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Trip Report Big 10 Quest #3 - Penn State

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Big 10 Quest #3 – Penn State – March 26-27, 2012
12 campuses – 12 months - 2012

Monday – March 26 – Columbus to State College PA, Penn State

Our Penn State visit was slipped en route a trip to New York City for spring break.

We arrived at the Sleep Inn at about 4 PM. Our room was small, but attractive, clean, and fresh. We checked in, asked for directions to campus, and headed back out. Our first stop was the visitor center near the stadium where we picked up a map of a walking tour. The clerk told us that we could park in a garage for $1 per hour or at the arboretum for free. She said that the arboretum lot is marked no parking, but it isn’t policed. The signs are just to discourage students.

The weather was chilly and windy. Our next stop was the Creamery (Curtin Road & Bigler Road, 814-865-7535) which features ice cream made on campus. We both ordered Death by Chocolate. The cost was $3 and the serving was generous. In fact, my husband didn’t finish his. Unfortunately, I finished both. The ice cream was so good that post-vacation, I've been lusting for it, wishing that Penn State wasn't so far away.

After the ice cream, we continued the walking tour. I was surprised to see that most of the buildings in the area seemed to be newer – probably built within the last 50 years. We found the union and discovered an art gallery. Most cool, possibly, was the set of Big 10 flags hanging in the entrance. It was the first reference to all the schools that we’ve seen in our Big 10 quest.

Next to the union (the HUB) was Old Main. This building looked, well, old, and had a large grassy area surrounding it. It was the site of TV coverage of Penn State’s recent scandal and looks more like what I think of as established university buildings. We walked along the side so that we could take photos from the “front.” The front abutted a campustown area and we saw The Diner, the other recommended site on our Fodor list. We took photos and then headed towards the Nittany Lion. Maps divided the campus into sections. The "central campus" that we'd seen earlier had the newer buildings. This area seemed to be an older section of campus.

After taking a couple of photos of the lion, we endured a cold and windy walk back to the car. We took photos of the scoreboard of the PENN STATE stadium, a rather dull, utilitarian, venue.

Next step was to go to the Diner (126 W. College Ave., 814-238-5590) to get a sticky buns. On the way, we walked past the Corner Room restaurant. It featured Monday all-you-can eat pasta with a soup or salad and a breadstick for $6.95. The tables all had drippy candles and it looked very pleasant. Unfortunately, the Diner was closing when we got there. Fortunately, we went to Plan B which was to walk back to the Corner Room for pasta night. The restaurant had been there since the 20’s. I pondered that there is really nothing of the sort on the U of I campus. The meal was good and the décor included dark booths with hat pegs on the ends. The Diner will have to wait until tomorrow. We stopped in the CVS between the two for snacks. The cashier chatted that the reduced hours of the Diner was a sign of the economy and the competition of the nearby Dunkin' Donuts.

Back to the hotel to rest up, check email, and write up notes.

Tuesday – March 27 – Penn State to NYC

On the road, we stopped at The Diner to get the recommended sticky buns. I could have gotten a to-go box for $7 or $8, but instead got an individual one for $3. It was warm and yummy – but a bit much after the morning bagel and orange juice. We stopped at the visitors’ center on the way out of town and my husband commented that he recognized all the places that the worker was sharing with another guest.

From Penn State, we were on our way to New York City.

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