Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 49 - October/November 2012 > The Way to Go! (by John Morris)
The Way to Go!
by John Morris
The Way to Go! (Lessons from Travels)
Have you ever thought what might happen if you tried to drive into Pearl Harbour Naval Base on the wrong side of the road? We did and got away with it, but that was before 9/11. I doubt that you could do it today without being arrested or even shot.
Let's back track a little.
Our thirtieth wedding anniversary was coming up. Our daughters decided to give us a surprise by paying for our air fares to Surfers' Paradise where we spent our honeymoon. Surfers Paradise was not, however, what it used to be 30 years before. Budds Apartments were metaphorically buried under a multi storey home unit building, and this was the picture of the whole area. Traffic was now filling the roads 24/7; entertainment was definitely not to our taste. While we were grateful for the gift we did not feel drawn to the area.
Dropping in to our favourite travel agent some days later we found that Qantas had a Hawaii holiday special. 5 nights and return air fare for $899 per person. With our daughters' permission we grabbed the opportunity.
Our first Hawaiian experience was to take "The Bus" and circumnavigate Oahu to get a feel for size, places to visit and to seek out ordinary Oahu. Just getting on The Bus was an experience. The fare was one dollar. You put the dollar note in a plastic receptacle beside the driver. The driver did not touch the money, nor did he give change. The ride was good value for money, one dollar for about 3 hours' drive.
Just around the corner from our multi storey apartment block we found a car hire yard. We thought we would hire a car and get a little more flexibility into our week than we would on tours. Impressive were the many street rods that were available for rent. The going rate at the time was around $US150 per day. Look and don't touch was the rule. Wasn't quite the Morris family image particularly for turning up at church. The car we finally selected cost us $US150 for the week.
Now back to Pearl Harbour. We decided to do the same run as The Bus did and begin our tourist adventure stopping off at various locations as we moved around the island. Our first target was Pearl Harbour to visit the memorials there and pay honour to the lost of the attack of December 1941. Not being quite sure of the location we were keeping an open eye for a direction sign. There it was, a big sign saying "Pearl Harbour". Seeing a break in the traffic I did a swift left hand turn, crossed the other traffic lanes and about to head into the base proper woke up to the fact that I was in the United States of America, not back home, and they drove cars on the other side of the road. I was aware of the guards on duty all in white and with appropriate armament. The look on their faces told us it was not the time to drive in the wrong way, but to do a 180 turn and get out.
The tourist entry turned out to be a short distance further along the main drag.
You have no doubt seen pictures on television news or in the newspapers or ipads etc of multiple vehicle accidents seemingly common on American and British freeways. 70 - 100 vehicles in a smash is not uncommon. California in 2002 was our close encounter. Glad to say we were not involved.
We stayed overnight at Cajon Junction north east of Los Angeles where Interstate 15 crosses highway 138. It is the same spot where 3 railway lines come through the mountains enroute to the Los Angeles valley. I was blessed with three trains full, a train on each of the lines at the same time early in the morning. We moved west on 138 to Lancaster, then north on 14 to the Edwards Air Force base (The Shuttle back-up landing field) and the Mojave desert. We stopped at Mojave and viewed the planes stored at the airfield there. The desert air is so dry that preservation of planes can be easily done.
We moved on to the Tehachapi Loop. Here is a riveting piece of engineering. The Tehachapi Pass is over 3,900 feet above sea level. To assist the movement of trains through the area the Tehachapi loop was constructed. The loop is a big circle of track that turns in a big circle continually climbing until it spirals over itself some 1.3 kilometres along the line. The loop is no new innovation. Construction began in 1874 and the first train through the loop was in 1876. " The Tehachapi Pass Railroad Line was cut through solid and decomposed granite by up to 3000 Chinese laborers from Canton China. They used picks, shovels, horse drawn carts and blasting powder. This line, which climbs out of the San Joaquin Valley and through the Tehachapi Mountains had 18 tunnels, 10 bridges and numerous water towers for the old steam locomotives. It was completed in less than 2 years" (1)
We moved from dry and sunny Mojave Desert to a wet and cold Tehachapi Pass. There were a number of railroad workers parked beside the loop. On enquiring as to when the next train was coming, they were not exactly sure of the timing but they knew that they had to wait for 5 trains to pass before they could get back to work. It was worth the wait. With a thunder of motor and wheel on rail we could hear the train. Problem was we could not see it until it was right up to where we were waiting. The mist had dropped to ground level and we had no more than 50 metres line of sight.
