I go to Saskatchewan every year, and even though I’m traveling it doesn’t really feel like traveling because I go there to visit family. I drive the same route to Saskatoon, via Highway 13/14. I spend a few nights there with my family before heading out to visit more family in Yorkton, via Highway 16. The route I take is ingrained in my head. So this summer when I was in Saskatoon my aunt suggested I take highway 5 to get out to Yorkton rather than highway 16. Taking another route would take a bit longer, and it would be a further detour for me, but it was a way to see a different part of the province than I normally do. Armed with a GPS and a Saskatchewan Map (always good to have a hard map on backup) I left Saskatoon on Highway 5.
The scenery didn’t change drastically or anything. There were still the gently rolling field with waves of golden canola, puffy white clouds and open skies that have become so familiar to me. There were small towns, red barns and farms, but they weren’t the same ones I pass by. I stopped in Humboldt, a small city of about 6,000 people – and the biggest community, aside from Saskatoon, on this route. Humboldt has a lot of history, much of the people who settled there were from Germany – which might explain the some of the European looking building I saw downtown.
I parked my car and walked through downtown Humboldt (pretty small) to take some pictures of the murals they had, including a giant postage stamp mural. After being in my car for an hour it was to take a walk. I also heard about a historic water tower in Humboldt that I wanted to find. As the city isn’t that large it was easy to spot.
The water tower is one of four left in the province that was designed to resemble a coastal lighthouse. I stepped outside the tower to take a picture when I saw a young kid sitting outside the tower. Soon I found myself getting a little guided tour inside the water tower. It was built between 1914-1915 and is 95 feet high. The water tower was shut down in 1977 and left abandoned until 2003 when a local group decided to work toward restoring water tower as a historical site. They hope to build a lookout at the top of the tower, as well as having a gift shop and a museum. The tour was free but I made a small donation to the water tower preservation.
Everyone is probably familiar with that famous line from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. It seems easy to think the road less traveled means to take the road that no one else has taken, but in our world you’d be hard to find a road that hasn’t been visited by someone else. I think the road less traveled by means taking the road, the route, the path that’s less familiar to each of us personally.
If I’d taken the same route I normally do to go to Yorkton I wouldn’t have come across Humbodlt. I wouldn’t have gotten to see their European buildings downtown, or their murals. I wouldn’t have gotten a little tour of a water tower that residents are working hard to preserve. Highway 5 was the road less traveled by for me. Sure it’s not completely off the beaten path, many people down this highway every day, but for me it was new. I thought I knew Saskatchewan because I’d been there every year. Taking a different route showed me I’ve barely scratched the surface of this province.
I took a different route coming home through Saskatchewan and Alberta as well (more to come). Some of you may be like me, taking the same route to visit friends and/or family, going the same way to work or to school. My suggestion: take another route. Give yourself some more time, grab a map, and take another road, even if it’s a detour and takes more time. You might be surprised at what you discover.