Punxsutawney Phil “walked” the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Punxsutawney Phil

I did not walk the 482-mile Camino de Santiago alone. In addition to meeting people from all over the world, I brought a cute furry friend along. You see my birthday is on February 2nd, Groundhog’s Day, so I brought a photograph of Punxsutawney Phil with me on my journey. You know, the infamous groundhog, “the Seer of Seers, the Sage of Sages, the Prognosticator of Prognosticators, the Weather Prophet Extraordinaire.” The star of the movie along with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. A bit strange to bring a picture of a groundhog on a pilgrimage across northern Spain, you might be thinking. However, there was a reason behind this. It was so that I could enter the “Worldwide Adventures of Punxsutawney Phil” photography contest.

The premise of this contest is that the Groundhog Club provides contestants with a picture of Punxsutawney Phil to take with us on adventures at home and abroad. So included in my 14-pound backpack, and then my day pack, I took the picture, and thus Punxsutawney Phil “walked” the Camino de Santiago!

When we arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela after about six weeks of walking, I took his photograph several times, pinned to my day pack, along with my hiking poles, symbolic scallop shell, and small yellow arrow. I chose this picture to enter the photography contest:

Cathedral Santiago de Compostella

While our efforts of walking the 482-mile journey were grand, alas we did not win first, second, or third place in the photography contest. We were however, one of three Honorable Mentions!! And I think it was quite honorable that Punxsutawney Phil “walked” the Camino de Santiago!

By the way, I did win First Place in the International Category of the same contest last year when Punxsutawney Phil accompanied me and my husband during our 12-day 100-mile walking travels in the Cotswolds.

Sweet Travels!

For more blogs about my 502-mile, 47-day journey across northern Spain and up the Atlantic Coast, please visit my Camino de Santiago category.

And the Winner is…Punxsutawney Phil in the Cotswolds

I. Won. First. Place!

In the International Category of the “Worldwide Adventures of Punxsutawney Phil” photography contest!

Saint Michaels Church Buckland Cotswolds Punxsutawney Phil

The premise of the contest is that the Groundhog Club provided me with a picture of Punxsutawney Phil that my husband and I took with us on our travels this past summer, both nationally and internationally. The background as to why I wanted to take Phil with us on various adventures is because, well, my birthday is on Groundhog’s Day. And it sounded like fun to compose pictures with Phil in them.

This winning picture was taken during our 12-day walk through the Cotswolds area of England. I actually took pictures of Phil at many churches, and ironically this was the second church of our trip, and one of the first of many, many pictures of Phil taken throughout our summer. This church is the Saint Michael’s Church in Buckland, a medieval church with some parts still existing from the years 1200, 1325, and 1480.

We also took Phil to London, and to a restoration project we are involved in at Burrow’s Island Lighthouse near Anacortes, WA. The most fun place we took Punxsutawney Phil, I think, was backpacking to “the other Gobblers Knob” on Mount Rainier.

Sweet Travels!

If you want to see all this year’s winners, here is a link on the Groundhog Club’s Pinterest page.

The “Other” Gobblers Knob – on Mount Rainier

Gobbler's Knob Mt Rainier Punxsutawney Phil

“The “other” Gobbler’s Knob? What? What do you mean?” you ask. “I thought there was only one Gobbler’s Knob. The one two miles east of the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. You know, the one where each year on February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, ‘the Seer of Seers, the Sage of Sages, the Prognosticator of Prognosticators, the Weather Prophet Extraordinaire,’ makes his weather prediction from Gobbler’s Knob. The place from where, since 1887, Phil has told us whether there will be six more weeks of winter, or if spring is just around the corner. The one at about 1,620 feet elevation. The one where you climb up the roads of Punxsutawney approximately 394 feet from the town to get there. You mean there is another Gobbler’s Knob?”

Gobbler's Knob Punxsutawney Pennsylvania

Well, actually, yes, there is another one.  Located on the other side of the country. In the state of Washington, at Mount Rainier National Park, at an elevation of 5,485 feet. A place where on a clear day, you get the perfect views of Mount Rainier, the Tahoma Glacier, a few alpine lakes, and the forests of trees beyond in all directions. There is even a fire lookout built in 1933 at this Gobblers Knob, one that was historically used by firewatchers to spot and report smoke and lightning strikes in the area. Occasionally still used today, this fire lookout is one of four remaining at Mount Rainier. On a really clear day, from this Gobblers Knob, you can also see the peaks of Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and the Olympic Mountains.

