The week that Elvis died, August 16, 1977!

It’s day three and time is running out. One more day left to find the boat-shaped object. The boys had had enough of walking around the countryside so Ron decided to let them stay at the hotel while he continued to look for the boat-shaped object.

I always wondered what they did all day when they were left behind in the hotel in Dogubeyazit. Back then it was dangerous for foreigners to be out wandering around. They must have stayed in their room the whole time and rested or else they would have gotten into lots of trouble.

Ron went to the first pile of rocks and had the taxi driver take him as far as the car would go eastward. In the process they went by the Ishak Pasha Palace.

What a magnificent place out in the middle of nowhere. It has hundreds of rooms. Sharon and I had the opportunity of visiting the palace along with its dungeons. We wondered how many people had died in those dungeons. The view from the main living quarters was fantastic. You could see Mount Ararat in the distance to the north. To the South was the Urartuan Fortress built right on the side of a mountain.

It is an amazing area to visit. We didn’t have time to explore that fortress but I plan on doing that the next time I go back. It dates back to just a few hundred years after Noah. Can you comprehend that? You can go over there today and see what some people lived in shortly after the flood. Amazing! That’s a mosque in the foreground of the picture and it is of much later origin. It was built around the time that the Ishak Palace was built.

Well, Ron drove past this palace heading east and slightly south when the taxi could go no further. He got out and began walking and walking and walking and walking. I can imagine he started to doubt whether he would be able to find the boat-shaped object before he had to go home. I took that same route. There are mountains in all directions with difficult terrain. Plus the fact that you are in a foreign country with wild dogs and wolves and wild people too. Up and down the hills he walked. He was straining every fiber of his being to keep going. Then, as if out of nowhere, there it was. Could it really be it? Yes, it was. It was definitely the object that he had seen in the LIFE magazine article. Wow! There it was. Finally, after 17 long years of effort, he was standing on the object of his dreams.

I can still remember the first time I came up the hill overlooking the boat-shaped object. My camera was running. My heart was pounding. "There it is!" I shouted as I lost myself in the moment. What a thrill that was. So, I felt a little of what Ron felt that first time he saw it. The following day I was sitting in the home of a villager down in "the Valley of Eight" with Mount Ararat behind us and the Tendurek mountains in front of us to the south. I was sitting down in their home drinking chai tea and started to video the proceedings. People were coming in the front door so I got a shot of them entering the home and the light from outside was really bright. It made an eerie silhouette around the people when they entered. For some reason they left the door open and I zoomed my camera out through the door.

What happened next may mean nothing to you but to me it was absolutely phenomenal. It still gives me chills when I think about it. I zoomed my camera out through the door and could see the mountains across the valley. I kept zooming and zooming and guess what I saw? Are you ready for this? Sitting on a couch in a villager’s home I zoomed my camera out through his door and right up to Noah’s Ark. That’s right. Noah’s Ark. Unbelievable! You could see the boat-shaped object while sitting on the couch down in a village in the "Valley of Eight". I asked our host if he knew you could see it from here and he said no. He had lived there all of his life and had never seen the boat-shaped object from his home.

Now back to our story. Ron was more convinced than ever that this was Noah’s Ark. Everything he had discovered in the previous two days pointed in that direction and now this. His heart was pounding. But now what? He knew that the only way to be sure was to excavate the object. But how? This object was huge. How would he do it? With all of these thoughts running through his head he returned to the hotel.

When he got to the hotel he decided to check out that night so they could leave early the next morning. Evidently the clerk relayed that fact to locals who decided to rob him that night. Today Dogubeyazit is much different than it was back then. Ron had no idea that they would be in danger because he checked out early. But that night he could hear them coming up the stairs. He got the boys together in the room that did not have a fire escape so the robbers could not come through the window. They barricaded themselves in the room and tried to figure out what to do next. Then the lights went out. They were now in the dark. They had to act fast. Ron came up with the idea of trying to get the attention of the police or fire department by setting something on fire and throwing it out the widow. That didn’t work so they tied bed sheets together and through them out the window just like in the movies and they let themselves down to the roof below them and went in through another window. They ran down the hall and out into the street.

What a terrifying ordeal. Can you imagine the terror? No lights. Pitch black in their room. And now they were in the street with what belongings they could manage to take with them. But it wasn’t over yet. Once outside, they were confronted with a car with its head lights blinding them and horn blowing. It was a lookout for the other thugs. Ron told the boys to run and run they did. They finally got to the edge of town but could not convince a taxi driver to take them to Erzurum. All of a sudden two bright lights were coming toward them. It was time for survival tactics. When some men got out of the car and started yelling at Ron and the boys, Ron proceeded to spray them with mace. In the confusion the boys could see that the men were police and hollered at Ron to stop. Ron could see through his tears a bayonet-mounted military rifle lying on the ground. What do you think Ron was thinking then? I’ve really done it now! Turkish prison! Not a good thought. They were taken to police headquarters where Ron explained what had happened and all had a good laugh but for Ron and the boys it was a frightening experience. If the experience alone wasn’t enough to help them remember it, Ron would never forget where he was that day because it was the day that Elvis Presley died, August 16, 1977.

What a fantastic movie this story would make. What an exciting adventure. But I am sure that Ron and the boys experienced something that they would never want to go through again. But in the years ahead Ron and the boys would experience similar occurrences in other places. Sometimes I have thought to myself that I would have loved to have been Ron and discovered all of those wonderful artifacts, but when I think of all the harrowing encounters he had over the years I realized that if God is not with you, you are in serious danger. So I am thankful that I can get to see these things today first hand with much calmer and safer circumstances.

And that’s a closer look.

What an exciting story that was. But there is more to come. Ron was convinced that this was Noah’s Ark and that it needed to be excavated and studied so his next move was to find others who would help him do that.

Don’t forget to read the past articles of A Closer Look  for background on this story. Please visit the rest of our web site and sign up to go to Noah’s Ark this summer.

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