This is our first post in over a year! We have lots saved up to share with you. The past year has been a trying one, with some chronic disease showing its face and really throwing me for a loop. I have lots of post ideas saved up, though, and I am excited to get back to sharing our travels -- and to traveling!
This one is from a road trip we took from North Dakota to New York (and back) in May.
We had been driving for a looooong time (seriously, it felt like forever). It had been quite a while since I started looking for something interesting to do, and I was starting to get desperate.
Something! Anything! Please!
And then it happened. I spotted a sign for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. My inner child squealed.
"Bria, do you know who Punxsutawney Phil is?" I asked over my shoulder to my six-year-old.
Somewhere far in the back seat, her 15-year-old sister groaned. I turned on my right blinker and smiled.
Punxsutawney is the home of none other than Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who makes an appearance each February 2 and has Americans scrambling to find out if Spring will arrive early.
Though the event is nothing new, Groundhog Day rose to popularity with the 1993 Bill Murray movie of the same name, with crowds swelling to 30,000 plus in hopes of seeing the famous weather predicting rodent.
According to the Punxsutawney Historical Society website, the groundhog legend pre-dates the first white settlers in the area. The Delaware Indians passed down their own version of the story, in which the Oijik (brought down to locals as "woodchuck" came to be known as the "grandfather" to the local people.
Our first stop was the Chamber of Commerce's official souvenir shop, located on West Mahoning Street. We highly recommend this as your first stop, because not only were we able to learn more about the local area, we also scored a super fun activity - the Phantasic Phil's map and stickers.
(We also picked up a stuffed Phil, which features throughout our photos.)
This laminated 11x17-inch map is a scavenger hunt which leads visitors all around the area, on a mission to locate 31 larger-than-life groundhog statues. This outdoor public art project of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce was the perfect activity for a pair of kids who had been cooped up in a car for far too long.
It was a drizzly day, but that didn't stop us from spending the next six hours on groundhog spotting duty!
The groundhogs each have a different theme, including the Wizard of Weather, Fireman Phil, Freedom Phil, and others. It is a great way to explore the area, with statues located in all the areas of interest.
We saw Phil in his year-round home (Phil's Burrow) outside the library, and also trekked up to Gobbler's Nob, the location of the annual weather-predicting ceremony. It was pretty unbelievable to imagine thousands of people there - they must be incredibly organized!
Want to learn more?
The town's website is filled with information about Phil, the history of the legend, and groundhogs. There is even a section with lesson plans for teachers and homeschoolers! We were super excited to check this out once we reached our hotel.
By the way, there are other things to do in Punxsutawney, like the Weather Discovery Center (we missed out on this one because they are closed Wednesdays), the Shadow Vineyard, and more. Check out the local tourism website to get a feel for activities your family might take an interest in.
If you are traveling through Pennsylvania, we definitely recommend this fun pitstop along the way! And if you're really brave, check it out in February to experience the historical event for yourself.
And check out the rest of the photos from our fun day!