Gobblers Knob Lookout Mt Rainier 1.6 Miles

Gobblers Knob Lookout Mt Rainier .4 Miles

What is extra special about this “other” Gobblers Knob is that Punxsutawney Phil has actually been there! Well, ok, maybe not the actual Phil, but his picture sure has. He climbed the 1,195 feet of elevation with me in my backpack from Lake George below, up the one and a half miles to reach this spot. Well, actually we climbed 1,585 feet of elevation gain from where we parked our car, and five miles from the car.

Gobblers Knob Fire Lookout Mt Rainier

Gobbler's Knob Fire Lookout Mt Rainier 5485

“And why would you bring a picture of Phil to the “other” Gobblers Knob?” you ask. Well, there is a “Worldwide Adventures of Phil” photography contest that I am entering in, and this is just one of the several places that I have taken Phil with me this year on my travels that I will enter into the contest. “And why would you do such a thing?” you ask. Well, because my birthday is on…Groundhog’s Day. Even this past February, my husband and I went to the Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania to see the grand event. So when my husband and I decided to do a backpacking trip this August, for our one year wedding anniversary, we chose to go to Lake George, the perfect launching place for a trip up to the “other” Gobblers Knob, and to bring Phil along. Phil has been on a backpacking trip!

Gobblers Knob Mt Rainier Punxsutawney Phil

“And where else have you taken Phil this year?” you ask. To our 12-day walking travels in the Cotswolds area of England, followed by a few days in London, and to the restoration project we are involved in at the Burrow’s Island Lighthouse. I will be entering photos of Phil at these places as well. Wish me luck.

Cotswolds Stanway St Peters Church

London Bridge

Westminster Abbey London

Burrow's Island Lighthouse

“Oh, and did you know that ‘marmot’ is another name for a ‘groundhog’?” I ask. My husband and I happened to see a couple of cute juvenile marmots playing at Mt. Rainier as well. And Phil saw them too!

Groundhog Marmot Mt Rainier

And get this…There are a few “other other” Gobblers Knobs in the United States that I discovered as I was preparing this blog. At 10,246 feet there is a mountain near Salt Lake City, Utah in the Wasatch Mountains called Gobblers Knob. In Alaska, there is a 3,018 foot mountain peak near milepost 132 on the Dalton Highway named Gobblers Knob. One in the San Bernardino National Forest in California at 6,955 feet. One in the Crater Lake area in Oregon at 3,459 feet. There are even a couple of Gobblers Knobs in Colorado, and one in Mississippi.* Looks like we will need to take Punxsutawney Phil on a few more adventures!

Sweet Travels!

*Most information about the various Gobblers Knobs from Peakbagger-Gobblers Knob.

Lots of Things to Do on Groundhog’s Day Weekend in Punxsutawney

Gobblers Knob Punxsutawney

When my husband and I went to Punxsutawney, PA to celebrate our birthdays on Groundhog’s Day weekend earlier this month, we had no idea how much fun we would have during our three days there. Yes, we knew we would be waking up at the wee hours of the morning to see the World’s Most Famous Weatherman tell us if we needed to keep our rain jackets and snow boots out, or if we could bring our spring clothes out of the closet. Sure we also had some idea of what other activities we might do because I printed lists from the Groundhog Club’s webpage before we left. But I must say, that after spending three ‘phun-philled’ days in Punxs’y, it was the funnest travels I have ever had, and the best birthday celebration as well. And while many of the activities were geared towards kids, we are all kids at heart, aren’t we?

(Please note that this list of lots of things to do on Groundhog’s Day weekend in Punxsutawney is not in any particular order of funness, and is not inclusive of everything to do either.)

Punxsutawney Groundhog’s Club Headquarters and Museum. This was our first encounter with all-things-groundhog, and here we learned about the history of Groundhog’s Day, Punxsutawney Phil, the Inner Circle, and more, through memorabilia, artwork, and photographs, some of which are rare. You can get your frequently asked questions answered, and read about fun facts about the groundhog. There is a collection of Groundhog Beanie Babies, and you can see displays of music, songs, and carols written about Phil and Groundhog’s Day, as well as the movie itself, “Groundhog Day.” There is even a display called the Worldwide Adventures of Phil, where people take a picture of a Punxsutawney Phil photo at some location during their travels, and send them in for this collection. I think I will need to start doing that! We even got to meet a few members of the Inner Circle.


