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Experience the Beauty of Fall in Centre County

by on October 13, 2020 5:00 AM

 

Stunning. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Vibrant. But enough about my wife and daughter.

Yes, I am also describing the beauty of the annual change of scenery every fall here in Happy Valley. For those of you who make Centre County your home, how beautiful is this time of year? This is the favorite season for many local residents and thousands of Penn State alums and visitors who would normally flock here for the vibrant colors, the cooler temperatures, the lower humidity, and of course, Penn State football.

October would usually be the height of the college football season and tailgating traditions that have become a staple for our town. This year we unfortunately had to forgo the traditions that would come with in-person fan attendance college football. But looking on the bright side, it didn’t stop the leaves from changing or the views of the surrounding mountains from reminding us of the spectacular beauty of Happy Valley. 

While Penn State football returns this month, it does so without the tailgating, the fans, and a lot of the pageantry of college football.  Like many of you I miss our friends, classmates, and socializing with 107,000 of our closest friends at Beaver Stadium. For those of you struggling mentally and emotionally with the impact of the pandemic,I have a suggestion for you:  Get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of Centre County as often as you can while you can.

So, what have you discovered about Centre County in the “found time” without football and other large gatherings?  Hopefully a lot.

I have said it before in my column and I will say it again here. I am respectful of the virus and its potential impact on my health and that of others. I follow physical distancing protocols. I wear a mask, wash my hands, carry hand sanitizer in my car, and avoid large crowds. However, I will not stop living my life and that means doing what we are allowed to do based on the CDC guidelines and what common sense dictates we can. One way to do that is to get up, get going, and get outside.

My wife and I do a lot of walking, hiking, biking and kayaking. On Sunday mornings we enjoy bike rides to Tudek Park where we sit and talk (mostly about family and retirement plans) and we take in the majestic view of Mount Nittany looking across a field with beautiful horses. We have taken the time to go walking at Fisherman’s Paradise off the Benner Pike and watched a flock of great blue heron landing in the trees and hunting for fish in Spring Creek. It was breathtaking watching them fly in and take off.  They are amazing birds that look tame but are ferocious hunters on their migratory route south.


Photo by Joe Battista

Our family has gone to Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte and frequented Big Spring Spirits in the old Match Factory.  We have taken in music and enjoyed food from the food trucks at 814 Cider Works at the J.L. Farm and Cidery on Route 45. We love hiking Musser Gap with our dog, Barkley, and walking him around the oval at the Pennsylvania Military Museum.  We even made it up to Benezette to see the elk.

My wife and her friends regularly walk around the Arboretum at Penn State, hike at Shingletown Gap, Harvest Fields and Spring Creek. I have been spending a lot of my time golfing with my youngest son, my friends, and in charitable events. I just went fishing with my oldest son and my good friend Ken Bachman at a pond off Route 45 that I never knew existed. The trees around the water were that perfect fall color and the gentle wind made for a relaxing and stress-free time to focus on, well, nothing.

On a recent hike up Mount Nittany with Ken, we came across more people than we’d ever seen. Even the overflow parking lot was full, and cars were parked down the hill and around the bend on Mount Nittany Road.  My friend and fellow columnist John Hook and I regularly walk the bike path from Stonebridge to the State College Area High School and back, frequently saying hello to others who are taking the time to get outdoors.


Photo by Joe Battista

Weather permitting, my wife and I will be taking a hot air balloon ride over Happy Valley with Kevin Witt from The Sky’s The Limit Ballooning in Lemont.  It will be my second hot air balloon ride and my wife’s first experience. The ride is an anniversary gift from our daughter, and we have been looking forward to this for a long time. The panoramic views will be breathtaking.   

Everyone knows the healthy impact of being outdoors, especially in this time of “The Great Pause.” It’s never been more important to breathe in the fresh air and to visually take in nature’s beauty.  Taking care of your mental and physical well-being must be a priority, particularly with winter approaching. We are blessed to be in an area that rarely experiences natural disasters like hurricanes, devastating floods, earthquakes and tornadoes. My advice is to take full advantage of what Centre County has to offer, whether it’s hiking, bike riding, jogging, kayaking or simply walking. Even jumping in your car and going for a ride with the windows down just to get outside is better than nothing.

No matter your age you need to get outdoors. We all need some sense of a normal existence in the age of the virus that shall not be named. Make it a priority to get outside while you can and experience the beauty of the fall in Centre County.


 

Top photo by Michael Tauriello | Onward State



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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