A few weeks ago, I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania to attend the Wisconsin/Penn State football game at the invitation of my son-in-law, Daniel. You see, our wives were spending the week at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas where they spend a week taking classes, looking at beautiful quilts, shopping for quilt stuff and generally having a good ole time! And it was about time that the guys have some unsupervised time, drink some adult beverages, eat when we wanted, and watch some football!
I made the 725 mile drive from Madison to State College in a day and a half, taking my time and enjoying the scenery along I-80/90 through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and finally into Pennsylvania. Anyone who has made this drive will see a little sarcasm in that statement. While all these states have their beauty and scenic qualities, it’s not really observable driving five miles over the speed limit down a four lane interstate highway with thousands of cars and semi trucks traveling with you! The plaza’s with their restrooms, fast food, and gas pumps don’t really add to the ambiance. But it’s the fastest route when time is limited.
After arriving in State College, Daniel and I did some errands (i.e. stopped to buy some peppermint schnapps and beer for our tail gate the next day!), ate some dinner and then took in a Penn State hockey game at Pegula Ice Arena on campus. It was my first hockey game ever although I’ve watched a few games during the Olympics but never really got into the game. This was a non conference game with Penn State playing Robert Morris University that is located in a suburb of Pittsburg. During the 60 minute match (three 20 minute periods) the action was quick and exciting but Penn State prevailed 7-2. At the breaks, we checked out some of the exhibits in the arena where I learned that Penn State is relatively new to varsity hockey beginning with the 2012 season. Prior to that, they had a club hockey team but that changed when Penn State alumni Terry Pegula and his wife, owners of the National Hockey League team, the Buffalo Sabres, and the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, donated $102 million to establish mens and women’s varsity hockey programs. Those funds allowed them to build this 6000 seat arena as well as build the hockey program into a Big 10 force to be reckoned with. It was a fun and entertaining evening.
After the game, we met up with Daniel’s cousin, Chris, who arrived from the Dallas, Texas area to also attend the football game with us. Early on Saturday, we got up early, had some coffee, dressed for the conditions (lots of warm clothing), and headed off for a tailgate before the noon kickoff. Since it had rained a lot the previous week some of the parking areas near the stadium were closed thus parking was limited so we walked from the house to campus. On the way we passed through downtown State College and onto the campus. Here’s a couple of photos from our journey.
Once on campus, it’s hard to miss the distinctive landmark, Old Main. Home to the senior leaders of the University, it’s actually the second building to occupy this site. The first built during the Civil War was razed in the late 1920’s with the current building occupied in 1930. One of the distinctive features are the frescoes in the main lobby dedicated to the land grant mission; teaching, public service and research. Here’s a little history of Penn State. It was founded in 1855 as the Farmers High School of Pennsylvania. Within a few years, the school’s name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania and when the Morrill Land Grant Act was passed by Congress in 1863, it became the sole land grant college in Pennsylvania and a few years later changed it’s name to Pennsylvania State College. In addition to the State College campus, Penn State operates 19 other college campuses and five special mission campuses around the state. It is considered one the “public ivies” based on the similar type of education provide by Ivy League schools at public university prices. Enrollment on the State College campus is over 47,000 students, that’s greater than the full time population of the city with just over 42,000 residents. So you can say, the University is the town!
We arrived at the tailgate marked by the flag of Malaysia and were ready for some breakfast burritos made by Daniel’s friend, Ben. To keep warm, we enjoyed hot chocolate laced with peppermint schnapps as well as other adult beverages. The second photo is of Daniel and his cousin, Chris.
After socializing with friends and colleagues that dropped by, it was time to head up to Beaver Stadium for the game.
The stadium was named after James Beaver, a former governor of Pennsylvania and president of the Board of Trustees. It officially seats 106,572 people (over 110,000 people with some standing, watched the Ohio State game earlier this fall, Ohio State won by 1 point), is the second largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere (about 1000 less seats than University of Michigan) and third largest in the world (the largest is in North Korea with over 114,000 seats). Here’s what the surrounding scene looks like as we trek to our seats in the upper deck. Note the Bryce Jordan Center to the back left of the photo that hosts basketball games, concerts and convocations.
Our seats were high off the field facing north, that’s important because there was a stiff, cold breeze blowing out of the northeast right into our faces. Needless to say, it was cold even though we were dressed warm clothes and had hand warmers!
Penn State won the game 22-10, the Wisconsin team was as cold as the spectators! Regardless of the weather, it was a fun afternoon in the big stadium. Don’t worry we watched more football that evening from the comfort and warmth of the man cave!
The next morning, after about 42 hours in State College, I headed back down I-80/90 to Wisconsin to meet my traveling partner at the Milwaukee airport upon her return from the quilt festival.
That does it for this week. Next up, Thanksgiving in North Dakota.
Until then, travel safe.