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Portal external URL, no template gets 404 once, then works on second try.

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Followed Lepa's post from 12/13/2007 because we have a nav collection pagelet that uses non peoplsoft URL links that were using the default template created for our portal. The links worked fine this way from within our local network, but when used via the internet we would get the template with a blank screen - no error, just white space inside the template.
So, I took the template off as mentioned. Now the first time a link is clicked we get error 404 (from inside or outside our network). The address attempted looks strange, it starts out with our portal address and then the non-peoplesoft URL - thus the 404. The really strange thing is that once I close this 404 browser window and click the link a second time - Wala! The external link works fine... WTH! Any suggestions as to what is causeing this behavior or how to trouble shoot it will be appreciated. Dave