We moved on heading west along highway 58 for Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley. The weather was a mixed bag, some cloud, some sun and some fog. The fog prevailed and increased in intensity until I felt it necessary to reduce speed. Others did not feel the same and we were passed often on both sides - the second lane of our side of the road and on the stopping lane. The latter was the most selfish and unsafe practice. It was not long before casualty number 1 in the stopping lane was spotted, a car with its nose stuck well under the tail of a truck. Interesting that there was no one on the scene. A couple of other incidents were spotted before we came to road closed signs and a detour off the highway onto the "old road", a 2 lane tar sealed road with no opportunity for speed.
That evening we heard the results on the news - 70 car pile up, one fatality. Glad we took it easy.
Fiji is an interesting place to drive in. You can drive right around the biggest island in the 322 island group, Viti Levu. It is a journey of some 500 kilometres and tar sealed for most of the way. The rest of the roads have their problems and the drivers? Driving aids that we are used to in Australia and in other developed countries such as street lights, fencing and road signs are conspicuous by their absence. It is not so much of a problem unless you're in a hurry, or on your first visit to the country. My first visit to Fiji saw me off course trying to get from Nausori to Fulton College one afternoon. We (Father, daughter and son-in-law) failed to pick up the need to take a sharp left turn immediately at the end of the Rewa River bridge and ended up some kilometers past the Nausori airport (for Suva) on a road that was obviously going nowhere. My thanks to patient Fijians who got us going in the right direction.
On another occasion I was driving from Fulton College on the east side of Viti Levu to Nadi on the west coast. Typical of my visits to Fulton College, I used as much sunlight as I could on campus and drove to Nadi at the end of the day. The flight out to Sydney on Monday morning left Nadi at around 8.30 am. To get to Nadi in time to drop the hire car, and to book in, required a departure from Fulton College at 3.30 am - the evening alternative with a bed at Raffles Gateway opposite the Nadi airport entry was much preferred.
As you come close to the Naviti Resort the road moves over a small headland, curves and drops down to a lower level, and then swings left in a sharpish curve. I detected a movement on the road at the limit of the car lights and slammed on the brakes. Thankfully, I stopped just a couple of metres away from mother cow and her children. Normal Fijian animal husbandry practice is to tie the animal with a long rope allowing access to a reasonable amount of grass but restricting the animal to a secure area. Practice was either not followed in this instance or the cow had broken the restraint.
Having someone with you who is familiar with the road is a great advantage both for driving safety (knowing the problem spots) and for directions. The more you travel together the easier is the communication process between navigator and driver. Car rallies are an excellent example of this process. Better still is the offer of Jesus to be your life navigator.
There is an interesting comment that Jesus made in one of his last instruction sessions with the disciples. "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). The King James translation of the Bible uses the word "road" only once. "The way" is in common use for routes and travel. Matthew's parable of the sower tells how the seed fell by the way in the KJV and fell along the path in the NIV. Mark relates how the disciples were arguing "by the way" about who should be the greatest. The NIV has Jesus questioning the disciples about the argument "on the road". (Mark 10:33)
The New International Version of the Bible produces 109 uses of "road", but along with 20 out of 32 English translations of the Bible maintains the use of "way" in their translation of John 14:6. Phillips and the Message paraphrase have Jesus stating that he is the road which does not quite fit the concept of truth and life that follows.
Like a Thesaurus we can pick up different aspects of Jesus ministry as we unpack that short little word. Perhaps for you Jesus is your map, or street directory. Maybe he is your pack leader, or tribal chieftain. Then with winter dropping snow over the Blue Mountains west of Sydney as I write he could be seen as the snowplow opening up the road. Another direction could see him as the locksmith that opens the door to the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life.
His words open up a pathway that is not available without his leading, "no man cometh to the father but by me". Jesus is offering to be your navigator. He is well qualified to take this role. Pastor Paul in his defence of Jesus as the best high priest to the Hebrew Christians made the role of Jesus quite clear and our acceptance of him quite confident. He, Jesus, has been through it all, He has been tempted to the extreme, in all points like as we are yet without sin.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." He is the way, He knows the way.
1. http://www.letsgoseeit.com/index/county/kern/tehachapi/loc01/loop.htm (Accessed 5 August 2012)
2. The Tehachapi Loop photograph is taken from a postcard copyright to Ron Arnold undated.
This article and the personal pictures it contains are Copyright © 2012 by John L Morris. Used by permission.
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