Welcome to Cincinnati, Ohio

We left Florence, Kentucky and drove a few minutes, though it seemed, before we came upon a cityscape that looked intriguing. We wound through a few hills, and then there was a big city on the other side of a large river.

Cincinnati is a beautiful town, especially on the riverfront. It is the Ohio River. We saw a striking blue and white building that first caught our attention, and since we do “adventure driving,” we had to stop.

We found out that George Clooney’s dad lives in one of the condos in the blue and white building. (That’s my one “name drop” for the day.)

We pulled off the Interstate and wove our way around the riverfront area to find a parking spot. It is one long park, for kids mostly, along the Ohio River, where the Roebling Bridge stretches across the river. We found a parking spot and walked across the Ohio River and back again.

We then walked around the park, went up to the Underground Railroad Museum, walked down to the Tervis Store, went to The Great American Ball Park where the Reds play baseball, and had lunch at Skyline restaurant.

Skyline Restaurant

The ladies at the Tervis Store said we had to eat at Skyline, so we did. They piled about fourteen feet of cheese on top of chili spaghetti. And I had a coney too, which was a premature hotdog buried in more cheese. It was good, though there were gastronomical consequences.

As we were standing in the entryway of the restaurant, I needed to be free from the internal gurgling. And thinking it was only my children in the entryway, I set myself free. And while I was in mid-process (it was record-setting), a gentleman came out the door. My back was to him, so I assumed it was Lucia until he let out a belly laugh.

Later, I connected with him at the intersection, as we were waiting for the light and I apologized while telling him that I had never done that before in my life. He laughed again, as did my children.

Hall of Fame

RaeAnn, our Skyline waitress, gave us a half-price ticket for the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, so we had to go. The museum is in a “park area” with the stadium. The entire area is fantastic. Well done.

My family is not into baseball that much, and they do not have the historical background that I do. So, let’s say that it was an emotional experience for me. As we walked through the museum, they played radio broadcasts from some of the most famous moments in Red’s history, e.g., Pete Rose breaking Ty Cobb’s lifetime hit record.

It was emotional because sports (and all things TV) was my escape from my childhood. The TV was a “portal” that permitted me to “go somewhere else” while never leaving my family. The TV was my “salvation” as a kid. Those radio broadcasts that I heard at the museum were the ones that I heard the moment they happened.

Bobblehead Anyone?

We also got four bobblehead statues of Johnny Vander Meer for touring the museum. It was a promotion. If any of you want one of those statues, you’re welcome to it if you pay for the shipping.

On the way back to the car, we ran into two actors gearing up in their Iron Man suits. We had to chat them up (and get a picture, of course).

There were many other things we did in Cincy, the best of which was talking to the people, i.e., the lady at the Underground Railroad Museum, the police officer at the Hall of Fame, the ladies at the Tervis Store, and RaeAnn. And then there was the lady down at the park and the Iron Men. I could spend a few days in Cincinnati. It was that good. But we had to move on.

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The Creation Museum

After The Ark Encounter, we spent the day at the Creation Museum. It was less walking than the prior day. I did 11K+ steps at the Ark and only 8K+ at the museum. I’m praising God that I can walk with minimal pain.

This trip is our second to the museum, and as the Ark, it was just as good as it was the first time, though we did different things on this visit.

The museum folks have lectures during the day, which we missed the last time, so we made them a priority. We heard Terry Mortensen at noon; that was special, and even more so because we stayed with Terry and Margie while in Florence. He did a great job.

The second lecture was from Ken Ham, who spoke on racism. It was the best “racism talk” I’ve ever heard. The children enjoyed him too. The irony is that I heard him 30+ years ago and now my children are hearing him.

It was the book, Scientific Creationism, that rocked my world during my undergrad work in the 80s. Creationism was so antithetical to a quarter century of evolutionist indoctrination and that early training did so much for my faith.

Before coming here, I contacted my friend, Roger Patterson. He did the workbook for our Drive-By Marriage audio series with Todd Friel of Wretched Radio. Roger connected me with Bodie Hodge, Ken Ham’s son-in-law, for a podcast interview. Bodie was awesome.

