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2019 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

2.18.2019

Interesting Pennsylvania & Beyond's Fifth Anniversary: Thanks for your ongoing support!

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the founding of Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond. It is our honor being able to highlight the many great attractions that the state has to offer.
Hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park
When we started, we were not aware of any pages that were covering Pennsylvania travel. Because of this, we started off a mission to help highlight the many great things that Pennsylvania has to offer as a place to visit and explore.

From scenic overlooks, to cultural institutions, businesses, eclectic art and sculptures, rugged forests and mountains, and so much more, Pennsylvania has so much to offer. We work to bring awareness to these places so you can make the most of your Pennsylvania adventures. With this process, we have steadily expanded, with tens of thousands of readers coming to our page every month, and more than 41,000 people following us on Facebook. It is wonderful being able to effectively highlight the many affordable and fun things that you can check out across Pennsylvania. 

Through our other page, www.coastertalknobszone.com, which is dedicated to amusement parks, we often covered many non-amusement park related attractions across the state. After writing Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, a book on Pennsylvania's ten historic and awesome amusement parks, and after a glorious visit to see the ice dunes at Presque Isle State Park on our fifth anniversary as a couple, we knew that we wanted to create Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond to highlight travel throughout Pennsylvania.

Every place that we highlight on the page has been personally visited by us. This level of authenticity is what we aim for in order to honestly portray the places that we visit, so that you get accurate recommendations on what to expect with places when it comes to launching adventures of your own.
Autumn at the Kennerdell Overlook, showing a view of the Allegheny River in Venango County

Here on our fifth anniversary as a page, and the tenth anniversary of the two of us as a couple, we thank you for your continued support and look forward to continuing to highlight the places that make Pennsylvania really shine.

Thank you,

David and Brittany Witoslawski
Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond

2.10.2019

Breezyview Overlook and Chickies Rock on the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County

On the western edge of Lancaster County there is a tremendous scenic overlook and rock outcropping that gives a stunning view of the Susquehanna River. The Breezyview Overlook and Chickies Rock are easy to access and well worth a stop. 
Breezyview Overlook is a part of Lancaster County's Chickies Rock Park. The overlook is roadside, meaning you can park right next to the overlook. Chickies Rock is just over a half mile drive north of this spot and requires a 15 minute small hike/nature walk to the outcropping.
Chickies Rock is the rock outcropping on the slope heading towards the river. Also notice the electrified rail line heading along the river. This line is part of Amtrak's Keystone Corridor and the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The gazebo at the Breezyview Overlook is a favorite site for weddings, picnics, and more.
If you are driving through the area, this is certainly an area you should check out. The Turkey Hill Experience is located right down the hill, along with the stunning Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. There is a rail trail through the park on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Columbia Branch. There is an abandoned tunnel, the Point Rock/Chickies Tunnel, that is located on the trail. 

2.03.2019

Experiencing Groundhog Day: A Great Party & Tradition

Getting to Groundhog Day is something that I have always wanted to do. The only thing holding me back from going was the standard work week, since five of the seven days of the week fall during the work week. This year, February 2nd perfectly fell upon a Saturday, so I naturally had to go check it out. The intrigue for us to visit was always there for us, but a random visit on a spring day convinced us that this was something that we absolutely had to do. On that day, we drove up to Gobbler's Knob, just to see the site of the annual Groundhog Day festivities, and we were greeted by Bob Young. He told us all about the tradition of the Groundhog and its importance to the Punxsutawney region. We had an absolute blast that day, checking out Gobbler's Knob, seeing Phil's burrow, where our groundhog weatherman lives all year with his wife Phyllis, and so much more. There is lots of Groundhog fun to be had throughout Punxsutawney on any day of the year.  

