After a great sleep, and a hearty breakfast in the hotel, we are off. I am super excited because we are heading to Punxatawney, the home of the infamous Punxatawney Phil, groundhog to the masses. I actually don’t know why this makes me so excited….but it sure did.
We do make a quick stop for some necessities at the Dupois Walmart…not blog worthy except that it was darn hard to find how to turn into it. We went past it a few times before we were lucky enough to watch the car ahead of us successfully navigate the road and hit the parking lot…we followed suit. After a brief shop, we are off.
Punxatawney is about 30 minutes away from Dupois, so we arrive there in no time at all. The drive is very pretty, and the town square is beautiful, and the town itself has numerous Victorian houses, but many are old and decrepit and kind of creepy. But, I am willing to brave anything to meet my groundhog. So we locate his den…in the town square of course…and head over to meet him.
Phil actually has it made…he only works one day a year. The rest of the time he eats and sleeps and does whatever groundhogs do all day. Every February 2nd, Phil is transported a short distance (remember this fact for a little later in my story), to Gobblers Knob. Here thousands of his fans gather to watch him predict the end of the winter…if he see his shadow, then there will be 6 more weeks of winter…if he doesn’t see it, well, Spring is right around the corner. Now I am not certain how accurate Phil is, but I do know that he has never been fired…nor has Canada’s own groundhog Wiarton Willy…so I guess we can trust them both for an accurate accounting of upcoming weather.
Phil resides in a very large burrow, with a private residence and a huge glassed in area where adoring fans like me can watch him and snag a photo. There are also many statues of groundhogs all over the town, each one decorated in different themes…they really know how to honor their groundhogs, don’t they?
Now, I mentioned earlier that Gobbler’s Knob, the place where Phil actually makes his predictions on February 2nd (or as I see it, Phil’s one day a year office), is not far from here. Soooo….I decide we need to go see it. Of course we do. As a note, thousands of people come here on February 2nd for this event and it is the premise for the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, although the movie was not filmed here. Maybe, like us, as you will see, they couldn’t find it.
Into the car we go, having received directions from a local…plug the coordinates into the trusty GPS and we are off. Oh my, but the views are lovely, the countryside stunning…and soon…we are lost. What should have taken us about 15 minutes, has seen us driving for over an hour…in the wrong direction. We should have been heading southeast, but were cruising along heading north…thanks to the GPS giving us horribly incorrect directions. We finally concede defeat and decide to head towards a highway and get on with our journey. On the way we did stumble across an Amish bakery and stopped in for a coffee and a butter tart to go…oh my…how delicious it was. The ladies working in the bakery seemed to take quite the shine to my partner…smiling and friendly…but to me…they shot daggers out of their eyes and were cold…hmmm…perhaps my partner will find his future wife (wives) here.
Soon we hit highway 219…south…then onto highway 30 and drive towards our true destination for the day…Gettysburg. We are travelling up and through the Blue Ridge mountains, winding around corners and climbing up for what seems like forever. Along the way we stop for lunch in Somerset at a Ruby Tuesdays. There I tried a Blue Moon beer that you drink with an orange slice in it…delicious. It was to become a favorite of mine of this trip.
We veer East, through the mountains, and soon we begin descending the mountain…my gosh its breathtaking. At one spot we come across Bikers Cove Bar right there, all by itself on the mountain side. Now since we need a bathroom break, we stop in and of course, order a beer. We are the only car in the parking lot…its all bikes. I am dressed as a tourist and wishing I had on my biking chaps and vest…I would have felt more comfortable. As it was, I just wanted to drink up and get going. It does have an amazing view of the mountains and valley, so worth the stop…no matter how brief. By the way, our travel down the mountain, that being the Blue Ridge Mountains, takes us over 28,000 feet from top to bottom…quite the decent. The bikers bar was at 2180 feet, so in a car it sure doesn’t take long.
Back on the road, we pass through Bedford, a really pretty little town with some interesting history and numerous historical buildings and homes. Originally a fort which offered settlers refuge from Indian raids, it eventually became an agricultural community. The Espey House here is a landmark as General George Washington used it as his headquarters while leading his 13,000 troops to quell the Whiskey Rebellion, which had started in the Jean Bonnet Tavern, just west of here. The Whiskey Rebellion was waged by farmers, who due to the high cost of pack mule transport, made more money selling whiskey than their grains. The government then issued high taxes on them for their whiskey sales and this caused the rebellion…sounds like they were true entrepreneurs. The area is filled with many springs…deemed to be medicinal…and this brought an influx of folks looking to be healed as well as the construction of numerous resorts and spas. President Buchanan himself made the Bedford Springs Hotel his summer White House and in 1858, he sent the worlds’ first transatlantic cable from his office there to Queen Victoria…pretty historic text message right there.
Another interesting town is Chambersburg. This place is steeped in history and the historical buildings are in great repair. This town was part of the underground railroad and there are many stories of the folks who hid here and many of the homes that were their refuge are in existence still. One interesting fact for my Canadian followers: Abraham Stouffer was born here…he founded Stouffville, Ontario.
We finally reach our destination for the next couple of nights…Gettysburg. I have wanted to see this place for a long time and as you will see, it does not disappoint. As a note: I will not be giving the history of Gettysburg in full as that is not my expertise nor intention with my blog. I will share with you my experiences, what I saw and learned and should you choose to learn more, then google away my loves.
Gettysburg is home to an historic Civil War battle, or rather several battles. The town and surrounding area were under siege for several days. This place is loaded with historic sites and buildings, many with bullet and cannon holes still showing in their walls.
It is really busy here with tourists, so rooms were at a premium and we wanted something in the downtown, so we could walk around and dine out in close proximity to our room. And so we take one of the only available rooms at the 1863 Inn. This is not a glamourous spot, but affordable, and clean so it became home for two nights. Rumor has it that there is a ghost here, that of George the handyman. He seems to haunt the 5th floor and likes to play pranks on guests by turning lights off and on, moving items in your room and locking you out of your room. We did not stay on the 5th floor, so we didn’t meet this playful spirit…thankfully.
Once checked in, we head out to explore the town. Right beside the Inn is the Jennie Wade house, (the building on the right in the picture above). This was actually the home of Jennie’s sister and its location was a poor one…it is in what was deemed no mans land…It was right in the middle of town on the main street, and the Union and Confederate armies were firing at each other from opposite ends of this street. Jennie was the only civilian killed in the war here; shot while in the kitchen baking bread. You can see the bullet hole in the door, the bullet that struck her and there is still a blood stain on the floorboard where she fell. She was just 20 years old. Sad, isn’t it?
We walk the streets filled with historic buildings and shops and restaurants. I am amazed by all of the sights and am excited for tomorrow when we really tour this town.
We find a bite to eat, and head to our room. Tomorrow will be a busy one so its early to bed for me.
Stay with me for day 3, when I meet 2 ghosts, find out what a growler is, and eat dinner in a haunted restaurant.
Live Your Life…Jan