News for the ‘travel’ Category

Tow Truck And All

My 5 year old and I took off for the weekend in “Our Lady of Disrepair.” “Our Lady of Disrepair” is our 86 VW Vanagon Weekender. We love her. (Her actual name is Gomer as in Hosea 1:2,3. Not the most faithful vehicle and I’m convinced plenty of others lust for her.)

Our first stop was Maplewood State Park. We’d camped here once before and it is one of our favorite MN parks. We biked around a bit. Pondered this sign:

Identity Issues


And did a little wading:


It was perfect camping weather. Nice and cool. In the morning we went for a swim in Lake Lida. Still cool. Down right cold. Carpe Diem.

Onward to Walhalla ND and the Rendezvous Arts and Heritage Festival where I was playing and MC’ing.

We were poking along just fine. Then about 20 miles south of Grand Forks the gas pedal went loose and dropped down to the floor. Zero acceleration. Hazards on, I coasted to the side of the road. There’s a reason we refer to Gomer as “Our Lady of Disrepair.” Stranded on the side of the I-29 in ND with a 5 year old is not my dream situation. Unless of course that dream is a nightmare. I was a little stressed. Thankfully she took it all in stride:

Dad: “Looks like we need to call a tow truck honey.”

Daughter: “Oh goodie, I’ve never ridden in a tow truck before!”

I went ahead and bought her a pony.

If you need to wait for a tow truck, I recommend doing so in a Vanagon. We popped up the table, played Farkel, ate bing cherries, and chatted with State Troopers. There are worse ways to spend a summer afternoon.

In about 1/2 an hour Jason and his tow truck arrived and the folks at the Cenex on 32nd took fine care of us.

Thankfully no parts were needed. The accelerator cable had simply come loose and they were able to get us in right away, fix it fast, and barely charge us. I love ND.

We spent the next 24 hours in Walhalla. Not nearly enough time, but a wonderful time all the same. I got to play cards with my favorite mother in law, eat the best corn of the summer so far at the firefighters’ fund raiser, and the Art and Heritage Festival was great. Tons of local artists displaying their work, offering demonstrations, and inviting artists of all ages into hands on lessons.

As it wrapped up Saturday evening Elsa and I headed back to Fargo to spend the night. Sunday morning we headed east on 10 and I led music at Glyndon Lutheran where my friend Jeni is the pastor. One of the highlights was an infant baptism where they sat the naked baby right in the fount a la bath time. Apparently it’s a 3rd century tradition. Who knew? Jeni for one. And now we all do. I am a little curious how this translates into adult baptisms.

Back in the Vanagon again Elsa and I made the final leg of the journey. Stopping at Dunn Bros in Alec (Or as non-locals call it: Alexandria) the barista asked if I needed anything with my coffee. I asked for someone to drive me to St. Paul. She said no. I tipped her anyway.

The whole parenting-camping-driving-working-weekend thing is a bit exhausting, but we made it home safe and sound and all in all it was a great trip. Tow truck and all.


Posted: August 13th, 2012
Categories: family, music, travel
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Nate Houge Unplugged

Today I’m bustin’ my kids out of school and heading to North Dakota via the MN State Park system.  Our Lady of Disrepair is all loaded up (almost).  I bought an extra tarp and bungee chords in case of bad weather.  I’ve got a guitar and a box of CD’s for Wednesday night’s concert in Walhalla.  And as of this morning I’ve decided to leave the lap top behind.  As much as I want to take advantage of the girls partying with Grandma while I get some work done, I’m realizing that everyday I get more attached to my digital world.  So in an attempted act of detachment I’m cutting myself off.  I’ll still have my phone (and my AAA card).  But for the most part I’ll stick to pen and paper and catch up on some letter writing.  If you’d like to get a postcard from ND e-mail me your address today (4-24-12) with Postcard in the subject line and I’ll see if I can’t get something in the mail to you.  A little Ephemera to brighten your day.

Posted: April 24th, 2012
Categories: family, song, travel
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On Again.

