Eat, Play, Live

Learning to become a man in a Centre County ‘Wonderland’

With a variety of places to play in Centre County, there’s never a dull day.
With a variety of places to play in Centre County, there’s never a dull day. Centre Daily Times, file

Of all the characters in the Disney canon, I most relate to Alice from “Alice in Wonderland.” There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the make-believe quality of my Y chromosome and my penchant for daydreaming. One recurring whim centers on me finding the secret of muscles and how to get them. Sadly, unlike Alice, I can’t eat a cookie and grow to the size of a room, no matter how often I try.

For a newbie to the area like me, living in Centre County feels a bit like falling through the rabbit hole. In many ways, it’s a pastoral “Wonderland” of sorts, replete with characters and locations redolent of a Lewis Carroll tale. For instance, there are plenty of things to eat that make you change size. There’s a wealth of flora and fauna. Because of some of the locals I’ve had the fortune to meet, it does, indeed, feel like there are 364 un-birthdays in a year.

Celebrating each one is easy to do, I’ve found, thanks to readers recommending several places where one can fete to the fullest. In the original film, Alice found her way back to reality within an hour and 15 minutes. In my own journey through Centre County, I’ll hopefully live the dream for much longer — or at least until I’m fired and have to move back home. And perhaps like Alice, I’ll have learned something when I wake up.

I’ve no doubt that living here will make me a better person. Thanks to our readers, my quest begins with more than a few friendly guides.

For professional daydreamers, readers suggested I head to The State Theatre to see a live show. I can see why: Once the curtains open and the lights dim, it does feel a little bit like a portal to another world.

While there is no place to play croquet with flamingos as mallets in the region, there is a lot of golf. At Toftrees Golf Resort, I can take in the scenic countryside while yelling “fore!” with a hearty roar. If I go, it will probably be on weekends, so the readers of this column have fair warning. For the rest of you, take this as my written apology.

As for my muscle situation, or lack thereof, I’ve been told exercise is an effective remedy. Readers recommended that Bald Eagle State Park is a great place to stretch one’s legs, and some tabbed the YMCA as a place for a young man like myself (I think) to tone and hone my body. I’ve looked in the mirror as recently as this morning, so I’ve realized I need to visit both — and soon.

At least I can look forward to trying out Simply Health Salt Spa and its healing Himalayan salt therapies afterward. When readers recommend a spa, I trust them implicitly. This is mainly because I went down the list of the health conditions that salt therapy can help with and realized I had at least eight of them.

To borrow from another Disney film, I feel like I can become a real boy here in Centre County. If I go to the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte, then I may be able to get a smidge closer to becoming a real man, even one who still uses the word “smidge” in daily conversation.

Though Alice stole away from her sister’s recitation of a history book, I think learning more about real heroes will only enhance my Centre County experience.

At least I hope it does. While riding my bike the other day, I did fall because I pedaled over a rabbit hole.

I took it to the Bicycle Shop and counted my blessings that my frail body didn’t break into a thousand pieces. For a fleeting second, I envisioned my shattered form looking like one of the Surrealist works on display at the Palmer Museum of Art. If I were to inspire such works of art, my lone consolation is that my pain would bring joy to our readers.

My dream may be a painful ride at times. But if by its end I can relate to a someone other than a pinafore-wearing ingénue, then I know living here will have been a pleasant one, too.

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy

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