On the longest day of the year, we played church roulette and lost. It was Father’s Day. Our son had suggested several outings that John would like, and he chose going to Old Fort. Rather than go to church near home, we opted to drive first and be nearer our destination when we went to church. We were out of practice with the game, not having traveled on a Sunday in a long while. When we used to go on two-week vacations, we’d keep going toward our next stop and look for a church on the way. We didn’t have GPS devices or cell phones back then, but we did get off the interstates onto smaller roads. As we cruised through towns, we looked for Protestant churches that had a service in the next 15 minutes. Once in a while we found one with an early service, but if we didn’t, there was always the standard 11 o’clock time.
Today we were playing the modern way, with a Garmin poised and ready. I’d find a church listed with its distance, and John would approve or disapprove. This device didn’t give any information other than distance and time to travel. We thought we’d done it just right, getting off the interstate and arriving at the church only a few minutes late. Wrong! The large parking lot was totally empty. Not even hangers-on were still there. The sign explained everything. Service at 8:30; Sunday School at 9:30. We were there at 11:05. We lost.
When we got to Andrew’s Geyser, John removed his jacket and tie. He would have been overdressed for a summer service in the South, anyway. We had bought barbeque sandwiches on the way and ate them beside a mountain stream. John is a train buff extraordinaire, so we were there to wait for a train, any train, that would climb through the Loops. Meanwhile, we were entertained by a young couple with a large dog. Repeatedly they threw an orange Frisbee, and the dog caught it like a football player. The dog began to run before his owner threw it, and he caught it midair almost every time. Play was wetter when the threesome went into the stream. The humans picked their way from rock to rock, but the dog could run in the stream. They were fun to watch.
John had forgotten to bring a book, so he listened to a CD while I read the newspaper we’d brought from home. He had already read it online in the wee hours. Although he was in the car, his antennae were tuned for the sound of the train climbing the mountain. He was getting out of the car as I got up to get him. We watched the train, pulled by three diesels, as its wheels squealed around the steep curve. When the train had gone, we drove on a small gravel road over the mountain and down to Ridgecrest. John found a good place to park in Black Mountain minutes before the train passed. He considered it a successful celebration of the day, and we headed home.