Trek 2008 - No Whales For Cheryle
Trek 2008 – No Whales For Cheryle
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased." Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him. Jonah 1:13-16 NIV
While I did worry about whales in the Wisconsin Dells, it was actually a Duck that gave me trouble. The kind of Duck I’m talking about is really a DUKW but the soldiers from World War II nicknamed it Duck. DUKWs were vital assets in World War II because as amphibious vehicles that could operate on both land and water, they could transport people and supplies to hard to reach places. Now they serve American tourists who want to explore land and water across America. I love Duck tours and take them at every opportunity. The Duck that gave me so much trouble was in the Wisconsin Dells. (See photo gallery – Wisconsin Dells – Army Ducks)
General Motors developed the DUKW in 1942. The vehicle’s technical title DUKW was a military equipment code, which represented the features of the vehicles: D=1941, U=amphibian, K=front wheel drive, and W=back wheel drive. They went on to become one of the most celebrated vehicles in World War II and played a large role in helping win the wars in the pacific and Europe. Unfortunately, because of the high cost of shipping them back to the states, at the end of the war, the military sunk most of them overseas. Now they are the world’s largest manmade reef. Most of the DUCKS used for tourism in the United States either stayed stateside during the war or were produced specifically for the tourist industry.
Each tour usually begins with a historical street tour of the local area and then a splash down into the local body of water, where the tour gives information about the marine life, rock formations, and more local history. As I sit on them, I wait with building anticipation for the moment I feel the wheels lose traction and the Duck become a boat. I’ve taken Duck tours in places like Wisconsin, Boston, Miami, and Philadelphia.
On Pocket Full of Quarters journeys, Duck tours give opportunities to spend quality time with about 25 strangers. On Trek 2008, the Wisconsin Dells tour was more exciting than usual.
On previous Wisconsin Dells Duck tours, we’d splashed down by rolling down sophisticated concrete ramps into the beautiful Lake Delton. Two weeks before I arrived at the Dells, disaster struck them. On Sunday, Lake Delton was 267 acres and contained more than 600 million gallons of water. On Monday, the lake emptied in 2 hours after a dam broke. The water swept cars and houses away as it rushed into the river, emptying the lake and leaving fish flopping in tiny puddles on the lakebed. Citizens of the Dells were distraught by the loss of their beloved lake and this has crippled the tourism industry. It is a miracle no one was killed. (see photo gallery – Wisconsin Dells – Lake Delton – Gone)
But life goes on and Duck tours get rerouted. Trek 2008 Duck tour was to splash down into the Lower Dells. The first sign of trouble was the “Do Not Enter” sign as we bumped along a rocky non-paved road into the muddy banks of a trickle of creek attached to the Lower Dells. As we drove into the tiny creek, visions of the former concrete ramps danced through my head. When we heard the spinning of tires, we knew we were stuck.
The driver popped the clutch, backed up, yelled “Don’t worry, I’ve driven for two years and have never been stuck,” and popped the clutch again. Then she turned off the engine and announced, “We’re stuck. All that mud rushed through here from Lake Delton and the ground is just too soft.”
As we sat there, what had started as a tiny trickle of water became rushing water alongside our Duck. Visions of houses and cars rushing by rushed through my head and I asked, “Why is the water rushing so much faster?”
The driver answered, “Because we’ve made a natural dam and it is rushing around us.”
That made sense and we accepted her answer. People became jovial and silly in that way people do when they are nervous. The smell of dead fish wafted by as we sat in the water. Our driver radioed for help and after 25 minutes of rushing water, a rescue boat, and a Duck towboat arrived.
The rescue boat pulled beside us and we carefully climbed from one boat to the other and continued our tour. We noticed that this Duck was different and got nervous when our driver announced, “Cool, I’ve never driven this kind of Duck before.” The Duck towboat had our poor stuck boat out in a matter of minutes and it turned to go back to the dock.
We’d been on our new tour for about 3 minutes when the boat began to spin wildly. The driver frantically turned the wheel without success. She cut the boat back to idle, gave the wheel and instructions to the tour guide, and jumped onto the bow and promptly disappeared. I wondered if she had jumped into the water and realized there was a compartment under the bow. She rose from the bow, ran to the back of the boat, and disappeared again. This time she came up covered in oil and announced, “Our rudder cable is broken. I thought I could steer from back here but I can’t get to the steering.”
She radioed for help as we slowly spun and drifted, warily eying the rock formations along the shore. This rescue boat arrived much quicker and once again, we carefully transferred into a new boat. This time, we went on with the tour without another incident.
Through it all, passengers were good-natured. I told the group the story of Jonah and the Whale and joked that it was probably my fault since God sent me adventures to write about on missionary journeys. I suggested that if they wanted boats to quite breaking, they should throw me overboard. Silently I wondered two things: Was there anything God wanted me to do that I was ignoring? and Were there whales in the Dells?
At the end of the tour, I asked how many passengers had remembered to pray during the ordeal and they looked startled. I suspected, that while most were nervous, none had prayed.
We arrived safely on shore, and I was safe from any whales. Many of the passengers went to the office to ask for a refund but I figured I owed the Army Ducks extra money for that much adventure. I can't wait for my next Duck tour.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Gail Golden at 904 316-5462.
This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Pocket Full of Quarters Lady on the road as a traveling missionary, send your tax deductible contribution to Pocket Full of Change Ministries, POB 51205, Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32240.
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