While the concept of huddling around a groundhog in the cold sounds quite strange, which it certainly is, the sheer joy of the event showed me the true meaning of why this venerable event has lasted for 133 years. Especially in times like this where everyone is so pumped up in being divisive when it comes to politics and beliefs, it was refreshing to be in a place with tens of thousands of other people came to party. In my time at the event, I talked to people from all over Pennsylvania, all of the surrounding states, and from as far away as Texas, California, Australia, Japan, and France. This delightfully strange and joyous occasion was devoid of arguments and vitriol and was relaxed and absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend that you get out and experience this for yourself.
Groundhog Day is rooted in old German tradition. Early Christians in Europe celebrated Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless candles and distribute them to the people on February 2. Lyrics to an old English song also bear resemblance to the current traditions of Groundhog Day: “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.” The Roman legions shared their traditions with Germans, which comprised many of the immigrants in Pennsylvania centuries ago. One particular tradition was held in the belief that if a sunny day came on Candlemas day and a hedgehog cast a shadow, it would predict a “Second Winter,” or roughly six more weeks of winter. It’s believed that German immigrants sought to continue this tradition; however, hedgehogs could not be found in Pennsylvania and it was determined to use a groundhog as a substitute given the abundance of groundhogs in Pennsylvania.
I arrived in downtown Punxsutawney at about 4:30AM and caught a shuttle bus up to Gobbler's Knob. There is an endless loop of shuttles that take you from multiple places in Punxsutawney, including in the center of downtown, in addition to parking lots at the Shop N Save Grocery Store, and a Walmart. I opted to hike back to town after the celebration, which was really relaxing.
Arrival time! Ended up reaching the Gobbler's Knob at about 5:00AM. There were already thousands of spectators gathered and the festivities were well underway. Prior to arrival I wondered what I would do, waiting for 2.5 hours for Punxsutawney Phil's prognostication in the zero degree weather, but that wonder quickly melted away when I saw how much of a party it was.
Folks were already huddled around the stage.
And around campfires!
5:05 AM, zero degrees Fahrenheit, Phil napping in his Gobbler's Knob vacation home, and surrounded by thousands of people. 
The emcees and the Philettes were leading the entertainment through the night/early morning.
And fireworks were shot off throughout the night.
I was not expecting this shot, so I quickly switch lenses, but was only able to get one unfocused shot. An owl landed in one of the trees behind the stage!
Musical entertainment covered most of the event. This is the "house band" The Beagle Brothers. The Philettes Dance Team from Punxsutawney High School also performed, along with some talking by YouTuber Pittsburgh Dad, and more.
Just about an hour until the forecast!
Did I mention that the entertainment was seriously entertaining? They had a number of groundhog themed parodies, including "No Sleep in Punxsy" complete with a gorilla doing the riff from the Beastie Boys "No Sleep Til Brooklyn."
The Clean Shave Quartet, the only Barbershop Quartet of the US Navy. They sang a few songs, in addition to the National Anthem.
It was then followed by the best fireworks display to ever be shot off at 6:30 in the morning in Pennsylvania. 
As I look back at all of these photos while I write this, I am reminded of just how special this event is. Truly a one-of-a-kind event.
Here is Katie Donald, the executive director of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The event is truly wonderful.
Hmmmmm I am getting mixed signals here. Fortunately, the members of hte Inner Circle speak Groundhogese and will be able to interpret Phil's forecast.
They turned off the spotlights so Phil is able to get a predict a well calibrated forecast. The Groundhog Club claims that Phil is always correct with his forecasts. While the science says that this is simply not the case, the percentages also show that Phil has an efficacy that is almost identical to that of human meteorologists. 
They are about to take Phil out of his vacation home up at Gobbler's Knob!
He is out! Now they have to get the forecast from him. Words cannot describe how awesome this moment was. 
Phil is ready to prognosticate!
Now they prepare for the prognostication
Phil is easily the largest groundhog of all time.
And now for a reading of Phil's prognostication
Phil did not see his shadow and we will now have an early spring! We went from having the Polar Vortex in full effect during the morning of Groundhog Day, to having weather in the 50s the next day. Phil definitely came through.
Remember though, the fun does not stop after Phil makes his forecast. Phil's home is right in the town square of Punxsutawney, where he lives with his wife Phyllis. For more information on year-round fun in town, check out this article
All in all, you need to make the trip to Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day at least once in your life. We also recommend checking it out on any road trip. Any time that we drive within 30 minutes of town, we usually end up going to Phil's Burrow. For more information on the holiday and things to do in the area, check out www.groundhog.org 

