ClipsRoadTrip: MotherShip to Penn State to Washington and back
This RoadTrip featured it all: big-time football, schmoozing with the movers and shakers of college athletics, generic value-priced hotels, an imposter hotel, a ClipsBike mishap, a biker bar, and more . . . .
By Nick Infante, ClipsEditor, 9-10-14
There is no set formula for ClipsRoadTrips. Other than picking a few geographically/sequentially adjacent destinations and sending out a few heads-up emails, the travel team packs the back-seat cooler, checks the tyre (a little Brit spelling there) pressure, stops at the PG Bank ATM, fills the gas tank, and weâ€™re on our way.
This time the planned destinations/events were Penn State (attending the Penn State-Akron game, visiting with the friendly folks at the Penn State College of Communication, interviewing candidates for this semesterâ€™s Clips internship and dropping in at the athletic department); a stopover at the Gettysburg Civil War Historical Park; and another drive to our nationâ€™s capital for a Knight Commission meeting.
The Penn State visit was very enjoyable, except for a 1-bicycle accident, ah, mishap involving me and only me (more on that later). I will spare you the blow by blow of the entire road trip, but Penn State wasâ€”and always isâ€”a pleasant place to visit. Especially on a football weekend.
As has become my style when visiting a sprawling campus, I bring along my Trek 4500 mountain bike (retrofitted with slick street tyres). This time, however, Happy Valley was a sweltering 85 degrees. Not conducive for pedaling around with my signature on-the-record/off-the-record blue blazer, long pants, shoes/socks and a bike helmet. After just a few minutes, a pervasive perspiration prevailed (no surprise).
I got woozy and flustered and next thing I knew I was tumbling onto the tar with the bike falling on top of me. I quickly got up and there were fifty or so fresh-faced students looking at me, a klutzy guy falling off his bike for no apparent reason. Yes, there were scrapes and bruises on three of my appendages, but the real damage was the embarrassment of going down badly in front of such a young audience.
In quick 3-dot fashion, hereâ€™s a quick re-cap of the Penn State visitâ€¦met with Emily Sonni, a junior majoring in advertisingâ€¦she had sounded great on the phoneâ€¦she was even better in personâ€¦Emily is this semesterâ€™s Clips intern, the 15th weâ€™ve had from Penn State in the past nine yearsâ€¦Emily will be finding articles, summarizing articles and posting articles this semesterâ€¦[Emily photo below]...meantime, I will be vacationing in Italy (really, more on that later)â€¦Clips is only 11 years old, but I have known several of the people at theâ€”hereâ€™s the acronym: PSU JCCSJ, which stands for the Penn State John Curley Center for Sports Journalismâ€”for ten years nowâ€¦they are Clipsâ€™ biggest single subscriber, with 190 students and 20 faculty and staffâ€¦fine dining at Christyâ€™s Tavern (Rolling Rock, pastrami sang, fries)â€¦sleep at the Sleep Innâ€¦
Next morning I boarded a school bus which had been double-tasked as a shuttle to Beaver Stadiumâ€¦Penn Stateâ€™s nickname is the Nittany Lionsâ€¦the Beaver name for the stadium derives from James A. Beaver who was a famous Civil War generalâ€¦
I made my way to the fieldâ€¦the immensity of the stadium (110,000 capacity) is best experienced down on the fieldâ€¦how the padded and helmeted players (and the furry Penn State lion mascot) could take the sweltering 85 degree heat was beyond meâ€¦The game?...Akron was supposed to be a guarantee (read: non threatening) opponent, but they sure didnâ€™t play like itâ€¦Penn State prevailed, but they did not dominateâ€¦aside from the xâ€™s and oâ€™s, I saw that Penn State does not (will not) have a student spectator problemâ€¦there looked to be a good 15k of them (maybe 18k-20k) all together in one of the end zones and making a lot of noiseâ€¦if they come out for a guarantee game just think about the turnout for B1G Ten gamesâ€¦next on the RoadTrip itin was our nationâ€™s capitalâ€¦I eschewed the 3.5 hour interstate driveâ€¦instead took a scenic zigzag route through south central Pennsylvania and dropped down into western Marylandâ€¦Hey Frederickâ€¦ at one point on Rte. 30 in Pennsylvania the road switchbacks up-up-up and finally tops out at Tuscarora Summit (2100â€™)â€¦thatâ€™s where the locally/regionally famous Mountain House Bar & Grill sitsâ€¦there had to be a hundred motorcycles parked there soâ€”of courseâ€”I was compelled to stopâ€¦well, if there were a hundred bikes, then there where at least 150 biker men and women in total (two on a bike for about half of them)â€¦assessing the brand mix of the bikes was easyâ€¦of the hundred there was one Honda Gold Wing 6-cylinder, one Suzuki Victory and 98 Harleysâ€¦unfortunately they were gathered there to pay respects to a fellow biker who had recently passed away...I did not ask how he passedâ€¦after a while I noticed that a few of these leather and denim and metal studs and bandana and tattooed people were starting to look at meâ€¦so I took my leaveâ€¦ran out of driving stamina in Chambersburg, Paâ€¦stumbled upon a fine steak house, watched VT give Ohio State a hard time (and at the Horseshoe yet)â€¦I learned later that VT wonâ€¦stayed at a La Quintaâ€¦photos below
The plan was to be a tourist and visit the Gettysburg National Monument but Clips editing and posting duties kept me busy until late afternoon on Sunday. Civil War touristry will have to wait until next time. I dragged into downtown Washington DC and settled into the St. Gregory Hotel, which is a 2-star hotel masquerading as a 4-star hotelâ€¦
The next morning it was the Ritz Carlton Georgetown (a bona fide 4-star) for the Knight Commission meeting. Aside from being a fine meeting with great presenters and great topics (read Brad Wolvertonâ€™s recap here), the proceedings were held in the very cool Fahrenheit Room, named after the industrial foundry furnace that it once was. The room features 30-foot paned windows for most of the perimeter, set apart by brickwork. Right outside one of the windows is a 50-foot red brick smokestack.
Then it was up-up-up I-95 through Balmer, Delaware and most of the length of the New Jersey Turnpike, back to the MotherShip, after 750 miles of RoadTrip.