Friday, January 31, 2014

50 States: Pennsylvania - ...And Alabama In The Middle

Pennsylvania is a big state and the parts between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are largely rural.  Some if it is farmland, including vast swaths of Amish Country, but a lot is woodlands and wilderness.

Once on a whim we decided to take a weekend getaway to north central Pennsylvania. On the way we went through State College, the unimaginatively named home of Penn State. I've worked with a lot of Penn State alumni and everywhere they have tchotkes with the Nittany Lion symbol on it. Alumni and fans come from miles around to pose their families in front of it.


The big draw for me was the Creamery, the campus ice cream parlor which sells flavors made on campus. This is the school which Ben and Jerry took a correspondence course from. The Creamery is huge and was especially crowded as this was the day of the annual Spring intramural scrimmage. That is how serious Penn State fans are, they fill the stadium for a scrimmage.


From there we headed up to Wellsboro, a sleepy small town with a couple of cute bed and breakfasts and shops.


Pine Creek Gorge bills itself as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania which is hyperbolic even by the standards of civic pride. Not that it isn't picturesque, it just isn't quite all that grand.


The valley has a wonderful bicycle trail that goes through it over bridges and past great fishing spots.



After I was bike riding we decided to take the scenic route home only our GPS took us to a road that was underwater. Rather than plow through the rapid stream, we turned around and took a 20 minute detour, not that other drivers weren't more daring.


Native Pennsylvanians sometimes take umbrage when I call their fair state Pennsyltucky but I always use as my defense the existence of rednecks as banjo-theme-songed as anything out of Deliverance.


And when you are north of the Mason Dixon line and feel the need to fly the Confederate battle flag on you canoe, it's not your Southern Heritage you are celebrating. But that takes nothing away from the natural beauty and kind people in that vast swath of land between Paoli and Penn Hills. For after all, it was above a field in central Pennsylvania that a group of Americans thwarted part of the biggest terrorist attack on America in history.



And that is something all Americans can be proud of.

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