We never got to visit Penn State during the vetting process Isaiah went through. In fact, of all the colleges he visited, we only were able to go with him to UConn because it was within driving distance. Penn State certainly was out of the question. A 10 hour drive. They flew him in and put on a show to entice this rising star to choose to be a Nittany Lion.
We had our plans finalized a month ago for our trip to bring Isaiah to school. Hotel booked, days off scheduled and ready to go. Then we find out Isaiah has to be there the day before if he wants to participate in preseason workouts. He flew out Tuesday and it worked out just fine. Where he would have sat in the back seat of Grampsie’s car was now clear (thank you Ron Hecker for letting us use your comfy Camry) Ann was then able to put her seat back and “relax” while I drove. I don’t mind, especially getting to go and see new places. I had never been to Pennsylvaina. I was thouroughly impressed with the landscape. Driving through the mountains, some blanketed with fog, it was impressive. Cornfields as far as the eye can see, and postcard farms. Giant warehouse and manufacturing buildings…..and lots of trucks. Tractor trailers every other vehicle at times. Getting boxed in on some of the narrow roads kept me from falling asleep toward the end of the drive.
I could gush on about the beautiful campus and regale you with more stories, but I want to share some of the photos I took with my phone. Didn’t bring a real camera. And we only got to see a fraction of the campus with the tight schedule we had with workshops and presentations. I can’t wait to come back for a football game and track meet in the future so we have time to explore.
It was overcast when we arrived late Wednesday afternoon. By the time we unpacked what we brought, went to Bed Bath and Beyond, then Wal-Mart, we were starving and Applebee’s was just around the corner. We all nearly fell asleep in the booth. We dropped off I at his room and set out for Lewistown. With a W. Half hour away was Lewistown, PA. The only place we could find under $150 a night. It was such a cool ride through the steep gorges and valley’s, it was enjoyable. The hotel….not so much.
We arrived on campus bright and early Thursday for a full day of orientation with Isaiah. A downpour soaked us as we had to park by the football stadium and walk. We had gear, much more than lots of other parents we walked with who only had their folders over their heads. It cleared up by mid afternoon and by the time our last lecture was finished late afternoon, it was beautiful. Isaiah had a full schedule of activities with his new incoming class of 6,000, so Ann and I were free. We spied a cool Irish Pub on our drive in and had a pint or two after walking around the campus a little more.
On the way back, we drove past the military museum and walked around a bit, but we had our fill of walking and hopped in the car and went back to our flea bag motel….it was not Super like it’s name.
Friday morning we met at the Hub. A giganitc morphing of lecture halls, galleries, food court, bookstore and more that was the epicenter of all our activities during the orientation. Isaiah was doing all this, plus working out and going on insane long runs with the track team…..all after coming down with strep the week before arriving. He was such a trooper, always has been, but a little more quiet than usual.
In the afternoon, we finished up our parents workshops while Isaiah met with advisors and chose his classes. We met up with him at the famous ice cream stand, but the line was a mile long, so we put that on the list of things to do next visit. We headed over to the spaceship like basketball stadium. The sports financial scholarship funding guy….forgot his name and title…..kicked myself for not writing it down……walked us through the specifics of what he was getting and when and gave us some sage advice. He was impressed with the “package” Isaiah got. So are we. After all, Isaiah IS a special guy.
Walking out of there, sun shining on Nittnay Mountain, perfect temperature, Ann finally satisfied that everything was in place and Isaiah was taken care of…….it hit. This was it. I could see the tears welling in Ann’s eyes and I too was losing it. I pulled myself together and seeing nobody was around, said goodbye to the boy we helped turn into a man. Not our son by blood, but as much a part of our family as Ryan, Kevin an Chris. We will miss you Isaiah Wayne Harris.