Huntingdon Travel Blog› entry 6 of 16 › view all entries
Miles Traveled: 424
Roads Traveled: SR-99S, US-20S, I-80E, I-70E, SR-970E, Detoured onto SR-208, SR-53S, SR-350E, SR_453S, US-22E
Time on the Road: 7.5 hours
Tanks of Gas: 1.5
StatesCrossed: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania C
CD’s Listened to: Carrie’s New School House Rock, Paul “The sexiest science teacher ever” Repasy’s . Chicks That Rock, Too Short, The Album 2001 and Dave Matthews Band
Thank god I have a tendency to talk to random people. I unintentionally made friends with a truck driver during a brief stop at a Love’s Truck stop. While in the process of purchasing a cup of crap-tastic coffee on US-70 I accidentally knocked over the creamer and it landed on a burly looking guy clad in a red-checked plaid flannel jacket. I apologized, made a few self-deprecating jokes and he just laughed. I cleaned up my mess and he then informed me of a nasty traffic jam from the exit I was at on US-70 that had the freeway locked up like the parking lot of a mall on Christmas Eve. Jeff the trucker went on to tell me how to avoid a three-hour traffic snafu by driving on SR-208. “Just follow the other semi’s” he says with a smirk. I was a bit leary at first. Was Jeff just paying me back for the creamer incident or was he actually trying to help? I followed my instincts and took his suggestion. I avoided a 20-mile backup thanks to his directions. Thanks Jeff and really, I am sorry about the ½ & ½ on your Dickies!
When pulling off the glorious William Penn Highway (US-22) into the city limits of Huntingdon I was stunned by the sight before me. I saw a quaint downtown consisting of local merchants, quaint country stores, pubs, cafés, antique stores and oddly enough, barbed wire and concrete blocks as far as the eye could see. Turns out that this serene picturesque little country town is also home to not one, but three state penitentiaries of the maximum security variety. I came to find out that the population of the town was less than that of one of the prisons. To be totally honest that fact frightened me a wee bit.
Other than the prison situation, the town is quaint. The quirkiest thing was the amount of newspapers that were available at the Sheetz gas station. Geographically, Huntingdon is at the base of a mountain and is smack dab in the center of the state. So, not only did they have three regional papers, but the following were also delivered daily:
Altoona Mirror, Center Daily Times, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Philadelphia Gazetteer, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post & New York Times. Needless to mention that I was in crossword puzzle heaven. Again, the amusement came from the stories that made the local papers. Here is a sampling of what you may have missed in the big city and was considered newsworthy in Huntingdon:
1. No Hugging of any type allowed in suburban Chicago Middle School.
2. Guns are allowed to be stored in your vehicle, but not in your dorm on campus.
3. Abby Van Buren backs gay marriage.
4. Big Creek Diner ends “naked lunch” promotion (gist was that if you skinny-dipped in the creek pre-or-post dinning your lunch was free.)
5. Penn State Football players start a riot over food service in student union.
6. Little League Umpire convicted of being a dealing drugs to 10-year-olds on team!
7. Man attempted to use a One Million Dollar Bill to pay for cigarettes at a gas station.
The Campus Experience
The campus and the student body are extremely bohemian and pretty groovy. It reminded me of Bennington in Vermont…C’mon Mom, I know you remember that fateful afternoon where a kilt-clad hippy-male showed us around the campus, the students painted smiley faces on all of the crab-apples on campus and I was invited to a Wizard of Oz-esque party themed, “Come out, come out…WHOM-ever you are!” Okay, so it isn’t that bohemian, but it is damn close.
Bohemian Exhibit A: “It’s the culture we live in. There is just more acceptance in this town of underage drinking than marijuana usage. If we suspended or expelled the students that drink underage we would be kicking out over 250 students every semester.” ~ Dean of Students when asked why the zero tolerance policy was not enforced for drinking and why students that were caught smoking marijuana on campus were subject to a case-by-case evaluation and punishment.
Bohemian Exhibit B: Half of the campus males dressed like beatniks or Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.
Bohemian Exhibit C: I arrived on a very special day in Huntingdon. It was “Mountain Day.” Here is the gist: On an unannounced day during fall term all classes are cancelled by the Dean of Students and the entire student, faculty and staff population head up to the local state park to enjoy an afternoon of hippy-lympics and vegan option barbeque.
Bohemian Exhibit D: After a frightening event that involved a student nearly choking to death on snack food in the dorm the Director of Residence Life decided that all of the Resident Advisors needed to be CPR certified. They held the class on campus and every Resident Advisor that came to the certification course received a T-shirt that said, “Dying Sucks. So, RA’s Blow.”