Big 10 Country – Part 1

Pennsylvania

As we made our way down Park Ave, there she was in all her glory. Beaver Stadium. The Beav. It made me long for fall days of past where the grass lots were filled with vehicles and people in anticipation of the day’s football game. Alas, amidst the current social climate, the lots were empty. And, of course, it was a Tuesday, but you get the point.

We made our way to State College to spend an evening with my brother Jack and his girlfriend Lydia before really, officially, starting our journey living in the RAV. For those of you who have not met him, Jack is a strikingly handsome fellow, so it’s obvious what Lydia sees in him.

Thanks to Zac and Olivia from Birds of Passage for this and dozens of other fantastic wedding photos | http://www.BirdsOfPassageco.com

The two of them live in a great house just north of the Penn State campus tucked in one of the many small State College neighborhoods. Frankly, Emily and I were jealous with their accommodations as we recalled the various group houses and apartments we’d inhabited during our time on campus (note: separately; we met in DC). I suppose you can treat yourself to nicer accommodations when living in State College post graduation. Jack and Lydia also have two cats that, as cats go, are pretty great.

After a quick tour of their new place, we spent some time catching up and had a great evening eating pizza and stromboli, watching the Flyer’s grab an OT winner, and sitting around their new fire pit. Proud of both of these two for all of their hard work and ambition and can’t wait to see what’s next.

The next morning Emily and I stopped downtown to grab a few new PSU sweatshirts and McLanahan’s subs. We couldn’t head into Ohio and Michigan without properly representing our university, could we? New gear in hand, we rounded out our trip with a stop at the world famous (well maybe not, but it’s fantastic) Berkey Creamery. This was supposed to be our “lunch” but we soon discovered that scoops were not an option due to the pandemic, so we were forced to get personal pints.

While not quite 1 year to the day, this stop also served as a wedding anniversary of sorts. At our wedding we each enjoyed a healthy portion of Bittersweet Mint and Death by Chocolate ice cream from this very same creamery instead of a cake, and tradition insisted that we share some of that wedding dessert a year following our vows. Bellies full, our time time to really get on the road was upon us. Next stop – Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Ohio

The drive from State College to Cuyahoga was relatively uneventful and we arrived in the early afternoon for a quick hike before parking for the night. We did a loop around the Stanford House to Brandywine Falls trail, which started next to this super cool old barn.

An easy hike in terms of terrain and elevation, we wound our way through the woods until the path opened up to a 60 ft tall waterfall, which made for some great photos. We snapped a few for posterity’s sake and returned to the car as the evening settled in around us.

We arrived at our campground a bit later than anticipated. Nothing fancy about this stop but it offered clean bathrooms, water, and showers (which had surprisingly great hot water and water pressure) which is all we could ask for to end a long day. One of our neighbors generously offered us a mason jar of his homemade apple pie moonshine, which we politely declined, and then later regretted. Next time, we’ll say yes.

This was our first night sleeping in the RAV and honestly it went pretty well. Our platform transformation from ‘drive’ to ‘sleep’ was seamless and the camping stove we brought worked perfectly to prepare our delicious meal of sausage, peppers, and onions. After dinner we cleaned up camp and settled in for the night.

The next morning we packed up to continue driving west and north. With Pennsylvania and Ohio behind us, our tour of Big 10 country continues in Michigan in the coming days, which we’re tracking on this map. Until next time…

– Mike

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