Trip to Morgantown


I came, I saw, I found my way back to the interstate.

Which was a small miracle, let me tell you.

An amazingly, briefly empty-street shot up at Arnold Hall, taken in the morning before the main rush.

Morgantown is located in the tippy-top north of West Virginia, near the Pennsylvania border. Nestled in the mountains, it’s slung out along the Monongahela River’s path through said mountains, and West Virginia University is slung out along with it, making it one of the most “all over the place” campuses I’ve ever seen. Students walk, or take the rapid transit system. If it’s working. I hear tell it’s not always working. But they’re young and energetic. They can walk.

Downtown, small blocks of one- or two-lane steep streets were packed with people and cars yesterday as something like half the town’s population flooded into dorms and apartment buildings. Weston is rooming in Arnold Hall. (Someone asked on a previous post about Honors Hall. Weston wanted to room with his best friend from high school.)

We got to the dorm around 10ish, after miraculously finding it. (Everything involving a vehicle in Morgantown is miraculous.) Miraculously, I found a corner to dump off Weston, his girlfriend, and his stuff in front of the dorm, and miraculously the cop that ran over to tell me that I COULDN’T STOP THERE let me when he saw how small Weston’s pile of things was. He’s a real boy, let me tell you. He took a backpack, a football bag with his clothes, a few Wal-Mart bags of assorted personal items, and his computer. THAT’S IT.

Unloading is a three-point system in which the person in the car must drive away and find a place to park. Another person (the girlfriend, in this case) stays on the street with the stuff. The student goes inside the dorm and gets their room key.

Miraculously, I found the only available parking space in Morgantown about 3 blocks away. It had 24 minutes on the meter. There was a bank across the street. I got quarters, stuffed them in the meter, and hiked back to the dorm. This was uphill, of course. Everywhere is uphill there.

And don’t let anyone tell you any different.

On the streets, confused parents and students milled, music blasted from apartment windows, drinks (INCLUDING BEER!) were set out on tables on sidewalks, and sorority girls sang in doorways.

Back at the dorm, Mariah came to the lobby to lead me to Weston’s room, which was on the first floor. Or, it was on the second floor. I’m not sure. Entering through the door, it appeared to be the first floor, but on the other side of the building, it looked like the second floor, resulting from the steep street. His minimal supply of necessities were in and he was already getting on his computer.

I made his bed, since I had a feeling that would be the only time it happened in the next two semesters while he lives in this room.

He promptly rearranged all the furniture.

His roommate wasn’t arriving till the afternoon. Madison, my cousin’s son, is a sophmore this year. All freshman students are required to live in a dorm the first year. This year, he lives in an apartment building across the street from Weston’s dorm, which will be handy because they’re all great friends.

Weston’s dorm is a couple of blocks off High Street, the center of downtown high life, and I took them all to lunch at a little Italian place. Sort of. First, I took Mariah to a little Mexican place for a vegan meal to-go, which she took to the Italian place, where everyone else wanted to eat. The cashier at the Mexican place started reeling off their late-night hours, selling to the college students, and suggested it was a great place to stop in after a night at the bars.

I smacked him left and right and rolled him up in a burrito then he said, “Oh, is he a freshman?”

After serving as a tail-gunner in World War II, my father came back to West Virginia and graduated from West Virginia University. He bunked at the WVU dairy farm where he milked fifteen cows before breakfast. After they got done milking, the university bussed them over to their classes then back to the farm where they went to bed early to get up at four a.m. and start milking again.

I like to tell this story to Weston over and over and over as an example of what he will be doing if he plays around too much and loses his scholarships.

I’m actually not worried about Weston partying. That’s just not his style, nor the style of the friends he chooses. (Oh, how important it is, the friends they choose. Happily, Weston chooses wisely.) I’m more worried about him not getting up in the morning and his lack of “organizational life skills” that seems to attend many super-smart people.

His roommate was arriving as we returned to the dorm, and I tore Weston and his girlfriend apart and drove home. It truly was a miracle that I found the interstate again, and I’m never going back.

Except maybe this fall for a football game.

Or to make his bed.

I’ve discovered it’s much more scary to send a kid to college than to boot camp. The government is looking after Ross and clocking his every move. Weston is looking after himself, which is disturbing and terrifying. For me. However, I’m pretty sure, he’s about to have the time of his life.

I put my thumb and forefinger together real tight and left Weston with this advice: “You can have this much fun.”

And also left him with a mere $30 cash and three bags of Tostitos to guarantee that within 24 hours, he WILL find the cafeteria!


  1. yvonnem says:

    I had to go to WVU for a job fair and I know exactly what you mean, Morgantown is one very confusing place to drive – I know I’ll never go back again! Glad Weston is settled in.

  2. Blyss says:

    It is scary to leave your kid at college, isn’t it? But they DO survive… graduate… get good jobs, and he continues to make the right decisions. He also continues to not see the point in making his bed!

  3. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Now you KNOW WHY they sat that “WVU girls have the best-looking legs in the Big East!) All that hill walking keeps your legs toned and lovely. (I guess it gives the guys some tight buns! LOL)

    WOW! I see you got a couple of pictures of my son, Madison! Shhhhhh, we won’t tell him!

