Coolant leak after 30 minute drive, and then okay for 2 hours

Hi all,
This one has me scratching my head. This is a 2006 outback non-turbo 2.5i.
I drove 2 hours 120 miles on the interstate, no problem. Then 4 hours later, drove two intermittent 11 mile “shuttle” drives, no problem (I didn’t check the temperature gauge). But then heading back home, I checked the temperature gauge and saw it slowly rising up up up over maybe a couple of hilly miles and then pulled over, about 8 miles from the departure. A friend driving behind me saw fluid spraying out onto the road.
The fluid was antifreeze, not oil*, and the timing belt housing on the driver’s side was all wet. I tested (using a rag) the radiator cap, and there was no water to spray out. I had a couple jugs of water with me, so I refilled the radiator and resumed my trip home. That trip consisted of interstate and complete idle stops (road work) for 120 miles. The next morning I checked the radiator, and it was FULL. Didn’t lose a drop of plain old water.
The car has had a consistent puff of white smoke on a cold start. I was figuring that was due to condensation in the exhaust being heated on the restart (?)
I’m perplexed about why the coolant will disappear this one time, and then be fine afterward. Any idea what is going on? Is this a symptom of a bad head gasket (which was replaced about 20K miles ago)?

* I’ve been experiencing high oil consumption, which I figured was due to seepage past the piston rings.
I checked the oil level, and that was fine and I had just topped it off before the shuttle (down 1/2 quart over 100 miles [the engine is toast] it uses a quart every 250-300 miles)

Yeah – its time to dump this car

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