Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Travel Insanity Tour Day 3 August 31, 2009

7:30 am (Now on Mountain time) Awake, dressed and having eaten a surprisingly good breakfast given the quality of the rest of the hotel.

7:40 am  Went to get a Super Big Gulp at the 7-eleven in town.  On the fountain for the Mountain Dew it said “A caffeine free product”.  WTF????

8:00 am  Viewed the biggest Easter Egg in the World.  Quite the way to start the morning.



8:30 am  Our first moose sighting.  Poor thing looked like it was freaking-out trying to get back onto the other side of the National Park fence.  I could totally sympathize with it at this point

9:30 am Get to Edmonton.  First really large city that we have seen this trip.  Takes about 45 minutes to get through.

10:30 am  Still flat, but there are a lot more trees.  We have finally turned more Northern.


11:15 am  Trees and hay bales.  Hay bales and trees.  Yet my father still manages to find things that he finds so interesting to stare at that he nearly drives off of the road.


Soundtrack for today so far: “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos, “Elevation” (we are finally getting some!) by U2,  as well as a bunch of stuff that made mom purse her lips at me…


12:30 pm  Lunch at an awesome rest stop outside of (I think) Valleyview, Alberta.  Had a nice picnic area as well as a cute gift shop in it.  Saw an RV towing a car with Florida plates on them.  Damn.  First bear-proof garbage can.  Think I am going to take a nap for a few hours as I didn’t sleep well last night.



2:30 pm Nap is abruptly over as I am unceremoniously dumped on the floor of the backseat.  In Grande Prairie with traffic.  Not sure that it should be called Grande Prairie rather “Grande Shopping” as that is what it seemed to mostly be composed of.

Soundtrack since awakening:  “Northern Lad” (seems appropriate for the area) and “Taula (Tornado Mix) by Tori Amos , “Club Thing” by Yoav,  “Bubble Toes” by Jack Johnson (It always make me waggle my toes), and the Lime and Violet podcast.

2:45pm  Have seen lots and lots of farmed Elk here.  Almost more farmed Elk than cattle.  I think I need an elk burger for dinner.


3:45 pm Pacific Time   At our hotel in Dawson Creek which is mile 0 of the Alaska Highway.  Had a scotch and a bath.  Life is good.

Travel Knitting:  Finished Dishcloth the 3rd.  I know, boring.


Travel Insanity Tour Day 2 August 30, 2009

6:15 am  Wake-up call.  Don’t want to get out of one of the most comfortable hotel beds that I have ever encountered.

7:15 am Have eaten and exited the city.  Was unable to procure Mountain Dew.  Survival of this trip is looking doubtful…

7:30 am  The speed limit in Canada is going drive me nuts.  It is so slow after the 75 mph speed limit in most of the Northern US.  We are going 110 km/h (about 68 mph).  Still pretty boring landscape but at least there are hills now.

8:00 am Doh!  Where in the hell did the hills go? 

8:15 am There she blows!  Oil wells.  At least it isn’t more wheat and oats fields.

8:30 am  Doh!  Where did the damn oil wells go now?

 8:50  am Soundtrack for the rest of Manitoba:  Yoav “Beautiful Lie” (kind of a hollow sounding song, good for this hollow landscape),  Norah Jones “Above Ground” (the whole feeling of this song is of anticipation),  Tori Amos “God”, “Big Wheel”, and most of the album “Scarlet’s Walk”.

9:00 am Entering Saskatchewan province.

11:00 am  Soundtrack for most of Saskatchewan: Anything that comes up on my Ipod that is inoffensive enough to play with my parents listening.

9:30 am-2:30pm Driving. Driving. Driving.

2:00 pm  Still in Saskatchewan.  Feel as though will never leave at this province.  Endless prairies make the job of driving very, very boring.

2:30 pm-on  Soundtrack: Whatever I couldn’t listen to with my parents listening.

3:45 pm Found Mountain Dew!!!!  There is a God!!!

4:00 pm  Finally in the province of  Alberta.  Staying in a city known for it’s really big Easter Egg.  I suppose that if you have to be known for something, at least it’s not crack use or anything bad!


*No pictures today as it was just as boring as yesterday as far as landscape goes.  Hopefully, it will get at least a little more exciting tomorrow.  Either that, or I can take a picture of the egg!

Travel Knitting:  Most of the 2nd dishcloth.  I did a lot of the driving today…



What is it about being with our parents for extended periods of time that turns us back into surly teenagers?


Travel Insanity Tour Day 1 August 29, 2009

8:00 am The sun is up in the sky over Central Minnesota.  We left this morning even earlier than planned as my parents woke up and subsequently awoke me as well.  Since we were all up at the absolutely ungodly hour of 2:55 we decided that it we had just as well get on the road rather than sitting around.  So, by about 3:30 this morning we were headed due north. 

In the pre-dawn hours we passed a huge windmill farm just South of Mason City.  I could only see the actual windmills on the ones closest to the road but I could see the blinking lights going off into the distance in both directions.   They have put a lot of them up just to the Northwest of Ackley.  I personally think that this is an awesome development for the state and the nation as a whole.   Honestly, I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want the windmills in their backyards.  They are super cool to just watch and hell, they are a lot better than having a coal-fired plant go up!