It’s like riding a bike.  Right?

I took about six weeks off of facebook and blogging.
Getting back into it is a bit sluggish.
Absence did not make the heart grow fonder.
It severed a few ties.  Not necessarily good or bad.
I’m still trying to figure out what to take away from it all.

Here are two observations, one personal one professional.  Though as a self employed performing songwriter part of my job is being a professional personal, so perhaps there’s not much of a distinction to be made.
Either way, here is thing one and thing two.
Thing 1:  I reduce day to day experience into status updates.
For example:  After a rough day of parenting I sum it up in my head as, “Parenting would be easy if it weren’t for children.”  Maybe the ability to assess and sum up our experience in a concise way is helpful.  Maybe FB is encouraging a higher level of self awareness. Maybe it glosses over deeper issues.  I’m not sure.  I’m just noticing.  I’ll admit there were a few lines I thought were such great status updates that I gave ’em to my wife and she used them while I was off facebook.  I’m not telling which ones.
Thing 2:  I cut people off.  Or myself off people.
When your job is dependent on the public’s presence and participation this is a really dumb move (not my first). I just had an outstanding week in the Seattle area playing one or two events a day.  Here’s one of the three pictures I took:

It was exhausting and exhilarating and incredibly under documented.  (Did I mention the 3 pictures?)  If this were a family vacation that would be okay.  But it’s my job.  And part of my job is telling people I have a job.  It gives me credibility.  (And an ego.)  If this is what I do (and it is) and if I think it’s legitimate (I do) and important (every family likes to eat) then I have to let the world know what’s going on and how you and I can support one another in doing what we believe we are created to do.

So when you see my massive media campaign dominating the interwebs keep in mind it’s just li’l old Nate realizing his humble calling.
Luddites be durned.  I’ve got a job to do.
And I get to do it thanks to folks like these:
The familes, Maas, Marsh, and Potsko, and the Houge contingency of varying surnames.
And for all of you wondering about the 3rd picture I took, it’s my family at Luther’s Table:
Posted: January 13th, 2012
Categories: travel
Tags: , , , ,
Comments: 1 Comment.

i walk the line

On line off line no line clothes line, I walk ’em all.

In the last 3 weeks I’ve been from MN to ID to MN to ND.  I had a great week at Idaho Servant Adventures with some outstanding folks from Oregon and South Dakota, came back and finished a writing gig for Augsburg Fortress, packed the car and now here I am in beautiful Walhalla ND. 

Somewhere in the midst of that I picked up my latest CD from the manufacturers.  ‘Becoming Liturgy’ is now available – though I’ll give it a more formal blog entry in the next week or two.  Thanks to all who preordered it.  The songbook is ready to put up as well so you’ll be seeing that soon!

The new CD, Becoming Liturgy features 28 liturgical pieces for guitar/piano/drum.  With this in hand I called up to Walhalla Lutheran and asked Pastor Don if I could lead music on Sunday.  He said yes.  So I arrived Thursday night, we made a bulletin and on Sunday morning Walhalla Lutheran had quite possibly it’s first ever guitar led worship.  It went great, thanks Don!

Then on Monday my mother-in-law headed down to the senior center to play cards.  On her way out she said, “If they ask if you can come do some songs what should I tell them?” I said, “Just ask when they want me.”  I got a call in 10 minutes, “Tonights are potluck.  Will you be our entertainment?”  “Yup.”  So Monday night I went and did a little concert at the senior center and it went great.  Last Christmas I came down and led a sing along and in turn they let me stick around and play hand and foot – even though I didn’t have my aarp card yet.  It was a pretty good deal.  Well this gig went just as great.  I did a 45 minute concert to one of the most attentive audiences you could ever ask for.  And it led to another gig.  This afternoon me and the girls headed over to the nursing home and played another show.  I did a few of my songs then the girls did a few songs.   Then we did some action songs all together.  The walker crowd may not be the ideal group for jumping around but they loved watching the girls dance and they clapped and sang away on familiar songs like She’ll be coming ’round the mountain.  So my ND vacation has had a bit of work thrown in, but when you get to do what you love a working vacation ain’t that bad.

