Gold Beach Thanksgiving (Part 3)

Twenty miles past Eugene, the Reverend saw a sign that read: Drain, Highway 34, Oregon Coast. He was going down the drain so why not see Drain? Why not visit a city with the most depressing name in Oregon? (Boring is second.)

The Reverend rolled into Drain. The Navigator needed refueling and he was hungry so he pulled into a gas station/convenience store. Out front, an old Schwinn three-speed bicycle leaned against the ice cooler.

He got out of the vehicle, asked the attendant for a fill-up, and walked toward the store. He opened the door and saw a line ten deep at the counter. Several of the people were clearly homeless because they exuded all the physical and psychic accoutrements of homelessness.

It was near bedlam inside the store and the Reverend smelled what he thought were biscuits and gravy. Then he noticed something on the counter: a monster-sized crock pot of gravy, thick and steaming, with a shiny metal ladle sticking out. The Reverend read a sign that said a serving of biscuits and gravy cost $2.50. It dawned on him that everyone was waiting for a serving, which doubled the size of the largest portion of biscuits and gravy he’d ever seen, let alone consumed.

The Reverend got in line and observed an elderly woman walk out with her serving in a box. She mounted the bicycle and rode away with one hand carrying the biscuits and gravy, the other hand steering the Schwinn. Drain was pretty interesting! No one in Amity bicycled with biscuits and gravy! The Reverend cracked a little smile.

Ten minutes later he was driving Highway 34 to Reedsport in silence with the box of biscuits and gravy riding shotgun. He figured he’d stop and eat when a park with a nice view materialized. The Reverend passed Elkton and Scottsburg. In many places the highway paralleled the Umpqua River. The emerald water mesmerized him and inspired thoughts other besides Kari dumping him. Rivers can do that if you let them.

The Reverend was famished. The smell of the biscuits and gravy tantalized him, drove him mad. He had to stop and devour them!

A sign appeared. It read: DEAN CREEK ELK VIEWING AREA. Then another sign read: ELK RADIO: TUNE TO 1610 AM.

The Reverend turned into the parking lot of the elk attraction and saw roughly a hundred elk in a field. Some were grazing, some were lounging, some were moving around. They were all less than a hundred yards away. He also saw three ancient and dilapidated RVs in the parking lot that he thought couldn’t possibly have driven here, but somehow they did. Someone had kept them running and the Reverend admired the ingenuity and improvisation that must have taken. He didn’t have any ingenuity like that, although once he had improvised after gambling cleaned him out. So he had some history of rally going for him.

He parked the Navigator, tuned the radio to the elk station, and began eating the biscuits and gravy.

A monotone voice intoned: An autumn bugle signals the rut. September’s mating season leaves the bull elk little time to eat or sleep. Deep resonating bugles roar across the meadows as the males call to attract a female and move in to spar with other bulls and win a harem of cows. If rutting season is in process at the viewing area, do not get out of your vehicle. Racks are symbols of power. Brief sparring occurs when a bull seeks control over another’s harem. The immense antler racks are a symbol of prowess during the rut. Females eventually force the bull out of their herd when the rut is completed and he ambles off to join one of the small groups of males…

The Reverend ate, listened to the radio, and watched the elk. He laughed at the idea that he might be the only man in the world watching elk while eating biscuits and gravy. He liked the new feeling. It was nothing like what he felt back in the mansion, whatever that was. He didn’t really know.