Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Philly - PSU Trip

Representin' Philly on the 28th of June, I'm
representin' Philly on the 28th of June...

Ahhh, it's good to be back home. New laptop, so I'm actually posting my first ever blogger with a Mothership Wit in hand; the Roots on the IPod pumping through the surround sound. Dog wanting to play fetch after a costly five days at Doggie Day Camp.

The grim reality I arrived at in this CarFree experiment in Dallas immediately before and after my trip is that while I've managed thus far in my normal weekly activities sans Auto, any kind of special trips is quite a pain. While I've (gladly) regulated my radius of existence to downtown and uptown, I've been able to do just fine on my own getting to NorthPark mall, Best Buy, Golf Galaxy, both airports via taxi, and several other shopping destinations not achievable via internet.

The only trouble until now has been going to friends places, particularly the married ones that have since moved out of the downtown/uptown yuppy-sphere and golfing -- although our company golf tourney upcoming might just be possible, to be continued.

In this case, taking the dog to boarding and picking her up. I can't exactly hop on the train with her (if only b/c the DART doesn't go to East Lake Veterinary Clinic). So while I've been taking the mutt to the Cadillac of vets since day 1, I'm opening up options to a closer place to take her. I'll take any suggestions anybody might have...

The first stop was Philly to meet up with two fools who will be down here in a month for my 30th bday. This is a pic off the ol' camera phone (notice the quality) of the street immediately in front of one friend's place in the New Market area at 2nd and Kenilworth, sort of stuck in the nexus of South Street, the (not really) waterfront, Old City, and Society Hill.

As you'll see in the picture, there are extremely narrow streets and the historic urban form has essentially been in tact, many of the buildings have been replaced or under on-going maintenance. And sometimes the camera catches a Leprechaun as well...



I think my favorite things about being in Philly are the scale, obviously of some of the older neighborhoods, the diversity of even the nicest neighborhoods, and relatedly, the completeness of the neighborhoods. While mostly being of 2 to 4-story heighths, the area has enough density for small neighborhood restaurants (third places) and service retail (to meet every day needs) on virtually every street corner.

Unfortunately, this area isn't well served by the Philly rail system, you've got everything you need here. My buddy, while in no way committed to a car-free lifestyle to prove any kind of point, self-righteousness, or moral superiority, he's contemplating a similar move simply for economic and practical reasons. It's a pain to find parking (always a sign of a place "in demand") and yes, your car might get broken into, as the hole in his dash suggests.






After the troops were gathered it was off to never sunny State College, PA, home of the Pennsylvania State University and each of our alma maters. State College is so named because Penn State was a Land Grant school and the school was hence established before the town. In fact, the county seat is even in a place called Bellefonte. As you see in the picture below, while the town is only about 25,000 people, the university has grown to over 40,000 undergrad students on the main campus alone, making it a dense little city in the midst of the rolling Appalachians, the nearest city being Harrisburg about 90 miles away.



The picture below shows the intersection of College and Allen Streets standing at the University Gates. College Ave is the seam forming a true "Town & Gown" environment and the hub of activity.





Crossing the street you see the restaurants Corner Room and Allen Street Grill above. If you find a historic shot of State College, it will almost always be of this building.
Once on campus, it was striking how much has changed in the six years since my graduation. While the school was seemingly a constant work in progress with construction fences everywhere during my matriculation, it seems as though they've gotten the square-mile area bounded by Atherton, College, Park, and University just about finished and the endless wave of construction has moved beyond these boundaries to the fringes of what now makes up an even larger campus (one that used to take me a half-hour to get to my morning bio labs freshman year from East Halls to cross campus).
But such things haven't changed such as...Old Main



Pattee Mall and Library


The American Elms...
But, when I was in school, this was still a street and one of the more snarled North-South axes through campus, to the point where it was often quicker to walk than to drive. Now? You can't drive as part of the effort to remove cars from the campus almost entirely.

And, in front of the HUB.


Standing close to the geographic center of campus, if you follow these walking students far enough to the West you come to the view below.

Another, not quite new, but since I graduated construction is the IST (Information Sciences and Technology) building which literally bridges (for pedestrians) Atherton Street, the Western boundary of traditional campus; uniting it with the new engineering campus and graduate housing.
Atherton, bridged by the IST building.


Now to the fun stuff...
Our first stop, as always... the Darkhorse for the best wings on the planet called pazzos and their specialty drink called a Tonto's Demise. Trust me, don't drink more than two.

Well, I guess I might have had more than two, because I have no visual record of the rest of Thursday night. By Friday, we were at Cafe 210 West, but not quite in time to get the choice real estate on the outside patio on College Ave in front of all the passersby.

Hmmm...not sure what happened to the rest of Friday after that point either. So on to the Saturday tailgate before the Oregon State game.


And the view from our seats, luckily covered in the Mezzanine level of the South Deck sparing us from the remnants of the hurricane. Oregon State fans had a good showing...all were nice and therefore I shared many a beer with them on the traverse through the miles of tailgates afterwards.



Student section, bored by the 45-14 outcome got a reverse wave going...


But, this is how I remember my experience while in school...when people tell you that the walk to school was uphill both ways through the snow, it's only true in one place on Earth, State College. The other strange phenomenon? Wind (and thus rain, sleet, and snow) was ALWAYS into your face no matter which direction you attempted to walk.
I'll save all of my future visits to between May and September.