Oh, and while I was up here I found an old bike to fix up.  It’s a 20+ year old giant rincon.  that’s right jim, the rincon.

Posted: August 19th, 2009
Categories: music, travel
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The Houge family recently returned from a week in the black hills of SD.  In true Nate & Jodi fashion we remembered to bring out the camera at one of the stops – Old MacDonalds petting zoo.  Unfortunately that’s the only stop we remembered to bust it out at.  If you only knew how many unphotographed trips and travels we’ve been on…

So here’s what we were up to on the 2009 Houge tour/family vacation.

I played a gig in downtown Rapid City.  Wonderful albeit sparcely populated.  Before I went on there was a demo by a local hair salon.  Lydia got a free hair cut.  I was up next and had fun playing some kids and family stuff.  Halfway through the set I noticed my harmonica was covored in hair.  I haven’t played it since…

The next morning I played at Custer Lutheran Fellowship which was a great gig.  All the music was from my upcoming release “Becoming Liturgy” (available August 2009).  A first for me was leading the singing of the Psalm.  We used Psalm Tone 1 from the ELW.  Everything went really well thanks to CLF being a singing congregation.  Some are, some arent’.  CLF are.

Then we are off to Outlaw Ranch for a week where I was the artist in residence and my family vacationed.  (I got plenty of rest and hiking in too.)  I did this gig three years ago and was very excited to do it again.  I spent the morning writing songs with kids – we wrote everything from songs about the creation account to Helga’s Hamburger Helper Hairball.  And there was a rock/reggae/talking blues opera recounting Samuel’s call.  I love writing songs and what a great group to do it with!  One night I headed over to a sister camp and did a concert for middle schoolers and an elderhostel group.  Kind of an odd combination but it went really well.  Then on Wednesday night I did a concert for the adults at family camp.  Spending a few days with folks, getting all relaxed, creating some common ground, and then doing a concert in a beautful old barn is about as perfect set up as you can find for giving a concert.  It was an incredible encouragement to me as a performing songwriter.  I can’t thank the folks at outlaw enough for the experience.

Throughout the week we hiked and horse backed, crafted and canoed.  My folks got to come along too which was great as far as parent/grandparent time is concerned – you can’t beat having them in the room next door! 

On Friday we hoofed it back via a night in Sioux Falls.  Home on Saturday in time to watch our neighbors blow up the ‘hood.  Not that we didn’t help.  C’mon, firework stands in South Dakota, how could I resist?

So a huge thanks to Rapid City, Custer Lutheran Fellowship, and Outlaw Ranch!  Now we’ll lay low for a week or so before the next camp adventure begins!

And if any of you folks I met along the way would like to have me visit your church/college/coffeeshop contact me!  nate at natehouge dot com.  I’d love to see you again and play some more!

Peace and more,


Posted: July 7th, 2009
Categories: family, music, travel
Comments: 4 Comments.

Two Shall Become One

It is official.  We are now a one car/toaster family.

Posted: June 22nd, 2009
Categories: family, transportation, travel
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victory, FL, bean factory

That’s me a couple weeks back at the Victory Muse show.  There are more and better pictures here:

Rachel Kurtz and I did the song ‘bootstraps’ for the first time in 8 years (it’s on the rare and hard but not hard enough to find boy.girl CD ‘cheaply painted barns.’)  Jonathan Rundman joined in on accordian and Lars Carlson played along for the closer – I’m Troubled and I Don’t Know Why.  The Victory Muse house concerts have been awesome and this Saturday Rachel Kurtz will be playing with her husband, the legendary guitarist, Michael May.  For those of you with the Mysterious Kung Fu…. CD, Michael is responsible for the rock and roll solo on Get In the Tub.  So check out the Victory Muse and check out the show.

