Earlier in the week, my wife decided she wanted to go up to Woodward, PA for the weekend to see our daughter. It’s been almost a month since we dropped her off there after our Bermuda cruise, and she was missing her quite a bit. I admit I was against it at first, since she’s headed off to college in Florida next month, and being away from her for more than a month at a time was something we all needed to get used to. In the end, I lost the battle, and I admit it was one I was fine with losing. I miss her too 🙂
Camp Woodward is a cheer / gymnastics / action sports camp about 30 minutes outside of State College, PA. She’s been going there for six years now for cheer, first as a camper, then as a junior camper (basically low-level staff who work the cost of camp off), and now as staff. We generally stay on the south end of State College, as it’s an easy drive over from there. This time was no different, as we booked a last minute deal on Hotwire for the Courtyard. There really weren’t many hotel options to choose from, as the town was pretty booked up for some reason (more on that later). The night before we left, we also decided to rent a car for the trip, as we’ve been putting a ton of miles on my wife’s car lately, and I’m getting ready to sell mine, so I didn’t really feel like putting 1200+mi on it right before doing so. Fortunately, Priceline had a pretty good deal on a full size that made it worth the money when comparing fuel costs of that one vs my wife’s Ford Flex. The only downside is that the fairly well loaded Chevy Malibu we ended up with wasn’t nearly as comfortable on a long drive as her Flex. We had the same car for two weeks last summer in SoCal when we were out there touring colleges, and really didn’t find that one comfortable either. Oh well, it saved money, as well as wear and tear on her car.
Friday afternoon, we headed out of Charlotte around 2:30pm. It’s generally an 8-9 hour drive to State College with stops, but thanks to some heavy traffic on I-81N just past Christiansburg, it ended up being around 10 hours. We generally take the same route to Woodward for a couple of reasons. First, my dad lives in New Market, VA, which is about half way there. If something happens, or we get a late start or decide to stop for any other reason, we’ve got a place to stay. The second reason is that Harrisonburg, just south of him, is home to one of our favorite ice cream stops, Kline’s Dairy Bar. My dad wasn’t working Friday, so he met us at the Wolfe St location for a treat. I got vanilla in a pretzel cone, and it was absolutely delicious (I love their pretzel cones)
After finishing that, we moved on. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, and we crashed hard after arriving at the Marriott Courtyard around midnight. The room itself was a standard Courtyard room, and the staff were very helpful and friendly. Not really much to report there 🙂
The next morning around 7:30am, we headed to Woodward to pick up our daughter and her boyfriend (he works there too). As soon as we saw her, I was pretty happy to have lost the battle on whether or not we should have gone, as I hope the picture conveys
After a couple of long hugs, we loaded up in the car and headed for Hershey. In all the times we’ve driven up to Woodward, we’d never stopped to see the sights in Hershey, so we decided to head over there to see what we’d been missing. We wanted to keep the costs down, so we weren’t headed to Hershey Park itself, just to Chocolate World (free admission) and to Zoo America ($11/pp).
We chose to go to Zoo America first while it was still somewhat cool out. The place was pretty cool. It’s not a huge zoo, but a good enough size to keep you occupied for a couple of hours. We walked the loop, and even managed to catch the scheduled 11am feeding of the wolves.
After a couple of hours there, we headed for the car to drive over to our next stop, Hershey’s Chocolate World. As mentioned, you can get in for free (including parking), although they do have different activities inside that they charge for. We stuck with the basics, just doing the free Great American Chocolate Tour ride, and walking around checking the place out. We did buy a couple of things in one of the stores, and even got some milkshakes. The shakes were incredible. Most of us got the dark chocolate peanut butter shake, which was excellent, and incredibly filling.
After a couple of hours there, we hopped in the car and headed over to the Museum on Chocolate Avenue for a quick bite of lunch at Café Zooka before heading back to State College.
After the long drive back to State College, we decided to relax a bit at the hotel. The kids didn’t have to be back at camp until later in the evening, so we still had plenty of time to do other stuff. After resting for a bit, we decided to head down the street to the People’s Choice Festival, situated near the Pennsylvania Military Museum. This was one of two arts festivals going on this past weekend, as Arts Fest was also going on in the downtown area. These were the reason for the hotel shortage in the area apparently :). The People’s Choice Festival was closer to the hotel, so we walked around that for a while. Cool stuff, plenty of homemade art and other items to buy, along with some traditional carnival food options. We had dinner plans, so we avoided the food, but enjoyed the walk through the festival nonetheless.
After we finished up there, we finally headed to dinner. We already had a place in mind, somewhere we stop every time we’re in State College, Hi Way Pizza. They offer an excellent flaky crust pizza that the wife and I really enjoy. We’ve tried some of the other popular pizza places in town, but always end up back here :).
After a delicious dinner, we had one last stop on the schedule, Berkey Creamery on the Penn State campus. This is another staple for us in State College, as they make some really good ice cream. As usual, the line was out the door, but they do a good job of getting people through quickly with the way you order and pay. We definitely recommend stopping here if you’re in the area for any reason.
Our ice cream gone, it was time to drop the kids back at camp and head back to the hotel for some sleep. They both had to be up early to greet incoming campers, so they needed their beauty sleep as much as we needed to rest before the long drive home. Before we headed out of town Sunday morning, we picked up a dozen donuts for her group and drove to Woodward on the way home. Well, it’s not exactly on the way home, but gave us one last chance to see her 🙂
Once we said our goodbyes, the wife and I headed home. The drive back was pretty uneventful, and we managed to do it in less than 9 hours, stopping only for lunch. For now it’s back to reality, but we’ll be doing that drive again in two weeks when we go up to get her and bring her home. Yea, it was a lot of driving to only see her one day, but in the end it was well worth it. I love hanging out with her, and as mentioned, will miss her immensely when she’s away at school, so I relish any time we get to spend with her before then. Considering she’ll only be home from Woodward for 10 days before we have to take her to Florida, there’s not much time left. We definitely appreciate the staff at Woodward giving her the day off to spend with us 🙂