Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Road to Happy Valley

This is a story about the road to Happy Valley. For many years, my husband and I have been going to Penn State games. A friend of ours (now dead) introduced us to Penn State football in the late 1970s. We began attending games before Penn State entered the big 10 (really 11). We have gone to most all the home games (excepting a brief hiatus when our daughter was born in October, 1981) and some important away games, including the thrilling Fiesta Bowl in January, 1987 (which capped the winning 1986 season.

This past Saturday, we headed out in the early morning for the noon game against Purdue (for the record, PSU won, and that's the last mention of wins or losses).

We love to drive the "back way" which takes us along the Susquehanna River, heading north on U.S. 15. Appropriately, the route is also called Old Trail Road. Just above Liverpool, PA, we head off on Route 104 winding along a lovely country road, where Amish farmers are out in their buggies on a Saturday morning.

We go through several small towns, including Middleburg.

The morning sky was laced with dramatic sweeping clouds on this autumn day.

We pass little country churches.

Winter provisions rolled up in plastic, under the morning sky.

Neat farm settings. We can tell that many of these farms are Amish by the lack of telephone or electrical wires heading into the farms. Also, there are frequently sturdy draft horses in the fields.

Our first stop is the Penn Stater Inn for breakfast. Sometimes it's for lunch, depending on the game starting time.

The Legends Pub where we eat is deserted this morning--too early for the food and football crowd.

Our season tickets are for four seats, so we bring along family or friends. The only requirement--just don't wear RED!

Penn State football means Joe Paterno--or in shorthand parlance--JoePa. He is an institution at Penn State. The best attribute about Paterno, in my opinion, is his dedication to education first, and football second.

Of course, there are the tailgaters. The crew below (no one we know) bring along their dog who is appropriately garbed in a football sweater. For several Saturdays, we have watched this dog (across from where we park) as the tailgaters toss a football back and forth over the dog's head. Eventually, the dog grabs the football and proceeds to deflate it.

Finally, we have cooler weather--football should be played in cold weather. This Saturday, our seats were frosted over.

Of course, the festivities begin with the Penn State Blue Band.

Somehow, the tradition began that the drum major would run and do a flip--his success supposedly foretells the game's outcome. Not very scientific, but fun.


And there is always the Nittany Lion. Once, when we went to a game with our son, who was a little boy at the time, he spied the Nittany Lion and said--look at the guy in the bear suit.

And here we have a well-dressed fan!

We must get into the stadium to see the warm-up drills.

And then the game begins.

Sometimes we have winning seasons--and sometimes not. True fans stick with their team--no booing. No calling for Paterno to resign, etc. etc. etc.

Then it's time to head home, leaving Happy Valley behind.

My favorite site along the road to Happy Valley is this lovely round barn.

I have noticed that the journey home is much sweeter after a victory!


Anonymous said...

Love all the photos and looks like a very happy valley to me!

Pam said...

Have to admit, I'm not much of a football fan but I absolutely love the pictures of your trip to and from the game. The Amish impress me so much, everything about them. The absence of wires and polls is refreshing and their homes and barns are always so well-kept. I especially like the round barns, inside and out. Lovely countryside, beautifully photographed.

denverdoc said...

Thanks for taking me through the PA countryside with you. Completely unlike anything here.

Anvilcloud said...

That was a very pleasant tour.

JeanMac said...

What a beautiful collection of pictures! I love those blue skies that go n forever.

Beverly said...

I love this post. I'm going to send your link to some Penn State fans with whom I watch the games on Saturdays here in Florida.

Beverly said...

"Your blog on Penn State was sent to me by a friend. It was so interesting as the way you go to State College is the way we went. Just want you to know at the corner of 104 and 35 is--or was a small country restaurant. Not as fancy as the Penn Stater Inn--but some of the best bkfsts we ever ate, Home made scrapple and their home fries are to die for. Stop there sometime. Very quaint--but great food!! The highlight of the trip up. We sure miss that. We moved to Fla in 1981 keeping our tickets for 6 years--but then had to give them up. I remember all the places you pictured. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. We are from Harrisburg."

Donna, this is from my friend Judy in Sarasota. I sit with her and her husband at the televised games here. She apparently tried to leave a comment, bud didn't succeed, so she sent me her comment in an e-mail. I've pasted it here.

RuthieJ said...

What a beautiful day. Thanks for taking us along Donna!

entoto said...

Gorgeous! How long a drive is it? Do you know anything about the round barn? Thank you for sharing this day with us.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is nice to see the American countryside away from the thruway and metropolitan areas.

When you first mentioned Happy Valley, I thought you were on your way to Happy Valley, Newfoundland.
Now that would be a trip for you!

Cathy said...

Donna - You're having a great autumn - football, friends and gorgeous scenery.

I was particularly intrigued with the wonderful barn pix. Is that a flock of migrating birds I see streaming over it?

KGMom said...

Mon@rch--thanks for complimenting the photos; coming from you--a superb photographer--it is a special comment.
Pam--football is my favorite sport, so much more to see for me than other sports.
Femail--I would imagine--the PA countryside certainly is not tropical.
AC--thanks for going along on the tour.
Jean--the sky was particularly gorgeous on that Saturday morning.
Beverly--I thought of you as I wrote about the trip.
Judy--welcome. I don't know the restaurant you are refering to. I will have to see if we can find it.
Ruthie--thanks for going along.
Trixie--football traffic slows the trip down, so it is about a 2 hour drive one way. The round barn seems to be on an Amish farm, but I know nothing else about it at all.
Philip--there's another Happy Valley!?! I think naming the State College area, where Penn State is located, as Happy Valley is sometimes serious, and sometimes sarcastic.

Mary said...

Your tour of PA is where I have been. The Amish farms and scenery is beautiful. The small towns with posted 25 mph speed limits let you see life...

The little terrier who deflates a football is sweet!

I mentioned before that I'm not a football fan but I do enjoy the college games MUCH more than I do NFL.

Your photo views are great, Donna! I know several of my daughters friends who attended Penn State. It's a great school.

Jess Riley said...

What a lovely photo essay! Pennsylvania is truly a gorgeous state.

dguzman said...

How did I miss this post until now? I could write forever on the beauty of our PA countryside, but suffice it to say that the round barn is right down the road from me (I live right on Rte 45)! It's a local landmark, one I've also photographed many times.

Glad you enjoyed your trip, and glad that the football traffic is finally OVER!

Great post!