Anyway, we are definitely in a more Northern region finally.  A lot of the fields here feel as though they are carved out forest and I am sure that there is a perpetual battle to keep them out of the forest’s greedy clutches.  Autumn has definitely started here already.  The solidago (goldenrod) is in full bloom and the sumac is already bright red in places.  We’ve passed half a dozen Outlet malls and more silos and grain elevators than I could count.  Fargo is 140 miles.

9:00 am  An apology to my husband.  If I have ever done the level of narration on the boring-ass scenery that we are passing in a car trip as my father has been doing, I am so sorry. Please feel free to kill me or, alternatively, listen to your Ipod as I have been doing so far.  Please God, do not let my Ipod die…

10:00 am  Anyone who thinks Iowa is flat obviously hasn’t traveled all that much.




The photos are Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.  Yeah, it was a really boring day....

The photos are Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba. Yeah, it was a really boring day....


10:30 Ipod freezes up.  Oh. Shit.

11:00 am  Got my feet tangled in my purse strap as I was getting out of the car at the rest stop and fell flat on my face.  Welcome to North Dakota!

11:45 Finally get Ipod unfrozen.

1:00 pm  Soundtrack for North Dakota:  Tom Petty (duh), Mary Chapin Carpenter  (anything that she’s sung) and the Allison Krause/Union Station album “Lonely Runs Both Ways”.   I didn’t listen to much in Minnesota as I was honestly scarcely awake since while in Iowa I was driving while everyone else was sleeping .

2:00 pm Young, cute and intensely polite Canadian border guard must think that the family is quite the group.  Mom declared her smokes and I declared a bottle of scotch. 

3:00 pm Soundtrack for Manitoba.  Diana Krall, all of her stuff.  I was driving and desperate to listen to something as I was falling asleep from the warm sun and boring drive (see pictures above) and needed something to keep my mother from pursing her lips at.  Bonus, she’s Canadian (Diana Krall, not my mother, she’s Iowan).

5:30 pm  Finally make it to hotel in Brandon, Manitoba Canada.  Thank God.  All I want is a shower or bath (ummmmm, bath) and a scotch on the rocks.  I could care less about eating tonight as I still feel stuffed from the past week of food.  

6:30 pm  Have had bath (ummmmmm, bath) talked to hubby and uploaded boring photos to computer.  While in bath realized that I now look like a 5 year-old as have bruises and scratches all over my knees and hands.  2 on my knees are from today and one is from Chicago O’Hare baggage claim.  Wish I could still pull-off the pigtails look.

Travel Knitting:  A couple of rows of lace (some of the road was kinda bumpy so it wasn’t all that easy), finished one dishcloth and got a significant start on another.


My Dog is a Goat Wrangler. How the HELL did that happen?!? August 28, 2009

Today was spent mostly preparing.  I drove to Waterloo as I decided last night that I am going to need my Glenmorangie if I am to make it through this trip A.) alive and B.) somewhat sane.  I went to the big Hy-Vee that is out by the mall (for those of you not from Iowa or the Midwest, Hy-Vee is a grocery store chain) and they didn’t have it there but they said that they had a liquor store a few blocks away that probably would.  So, fortified with the directions to the store, off I went to get some scotch.  On the way there, I stopped at Hobby Lobby which is a very dangerous place for me to be able to stop at.  I only got some more kitchen cotton as they had colors I’d not seen at Jo-Ann’s nor Michael’s.  However, they had some really wonderfully hideous variegated and ombre “I Love This Yarn” colors that had sparkle! (insert jazz hands here)  I adore ugly ombres and variegated yarns and sparkle, well that’s just icing.  Hobby Lobby always has the best ugly around since they have their own yarn brand that they have a habit of making yarns for different seasons and holidays.  To quote Mr. Universe “You guys always bring me the very best violence. “…… against yarn.

Anyway, I managed to find the liquor store and procure my Glenmorangie with no trouble at all and then headed on back to the farm.  Then I started packing the car.  This is what it looks like after a couple of hours of playing with different configurations of stuff.


The pack mistress strikes again!

The pack mistress strikes again!


Our chariot awaits!

Our chariot awaits!

The front seats are seriously comfy!

The front seats are seriously comfy!


I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time back here....

I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time back here....


I know it doesn’t look like much, but my mom kept giving me things going, “Oh, I forgot this, it needs to go in the……” and everything would be topsy-turvy again.

Right before dinner, dad and I went to get the goats into their pen for the night.  My brother has 5 does and a billy that more or less get the run of the farm.  Micheal has learned a very interesting new trick since moving here which is goat wrangling.  He herds the goats into their pen!  I didn’t get any pictures of it as it went to quickly but here are a few of the goats.


The herd

The herd


"You are soooooo not going to put that picture on the internets are you?!?!?"

"You are soooooo not going to put that picture on the internets are you?!?!?"



Not much else to write tonight.  We are planning on driving 750 miles tomorrow so we will be leaving quite early. So, until next time, goodnight and good luck.


