Ark Encounter Williamstown, KY

Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. Ark Encounter is situated in beautiful Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky.

Truly amazing!

Personalized Magazine Cover – birthday gift idea

Personalized Magazine Cover – A special birthday gift for a special friend.

Our friend of many years recently celebrated his 60th birthday and I wanted to give him something special so I created a color pencil drawing just for him.

I first looked through his Facebook page for photos of him enjoying a hobby and figured out between fishing and golf it appeared he enjoyed fishing a bit more.  I thought it would be fun to make a magazine cover of him going off to fish and the drawing would be a cartoon of our friend.

The first picture is the work in progress and the second is the framed piece finished.

Our friend could not have been happier or surprised and both the drawing and party were a huge hit!  Next time you’re thinking about a gift for someone think about making them something or having something made special just for them.  I guarantee they will love the thought and time you invested.  🙂

Keep on drawing!

K. Lentz

Elvis is alive and well in Vegas

My friend and I decided a trip to Vegas was definitely in need.  A break from the day to day, business as usual monotony of adult responsibility.  We booked our trip and off we went…go west my friend so we did.

We didn’t really have any sort of itinerary in mind just a few things each of us wanted to see and do while in Vegas.  For me, I wanted to drive to the Grand Canyon and see the most impressive hole in the world, and it did not disappoint.  The beautiful colors, the peaceful stillness and that view!  It is almost surreal, the view of this massive crater.  The canyon is ginormous, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 18 miles at its widest.  If you are thinking about traveling out west any time in the future the canyon is definitely worth a visit.

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My friend wanted to ride the High Roller, play the slots and people watch.  The High Roller is one of Las Vegas’ most recent additions giving you a chance to view the entire landscape from above the strip while riding an observation wheel.  It stands at 550 feet and has enclosed air-conditioned pods that you and about 40 of your friends can ride in, one pod even has a bar if you would like to order up while viewing the city.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone vacationing in Vegas as a relaxing way to view the area, have a cocktail and take some fabulous photos!

The slots, well gambling is the real attraction for most in Vegas and as they say “you win some and you lose some”.  My friend broke even and we moved on to walking around taking in all of the sites and people watching.  People watching in Vegas, well there really is nothing like it and Fremont Street is the place to go.  From characters that dress up like the Kiss performers to street performers and everything in between, Fremont Street has it all!  Book a flight and if people watching is all you do here you will not be disappointed by the collection of folks that are walking around in this condensed area.  It truly is an experience.

The highlight of our trip was a bit of a surprise to both of us when we thought what we were hearing was Elvis singing.  Yes, you read that correctly, ELVIS!  During our many walks around town we saw an ad on the wall of the Piano Bar in Harrah’s casino for the Big Elvis show.  This we had to see and hear.  On our last day in Vegas we went to the bar around two in the afternoon and waited in line for what would be the highlight of our trip in the absolute Fun Department!  Big Elvis did not disappoint!

Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee has been performing at Harrah’s Casino for the past twenty years and as Elvis impersonators go, in my opinion, his voice is closely spot on!  He performs three days a week doing three sets per day…we stayed for all three sets and Mr. Vallee brought the house down!  He was honored with a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars in 2017 and much deserved by his incredible performances.  He sang Suspicious Mind, Folsom Prison Blues, It’s Now or Never and my personal favorite and one that we requested, Kentucky Rain and many more.  He includes the audience in a rockin’ rendition of Viva Las Vegas using volunteers from the audience as Little Big Elvis and the Elvettes and rocks the casino!  His talent as an Elvis impersonator is larger than life, and his performance was outstanding!  He was both professional and very approachable and I have to say for me ended our fun-filled trip with a BANG!!  If you are travelling to Vegas any time soon or in the future stop by Harrah’s Casino and see the Big Elvis show at the Piano Bar Monday, Wednesday and Fridays…Big Elvis does not disappoint.  Thank you Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee for a great end to our fantastic Vegas trip!