He is a speaker, writer, researcher for AIG (Answers In Genesis). He took us to his office for the interview. All six of us went. Bodie is an animated speaker, so Tristen had a hard time capturing a still shot for our archives. She did get four good ones out of 168 attempts.

Too funny.

Bodie gave us a tour of the back offices. It’s crazy how big the offices are, and how much they are doing at AIG. I’m glad our children had this privileged to see the front and back side of the operation.

We spent the rest of the time touring the museum and gardens. If you haven’t been to the museum and Ark, I highly recommend it. If you took five days, with a couple of break days, you’d be able to soak it all in. It’s best to walk slow, read everything, take your time, and prayerfully and reflectively process all the information.

Well done, AIG!!

The Ark Encounter

 

RMlogo The Ark Encounter

We left Dan Buchanan and headed north to the Florence, KY area. Terry and Margie Mortensen let us stay with them for a couple of days while we visited The Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum.

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We went to these spots two years ago, but I wanted to go again because for the past decade I have been “spectating a lot of life” because of my back trouble. What that means is that while my family visited all these wonderful places, I was sitting somewhere because the pain was too much.

Since July 11, 2017, my back is much better, and I can walk. So we revisited the Ark and Creation Museum. Terry Mortensen is one of the featured speakers for AIG (Answers In Genesis). He’s really smart– Ph.D. smart. Talking to him was great.

Margie, his wife, is a little fireball. She gets up at 4:30 and doesn’t stop working until she hits the hay around 9 PM. Impressive. Constant motion. The Mortensens served with Campus Crusade for many years, and then in Europe for a few more years. Terry loved “creation stuff,” and as things worked out, they offered him a job. He spoke at the Museum on Thursday, which was a special treat for all the visitors.

Noah’s Ark

A friend gave us passes to the Museum, and half-price tickets to the Ark. The Ark tickets were for Wednesday, so we went there first. We stayed all day, walking over 11,000 steps. Much has changed since our last visit. It was fantastic.

The quality of the property, the Ark, and components are superb. It’s worth seeing. The best time to visit is afternoon. The larger crowds come in the mornings, but if you arrived before noon or shortly after that, there is less foot traffic.

The Ark is air-conditioned, and there is wifi. Go, Noah!! There are also ramps for wheelchairs and restrooms on all three floors. At one end of the Ark on two levels, they have video presentations, which is a nice break from all the walking, as well as informative.

There are electrical outlets to “charge” your phones, which is nice ’cause you want to take a lot of pictures. One of the workers said you could take pictures and do Facebook Live, which I did both.

You can also take food and water on the Ark, though there is food to buy if you want to do that. We carried backpacks with chips and things. And, of course, there are gifts to buy if you want those.

Petting Zoo and More

Haydn and Ansa took a camel ride. That was nice. It was important for Ansa, and Haydn was accommodating to his little sister. She loves animals. A lot. The creation folks are building a large auditorium for speaking events and concerts. There will be a village city of sorts, a tower of Babel, and a few other additions. It appears the building won’t cease, as the funds provide for new features. There are plenty of picnic tables for sitting and relaxing. And then the zip lines, which cost extra.

We were some of the last folks to leave. They have shuttle buses that take you from the main parking lot up to the Ark property, which may be a quarter-mile away. The buses are running all day, so there isn’t much waiting.

It was a great visit!

Good ‘Ol Rocky Top, TN

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Ted and Charlene Thomas are long-time supporters of our ministry. It’s not unusual for them to stop in our home when they are passing through on one of their many travels. They, like us, have the goal of visiting every state in America.

Entertaining them in our home has been great. The last visit was a year ago, as they wanted to get updated on Lucia’s cancer. It was our time to return the favor, so we spent a couple of days at their place in Unicoi, TN, which is about two hours over the Appalachians from the Pfister home.

After our Mast General Store thrill in Valle Crucis, NC, we arrived at the Thomas home Monday evening. Charlene just retired after 37 years at Milligan College. Ted retired many years ago, and he’s been waiting for her to hang it up so they can do more riding, jogging, and gallivanting around the countryside.

We had a sumptuous taco salad as we caught up with each other on their back porch. Charlene is a master gardener among other things, so the view was spectacular. And never being the “slow down kind,” she is running for Alderman of Unicoi County.