    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

    Gooooooooooo Mountaineeeeeers!

  4. whaledancer says:

    Somehow I find myself thinking about how the mother hen must feel when she finds that her chicks are now too big to fit under her protective wings. :chicken:

  5. twiggityNDgoats says:

    I remember that strung out campus well during my college days there. The PRT was under construction and began limited operations my last year there. I also remember picking up a lot of students hitchhiking from one campus to another because I had a little MG midget that I drove back and forth. If I was low on parking money I could drive under the bars in the parking garage. Got paid back though…I hit a concrete pillar in the garage one day which cost me a LOT more to fix that I saved in parking.

    I hope Weston has a great time and a successful freshman year there.

  6. tdu1964 says:

    Glad you survived!!!! Call me crazy….but I love Morgantown!!! My daughter is a 2nd year grad student at WUV ….Weston might meet her if he is taking any Physics classes. Two places you must try (when you back to make the bed) are Black Bear and Mother India….both serve vegan and are ahh-mazing!!!

  7. holstein woman says:

    Suzanne, you are too funny! If all the streets in Morgantown are UPHILL did the town have an earthquake so you could get back to the car?????????????

    Glad you had fun and are back home safe….

  8. Ms.Becky says:

    oh to be young again. thanks for taking us along on Weston’s move-in day at college. I have no doubts whatsoever that he will do you proud Suzanne. :yes:

  9. mtnmedx says:

    Oh my goodness…..I am but just a few short years from dropping my oldest off at college and I am truly terrified. The thought of him taking care of himself is crazy scary. You are right when you say that so much of a kid’s life is based on the friends he picks and so far we are golden in that arena. But my boy is so lazy! I’m afraid that he will take the easiest route possible then look back and wonder why he is so behind. I wish there was a way to send him to pre-college……
    I’m glad we have two more years with him before we send him out. There’s still so much work to do!!!!


  10. GarnetRuby says:

    So glad to get to go on this adventure with you.
    Are those name tags on the door? :snoopy:

  11. Rose C. says:

    It is very hard to see our kids leave and start a new life. But we have given them wings and now it is time to learn to fly. He will do fine and maybe make a bed!!!!!

  12. Cousin Sheryl says:

    @tdu1964 – I love Morgantown, too. It is an old city so it didn’t have any plan in its evolution. That’s what makes it interesting.

    @holstein woman – Yes, there is a lot of uphill walking in Morgantown. Weston’s dorm is the farthest university building away from the river on the downtown campus. SO, when he rides the PRT to the other campus and back he will have to climb uphill all the way to his room. I know this because I lived in that same hall for 2 years. What is really funny is that Weston is living on the same floor that I did. Last year my son lived in the same building that I did one year.

    @Elizabeth – Yes, you must start training your boy now. Make sure he knows how to do his own laundry at home. Make him responsible for it (not you). When he has to go to high school in dirty clothes because he forgot to wash clothes he will learn a valuable lesson. Make him start cooking for himself. It his high school has a Food Prep course and he has time to take it, this is valuable. Make him go gracery shopping with you. Teach him to pack his own stuff for trips so that he doesn’t forget anything. Most schools have lists of “What to Bring to the Dorm.” There is a nice list on WVU’s web page under the Residence Halls section. Good Luck!

    @GarnetRuby – Yes, those are name tags on the doors. When I was a Resident Assistant (RA) at WVU a “few” years ago, we were required to make nametags for the student room doors. This is so that the kids can learn names and get to know each other. Amongst the girl RA’s, there was always an informal competition to see who could make the prettiest/cutest ones. The male RA’s didn’t care so much. The one on Weston’s door looks like a dogtag so I am guessing that his RA might be in the ROTC.

    Suzanne – Can’t wait to hear more of Weston’s adventures. LOL :devil2:

  13. Liz Pike says:

    Envy those hills, instant workout! But Morgan has a good head on his shoulders and I’m sure he’ll be just fine!

    (He sounds so like my daughter, Tristan, who I dropped off at UNC-Chapel Hill yesterday!)

  14. JerseyMom says:

    Hmmm…what a timely story!! Suzanne…I have some West Virginia questions related to your kid’s names….hahaha….I drove through NV this weekend….

  15. JerseyMom says:

    Can’t type, obviously! Drove through WV this weekend on the way to Ohio and back. When I saw the signs for Morgantown I instantly thought of CITR. Then I saw a sign for Weston, West Virginia! Of course I had to google Ross, WV when I had the chance and sure enough! So, inquiring minds want to know – – coincidence??

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      JerseyMom, actually, it IS a coincidence. Morgan is named after my great-great-grandfather, whose name was John Morgan Dye. Ross is named after my father, whose name is Ross (and while my father is from WV, his family has no connections to Ross, WV, and my great-great-grandfather also has no connections to Morgantown, my family settled here, in the Spencer, WV area, from Virginia–and in fact, it was at that time part of Virginia, but they didn’t live in other parts of WV before settling here). Weston is named after his father’s grandfather, whose name was Weston, and has no connections to WV at all. It’s a big three-way coincidence!

  16. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Suzanne, I discovered that this particular story has been shared 31 times on Facebook. Lots of WVU folks are getting a chuckle from this, I’ll bet.


Add Your Thoughts