Heading to Coos Bay, Oregon

Patrick and Lee traveled to Oregon after high school. Here’s a story fragment about the experience. He references the Seventh Day Adventist religious group, but he’s actually describing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a different Christian sect. The fragment is from a collection called You Never Know that Patrick sent me on 11 Aug ’15.

South of Eureka, a van distributing bakery goods picked us up.

“Where you headed?”

“Coos Bay.”

“You’re in luck. Hop in.”

The driver turned out to be a map freak, and when we told him where we had come from, he knew the names of the highways and the main towns we must have passed through.

“I haven’t had much chance to travel more than around Oregon, but I figure to one of these days. And I don’t aim to get lost. It’s a big country.” He claimed to have a road map of every state in the union. “Except Alaska, and I doubt I’ll get up there. We get enough snow right here.”

He was quiet for a while.

“Of course with all these Interstates they built, a lot my maps’ll be out of date. But I reckon I’ll stay on the blue highways anyhow. You get to see more of the country.”

He glanced at me.

“I don’t guess you have a recent map of Michigan? My dog sort of tore up my Michigan map. It was from way back, anyways. I found it in the used book store in Coos Bay.”

I said sorry, we had traveled by the seat of our pants and our thumbs pointing the way we wanted to go. We relied on people knowing where they were going.

“But that used book store might be interesting.”

Since we had no place to stay, he invited us to sleep on his screened-in porch night, Friday, In any case, it made no sense to go to the lumber camp until Monday. The bosses, he told us, came down to town weekends to be with their families.

The next night he invited us to supper afterwards there was a meeting around the table of fellow Seventh Day Adventists. When they caught sight of my New Testament in the new Revised Version, there was quite an uproar.

It might seem strange that I was traveling with a copy of the Bible, but both Lee and I had been to quite a few summer study camps, once with Billy Graham himself, and it seemed natural to me at the time. This new translation was much easier to understand. And truth to tell, maybe was the beginning of my disencanto with religion.

In the course of the evening, it became obvious the mission was to convert me and Lee.

They gave us copies of Awake, and another pamphlet. Leafing through the pamphlet, certain details set off my pugnacious(?) nature.

“If only 144,000 faithful will be allowed in heaven, why would you want more converts?”

If they had an answer, I can’t remember what it was.

“If the world was created in 4004 BC, how do you explain the dinosaurs?”

That one I remember: God put the bones there to test our faith.

The evening didn’t end well.

The Adventists kept at us – or really, at me, since Lee was not inclined to dispute.

My temper got the best of me, and for lack of eloquence, I grabbed a corner of the table cloth and yanked. Cups, glasses, plates, knives and forks, all crashed onto the floor.