Almost Off-Track August 27, 2009

Yesterday was my first time riding a train in the US other than in a major city.  I rode Amtrak from Chicago to Osceola, IA.  Compared to all of the trains that I have ridden in Europe, it was a lot bumpier and rockier.  I could only work on a dishcloth as the lace stole or sock were way too difficult to do without stabbing the poor lady that was sitting next to me with a 2.5mm needle.  I think that she just thanked me for that small courtesy on my part without even knowing she had:)

However, I had one small hiccup in the whole trip.  I had booked the tickets with the understanding that you could check bags.  When I went to check my 3 VERY LARGE BAGS the lady at the baggage check counter just took my ticket turned to me and said, “Un-un, you ain’t checking those bags to Osceola!”  When I then asked her why, she told me that there was no baggage service to that station, in fact, to no station in Iowa at all!  So I asked her what I should do and she sorta shrugged her shoulders and said, “Maybe they’ll let you on the train with all them.” with a non-caring shrug.  So I then got to lug all of my bags around Union Station while I tried to find some lunch.  

It was about an hour before my train was set to leave and I was in the general vicinity of the track that it was on with all of my luggage and one of the guys that worked for Amtrak saw what, I imagine, was my very disturbed face.  He asked if I was ok or needed any help and I told him my entire tale of woe including that I was from England and that I was going to be here for 2 months and traveling to Alaska with my parents, you know, whole shootin’ match.  He told me to stay put, he was going to see if he could find a porter to kind of “sneak through” my bags as they seldom check those guys.  Within a few minutes time, I was on a little electric cart with three older ladies who had mobility issues and and then in a window seat on the California Zephyr.  Everybody that I dealt with working for Amtrak was wonderful, helpful folks with the exception of the lady working the baggage check-in.  

Anyway, the ride was really fun.  The people on the train were all way more chilled than folks on airplanes usually are.  I think that that was helped by the fact that the seats were so large and spacious that you didn’t feel crowded at all.  It was cool to see a good chunk of the US from a perspective that few people ever see, especially since I was on the 2nd level of the train so you could see out pretty far.  If I were in a similar situation again, I would totally take Amtrak (though not with so much luggage of course).

I tried to take pictures, but few of them turned-out at all.  Between the motion of the train and the fact that it was raining nearly the entire trip, it wasn’t super conducive to photography.  So sorry, no photos yet.  Right now I’m just happy to have some internet time as that has been scarcer than my cell phone signal!

I had a fantastic time in Chicago with all of my friends and I really wish that I could have stayed longer (as I’m sure that some of them do as they ended-up staying up quite late drinking Scotch with me [dead soldier #1: 1 liter of Glenmorangie bought in Chicago, finished quite early in the morning on the 26th]).  It was great to get see them all as well as Chicago in the summertime.  I think that this is maybe the first time that I have been in Chicago in the summertime since I was in middle school.  It’s a lot greener than I’m used to seeing it….. in January.


Hitting the Target August 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:53 pm
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So, the past few days have been spent running around, eating at Jimmy John’s and Chipolte and friend’s houses.  I’ve mastered two strollers. Well, ok, I mastered one of them and the other I’m pretty sure that I understand the concept behind.  Anyway, Sarah and I have been bopping around shopping and running errands and getting stuff done that is easier with two adults and a toddler than one.  


While we have been driving around the city I have been knitting a dishcloth for SJ.  She is a HUGE fan of the knitted dishcloth and since it was something that I could make fairly quickly… voila! Dishcloth!


Mostly it has just been hanging out and catching up with folks and entertaining a 14 month old.  

Oh, and I got to take a photo of the first major project that I ever completed.


Not really much to say.  It’s been a great few days but not very exciting for blogging.


Top 10 Things I Love About Chicago (so far) August 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 7:12 am
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10.)  No one talking about either cricket or rugby.  It’s not that I have anything against those games but I understand them even less than I do (American) football and thus find them incomprehensible.

9.) Cornhole.  Best outdoor game for for folks who have been drinking ever (you don’t need to drink while you are playing it, it would just be very hard to hurt someone while playing).

8.)  The weather.  Not too hot, not too cold, just right….

7.) The bed I’m sleeping in.  My friend Sarah makes the most amazing beds, I mean, just perfect.  When it is cold out, she makes them so cozy and comfortable that you never want to get out of them.  Now, when it’s warm, it’s just the right weight that a person isn’t hot yet you feel as though you have something over you.  And it all matches to boot!

6.)  Eating at Jimmy John’s.  Mmmmmmmmmmm, Jimmy John’s.

5.)  Sarah’s new washing machine and dryer.  It sings!  It has a play/pause button!  It has no center agitator!  It can hold up to 20 pounds of laundry!  I am so jealous….

4.)  Scary fast wireless internet access.  God I miss that…

3.) Eating at Chipotle.  Mmmmmmmmmm, Chipotle.

2.) Watching MH not walk but rather careen around the house.  The kid can move!

1.)  Being back with my friends from college.  It feels really good to just be goofy and perverse with others who get the joke. (Know what I’m saying?  Know what I’m saying?)