The Trail to State College

Today’s post is 1300 words, 21 photos, a 7 minute read. Enjoy

Hi everyone,

It was pleasant sunny mid-afternoon when we left Ellsworth, Maine headed west. Our next destination was State College, Pennsylvania where The Eldest and Son-in-law live. We would spend a few days with them before making our way back home in Madison, Wisconsin. By the time we reached home, we’d be away three weeks.

As we began our journey west, we thought of the three lovely days we had in Acadia National Park. If you missed my posts on Acadia, click here, here, and here.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory

For the first leg of our 700 mile drive to State College, we choose to stick to the rugged coast of Maine as we drove down U.S. Route 1 towards Portland. This would avoid the craziness of I-95 and allow us to take in the beautiful scenery along the way. We didn’t get far when we made our first stop at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

This bridge replaced the Waldo-Hancock Bridge that connected, wait for it, Waldo and Hancock Counties in Maine. The new bridge has two distinct features. One feature is this bridge was constructed using a cradle system with the cable strands from deck to deck as a continuous element. I’m not an engineer but this sounds like a unique and fancy way of securing the bridge so it won’t fall into the Penobscot River. A good thing, I think! Second, is this bridge features an observation tower, the first in the U.S. and the tallest public bridge observatory in the world. The 420 foot tower offers visitors a great view of the river and surrounding area. We didn’t have time to visit the observatory but could imagine the view on the beautiful day.

Dunkin’ Donuts

In the late afternoon, we left U.S. Route 1 south of Portland, Maine for a couple state highways meandering their way to Concord, New Hampshire where we would spend the night. My Traveling Partner and I admired the scenery as drove the twisting two-lane roads, it kind of reminded us of the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin. We chose a slower route to skirt around the big cities and heavy  traffic along the Eastern Seaboard.

The next morning, we were up early and on the road after breakfast at the hotel. It was another beautiful sunny day as we crossed into Vermont. For some reason, we were talking about how long it was since we last had a Dunkin’ Donut. That discussion immediately conjured up the thought of stopping for a mid-morning snack, something to get us through until lunch time.

We were driving through the small town of Wilmington, VT (population about 2200) when we spotted, wait for it….., a Dunkin’ Donuts. Luckily, traffic was light when I slammed on the brakes and quickly turned into the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts. I ordered a chocolate cake donut and my Traveling Partner had a jelly filled donut.

Before continuing our journey, we snarfed down our donuts, you’d think we hadn’t eaten for a week. After licking the last of the remnants off our lips and fingers, we declared that they were good but not great, not like the last one we had so many years ago.

The Trail to State College

We soon entered New York state and made our way around Albany, Troy, and Schenectady onto I-88 heading for Pennsylvania. Just west of Schenectady, we were alerted to a back-up on the west bound lane. We happened to be near an exit turned off and drove through the town of Duanesburg (population about 6000). There we encountered the largest presence of police that either of us ever saw. There were officers’ everywhere some with assault rifles at the ready. There were at least fifty police cars within a few blocks of NY State Route 7 or Duanesburg Road that runs parallel to I-88. Something big was going on.

At first, we thought it might be a school shooting or a big heist. As my Traveling Partner searched the internet for more information, I passed through Duanesburg and reentered I-88. We stopped at a rest area where the attendant told us that a NY State Police Officer had been shot after stopping a car for speeding in an excess of 100 MPH. The gunman and his passenger fled on foot into nearby Duanesburg. Soon the area was flooded with police officers looking for the suspects. The passenger was soon found and arrested. The gunman was found in a wooded area with a self-inflicted gun shot wound after an extensive search. He died at the hospital. The police officer was shot in the arm and survived.

This incident added some excitement to our journey. We arrived at our destination tired after the long drive.

The Historic Bellefonte Cruise

While in State College, Pennsylvania, we spent a couple hours in nearby Bellefonte at their annual car show. Hundreds of show cars lined the streets of the historic district near the Centre County Courthouse featured in the photos below.

Bellefonte, with a population of just over 6,000 residents, was founded in the late 1700s and features several buildings with Victorian architecture. The Courthouse was built in 1805 and added to several time since then. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, this courthouse featured prominently on the national news when it was the site of the trial of Jerry Sandusky of the Penn State sex abuse scandal.

I enjoyed looking at the cars. Some of them took me back to the years of my youth when I salivated over the 1950s and ’60s Corvettes, the Pontiac GTO (aka, The Judge), T-birds, and many others. My first vehicle was a 1955 Ford F-100 pickup sky haze green with a V-8 engine and a three-on-the-tree transmission. I bought it in 1967 at my grandfather’s estate auction for $130.00. It had been my uncle’s and was in fair condition. I drove it to town when I had enough money for gas and I knew would start. We used it around the farm for hauling bales out of the ditches. My sister, Janet, learned to drive a manual transmission in that pickup. I like it a lot. However, when I went in the Army a few years later, I signed the title over to my dad. He used for awhile until someone came along and offered him $50 and took it off his hands. Years later, we went looking for the pickup, he knew who bought it. We found it. I almost cried when I saw cab rusting away in the weeds along a fence row. The box and chassis had been used as a trailer for hauling stuff.

At the car show, I was immediately drawn to this pickup. It was almost identical to the one I had but with good paint and no dents.

Below are some of the cars and people we saw during our time at the show.

In addition to all the cars, there were food vendors and live music. Here the Spring Hollow Band entertains the crowd with songs from the 50s and 60s. A pretty good sound for a bunch of guys as old as some of the cars! 

As we passed by the old train depot, we noticed volunteers giving rides to people in the old section cars, also known as speeders, used by work crews and rail inspectors. It looked like fun but the line was long and we were getting hot out in the sun.

Near downtown Bellefonte is Talleyrand Park, one of the most visited in the area. Spring Creek flows through this park that attracts waterfowl like geese and ducks. The water is so clear, visitors can see the large carp gliding below the surface of the shallow stream.

A couple of days later, we left State College with The Eldest’s dog. It would stay with us for the next six weeks while they traveled out-of-country. Next up, Door County v. Summer 2023.

Until then, happy travels!