I apologize to all who are expecting Oregon as our state to explore this week. February 2 is Groundhog Day. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly "see its shadow" and retreat back into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks. The

most famous groundhog of all is from Punxzutawney, Pennsylvania so that's where we're going. Punxsutawney Phil made his yearly prediction yesterday. What did he predict? You can see for yourself at Greetings from Punxsutawney. In the meantime, let's take out our travel guides and computer links and plan a trip to Pennsylvania. A quick reminder: this travel guide is full computer links for things to do in this state. Look through the advertisements and "must-see" sections for them.

The Keystone State is the second state of the union. The meetings held to plan our government were held in Philadelphia. That is where the Declaration of Independence was ratified. The Articles of Confederation were written for the first governing body. Then came the Constitution Of the United States which is the current law of the land. The ruffled grouse is the state bird. There are two state insects: the ladybug and firefly. The first commercial oil well in the United States was drilled in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the only state of the original 13 that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.

In and around Philadelphia are some of the most historic things in the country. Besides the meeting place of the Continental Congress, there is the Liberty Bell. The original bell cracked when it was tested. The other one cracked after hours of being rung in honor of George Washington's birthday in 1846. Valley Forge, where the American troops with George Washington wintered during the Revolutionary War, is in this area. You can spend an evening around the fire listening to "colonial troops" tell stories. These are just a sample and you can view many monuments in the area. But there is also a lot of nature here. The tow paths for the canal boats are interesting. You can even take a ride on a mule-drawn canal boat. Crystal Cave has stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations. Scuba divers can go to Dutch Springs. Dutch Springs is an old quarry filled with water. Left inside are old vehicles and even a helicopter. The Schuytkill River Trail is great for bikers. Hawk Mountain is a good spot to see hawks, eagles, and falcons, especially in the fall during migration. Longwood Gardens has indoor and outdoor gardens so there are always flowers in bloom. Kids are encouraged to splash in one of the 17 fountains. Take a horse drawn carriage ride through the streets of Philadelphia. Go zip lining at Spring Mountain.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Mountains area has the Roebling Aquaduct, the country's oldest suspension bridge. It takes you across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New York. Several spas in the area will pamper and refresh you. On dam release days, you can paddle to your heart's content in the Class lll rapids created by the increased flow from upstream in the Lehigh Gorge. At Pocono Dragway, drive at speeds of 160 mph (after some training, of course). Freefall parachuting is fun over the Pocono Mountains. If you are a novice, you can go in tandem with an experienced jumper. Skiers will enjoy Elk Mountain's challenging trails. Wyalusing Rocks gives a view of farmlands. It is sacred ground for Native Americans. Ricketts Glen State Park has hiking trails. There are 22 waterfalls. Camping and cabins are available. Five rivers offer world-class whitewater rafting. Learn about coal mining and miners at Eckley Miners Village or take a coal car 300 feet underground gangways and a rock tunnel at the Lackawanna Coal Mine. Bikers and walkers can travel along the Susquehanna River. Take a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. Miles of hiking trails are found at Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park. This time of year you can toboggan down the hill at Eagles Mere. How about a hot air balloon ride at Endless Mountains. You can learn to rock climb in Wilkes-Barre, then maybe get directions to a good place to practice your skills. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area features water activities, hiking, horseback riding, and climbing.

The Pennsylvania Wilds has 29 state parks as well as the Allegheny National Forest. It also has a portion of the Mid-State Trail which will eventually run the length of the state. You can spot wildlife among balsam firs and hemlock trees, hike to a 70 foot waterfall see rock formations, backpack, hike through some of the most remote areas of the state, see spectacular views from the Allegheny Plateau, travel wild areas and two swamp areas, and watch for wildlife activity. Climb over or duck under sandstone formations at Bilger Rocks. Cooks Forest State Park is known for its old growth forest. The Allegheny Geocaching Trail is perfect for geocache fans. Pine Creek Rail Trail is a multi-purpose trail for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. After enjoying the view from Rimrock Overlook, either rappel down into the crevasse or, if that is not your speed, you can take the stone staircase down. Hyner View State Park allows you to ride the wind on a hang glider.

The Great Lakes Region is also unique. You can watch thousands of carp at the Linesville Spillway as they gobble food given them by people there. Then watch as ducks walk across the lake on the backs of the carp to get their share of the food.  At Presque Isle State Park there are bike trails, lagoons for kayaks, and beaches. Buffalo roam at the Wooden Nickel Buffalo Farm. The Knapp Farms B&B has riding trails and hay and sleigh rides. Spend the night sleeping in  a caboose at Caboose Motel. Breakfast is in the dining car. A 75 foot high observation tower is featured at The Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

All over Pennsylvania are "kissing bridges" which some of you might know as covered bridges. The Pine Bank Bridge still has old advertisements hanging on the walls. If you go to visit the house Frank Lloyd Wright built at Fallingwater, you will want to see Lower Bear Run Trail in the back yard. Meadowcroft Rockshelter is where they found the remains of the earliest known humans in North America. There are 17 different botanical areas in Phipp's Conservatory. Take a "History on the Hill" walking tour in Greene County. At Uniontown, you can walk the same roads that George Washington made during his military career. Kayak or canoe the rapids at Leechburg. Moraine State Park has trails in its 16,725 acres. You can hike or ride your horse. Marburger Dairy gives tours to let you see how a dairy operates. The Great Allegheny Passage is 150 miles of old railways converted into hiking and biking trails. Seven individual scenic trails organizations take care of the trail and have suggestions of what to see along their portion. The Heritage School teaches such things as blacksmithing, woodworking, basket weaving, beer brewing, and Native American beading. Between classes there are trails and beautiful ponds so you can experience what it was like to learn way back when.

Boy, did this get to be a long post! Just the historical sites alone are reason enough to visit Pennsylvania. Add all the other activities available and you might not have time to go home. Plan an adventure for yourself. If you make it home, tell me what you did. There are links below to get you started. Personally, I'm going to Gettysburg. As you know I am a Civil War Buff, so I'll be there for a while.


Pennsylvania Official Website
Travel Guide
Civil War Trails
Pennsylvania Dutch Country
State Parks
National Parks
Scenic Byways
Offbeat Tourist Attractions


  1. I hope you'll be coming back to my state (Oregon)! I did go to college in Pennsylvania though...

  2. I enjoy eds finding out that there is going to be an early I just hope that the UK follows suit!!!

    There certainly seems to be a lot to do in Pennsylvania.....If I wasn't such a home bod I might even consider visiting!!!

  3. To Mike: Oregon is the state we'll be visiting next week. I hated putting it out of order but with the weather the way it's been... well, you know.

    To allotments4you: there was really a lot of information for Pennsylvania, it's true. I find that exploring a new place makes me like my home all the more.


  4. What old Phil neglects to inform everyone on ground hogs day is that winter doesn't listen to ground I know since I live in Pennsylvania

  5. To Ann: It seems that Phil is not the only prognosticating ground hog. There are a bunch around the country and they don't all agree with Phil. It seems to be a split decision.



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