This last weekend I got a chance to go to Florida by invitation of Justin Rimbo and the Director of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Florida, Chad Cambell.  We led music for a Jr./Sr. High event held at O’leno State Park.  It was warm and relaxing and musically fulfilling.  It’s the last of a long string of travels of mine and it was a great way to rap things up for awhile.  Here are three highlights:

1.  I got stopped at security at the airport on my way out.  They wanted to check my bag.  As the security personal started looking through it she said – “do you have a teapot in here?”  I correctly assumed she was referring to my ceramic coffee cup and said, “Yeah, it’s right under here…”  and reached over and began pulling my socks and underwear out of the way.  She quickly moved the bag away and said curtly.  “You can’t touch this.”  Keep in mind it was 4:30 in the morning so my judgement was a bit off as I immediately started humming the rest of the chorus to this MC Hammer classic.  She wasn’t ammused.  Or at least on the outside.  Inside I think she was cracking up.  Or deciding whether or not to turn me into the feds.  Of course in the end the lingering question remains, so what if it was a teapot?  Whatch out for that guy, he’s already had 3 mugs of chamomile this morning.  Dangerous.

2.  I led a songwriting workshop on saturday morning and the group came up with an awesome gathering song that we used for Sunday morning worship.  My favorite part was they used the simile of hot chocolate as the warmth and comfort we find in gathering together.  It fit the context of camp, but also of being filled, of being a vessel, not to mention comfort.  A lot of us are used to all the old church language in hymns.  It’s good to break out and use new imagery.  This group did it way better than someone like myself, stuck in my ruts, usually does.  Good work!

3. sheesh, what’s number three?  Could be running in warm weather, or the hanging out before and after the event, could be the group singing, or… Oh here’s a good one.  Sunday night walking out of target we heard a weird sound.  Looking up in the air at a distant trail of smoke Chad pointed out that we had just heard the space shuttle launch.  Sure enough there was a little light zooming out into space.  We saw the space shuttle.  Sweet.

 Finally, this Friday Micah and I will be at the bean factory here in St. Paul up on Randolph.  7-9.  if you want to sing a few songs bring an instrument.  we’d love to have you.

Posted: March 19th, 2009
Categories: music, travel
Comments: No Comments.

in and out

I returned Sunday night from a great and busy weekend playing bass and mandolin for Jonathan Rundman down in OK.  More on that soon.  Monday and today have been very full days, and tomorrow the family heads to UT of all places for Thanksgiving.  Thankfully Jodi’s on top of the laundry so I’ve got clean socks.  Now I just need to repack my bag – which isn’t quite unpacked yet – and get ready for tomorrow’s flight and drive.  Something tells me traveling with Elsa on my lap will be a little more challenging than flying with a mandolin on my lap…  I’m sure I’ll have something to say about this when we get back next week.  In the meantime don’t forget to say thanks!

You’re Welcome.

Posted: November 25th, 2008
Categories: family, travel
Comments: No Comments.

Back from ND

Check out the tour recap!

 On Sunday night I returned from a 5 day tour with Jonathan Rundman.  I was going to write all about it but I knew Jonathan would do a better job, and sure enough he did.  So click on the recap up there and check it out.

I will note that I came back a better musician.  Not just because I bought a Peavey Classic 30 in Minot, but because Jonathan, Justin, and Graham are three of the finest musicians I have ever played with.  I’ve played with all of them in different line ups before but never as the four of us supporting Jonathan.  Wow!  What a blast.  It’s so fun to be in a band where you know everyone is competent enough to catch if you take a few risks and as a result you get some amazing results.  So thanks to them and thanks to all the folks that came out to hear us!

Posted: October 28th, 2008
Categories: music, travel
Comments: No Comments.

So brave, strong, and Natelike

so braveHere’s what I read during my recent travels – and it was excellent.  And here’s a fun parallel – I started the book in Minnesota the day before I left and the book starts in Minnesota.  I finished it three days later in California and the book ends in California.  I love it when stuff like that happens.  Go read it!

Posted: August 1st, 2008
Categories: fact, travel
Comments: No Comments.

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