Punxsutawney Phil Beanie Babies

Punxsutawney Phil Cora Marie Mickler

Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center. Here you can learn about the science and folklore of weather prediction. You can learn how a tornado is formed, and even climb up to feel a simulated small tornado. Learn about the seasons, thermometers, interesting weather-related records (the sign below), and even have a chance to be a weather reporter using the AccuWeather Green Screen and TV. For you local Seattle folks, did you know that the most snow that has ever fallen in one year, a total of 102 feet during the 1971-1972 season, was at Paradise, Mt. Rainier?


Weather Discovery Center Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney Area Historical and Genealogical Society Museums. Two historical homes, across the street from each other, display historical memorabilia, including Native American and early Punxsutawney life, streetscapes of Mahoning Street in Punxs’y from the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, and lots more. There are activities for the children, including several books to read written about groundhogs. There is also genealogical help for anyone wanting to research family history in the area.


Groundhog Day in the 1950s

Punxsutawney Area Historical Museum

S’mores Making. What can I say about this, except YUM! Located outdoors at Barclay Square, they supply the ingredients, a stick, and a fire in a barrel. Great mid-day snack to warm you up in the cold.


Groundhogs Day S'mores

Punxutawney S'mores

Hayride Town Tour. Now you would think this one is only for the kids, but I really found this extremely fascinating, as it was an historical tour of Punxsutawney, as well as lots of fun. Did you know that many of the homes still standing in Punxs’y were built as early as 1862? Mansions were built by lumber and coal barons, doctors, and lawyers. From our great tour guide, we learned about the history of Punxs’y, including the booming coal and railroad industries of over a century ago. We saw historical government buildings, post offices, outdoor parks and squares, and churches. We learned about the Native American history of the area as well. Basically I discovered that Punxsutawney is not just about the groundhog.


Historical Mansion Punxsutawney

The “Phantastic Phils” and related Walking Tour. Go on a quest to see as many of the 32 plump, six-foot-tall, larger-than-life, friendly, colorful, creative, whimsical, artistic statues of the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the World’s Most Famous Weatherman. Please refer to my blog, Phun with the “Phantastic Phils, for more information. The Walking Tour is held several times a day for all three days.


Phil's Burrow and Phillage Phantastic Phil

Groundhog Eve Banquet. Going to this event was a last-minute decision for us, but well worth it. In a room of 550, the Inner Circle’s President gave a welcome speech, and the Groundhog King and Queen were presented. Two meteorologists from The Weather Channel talked, and the community honored a Man and Woman-of-the-Year, people who serve their community in tremendous ways. Even singing occurred by members of the Inner Circle in a barbershop-quartet style, and lots of food was served. But I thought the funnest part was this room of 550 singing Happy Birthday to me and two others, the only ones in the entire room who actually were celebrating a birthday on Groundhog’s Day itself.


Groundhog Eve Banquet

Gobbler’s Knob. Of course waking up (or maybe not sleeping much at all) to get to Gobbler’s Knob at 3am on Groundhog’s Day is a must. We actually got there at 5am, and had a great time being entertained by singing and dancing for hours. A fireworks display transitioned the entertainment to the Inner Circle bringing Punxsutawney Phil on stage for the weather prediction – the highlight of the weekend – even though this year he predicted that we needed to keep our rain jackets and snow boots out. However, I also suggest going to Gobbler’s Knob during the day, when it is quiet, there are no crowds, and you can see the area in the light. You can even walk to Gobbler’s Knob, as there are two directions up the main road to get there, each about a mile and a half.


Groundhogs Day Gobblers Knob

Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog 101 Class, and Autographs of the Inner Circle. Phil’s handlers who care for him everyday talked about fun facts about the groundhog, and answered questions. Did you know that a groundhog sleeps 22 to 23 hours a day, they only have four teeth, two on top and two on the bottom, and have four toes on their front paws and five toes on their back paws? They can swim, and they have two layers of fur to keep them warm and dry. Groundhogs are herbivores, weigh an average of 8 to 10 pounds, and are also called whistle pigs, woodchucks, and marmots. It was also fun to meet many members of the distinguished men of the Inner Circle as I got their autographs.


Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle

Arts and Crafts Shows, Displays, and Exhibits. During all three days in Punxs’y, there are a variety of arts and crafts, mostly groundhog-related, including handcrafted items from local artists, live chain saw woodcarving, paintings, and metal arts.


Wizards Workshop Groundhog Wood Carving

Groundhog Artwork

Shopping and Eating. Shopping includes souvenir shops, antique stores, art studios, and a place of 40 stores of artisans, craftsmen, and antique traders all housed in an old vintage warehouse. Eating includes food vendors, a food court, a winter food fest, concession stands, all-you-can-eat breakfasts, breakfast buffets, and restaurants. A chili and hot wing cook-off, groundhog cookie decorating, teams competing to produce groundhog-themed cupcakes, an Oreo cookie snack contest, and s’mores making (oh, I already mentioned that). We also happened to find a restaurant selling these cute chocolate groundhog cupcakes, and it happened to be on my birthday!


Punxsy Phil Cupcake

And then there is so much more. See Phyllis, Phil’s significant other, at Phil’s Burrow next to the library, attend the Inner Circle’s Groundhog Ball, watch the movie “Groundhog Day,” watch the movie “Groundhog Day,” dance to the live music of a couple of classic rock bands, listen to dueling pianos, see the crowning of Little Mr. and Miss Groundhog, and play groundhog bingo. There is a magician, a scavenger hunt, story time, and crafts for the kids. You can even get married, or renew your vows, on Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney.

So whether you are a kid or an adult-kid at heart, and even if it is not your birthday on Groundhog’s Day itself like me, I would suggest adding Punxs’y to your bucket list, and go have some phun!

Oh, and a great place to stay is the Pines Bed & Breakfast in Indiana, about a 35 minute drive from Punxsutawney. The home of the extremely hospitable hosts feels like a museum itself, with antiques and collections decorating every room. The Jimmy Stewart Museum is also in Indiana, and was a wonderful thing to do on our last day before heading back to the airport in Pittsburgh.

Sweet Travels!

For more information on visiting Punxsutawney, and all the things to do, please visit Groundhog.org and Punxsutawney.com.

For more blogs on Groundhog’s Day please visit my Punxsutawney-Groundhogs’ Day category.

Phun with the “Phantastic Phils” of Punxsutawney, PA!

Phantastic Phil Phil'd with Love

No, the title of this blog does not have typos. The “Phantastic Phils” of Punxsutawney are a series of 32 plump, six-foot-tall, larger-than-life, friendly, colorful, creative, whimsical, artistic statues of the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the World’s Most Famous Weatherman. An outdoor public art project of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, these statues that decorate the streets and landscapes of Punxsutawney took two and a half years to complete. The “Phantastic Phils” are not only considered “members” of the community, but they are “scattered around the community greeting residents on a daily basis and delighting visitors who eagerly search them out.” Such as my husband and me, who during our three phun-philled days on Groundhog’s Day weekend were on a quest to find as many of these “Phantastic Phils” as possible. Phantastic phun!


Phantastic Phil Get Your Phil of Roses

Each with its own unique name, artist, and sponsorship, the first “Phantastic Phil” we discovered was this beautiful “Get Your Phil of Roses,” made with thousands of pieces of glass. A stained glass groundhog! Artist Brenda Nicklas said this sculpture took 200 hours to complete! Amazingly it survived a severe thunderstorm the night of its unveiling where “lightening struck the brick building across the street sending brick fragments flying in all directions narrowly missing the new Phantastic Phil.”


Phantastic Phil Wizard of the Weather

Since Punxsutawney, PA is the Weather Capital of the World, and Punxsutawney Phil is the Weather Predictor Extraordinaire, it is only appropriate that this, “The Wizard of the Weather” statue, is located next to the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center. Decorated with a weather vane, snow, a snow shovel, butterflies, lightening, a working thermometer, and other weather-related items, all four seasons are illustrated on the front and back of this “Phantastic Phil.”


