A Short Tour Through The State of Independence

This post is certainly long overdue! We left Louisville on May 10th and spent the next 6 days traveling around the lovely state of Pennsylvania. So, even though we haven’t been in the State of Independence since May 15th, we still didn’t manage to get this post completed until June. Oops.

Five days definitely isn’t enough time to see all of the beauty of PA or to enjoy all of its interesting cultural attractions. But we’re on a mission here, people! We must get to Alaska by July and there are lots of folks to visit and places to see in between! Thus, we had to squeeze in as much as possible in our short time. Here are a few of the highlights.

Gettysburg

Our first stop was to Gettysburg. Edie is fascinated by the Civil War and has wanted to visit Gettysburg since reading The Killer Angels in 8th grade (again, thank you, Mr. Karem!). The town was more or less on the way to Philly, so we decided to crash there our first night away from Louisville, then tour around a bit in the morning before heading on to the City of Brotherly Love.

Downtown Gettysburg is adorable – old architecture and tons of interesting shops with plenty of parking. Gettysburg College is located to the north of downtown and has a beautiful campus. The battlefields, cemeteries and museums are to the south, and if you want to see everything (or even just the museum), you’ll need days instead of just a few hours during a morning.

Since we only had a few hours, we made the most of it and walked around the battlefields, reading signs and looking at the statues, monuments and old cannons. The Pennsylvania countryside that stretches off in the background is beautiful and peaceful…but you can just imagine how loud, smoky and crazy the scene was during the battle.

Lancaster County

Edie’s Mom grew up in a rural area of Virginia that had a significant Amish and Mennonite population, so Edie grew up hearing about the modest lifestyles (and incredible baking skills!) of these communities. Since the Pennsylvania Dutch country was also on our way to Philly, we decided to check it out.

The first thing we noticed in Lancaster County? Buggies! Knox noticed too – lunging toward the truck windows and barking like crazy at the horses. We saw plenty of bicycles as well and farmers working their fields with horse-drawn machinery.

We stopped at an Amish market for a quick bite, filling our bag with smoked sausages, cheese, berries and the most amazing carrot cake either of us has ever tasted. Edie’s Mom was right – this community has some mad baking skills!

Philadelphia

Although we enjoyed our trips through Gettysburg & Lancaster County, our main reason for visiting Pennsylvania was to see Scott’s good friends Chetan & Rupali in the city of Philadelphia. They were nice enough to host us for a few days and give Knox a playmate (he misses you, Cali!).

We had a wonderful time visiting the city. Chetan took us on a tour of downtown, we had a picnic in Rittenhouse Square on a sunny & warm afternoon, and we sampled plenty of the local fare at some great restaurants.

We also spent the better part of Sunday wandering around Philly with Knox, walking by City Hall, Logan Square, the Philadelphia Museum of Art & the Rocky Statue, Franklin Square, Independence Mall State Park, and the cheesesteak greats, Pat’s and Geno’s. We got in some impressive mileage that day! Poor Knox though – we started his day with a romp at a nearby dog park then took him on at least a 6 mile walk (still trying to burn off those calories Grandma put on him over Derby!).

Hershey & Harrisburg

We have been quite blessed as to weather on our travels…most of the time. Unfortunately, the day we traveled through Hershey & Harrisburg was NOT one of those days. It was gray. It was rainy. It was even a little chilly. And those kinds of days mean we don’t get out and do as much or take as many pictures. Boo.

If you like Hershey’s Chocolate, then Hershey, PA, is worth a visit. It has a large museum about the candy company with a large gift shop full of candy, candy apparel and other candy paraphernalia. Although we were disappointed to discover that the streets were not paved with dark chocolate nor the rivers filled with white, the town has at least embraced its main tourist attraction by topping its street lights with Hershey Kisses (alas, not real ones).

Harrisburg is the capital city of Pennsylvania. We’re trying to make an effort to hit the capital cities of the states we pass through – at least if we’re relatively close when we’re in the state – and snag pictures of this country’s impressive capitols. So despite the blah day, we drove over to the Pennsylvania State Capitol as soon as we hit the city.

This gorgeous domed building is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark. The gold statue on top and the greenish-yellow dome still looked incredible – even with the gray clouds all around it. If only we’d gotten there a bit earlier in the day and could have toured the inside!

Punxsutawney

Every February 2nd, the nation turns its attention to a tiny little groundhog in the small town of Punxsutawney, eager to have the furry critter predict the weather. Though small, the town is famous and worth a trip. Thus, when we were driving through western PA and saw a sign directing us to Punxsutawney, we knew we had to go (read: Edie insisted!).

We have both seen the great 1990’s movie Groundhog Day, so it was fun to drive through town and out to Gobbler’s Knob to see the spots we’d only seen on screen before. This town, too, has embraced its claim to fame. Giant groundhog statues are all over town, decorated in a variety of ways. But alas, Phil did not make an appearance for us. Knox was devastated that he didn’t get a short frolic with the famous four-legged furball.

And Of Course, Pictures!

As always, we managed to grab enough shots during our time in Pennsylvania to put together a little gallery for you. Enjoy!