Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea




From: "The Hapa Haole Journal"


Sent: Saturday, February 10, 2007 5:19 PM


Subject: The HHJ: Fire or Ice


My toe hurts. My little bashed-in-Oregon toe.

Somehow, during the accident-that-almost-happened, the scab got ripped off my little, almost-healed toe and now it hurts just being there barefoot or wearing flip-flops, no socks; definitely no shoes, not walking around, just sticking out, being a toe whether I stand, sit, or lie down.

I spend a few days in my room working on Journal entries and trip photos, enjoying my new travel tea press. Made by Bodum, I find the URL in the accompanying paperwork and cruise on over to see what other products they make for travelers. Thinking I could save some money, I email, asking if I could buy a tumbler lid as a separate part. That way, I could have both press and tumbler by merely swapping lids. The answer comes back the next work day. Yes, the lids interchange, but are not sold as separate parts; I'll have to buy a traveler's tumbler in order to be able to get the lid.

Not so bad. The price is low enough that a separate part + shipping would cost more than the entire tumbler. I add it to my LA list and get stores from the website.

When I go out again, my first couple of stops yield neither bombilla nor Bodum tumbler. Entering my first Bed Bath & Beyond, I'm amazed at all the things I never knew I needed. I don't find a tumbler, but leave with a shower curtain liner with metal grommets ($5.99) because I keep tearing the holes no matter how gently I try to pull my shower curtain at home.

I also buy a 120/240 volt immersion heating coil with a heat guard to protect countertops from being burned after the coil's withdrawn from boiling water in the cup or mug. At $7.99 + tax, it's a great price. I don't remember the cost of the one I left home with, but it didn't have a heat guard and I've never seen them in at home or on my favorite travel websites. The new one I bought in San Francisco cost $13.95 + tax and the one at Magellan's is $12.85 including a European adapter plug (which I already have someplace at home) but no heat guard. 

Because most freeze-dried meals need 16 oz (I'm getting a lot of motel camping experience) as well as my new tumbler, I'm boiling one cup of water at a time. That's how I killed the coil I brought from home. I lifted it out of one cup to insert it into another not knowing that it automatically shorts out if the coil part of it isn't submerged while plugged-in. It's a safety feature. The second coil will enable me to boil 16 oz. of water at once, albeit in two containers.

An immersion heating coil is one of my Have-to-Pack items because it allows me to make tea/hot chocolate/add-boiling-water and other soups, instant oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, freeze-dried meals or whatever in my room if it doesn't have a microwave. They're about 5" long + cord and weigh only about 5 oz. so are very packable. I don't use the coffee-maker if provided because I prefer having my whatever without the smell and taste of coffee as so many are designed to retain.

After a few more stops, I quit looking for the tumbler and switch to the bombilla. Entering a health food store called, Follow Your Heart, I find it to be a combo cafe, health food store, jewelry, toy, gew-gaw, type of store. Lots to look at, most related to the Buddhist and other East Asian religions. 

At first, the employee I asked didn't think they had any, but I saw the light bulb go on and he showed me the only style they carried. Heavy and short, it didn't come apart for cleaning, but that's okay. At least, I now have a better idea of what I'm looking at online. The holes on the spoon-style look like rooibos could slip in.

More cruising parked me at the Westfield Promenade which didn't have any stores of interest to me. Picking up the phone for Information, I asked for directions to Target. The concierge figured out that I was at the wrong  shopping center and gave me directions. I was close, but no banana.

When I got there, Target didn't have any travel tumblers, either, but it did have a small electric kettle. Gee, I just bought a second coil. How much more convenient to be able to boil all the water I need at one go? Not likely to fit if I go back to air traveling with only a carry-on bag, but right now, I've got the car.

Checking out the rest of the Westfield Center, I spot the Concierge and stop by to say thanks for the great directions, learning that this one opened one week after the one in San Francisco. Although all shopping malls and centers are owned by some company or another, Westfield is trying to garner name-recognition so customers will know what to expect. This particular one has a section rather intimidatingly named "The Canyon" on the lowest level and has the best furniture for customers' resting comfort that I've encountered since the Kahala Mall in Honolulu.

I return to Target and buy the Bodum Mini-Ibis kettle for $20. The final item on my list is a car top carrier.

I was already thinking to get one before I left home (such things to fit my car don't exist there) and had been looking since Bellingham, WA. Because of the difficulty finding one, I was thinking to hang it up, but with all the things I bought along the way, have been finding it more and more troublesome to space-engineer everything every time I want something in or out of the car or trunk.

Over the next few days, I discover how great this little kettle is and experiment with my tea traveling kit deciding that my best option for air travel is the smaller 8 oz. Bodum tumbler with my Teeli brew basket. Wanting to free myself from Los Angeles to return to the coast, I locate the tumbler on Amazon and decide to buy it on my next to get free shipping. 

I also do little errands such as visiting Walgreens and the IRS office in Van Nuys.

At first, I was annoyed that I'm spending so much time here instead of near the ocean. The Santa Ana winds caused wildfires that demolished four multimillion dollar homes in Malibu. If I had left earlier, I wouldn't have seen the scorched earth that I saw. What a shame.

However, I gained an appreciation for staying here. The spent time possibly saved me from the first snow in Malibu in the past 18, 20, or 24 years depending on which TV station was doing the reporting. One said that it wasn't snow, but tiny ice crystals clustered that looked like snow.

I also gained a deeper appreciation for God's timing. Having originally planned to leave home on Aug. 24 and return around Thanksgiving, but not being able to leave until Oct. 5 and taking as long as I have, enabled me to meet Princess and Bernard Fowler as well as the others who were away when I would have passed through. I haven't counted the days, so I'm guessing that my planned departure may have meant a squeakingly narrow window of opportunity to meet Seon. 

For sure, my original plan would have had me experiencing the nasty ice storms at home.

I really, really hate the cold; especially ice storms.

Thank you, Lord!






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