the animals could have been efficiently cared for by the eight people who were aboard the Ark during the global flood.
All quite interesting. (For those of you who skipped that long paragraph, you didn’t miss much. Just some practical considerations for the Ark. All in all, I was quite impressed with how well-thought-out everything was.)
I won’t go into too much detail about the rest of the exhibits on the other decks. The Ark Encounter is one of those places you just have see for yourself. I highly recommend it for everyone, regardless of your religious persuasion.
Some of my favorite exhibits and displays were these:
We left the Ark through the gift shop under the bow of the ship (yes, the bow), which is where this picture was taken:
“Then the ark rested…on the mountains of Ararat…” (Genesis 8:4)
Did I mention that the giant boat isn’t the only part of the Ark Encounter to see? There’s also the Ararat Ridge Zoo! Of special note is the kangaroo walkabout, where you can even touch the bouncers if they come close enough to the path. We were also able to see a couple live animal presentations, which included a sugar glider, a bearded dragon, a Taiwan beauty snake, and a pig from New Zealand. And that’s not all! There is also camel riding! I didn’t attempt it, but my sister had a grand time. A friend also went on the “Aerial Adventure Course” and enjoyed it, but I don’t like heights. (And that’s not even mentioning the “Screaming Eagle Zip Lines” that you can try out. You, not me.) I am coming to realize that during this adventure, I didn’t really do anything too adventurous besides boarding an airplane. Perhaps I’m not cut out for adventures after all.
“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds…” (Genesis 9:13)
Near the entrance to the zoo was a small area called the “Rainbow Gardens” which featured an assortment of beautiful flowers in all colors of the rainbow!
On the subject of rainbows, the weather during the trip was glorious, ranging from sunny to completely overcast to foggy (which I especially enjoyed).
We also got to experience the new Truth Traveler Virtual Reality attraction, which took us on a time traveling adventure to see the Ark as it was being built. My sister and I had never done anything like that before and we were pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely worth checking out!
“And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them…” (Genesis 6:21)
Okay, maybe this heading is a bit of a stretch. I needed a section to talk about food, and this verse from Genesis popped into my head. I hope you’ll forgive me.
The Ark Encounter has many food vendors and restaurants, as well as numerous seating areas. Understandable, since you can’t really leave for a lunch break unless you want to go through the hassle of reentry. Sort of like Disney, actually. But unlike Disney, the food isn’t crazy overpriced. From what I saw, Zofar’s has hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza for reasonable prices. The main restaurant is Emzara’s Kitchen, which is set up like a buffet and is the most expensive out of everything.
In addition, there are also places to get fresh-squeezed lemonade, funnel cakes, ice cream, fudge, and coffee. Unless you want your kids bouncing into the stratosphere, I would not suggest buying all of those at once. (If you do decide that’s a good idea, you might as well take them to the playground located near the ice cream stand to burn off some of that sugar.)
“By faith Noah…prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith…” (Hebrews 11:7)
When Noah built his ark, he was a testimony to the unbelieving world of his day, an entire culture of people who had only evil thoughts continually (Genesis 6:5). He must have endured so much contempt and ridicule from them during the years it took to build the Ark. These same people could have entered the door of the Ark in faith and been saved, but none did—only eight souls, Noah and his family, were delivered. In a similar way, the Ark Encounter was a target for much ridicule and opposition from the unbelieving world even as it pointed them to the way of salvation. Jesus’ sacrifice allows for every man, woman, and child to be saved if they choose to go through that door.
Altogether, the Ark Encounter was spectacular. 10/10, would recommend to a friend. I had intended to include our visit to the Creation Museum in this blog post, but I think I shall save that for next week. That experience was just as wonderful, and I have many fond memories from both places.
Thanks for reading, friends! Until next time,