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ClipsRoadTrip: MotherShip to Penn State to Washington and back

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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 we’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 semester’s Clips internship and dropping in at the athletic department); a stopover at the Gettysburg Civil War Historical Park; and another drive to our nation’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 was—and always is—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, here’s a quick re-cap of the Penn State visit…met with Emily Sonni, a junior majoring in advertising…she had sounded great on the phone…she was even better in person…Emily is this semester’s Clips intern, the 15th we’ve had from Penn State in the past nine years…Emily will be finding articles, summarizing articles and posting articles this semester…[Emily photo below]...meantime, I will be vacationing in Italy (really, more on that later)…Clips is only 11 years old, but I have known several of the people at the—here’s the acronym: PSU JCCSJ, which stands for the Penn State John Curley Center for Sports Journalism—for ten years now…they are Clips’ biggest single subscriber, with 190 students and 20 faculty and staff…fine dining at Christy’s Tavern (Rolling Rock, pastrami sang, fries)…sleep at the Sleep Inn… 

Next morning I boarded a school bus which had been double-tasked as a shuttle to Beaver Stadium…Penn State’s nickname is the Nittany Lions…the Beaver name for the stadium derives from James A. Beaver who was a famous Civil War general…

I made my way to the field…the immensity of the stadium (110,000 capacity) is best experienced down on the field…how the padded and helmeted players (and the furry Penn State lion mascot) could take the sweltering 85 degree heat was beyond me…The game?...Akron was supposed to be a guarantee (read: non threatening) opponent, but they sure didn’t play like it…Penn State prevailed, but they did not dominate…aside from the x’s and o’s, I saw that Penn State does not (will not) have a student spectator problem…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 noise…if they come out for a guarantee game just think about the turnout for B1G Ten games…next on the RoadTrip itin was our nation’s capital…I eschewed the  3.5 hour interstate drive…instead took a scenic zigzag route through south central Pennsylvania and dropped down into western Maryland…Hey Frederick… at one point on Rte. 30 in Pennsylvania the road switchbacks up-up-up and finally tops out at Tuscarora Summit (2100’)…that’s where the  locally/regionally famous Mountain House Bar & Grill sits…there had to be a hundred motorcycles parked there so—of course—I was compelled to stop…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)…assessing the brand mix of the bikes was easy…of the hundred there was one Honda Gold Wing 6-cylinder, one Suzuki Victory and 98 Harleys…unfortunately they were gathered there to pay respects to a fellow biker who had recently passed away...I did not ask how he passed…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 me…so I took my leave…ran out of driving stamina in Chambersburg, Pa…stumbled upon a fine steak house, watched VT give Ohio State a hard time (and at the Horseshoe yet)…I learned later that VT won…stayed at a La Quinta…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 hotel…

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 Wolverton’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.  

Welcome home.

This ClipsRoadTrip masterpiece was written in a semi-stupor deriving from after effects of solo driving on a congealed I-95, contra-indicated by a Diet Pepsi overdose, Wise potato chips and blaring In-a-gadda-da-vida-bay-bee 55 times consecutively all the way from Baltimore to the Rutgers exit off I-287.

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