Phantastic Phil Presby MacPhil

“Presby MacPhil” is located near the Punxsutawney Presbyterian Church, and represents the Scottish beginnings of the church. Complete with wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes, when this sculpture was unveiled, a true bagpiper entertained the crowd.


Phantastic Phil Fireman Phil

“Fireman Phil” was sponsored by the Depp family, “not only to honor their beloved father and grandfather, the late Leroy ‘Cookie’ Depp, a longtime fireman, but also to pay tribute to all volunteer firefighters in the community.”


Phantastic Phil Freedom Phil

Modeled after the Statue of Liberty, “Freedom Phil” was sponsored by the committee that hosts Punxsutawney’s annual Groundhog Festival during the week of the Fourth of July. Interestingly, the copper paint used on this sculpture will age to give it the look of “verdigris,” the green pigment that is similar to that used on the real Statue of Liberty.


Phantastic Phil Punksutenink Phil

Did you know that the origin of the name of Punxsutawney comes from the Native Delaware Indians, the Lenni Lenape, who called it the “Town of the “Ponkies?” Ponkies are gnats or sand flies, or maybe even mosquitoes. The Lenni Lenape also have their own legend about the groundhog, which they refer to as the “Oijak or Wojak,” similar to the name woodchuck. This “Punksutenink Phil” statue is filled with wonderful historical information.


Phantastic Phil There's Work to be Done

“There’s Work to be Done” is located across the street from a hardware store. This “Phantastic Phil” statue contains all kinds of tools, including a pair of safety goggles on its head, a pencil behind an ear, an extension cord in one hand, and a rake in the other hand.

At this point I will mention that there is a great brochure presented by The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and Northwest Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, which has small photos of all the “Phantastic Phils,” and a great map of the town showing you where they are all located. We used this map during our quest to find them, both by walking to many, and driving to a few. The first day we were in Punxsutawney, we even took a free, guided, 45-minute “Phantastic Phil Walking Tour” to several of the sculptures. Our tour guide, Michele Neal, the Executive Director of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, provided us with information about the project of creating the statues, trivia about them, and other “insider” tidbits.


Phantastic Phil Spirit of Punxsutawney

“The Spirit of Punxsutawney” represents the community’s newspaper, made by co-artists Rick Weiss who “put his design on paper and artist Sandy Zambory who created the old-time newspaper reporter, complete with an authentic Brownie camera around his neck.” In fact, all of the Phantastic Phil statues resemble a caricature that Mr. Weiss, a popular Pittsburgh-area artist, previously developed for this local newspaper.


Phantastic Phil Phillage

Of course the collection of “Phantastic Phils” statues would not be complete without “Phillage,” Punxsutawney Phil himself, the first statue created, making its debut on Groundhog’s Day 2004, sponsored by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. It shows Phil dressed in the traditional tuxedo and top hat, making this sculpture actually seven feet tall, which are worn by the members of the Inner Circle, the caretakers of the real Punxsutawney Phil. A collage of images from the community’s famous holiday is on the back of this statue, including scenes from the festivities at Gobbler’s Knob on February 2nd, where Phil makes his weather prediction.

Our favorite statue however is the “Phil’d with Love” Phantastic Phil, the first picture of this blog above. It is the only sculpture with both arms in the air, as if giving a hug to all. Located near, and sponsored by, Mulberry Square Elder Care and Rehabilitation, its message “I heart Punsxy” is simple, yet meaningful.

There are many other statues that my husband and I found on our quest, and others that we were not able to see on this trip, that are not represented in this blog. Just some of the other Phantastic Phil statues include names like, “It’s a WonderPhil World,” “Postcards from Phil,” “It’s Springtime for Phantastic Phyllis,” and “Oh the Places Phil Will Go.” As I have said, phantastic phun!

Please note that much of the information for this blog, including the quotes, was obtained by the brochure mentioned above, and a great 68-page booklet, “The Phantastic Phils! of Punxsutawney,” published by the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce. I bought this booklet as a great souvenir of our quest of the “Phantastic Phils” of Punxsutawney!

Sweet (and phun) Travels!

For more information on visiting Punxsutawney, visit Groundhog.org and Punxsutawney.com, including more information on the “Phantastic Phils!

For more blogs on Groundhog’s Day please visit my Punxsutawney-Groundhogs’ Day category.