Just as the waters of the Neosho, Grand, Spring, Elk Rivers and Honey Creek were overflowing Grand Lake and sending Northeast Oklahoma folks to higher ground, we set out to get on The Ark. Opening in 2016, The Ark Encounter is a one-of-a-kind historically themed attraction. The largest timber-frame structure in the world, the 510 foot long full-size Ark is built to the scale and authentic to what Noah constructed in the days of The Flood. It had started to rain as we drove into Williamstown, Kentucky, and it seemed like a good place to be headed.
The door was open and there was plenty of room.
Our trip east also included a stop at the Creation Museum, which provides explanation of how it all got started. We took in the murals in Cuba, Missouri with a step-on guide who explained how the area’s history was being preserved and ugly walls were being covered up. It works.
We hit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and we were proud to find our local baseball legend Jimmy Beauchamp’s signature on his bat, displayed on the Wall of Fame for Louisville hitters. We also made it around to the Kentucky Derby Museum. This was especially fun for the Much-Older-Sister and me since we were there for the last history making Derby race. The beautiful museum celebrates the history of racing, horses, horse people, the Derby, there’s even a gallery of hats! We enjoyed watching the morning workouts of some “future contenders”.
We followed the Ohio River home, and it was obvious those waters weren’t interested in staying in their banks either. Barges were tied up by the dozens waiting for the river to lower to allow them safe room to pass under the bridges.
We stopped in Paducah, Kentucky. Perched on the bank of the rolling Ohio, this historical city is probably best known for quilts. The National Quilt Museum is here and draws quilters and quilt lovers from far and wide to ohhh and ahhhh over these magnificent works of fabric art. Our Good to Go gang knew about Paducah, but they didn’t know about their local super-hero, “Quilt Man”. He jumped on our motor coach faster than a running sewing machine and seamlessly guided us around his hometown.
Quilt Man used the phrase “Adaptive Reuse” and pointed out to us how this city of over 25,000 has saved the old and gave places new life. We made our way down the river city’s floodwall. What could have been just stark and oppressive cement barriers, now boasts over 50 murals of the stories of Paducah. It’s literally an art gallery of great proportion! We cruised through Lowertown, the oldest section of the city. Most communities would have ordered demotions and modernized, but forward thinking created a project to allow artists to move in and renovate and decorate and the result? Historical homes are preserved and new businesses are giving back to the economy. “Quilt Man” (aka Fowler Black), with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, said “Our goal is to keep as much original as possible so the story lives on.” Don’t you love that?
Ok, you knew it was coming.....WHY CAN’T WE HAVE THAT?! I will step on my soapbox once again, and shout, “Someday we are going to want to have this, to remember this! Don’t tear it down, repurpose it!” To take a piece out of Quilt Man’s cover, let’s reuse so the story lives on.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.