She is good friends with the mayor, who just happens to have a small herd of American bison. She called up Le Mayor and asked if we could drop over to see Sammy and his girlfriends. It was a “yes.”

Too good.

The mayor was mowing his pasture, so it was a double blessing to meet him, Sammy and the girls. Ted brought a few carrots so we could feed the bison, which is not as easy as it may sound. Tentative fingers and long, slimy tongues made it a challenge, but we managed to get rid of all the carrots.

Classic Meat and Three

Our media guru, Tristen, was posting some updates on Instagram, and one of our followers, Dan Buchanan, happened to see what we were up to in Tennessee. As (sovereign) luck would have it, Dan lives one mile away, as the crow flies.

It was Tuesday.

I thought Dan lived in Knoxville, which he and Jackie did for a while, but they moved to Unicoi. I met Dan in Greenville many years ago, so there was no way I was leaving Unicoi without seeing him. Clarence’s meat and three, the finest local eatery in town, here we come.

Dan is a regular.

Charlene led us over in her car, and I got to put them together, which means she gets two more votes for her City Alderman run. We had lunch with Dan, and it was over-the-top fun to catch up with my friend.

I thought we weren’t going to get to talk after he met Charlene. They know all the same people, so the first twenty minutes was them swapping stories about Aunt Mable, et. al. Charlene had to skedaddle to another meeting, so I got my “Dan time” in, which was perfect.

We took a few pics and then headed toward Florence, KY to stay with one of the featured speakers for Answers In Genesis (AIG) and his wife, Terry and Margie Mortensen.

Off and Running – Summer, 2018

We left Saturday for our “somewhat annual” summer travels. We did this in 2015 (out west) and 2016 (northeast). Last year we decided to have four surgeries, which kept us homebound for most of the year.

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This summer we’re heading to the upper midwest, as well as Colorado. We’re connecting with our supporting member community and doing some speaking along the way. There will be a brief time with Lucia’s sister (and family) in Minnesota.

Our first stop was Boone, NC to spend a couple of days with Biff and Trish Pfister. They have been supporting our ministry for many years. Bill works for Samaritan’s Purse (Franklin Graham’s work), which is located in Boone. Bill came in from a world conference in Spain on Sunday night.

It was so good to chat with both of them, and their daughter, Riley. We attended their church on Sunday and hung out in Blowing Rock (town) that afternoon.

Underrated Rock

Let’s just say that Blowing Rock is overrated. We walked around the gift shop for a while. I then noticed a door that went outside, so I went through it. And right there was the “rock,” which looked more like “Blowing Nub.” I asked a dude if that was the rock, and he said he thought it was.

I went back to get my family to show them the nub and noticed they were still on the gift shop side of the doorway. They were pointing up, so I inquired as to what they were looking at, which is when I noticed the sign that said, don’t enter without paying. (Or something like that.)

So we left.

After touring the town, we went to Tweetsie Railroad. We arrived at 5:45. They closed at 6 PM. It started raining, which did not deter us from getting some pics with the main entrance and “old #12” in the background.

It looked like we did Tweetsie.

The kids were not that interested in it, and neither was I. The small theme park seemed more suited for young children. So we headed to downtown Boone and checked out Appalachian State University.

On Monday, we hiked “rough ridge,” which gave us a peek at Grandfather Mountain a few miles away. We could see the swinging bridge from our perch. That was great. Bill said it would be better than dropping $100 on Grandfather Mountain. He was right. It was an excellent hike with several cool outcroppings, plus a nice spot at the top of the mountain to take in God’s creative works.

Mast General

From there, we head to Valle Crucis to check out the first Mast General Store. It is about 135 years old. Oh, my. Heaven came down as I walked across the store floor and the sounds coming up were music to my ears.

All I needed was a Royal Crown Cola, Moon Pie, and a place to sit at the back of the store to swap fish tales. And, yes, folks were sitting in the rockers at the back.

I could not resist those Victory candy cigarettes. I put one between my lips and let it hang slightly to the left. James Dean, I’m thinking of you today.

We left heaven’s hardware, general store and headed to Unicoi, TN to visit some long-time friends and fellow members, Ted and Charlene Thomas.