Day "Lucky" Thirteen and More About Phil

Submitted by Robin Olson on Sun, 10/26/2008 - 17:23

Okay - the groundhogs are cool... and you DID kinda have your own little "Groundhog Day" experience in Des Moines... but I'm sorry... the onion soup at Outhouse Steakback DOES NOT qualify as Food Porn!! >:(

I'm really disappointed. I thought I knew ye!!

Robin Olson

Mon, 10/27/2008 - 00:34

I doesn't count, but I was desperate!

I tried, just for you, honest! I've got more shots to upload. Will dig around for more food porn, not G-rated onion soup.

I hit the road at 9am. The weather was dreadful. I got some fancy high octane gas, finally, at Sunoco. Up to that point, I'd been getting gas from brandless branded gas stations that made me a bit worried about their effect on the engine. Yeah, I'm a victim of advertising, even though I know better. Sooooo...anyway...

State College, PA, from what little I saw of it, was an oasis in the middle of seriously poverty-stricken north central Pennsylvania. Of course, the influx of cash from Penn State had to be the sole reason for the massive growth. Everywhere I looked, I saw new buildings, clean and shiny, but if I looked a bit longer, I'd also see ratty picket fences disguising forlorn trailer parks.


(View down the creepy hallway at the Holiday Inn Express, State College, PA)

There were malls, featuring Kohl's and Cirucit City, a big stadium...ummm...Beaver Stadium, to be exact, townhouses and condos on hilltops overlooking the highway and a large penitentiary in the city outskirts. They have everything, right? Even an Outback Steakhouse and an Olive Garden-all this in the middle of seemingly-nowhere's-ville.

French Onion Soup

(French Onion Soup at Outback Steakhouse)

An hour away in little Punxsatawney, PA, I saw so much poverty, I felt very guilty driving through town in a BMW. I thought about what my home is like, as I looked at buildings that didn't even have siding-just tyvek or plywood sheets. The porch on one building was sagged so badly, it was GOING to collapse. Not sometime, but soon. Even with that poverty, that little house falling down on itself was decorated for Halloween, their recycling bins clustered near the entry door, a child's bike resting against the wall-or holding up the house, I wasn't sure.

I saw an old man with an older dog. The dog was so old he moved by teetering and tottering, instead of flexing his legs at the hip. I wanted to scoop them both up in my car and take them with me.

It was obvious whatever caused the towns to thrive had left and they were surely struggling. There were signs proclaiming support for McCain and that Obama, you just couldn't trust him, no. Someone actually spent money and effort to have signs printed about Obama not being trustworthy. Once in awhile I'd be relieved to see an Obama sign on a tattered lawn. I think regardless of who wins, someone needs to come to these areas and give them some help. The land is so beautiful-sweeping rolling hillsides that dip and drop like a rollercoaster. Farms and hillside cemeteries that catch the slumbering sunlight. It has magic, this place, but also has such sadness, you can feel it in your heart as you drive by.

Punxsatawney is hanging in there. Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, is keeping them alive. All over town are statues of Phil in different poses, with different outfits. They have a tiny zoo, just for him, along with groundhog decor all over town. The folks at the Chamber of Commerce, where you can buy Philmobilia, were very friendly and were ready to repeat, for the gilliionth time, where Gobbler's Knob was and where to see Phil. They collected my credit card with a smile. I felt like I should just give them some money for their sweet little town and let them keep the t-shirts.

Punxsutawney Phil Statue

Punxsutawney Phil's Faux Friend

Punxsutawney Phil's House

This day was so much more about just getting off the Interstate and seeing a sliver of this country. It broke my heart, but I also have hope. I also realize how much I've got and I kinda feel gross.

I need to make some changes.