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: Friday, October 06, 2006 1:37 AM CDT


Subject: On The Road


My free-fall through time was abruptly halted and, for a while, I didn't think I was going to make it at all.

I got the 8'x10' tent checked out okay, no leaks, but it fell over twice. Once, because I staked out only the corners and a breeze got under it and lifted it off the ground tumbling the poles off-balance and extracting three of the four stakes. Instead of starting over and stretching the tent out properly before staking it again, I merely pounded the omitted stakes into the loops where they were. Leaving the tent to dry, I returned a few hours later finding it dry, but fallen over again.

Since I've pitched the tent for a few days several times before and it stood without falling each time, I'm hoping it fell only because it wasn't spread out as it should have been before all the stakes were fixed, but it's possible that the poles went off-balance because the worn elastic loops at each corner of the roof can't provide the tension to hold the poles to the tent like they used to. I've got utility and bungee cords so I can play and see if they'll help, but I'm planning to pitch the little tent first anyway, when I get where I want to spend a few days, so I'll already have another tent ready to scramble into just in case the big tent comes down on me in the (ugh!) middle of the night.

The car was serviced and new tires bought.

The stove was tested with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Even though it was only out on my driveway, scrambled Morningstar Farms not-real-eggs and smoked Vienna sausage tasted great. Soaking the not-non-stick skillet with a little camp soap and hot water from the kettle made clean-up easy, no scrubbing needed.

I was still struggling with packing the car and couldn't imagine how one of the guys on Usenet could road-trip camp across country in a little MG-B sports car. In my favor, he did it years ago during his college days and can't believe that he did it now, either.

Since the big tent takes up over 3/4 of the back seat, I decide to strap it onto the trunk's luggage rack and continue packing the car from there.

Hiking boots - done.


Tripod - done.

Water jugs - done.

Sleeping bag - done.

Plastic storage bin holding lanterns and main cooking & eating items - done.

Box of extras: candles, 91% isopropyl alcohol, tent sealer, etc. - done.

The real problems started on Tuesday. Planning on leaving Aug. 23 or maybe the 24th, my first indication that my plan was hosed was at my first stop after my dental appointment on the 22nd, the post office. I'll spare myself from reliving the awful details and report only that the clerk whom I'd never seen before gave me static over several issues causing me to see the postmaster who shook his head, denied what the  strange clerk said, and readily signed my hold mail form just the opposite of the strange clerk's attitude about it.

Another thing was that Wal-Mart didn't have one of my Rx medications and the refill on another was past the expiration date. Promising to call my doctor for a new refill, the technician called the westside store for the other. Running over there, however, revealed that they were out, also. The technician saw the inhaler that tastes like it would kill weeds, not the mint-flavored one that my prescription specified. She apologized profusely saying that they can get some in by 2 p.m. the next day, but it didn't matter. There were too many other things that were delaying the start of my trip.

Like the letter from the state tax commission about my providing documentation within 30 days for their audit of my amended tax return for 2004.

That didn't turn out to be nearly as bad as it could have been, but I  honestly thought that things would continue popping up at the last minute because I wasn't meant to go...

James 4:
 13.  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city...
 14.  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your
life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then  vanisheth away.
 15.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do
this, or that.

Or, as a former co-worker once remarked, "Lord willin' and the creeks don't rise."

Too many things went right, however, everything eventually falling into place, so it was just my timing which the Lord readjusted in that way He has of showing us that we're not the boss of our lives.

The final obstacle was my wireless device. Planning to use free WiFi  hotspots, I discovered that my wireless wasn't working when I went to the library to verify that I could connect via Ethernet. I didn't know why the wireless failed since it worked last November when I first checked it. Turns out that I had turned it off, forgot that I had turned it off, and had no idea of how to turn it back on again. That took two entire days to troubleshoot. Now, I've got a shortcut on my desktop as well as on my taskbar so I don't lose track of the software again.

