I'm at a loss of words today ..... but luckily my friend Ann is not! She can accomplish so much in 24 hours! ~Judy
I live the saying “the fastest way to get from point A to point B = a straight line”. Thus the only detours I take on a road trip is for gas, food/restroom breaks. With 1200 miles on the first leg of my trip, I planned on driving 1000 miles, minimal breaks and stopping on the Jersey side of NYC. I left before the crack of dawn and planned on resting shortly before midnight.
The first 400 miles was on I-80 then I got on the Ohio Turnpike outside Hammond, IN. I’ve never understood toll roads, but do appreciate the ones with auto plazas to eat, rest and gas-up. As I was motoring along, I enjoyed the change of scenery from farmland to winding hills going into PA, looking at this and that, thinking dad would be saying something odd or cracking a joke.
At about 8 pm, I passed the sign for Punxsutawney, PA and immediately teared up. Over the years, dad would chuckle about Phil on Groundhogs day and when driving out East, he would point out the sign and I would say, too far of a detour. So I decided to take the detour, gas up and see how far this town was. At the gas station I asked someone how far and was it worth the drive. The young guy said “20 miles and not much there but a lot of people go there”. Okay, 20 miles is not that far, should only take me 1 hour out of my way, so there I went. Let me tell you, this was the longest 20 mile detour.
As I got to the city square, it reminded me of any town in Iowa, a square with a bandshell. It did not take me long to find Phil the groundhog. Yes there is a Phil and he was asleep. I took a couple of pictures and then asked myself “where is Gobblers Knobb”. I stopped at the hotel on the square and after chatting with the clerk, I decided to stay the night ($55), take in the sights and get some food.
Here’s what was meaningful. I found Gobblers Knobb (3 miles outside town) and as I was taking a few pictures, a car drove up. Longstory short, this man was showing his friend around and he turned out to be one of the masters of ceremony at the annual Groundhog’s day festival, they call him “Ice Man” (the one with the red hat).
As I was chatting with him, he asked me why I came. I told him that dad always talked about Phil, Punxsutawney and I just wanted to see it for dad. Boy, did I tear up and he said, believe it or not, many people come here for like reasons. Wow, I believe dad was really with me on this trip. The Ice Man gave me the lowdown on the ceremony, the people and told me the movie was not shot here (shot in Woolstock, IL) it just premiered in Punxsutawney. He was really kind and coming to the Knobb released a bit of my pain.
To round out my stay, I asked the hotel clerk if Bill Murray stayed here and he said YES and gave me his room, room 304, I said SWEET. I also asked about wi-fi and after looking at his reaction, he said no.
Sad to say, the hotel was nothing special but I felt special just being there. I ate dinner at subway and caught wi-fi at McDonalds. As I left the hotel the following morning, with my McD’s coffee in hand, I smiled and said, hope you enjoyed the visit dad, off we go to NYC!
That Girl, Ann Marie