1.27.2019

Perry County's Covered Bridges

Perry County has a tremendous number of covered bridges with fourteen of them in all. The region has taken tremendous initiative in preserving these historic spans. Seven of the covered bridges are within a few miles of each other along Sherman Creek, between the Tuscarora and Blue Mountains. The land between the mountains is filled with woods, farm land, Sherman Creek, covered bridges, and views of the mountains. It is absolutely beautiful country.
Rice/Landisburg Bridge
Constructed in 1869
Burr Truss with two Queenposts
132 feet long and 18 feet wide
Crosses Sherman Creek
The Rice/Landisburg Bridge is the first that we visited on this trip, and it is probably my favorite. The section of Sherman Creek that is crosses is a popular fishing hole, with fly fisherman pulling out trout, even on a cold January day. It is located just down the road from Landisburg, a charming and historic little borough.
The combination of Burr Truss and Queenpost construction is pretty rare. Steel beams have been used to supplement the original structure, instead of serving as a replacement of sorts.
Waggoner Covered Bridge/Roddy's Mill Covered Bridge/Thompson Bridge
Constructed in 1889
Burr Truss
84 feet long and 17 feet wide
Crosses Bixler Creek
Waggoner's Covered Bridge is privately owned, and as is often the case in this situation, it is in poor shape. There is no really good place to pull off to see it and you cannot walk up to it, since it is on private property. It is a pretty bridge in a gorgeous setting, and is worth glancing over at while you are checking out the multitude of beautifully maintained and public covered bridges within 5-10 minutes of the location.
Adair/Cisma Mill Covered Bridge
Constructed in 1864, rebuilt in 2007
Burr Truss
150 feet long and 14 feet wide
Crosses Sherman Creek
While Rice Bridge was my favorite overall bridge in the county, Adair Covered Bridge was my favorite to photograph. The picturesque setting, with the bridge, creek, and surrounding farmland, really stuck out with this bridge. Simply stunning in every way.

Bistline/Flickinger's Mill Covered Bridge
Constructed in 1880 and rehabilitated in 2008
Burr Truss 
103 feet long and 13 feet and eight inches wide
Crosses Sherman Creek
Bistline Covered Bridge is another gorgeously rehabilitated bridge. This one feels more remote than the others, being located more deeply in the woods. The setting and the bridge are so beautiful.
Enslow Bridge
Constructed in 1904
Burr Truss
110 feet long and 16 feet wide
Crosses Sherman's Creek
It is easy to see in these pictures the how bucolic the settings are around these covered bridges. Enslow is no exception. I like when the paint also starts to get more weathered. It adds character to the bridges, though a freshly painted bridge is impressive as well.
Note the adjacent creek crossing. I presume that is for larger farming vehicles that the bridge cannot accommodate.
Book's/Kaufman Covered Bridge
Constructed in 1884 and Rebuilt in ?
Burr Truss 
70 feet long and 17 feet wide
Crosses Sherman's Creek
Book's Covered Bridge is a gorgeous span. In 2003, the original covered bridge structure on this site had collapsed into the creek. The county and region takes their heritage seriously when it comes to covered bridges, and a community effort was put into place to rebuild this bridge. After the Dellville Covered Bridge succumbed to arson on the other side of the county, the community has begun the work of rebuilding that bridge as well. The community's care for their covered bridges really blew me away.
The Burr Arch construction of the bridge, showing off the new lumber they used to rebuild the bridge. Such an impressive span.

Mt. Pleasant Bridge
Constructed in 1918
Kingpost Construction
60 feet long and 17 feet and nine inches wide
Crosses Sherman's Creek
You see a common theme with the beauty around here, with the bridge and creek being surrounded by farms and mountains. The setting here is so beautiful. This bridge is in excellent shape.
Note the Kingpost Construction

New Germantown Covered Bridge
Constructed in 1891
Kingpost and Queenpost Construction
74 feet long and 12 feet wide
Crosses Sherman's Creek
Perry County's covered bridges are amazing and you should definitely check them out sometime.
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