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

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea




From: Gail Rhea

Subject: Highways, Byways, & a Thief

Date: Tue, 21 March 2000 10:35:43 HST



This week’s edition of Gail’s Glorious Glossary:

(Please don’t expect the usual directions of north, south, east, and west. Hawaii has a different culture although the influx of malihinis has given rise to directions given in English instead of Hawaiian. I remember Mom telling me a story about a malihini radio announcer who issued a warning about a tsunami coming in from the east. No one knew if they should go to high ground or not because they couldn’t determine which part of the island would be affected. There was great confusion until the warning was rebroadcast by a kama’aina using local terms.

Speaking of tsunamis, Mom also told me to watch out for those generated by earthquakes in Chile. She said that when they come, the city of Hilo on the Big Island gets wiped out.)

Diamond Head = towards Diamond Head
Ewa = towards Ewa Beach
Makai = towards the ocean
Mauka = towards the mountains

Kama’aina = native, long-time resident
Malihini = newcomer

Now, on to the story...


Would you believe I got lost?

I never understood how anybody could get lost on an island like Oahu. I mean, how in the world can that happen – you take a wrong turn and end up in Toledo, Ohio somehow? My theory’s always been to head makai until you either run into a major road or end up at the ocean. Then, you go home. If you can make your way home, you can’t be lost. Simple, right?

Yeah, r-i-g-h-t.

Early the other night, I got on the H-1 freeway to go to Pearlridge. After leaving the downtown area, the normal progression of signs is Airport, Pearl Harbor, Aiea/Halawa, Waimalu/Pearlridge, Waipahu, Waikele/Waipahu, Ewa/Kunia, Makakilo, and Waianae. I must have zoned or something because I saw the exit sign for Aiea and the next sign I saw was Waipahu. Crud, Waipahu! That's miles away! Did I see that right? Yep, 'cause there’s the sign for Kunia. I better exit now so I don’t do Waianae in the dark.

Heading Diamond Head on H-1 is a little more of a challenge because there’s no clear-cut exit to Pearlridge. I’d have to take Kam Hwy. Okay, no sweat. Until I got there. The exit sign said, “99.” What the heck is 99? What happened to the street name? When did they start going Mainland with the signs?

Ah, I remember now. A lot of malihinis from the Mainland complained they had trouble getting around because the main roads weren’t always numbered. So, what did they do? Number the roads and forget kama’ainas use the street names?

Well, it should have been the right exit, so I took it. Thank God, there was another sign around the bend with both “99” and “Kam Hwy.” All right.

I looked around and saw the shopping center. It didn’t look familiar but Pearlridge has upper and lower sections connected by a monorail train called Skycab and I never saw the lower section before. I checked to make sure there was a highrise apartment building on the Ewa mauka side of the shopping center. There was, so I turned off Kam to go up and around the lower section.

And ended up in a military housing area.

What a surprise. In “The Thomas Crown Affair”, Rene Russo’s character, Catherine Banning, looks around after the sailplane lands. “Cows,” she said. “That’s okay. We’re only about four states away from your car.” Thomas calls for his private plane, they’re in the air, and everything’s copasetic until she looks out the window. “That island isn’t Manhattan,” she said.

And a military housing area isn’t the upper section of Pearlridge, either.

So, where was I?


It doesn’t matter that the center was right by Kam Hwy. with a highrise in the right place. I wasn’t at Pearlridge and I had no idea where I was. I couldn’t even drive further up the hill to overlook the island to orient myself because it was too dark to identify the manmade landmarks in the area.

I finally understood how someone could get lost on an island like Oahu.

If you don’t know where you are, don’t know how you got there, can’t see enough to figure out anything, and you can’t (or won’t) ask anyone for directions, you’re hosed.

Not so bad for me, though. All I had to do was head back to Kam Hwy. and drive some more. It turned out that I was at the Pearl Highlands Center at the Ewa side of Pearl City. I kept going Diamond Head on Kam, saw a highrise, recognized the watercress farm, and headed up the hill.

(Okay, okay, I admit the highrises look completely different.)

After Catherine Banning and Thomas Crown fell in love with each other, he tested her to be sure of her love for him. This made her doubt his love for her. Were they together because of the painting he stole or because they loved one another? Was the painting just a mechanism to get them together? But, he always came through for her, he always did what he said, he always reassured her.

These past few days, I’ve asked, God has proved Himself to be faithful like that, why don’t I let myself trust Him completely?

At the end of the movie, Catherine and Thomas didn’t meet at the heliport and she went to the airport and boarded the flight alone, sobbing bitterly in her seat. Suddenly, Thomas was there, handing her his handkerchief from the seat behind. He kept his word as he always did. Just like God always keeps His word, maybe not in the way I expect Him to, but He does keep it. Without fail.

So, when am I going to trust the Lord? 

Why not now?

Gee, just when I was starting to think about catching a special to Hong Kong. But, what the hey. Hong Kong is an island, right? How can anybody get lost on an island?

And, speaking of being lost, isn’t salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ the best thing that ever happened to me? 

To any of us?








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