Monday, September 12, 2011

Penn State Weekend

O....M.....G! WHAT A WEEKEND we just had. I am exhausted even just thinking about it! (I am saying that with a happy smile on my face and in a slightly higher octave than my normal voice). I need to warn you that this is probably going to be a super long post with lots of pics. Get ready for the long haul, because there are lots of neat things to be told!!
First of all, Forrest finished his boards last week! HOORAY!!! That hooray is of course for him but also for me too! When Forrest has to study I am on my own a lot--not actually alone, but I mean, I don't sit there and stare at him while he studies. I read like 3 books, watched movies, cleaned things I don't usually cleaned, and made lots of phone calls while he was busy. When he got un-busy on Wednesday, it was almost weird to get back to our normal week day routine. We ate dinner, walked, watched tv--all together, just like we usually do. It was nice to have him minus the stress! Hooray indeed!!!
Because he had been so busy studying, I was so glad that we had a fun weekend planned after his test---a trip to Pennsylvania with our gameday pals Justin and Farrah to see Bama play Penn State (yes, we have been to PA twice this year--it is a great state!). We went back and forth about going to the game for a long time but eventually it all just fell into place and we jumped at the opportunity. I mean, what a tradition-filled game!! We left late on Friday and flew into Pittsburgh. I had made sure that we all wore "Bama" gear on the plane so we could "represent". While waiting in the airport I spotted Mark Schlabaugh, a sportswriter and a regular on Talkin Football. Forrest says I can always pick out the "celebrities"--and I guess he is right. I was too chicken to talk to him but he was on our flight so I guess he was covering the game. I thought that was going to be the big highlight of the weekend, but boy, was I wrong!!!
Once we got to the airport we picked up our car--a CRIMSON Camry! We totally lucked out! Like any good fan, I had packed our gameday car magnet and flag so we were totally set!

We were staying outside of Pittsburgh but we did get to drive through it, and it looked pretty cool, especially Heinz stadium and the Pirates Stadium (I don't remember the name of that one--but there was a baseball game going on--does that earn me some points back?) After checking into our hotel we ate at our favorite game weekend chain restaurant, Outback. (We have now eaten at an Outback together in 6 states. I'm pretty sure we deserve some coupons or a discount by now.) We were seated next to another table of Bama fans and we did a couple of "Roll Tides" to make sure everyone in the restaurant knew we were there. It was so much fun!

After a delicious Chick-fil-a breakfast on Saturday, we drove the hour and a half to State College for the game. It was foggy and dreary the whole way there and I was not expecting great weather for the game. MUCH to our surprise, it was sunshiny and HOT! I'm not complaining, though!! State College is definitely different than Tuscaloosa. Everyone parks in fields (yes, fields, like grass and mud) around the stadium. Has anyone seen and space whatsoever around Bryant Denny Stadium? Nope. Didn't think so. That land would go for MILLIONS in Ttown!! It was just so different to see cars parked right up at the stadium steps, as well as horses and barns right next to it! I'm not saying it was bad or unimpressive or anything, it was just different. That is one reason I love taking these trips---to see how other people do their football!

This is right outside of the stadium!
It was also impressive that their fans were so nice. I mean ridiculously nice. They passed us and would shout "Roll Tide! Welcome to PA!". I mean, like everyone we passed (we had 1 girl say something ugly, but compared to every other SEC school we have been too, that was nothing). We never felt apprehensive or on the defensive--just welcomed! Way to go for that, Penn State!

It really was the happiest valley ever. They were even singing while they were losing!
We made our way to the RV lot to hang with some of Forrest's fraternity brothers who had rented an RV and driven up from ATL, picking up friends on the way. How much fun!!

The boys hung out ON TOP of the RV. Needless to say, I kept my feet on the ground.
Next, it was on to the game!!! We really thought Beaver Stadium was cool and had a great time watching the Tide Roll to victory!! RTR!!

Me and Farrah with Joe Pa!

They did a "white out" but there was an S in the student section. COOL!

We met Chris Rogers, former Bama player!

After the game, we went to see my friend Amy who I haven't seen since my wedding! I was SO happy to see her but sad we only had a little time before we headed back home. She and her friend Diana who had attended Penn State urged us to go to the Creamery, and ice cream shop on campus where apparently Ben and Jerry had taken an ice cream making class (why couldn't I have taken that class?). When we got there the line was 45 minutes long, so we bought dixie cups (pre-packaged) of Peachy Paterno and Chocolate and figured that counted!!

Me and Amy at Diana's tailgate

Enjoying his "peachy Paterno"
On Sunday Forrest and I went to Mass. It was the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th and we knew it would be an emotional day. The message at Mass was all about forgiveness and it was dead on. Forgiveness will set you free. I was kind of nervous because we were flying home that day and I kept thinking about how 10 years ago people just like me boarded planes but never made it home. The message really made me feel better--knowing that all I could control at this point is my forgiveness and my attitude and that everything else is in God's hands helped me keep my focus on others that day instead of myself and my fears. My heart goes out to all the families who lost someone that day and I hope they know our prayers are with them.

After church Forrest and I took a little detour on our way back to the hotel to the Abby Lee Miller Dance Studio. Does anyone have any idea what that is? Well I am totally giving away my love for horrible television, but that is the dance studio where Dance Moms, a reality tv show on Lifetime, is filmed. I was watching it Wednesday night and Forrest was in the room with me. I told him that the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, where we were going, but I figured that it was a big place and nowhere near our hotel. Well, he looked up the address and I googled mapped it--it was 12 minutes from our hotel. Well then I HAD to go see it so he indulged me. He was taking pics of me posing in front of the building when he said "Hey, someone is inside." I was MUCHO embarrassed when I turned around but the receptionist waved me inside. I was experiencing reality tv nirvana. I got to go in the dance studio and even the mezzanine where the moms sit and watch and complain!! I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous but OMG it was so exciting!! The girl even gave me a pic of the cast autographed by Maddie, one of the dancers. Score! :) As we left I was thinking that my little experience in the dance studio was going to be my story of the weekend. Again, I was totally wrong.

In the dance studio!
All 4 of us headed back to the airport and when we were dropping off the car, the rental guy said that the President (yes, of the United States) had flown in earlier in the day. Neat! Well, after we got through security Forrest said he wanted to ask someone where Air Force One was because he wanted to see it. I told him in no uncertain terms that that probably wasn't a very good idea, especially on September 11th. Well, imagine our surprise when we could see it from the window at our gate! Cool! There were also patrol cars, tons of uniformed people on the runways, a helicopter flying over head, and at least 2 (that I could see) sharpshooters on the roof of the airport. I instantly felt safe. Well THEN another helicopter appeared and it was Marine One, carrying the President in from Shanksville, PA, where one of the Sept. 11th planes crashed. Then he got out, climbed the stairs to AF1, and waved to the "crowd", which was a bunch of guys in dark suits and everyone in the airport pressed up against the windows. Now, he was really far away and looked like a little ant out there, but still, we got to see the President AND AF1 and Marine 1. At that point I knew that THAT would be the story of the weekend. Like him or not, he is still the President, and that is pretty cool!!!

Marine 1 and Air Force 1

It is SO big!!!
After a safe flight (which included lots of ROLL TIDES) and drive home, we picked up the dogs and had dinner at Mom and Dads. It was a perfect end to a crazy weekend!!!  I'm not really sure if I can top that, ever!!

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