Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Michigan trip Part 2: The Voyage Home.

To see the beginning of this saga, click HERE.

We drove south through Michigan on the main road, heading toward Toledo, Ohio.

Unfortunately finding some road construction on the main road, we turned off to try to bypass it.

We drove through Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of some small school. The traffic was horrendous! It was gridlocked! I don't know why.

However, I managed to take some blurry pictures of some of the Greek houses.

The Poor Boulder covered with generations of Paint

Theta Xi fraternity

In any case, we finally pulled through it.  We grabbed some food, and then went back on the road, this time with my car in the lead.  We drove for a bit until we reached a service plaza, at which time we stopped to look at the maps. We agreed upon where we would stop for the night.
It was an extremely small town called Norwalk, Ohio. It may as well be named Nowhere. In any case, we bedded down for the night at a Days Inn, after getting a six pack of apple cider.  I didn't even finish one before I was out like a light.

Still following me!

We woke early and got on the road.  Our destination for the day: State College.

We arrived in State College in the rain. We would have been there an hour earlier if I had actually gone the right way. I came off I-80 a little soon; onto 322 maybe more than an hour before I should have. That meant we went through a bunch of very small Northwest Pennsylvania towns that I've never heard of.  It was a depressing experience, actually, to see these tiny towns in the rain, and I was wondering if these people here are as bored as I was going through through my childhood in such a small town. In any case, we eventually made it to State College, checked into the Days Inn, and immediately took a nap we were both very tired.

We decided to go take a look at the campus in the rain. It was a bit chilly, and neither has us had warm clothes, so one of the our first stops was to get something heavier. We stopped at Lions Pride and picked up a couple things, but one didn't fit Linda, so we stopped at Family Clothesline and sorted that out in a hurry.

Having dressed properly, umbrellas in hand we walked across campus. I pointed out such sights as Old Main, and some of the class buildings, etc, eventually ending up at the Nittany Lion shrine. As it was raining, no one was there, so we took several pictures.

With an Old Friend

She has been assimilated

Eventually, we made it was back to the room, where we both touched up our makeup, got changed, and went to dinner.  The dinner process was three phases: first we went to Mad Mex, which was in the hotel, to get Linda a Margarita. While we were there, we encountered a bachelorette party. I bought a shot of tequila for the bride.

From there we went to the Tavern, one of the oldest to Penn State restaurants and one of the fancier ones.  It also was empty, as it is inter-session, when there are very few students on campus.  For the most part we had a very nice dinner, and then decided to walk over to another place: the Allen room.

At the Tavern, having their signature drink: an Original Sin

The Allen room has always been a fancier (higher priced) place, and the few times I've been in it it's been full of alumni and a bunch of sorority girls hitting them; looking for sugar daddies.  However, this time however it was fairly empty.  The bartender was in his early thirties.  I asked them if they still rented out board games like that used to.  People used to sit on the balcony and play and have drinks.  They don't do that anymore, and they haven't for quite some time.

Sorry George, I can't crush you in Chess there any more!

In any case we had a drink there and went back to the hotel room.  I was wearing four-inch heels, which was a big mistake.  By the time we got back to the hotel room, my legs were killing me!  I had often seen women wear 6-inch platforms to fraternity parties, and wear them all night, and I still have no idea how they did it.

The next morning it was a little difficult to wake up.  We'd been on the road for days, and I was quite tired.  However, we did eventually, got ready, and went to the Waffle Shop for breakfast.

Yes, she ate it ALL

The Waffle Shop is a Penn State tradition, going back long before I started there.  We had a very nice breakfast. We didn't even have to wait in line, because, yet again no students means no lines. We then walked over to the Lions Pride to return the shirt that was too small, and drove up to the Lion Shrine. As always on a Sunday, there was a line of people wanting to take pictures.  We had a couple pictures taken, and then I decided we would make a video, but as we couldn't do it at the Lion itself, as there was a line. We made it near by.

After doing that we went to the Creamery. The Creamery: Penn State College of Agriculture, an incredible ice cream shop! It's world famous, and for good reason- the ice cream is Amazing.  So we both got a cone, went back to the car, and headed back to the hotel to load up. Linda picked up the truck, and we began the long trip; three hours back to Phoenixville and the apartment.

At the Creamery

For Linda, this was her first real time at Penn State. For me, it was the zillionth.  However, It seems that every time I go to Penn State, I see things that have changed, and in many ways the Penn State I attended doesn't exist anymore.  Oh sure, there are still landmarks like Old Main, the Lion Shrine, and some of the old bars are still there, but the changes are beginning to outnumber what Still Remains. For example, we were able to get into my fraternity house because a couple of the brothers were there, and I should Linda around. The Fraternity brother, who's the former president who just graduated, joined us on this little Expedition, and as I explained where things have changed. One of the things was that we used to go through 30 kegs a night at our parties. They can't do that anymore; in fact the tap system was removed decades ago. Phi Kappa Sigma is now a dry house. For that matter, Penn State doesn't allow kegs at parties anymore. I guess it's a liability thing, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing.

Times change- sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

One thing the brothers did do was install a bunch of Lights downstairs in the party room, and also a stripper pole.  They made it into a little nightclub, and apparently the sororities love it. At least that's what the brother told me. I have mixed feelings about a stripper pole in the basement. I understand why the guys would like it, but I wonder it how the sororities look at it. Sure, some of them will get all drunk and want to dance on the pole, but how about those women who have some respect for themselves?  What will they think of it and what will they think of the guys in that fraternity for having that pole?

Linda Couldn't resist

In any case, it's not up to me anymore. It's their house (well technically it's my house as I'm an alumni), but you get the idea. Penn State has become almost like an Amber insect in some ways: it's trapped in time, or maybe that's just me. Some things when I see them take me back those 30 years, and say "this is what I saw.  This is what I experienced.   These are the streets I walked."  But with all the changes... so many things are different.  Still, it's comforting sometimes to go back.

Even the road to Penn State is different. 322 heading east from State College to Harrisburg is a very different Road from when I was taking it all those years ago. They've done a lot of construction to widen the road alleviating traffic going up and down to Penn State.  That widening has changed the lives of all those people along the road.  It changed because of Penn State, and probably because of the football program.

I guess that's the power of money.

I am nearly 50 years old, and I've passed the midlife point of my life. Penn State will go on long after I'm gone; after I'm not even a memory anymore. I'll be part of a tradition, that's true, but how many of the students can I name from 1910, for example? I simply can't. Things are so different.

I keep reflecting upon what I saw it Kent State a few days ago. How the National Guard opened fire on unarmed students. I just can't get past that.  I mean, of course I KNEW about it, but BEING there... it made all the more real.

May 4 Museum, Kent State University

What if that had happened at my school during my time? What would I have done?  I probably would've charged, hoping to either stop them or Die.  Yes, being Trans hurts THAT bad.

(There was a sniper at PSU in 1996, but that's a far cry from having trained National Guardsmen firing from high ground.)

I've been back a week now.  I'm still tired.  I still think about all I saw on the trip.  Linda is now here in PA completely.  She's been going through the boxes; sorting things out.

It's amazing what we collect in life.  I have a storage site full of books and games.  I have a head full of memories.

In the Doorway of the Fraternity House

I've been a bit down since returning.  Fighting the Darkness again.  Long story, there, but not part of this one.

Be Well

1 comment:

  1. You captured the essence of the trip back quite well.