Odyssey to the East: Day 2

I’m a few days late in completing this recap, but better late than never. Day 2 of our drive from Chicago to Stamford was just as eventful as the first, with one escape room, a few famous sites, and more rainy driving than I care to revisit.

We stuck with our 2/2/2 strategy, to break up the day by finding things to do at approximately two hour intervals.

Our first stop after Youngstown, OH took us to DuBois, PA. We stopped to play “The Island” game at Escape DuBois. Surprisingly, the game was not themed after the TV show “Lost,” despite some tech that looked like it belonged to the Dharma initiative. The game had a few unique twists (separating our team at the beginning- always a blast!) and it was a great break before getting back on the road.

In the same parking lot, we grabbed brunch at the nearby Eat’n Park. I have been longing for breakfast food, and while my omelette wasn’t the best I’ve had by any means, it hit the spot, and the Eat’n Park signature smiley sugar cookie was fantastic. It reminded me of the Lofthouse brand cookies we sometimes grab from the grocery store, except a little larger with a slightly thinner frosting layer – delicious!

We hit the road again and set our GPS for Scranton, PA- home of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company from the series The Office. We arrived in Scranton in the early evening and set our first destination as the “Paper Tower” shown in the intro of every episode of The Office.

The tower belongs to the Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company, but thanks to the popularity of The Office, the building now shows off a spiffy Dunder Mifflin logo. We stopped in the parking lot across the street and grabbed a photo.

We headed toward Steamtown Mall next – a recurring location from the show that also now houses the “Welcome to Scranton” sign shown in the show’s intro. Unfortunately, the mall closed before we got there, so we changed our destination to Poor Richard’s Pub, passing Alfredo’s Pizza Kitchen on the way there.

The Office was mostly filmed in California, but it’s neat that the show still referenced so many real Scranton locations throughout its run. From what we saw, the real Scranton is far more hilly than the California landscapes we see on the show, but it may just be that we didn’t see the flatter parts of Scranton.

Poor Richard’s Pub shares a building with a bowling alley, so after making sure we were in the right place, we went in and grabbed a seat. I wanted to play it cool and not make it obvious that we were traveling Office fans, so we grabbed some snacks and watched the golf match. We tried “Pizza Fries” for the first time- fries plus cheese plus marinara- an unusual combination, but I liked it.

We tipped our hand a little when we visited the merchandise rack and grabbed some pint glasses to take home for other Office fans we know. Just as we were about to leave, one of the other patrons called the bartender and asked him to show us all the bar’s Office stuff. The bartender quickly pulled out a Dundie award and a veritable stack of cool memorabilia, mostly autographs and photos of cast members from The Office dining at Poor Richard’s.

It was a blast seeing how welcoming the locals were to itinerant Office fans. I figured they’ve probably had to deal with a lot of annoying visitors, both during The Office’s original successful run as well as its huge heyday on streaming services (I found one source online that indicated the reason why the Scranton sign was moved to the mall was because too many people were stopping traffic to get a photo), but the bar patrons and staff seemed really happy to have us there!

As we left Poor Richard’s, it was getting late, so we hit the road for the final leg of our trip. And like clockwork, just as the sky darkened, the rain, which had been on-and-off all day, worsened severely, making the final stretch a bit painful. The final 2.5 hours of driving felt much longer, but at the end of the day, we made it to Stamford safely.

I’m really glad we drove- I’ve never been in central Pennsylvania before, and I relish the opportunity to see a new region. And I’m thrilled to have some time to get to know Connecticut. Our first full night, we took care of some logistical necessities for the week, but on night two, we drove up to Bridgeport for a nice dinner and a phenomenal escape room. But that’s a story for another day!

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