Next was security. Since neither Ethernet nor WiFi public connections are secure, I had to ensure that my passwords, etc., don't get picked up by sniffers. The article, "Coffee Shop WiFi for Dummies" gives good solutions, but I wanted to check into Virtual Personal Networks (VPNs) as well.

I looked into,,,, and PersonalVPN from Contemplating how the KIS (Keep It Simple) principle is best, I decided to stick to the advice for Dummies. Then, an online friend told me about iPIG from iOpus. Finding good reviews, I downloaded and tried it out finding that it works great in my limited User account with both IE and Firefox.

In the meantime, the summer crowds went home, motels dropped to their low-season rates, and the price of gas has dropped dramatically. Hallelujah!

However, it's already snowed in the Rockies which means it'll be better for me to bypass the National Parks on this side since I'm not prepared for snow camping. Although the next couple of days should be nice, this coming weekend is supposed to get down to freezing or close to it...colder than for what I'm prepared.

Thus, after persuading Sam, the formerly homeless cat who had accepted the manager's job offer of resident mouser, to exit my apartment, I finally got on the road. Intending to stop at the Texas Visitor Center near I-40 and US 287 in Amarillo long enough to send this off, I learned that all the Texas Visitor Centers have free WiFi as well as new rest areas.

Unfortunately, it couldn't connect to my mail server and although technical assistance was offered, I didn't want to wait, thinking of the long drive ahead to reach Pueblo where I knew the Motel 6 has a data port in each room.

That's where I am, now.

The drive was long, but restful. There's something about driving through Texas. I always enjoy it. The countryside wasn't flat or boring; mostly gentle rolls dusted pale green occasionally accented by darker green bushes, likely due to the recent rains. In my mind's eye, I watched a cowboy riding cross-country, parallel to the highway about a quarter mile away, sitting easy in his saddle as his horse's trot devoured the miles.

New Mexico was as expected except for the posted 45 mph road construction practically the entire distance on US 87 between Clayton and Raton. Ugh.

There was pretty scenery, though, as the sun went down since most of the road work was done. No barricades, no traffic pylons, no machinery, no nothing except good road and those signs threatening doubled fines in road work areas. There were some workers and equipment at the extreme end and I suspect that none of the signs are removed until the entire project's completed. With all those miles of clear road but for the threatening signs, it was rather annoying. 


The vacillation of my thoughts reminded me of a couple I once heard about: the woman thought that speed limits, stop signs, and traffic lights are God's way of maintaining order. The man considered them instruments of the devil to hinder him from achieving his goals.

Raton also brought on the mountains. I was surprised when my car, cruise control set at the speed limit, suddenly gave up the climb. My first thought was that something was badly wrong, then the thought of high altitude vapor lock flashed through. By that time, however, I had tromped on the accelerator by sheer reaction, and all was well. 


Resuming speed under cruise control, I hovered my foot over the gas pedal and a couple of hills later, it happened again. The cruise control gave up trying to maintain speed on the climb and the pedal was released, kicking back into my foot. After realizing that the grade was just too steep for the cruise control to handle by itself, I stomped the pedal to force it into a lower gear on the hills before the cruise had a chance to give up and all was well. I tried driving with the cruise control off, but my "natural" speed was in the neighborhood of 80 mph and I didn't want to risk the expense or hassle of a ticket especially when no one else was driving that fast.

Gas was $2.14 in Amarillo. In a small town out in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, it was $2.89. In Trinidad, Colorado where I filled up again, gas was $2.59. I was surprised at how windy and chilly it was at Trinidad, but with a fully loaded car and those hills, my car's 34 mpg gave me nice, warm fuzzies that counteracted the chill.

Figuring that the interstate will clear sooner than other roads if it snows again before I get to the other side, my itinerary from Pueblo is north to I-90 near Buffalo, Wyoming to Missoula, Montana to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and south on US 95 to Plummer, the closest town to the farm which is close to the Washington-Idaho stateline.

And I still don't know how to work my new digital camera.








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