 

Day in the Life of a School Bus Driver

In light of the most recent bus accident in Indiana I feel it necessary to explain what it’s like to be a school bus driver and the training required.  We have been referred to as the pre-dawn road warriors.  We arrive at work before the sun comes up and many return as the sun is setting.  We are licensed to drive large vehicles and are tested on everything from the parts of the engine to self-defense.  We are the people that choose to drive your child safely to and from school each day…we are school bus drivers.

Driving a school bus is like herding cats and the noise level on the bus, at times, is like an amplified rolling chicken coop.  Every day is different and every child has his/her own unique personality.  I accepted a position with the county I live in as a temporary gig until I decided what my next chapter in life would be.  Well, almost six years later, I am still driving a school bus!  I have been reminded by friends, family and former colleagues that I had a career in banking that lasted almost 30 years, have a Bachelor’s degree, and were honorably discharged from the military as a Sergeant… so why in the world would I ever consider driving a school bus? 

The day in the life of a school bus driver is as thankless as I could have ever imagined and as rewarding as anything I could have ever imagined.  One day a child screams and cries all the way home because she wants her brother to sit with her but her brother refuses; to the child that brings you homemade cookies from his Grandmother’s bakery just because he thought you might need one…

You are screamed at by irate upset parents and greeted by the parent that waits for you in the morning with a gift.  Each morning tests your patience with the person that is late for work and now has to sit staring angrily at the outstretched STOP sign on the bus as a child boards to the patient driver that waits for you with a smile as another student slowly drags themselves and their book bag behind them.  There are days when the weather is bad and the windows are fogged and your senses are on alert to possible high water on the road to wires down.  Calls are made via the two-way radio to our dispatch team, by far some of the calmest, kindest people ever, for both information and guidance to ensure that your child once again arrives safely.

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It is the craziest job that I have ever had but one that I enjoy doing every day.

As school bus drivers the safety of your child is the number one concern and it is not something that is taken lightly.  We are required to take several written tests and a road test to include a pre-trip test.  We are trained in C.P.R., first aid, pupil management, self-defense, Positive Behavioral Intervention and support, signs of abuse and neglect, signs of suicidal thoughts and behavior, Active Shooter Civilian Response Training, defensive driving, route identification… and the list goes on and on.

As driver’s we privately joke about the student that did this or that or how ridiculous drivers on the road can be because we make them wait a lifetime of 30 seconds as a child boards our bus, but let me reassure you deep down and in the back of every school bus drivers mind is the terrifying thought that at any given moment your child’s safety could be compromised and we are the difference in the outcome of their safety.

Driving a school bus is not something any driver takes lightly and it is not a job without extensive training ensuring that your child arrives to and from school safely.  While on the bus your child becomes ours if only for a short time each and every day during the school year.  I have assisted students with bloody noses, cut fingers, headaches, loose teeth, moodiness, anxiety, anger and yes being too sassy for their own good all while transporting them to or from school.  And yes I am not perfect I have had moments where I have gotten very stern with your child reminding them that their parents have an expectation that every day I will transport them safely to wherever they are going and that their proper behavior on the bus is all part of arriving safely.

Over the course of my day having roughly 125 students, I politely greet each student by name and when time permits ask them about their day or what fun plans they may have for the weekend.  I have had children get on the bus very angry at a parent and complain to me about how mean the parent was only to calmly ask them if it was something maybe the child did or to say that the child might want to cut their parent a little slack they are doing the best they can and remember to try to be respectful.  I have been a medic, counselor, driver, disciplinarian, cheerleader and most importantly a great listener to try and make the students day a little better.  My goal and the goal of any bus driver in doing this job have always been to deliver the students safely wherever they may be going and to try and make their experience on the bus a good one.  I have never wanted any student that I have transported to leave my bus with a bad experience.

So please consider this the next time your child boards a school bus, the bus driver for a short period of time, is taking your place and for whatever reasons has decided to take on the HUGE responsibility of safely delivering your and our most precious cargo to and from school.  Please be kind and considerate to your pre-dawn warrior and please do not be too quick to judge the actions of the drivers.  The welfare and safety of your child is our number one concern.

Be kind out there,

K. Lentz – A School Bus Driver

You can read the published version of my piece here at the River City News Northern Kentucky