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, October 07, 2006 1:52 AM

Subject: The HHJ:  Pikes Peak or Bust!



Today was easier.

After driving over 555 miles yesterday, I decided to spend some time in Colorado Springs ascending Pikes Peak if the weather was nice and cruising the REI store before hightailing it to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Lunch was a real treat. Introduced to the Black-eyed Pea by a good friend several years ago, I was ecstatic to see one along my route through Colorado. After enjoying my usual Veggie Plate, I felt that whatever happened today would be just fine.

And it was.

Surprisingly, the terrain between Pueblo and Colorado Springs reminded me strongly of the high desert area of northern California and Nevada. Then, Colorado Springs appeared nestled against the mountains, surrounded by trees. Considering the time of year, I expected more fall color. However, the trees kept to their greens with occasional yellows paling to buff. It was the mountains that displayed the color: rich browns to greens, reds to terra cotta. The city is in a beautiful location.

The sky was mostly overcast, the clouds were low, and the light was flat, so I decided to save the fee and forego Pikes Peak. Taking the exit for the Garden of the Gods, my next decision was to go the opposite direction. The roads weren't good, but seeing bicyclists wheeling along a path across the creek, women walking, and joggers enjoying their scenic route made uneven pavement seem like a minor inconvenience.

I was impressed.

Meandering around a bit, I was glad to run across the REI store. I had it in the back of my mind to visit one somewhere along the way since my big tent's not as steady as when it was new and I've ordered from them online before, but was too lazy to look up any of their store locations.

Discussing tent options, I got a recommendation for a dome tent that I can both stand up in and put up by myself. It's larger and a few pounds heavier than the one currently strapped onto my car's luggage rack, but should the old one fail, there are several REI stores along my route from which I could buy the new one with one visit.

Happily, I pounced upon a huge 32 oz. Lexan mug with cover. I used to use a ceramic mug at work and for traveling, but it suffered a couple of chips through the years from moving offices and being taken home when I quit. The Lexan mug is both lighter in weight and sturdier and is a real find especially for my travel kit.

Then, it was back to I-25 and a huge traffic jam. I'd gotten off shortly after 2 p.m. thinking to dodge the then-current bumper-to-bumper crawl by using surface roads to get to where I wanted quicker and here it wasn't even quitting time and it was still bad. Sure, it was Friday of a three-day weekend and maybe they were on flex-time, but it was ridiculous.

Creeping along with my windows down and my bored skull hanging half out the window supported by my arm propped on the edge, I contemplated how rush hour traffic is exactly the same wherever I've experienced it. Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Chicago; only the faces, types of vehicles, number of lanes, types of dogs hanging their tongues out the windows, and license plates change.

Whoa, hold on. This time, it was different. Usually, I'm surrounded by
license plates of that particular locale. This time, I look around and spot plates from all over: California, Michigan, West Virginia, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Missouri...

"You know Fairfax?" I got the vague idea that the male voice from beyond was talking to me.

I turned my face to the left and scanned the vehicles.

"You know Fairfax?" the smiling older man asked from the nearest SUV.

Fairfax. Sure. Was that one of the places my parents took me on one of our trips or was that a place I learned about in a history class? Isn't that where George Washington...?

"Fairfax, Virginia?" I responded.

"No!" he replied.

Oh! My license plate. Of course, I'm not the only one checking them out.

"No," I said, "Where's that?"

"You don't know Fairfax?"

"No, I live in...."

"Oh, okay. That's a bit aways." He waved cheerfully as his wife drove them past me and I went back to daydreaming.

Only to be startled into alertness by a police car screaming past me on the right shoulder.

Huh, that's not normal. I wondered what was going on then fell back into my mental wanderings.

The mountains that we usually associate with Colorado are the steeply rising, jaggedly sharp-peaked Rockies depicted in movies and pictures, but here, there were occasional flat-topped high mesa type of mountains typically associated with Utah or Arizona. How did they get here? Why are there so few of them? Why are they flat-topped while the others aren't?

Another police car raced by. They aren't doing it to keep me from daydreaming; there must be an accident ahead.

Yes, when I got closer, the two police cars were on the northbound side of the freeway with two fire trucks on the southbound side. A sporty blue car was blocking the northbound fast lane with it's rear up and nose down. No, the car's front end was down because it was nearly obliterated. It must have been one heck of a crash.

But, what did it hit? There wasn't any other car around, and...

By this time, I noticed the fireman retrieving a hose and was close enough to see that what was left of the engine compartment was black. It looked as though it and the tires had either melted from intense heat or were blown clean away. Wow.

After Denver, it was a clear run at 75 mph up to Cheyenne, Wyoming from where I'm sending this with one stop in Erie to get gas at $2.79 a gallon and a box of apple juice from Micky D's.

In regards to Denver - I was disappointed that there weren't any gas stations in an easy-off/easy-on proximity to the interstate like I'm used to seeing in other states, but I was intrigued by the picturesque designs in the concrete walls separating the freeway from the rest of the city. They're much better than the plain slabs I've seen elsewhere.







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