Day 16 …Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

My day started off with enjoying my protein shake out on the porch in 55 degree weather. Realizing I hadn’t connected with Mom in a while, we chatted for a long time before heading out to Six Flags Great America for the day. 

Let me start by saying this….living near Disney World for the last 10 years has spoiled me on Theme Parks.  The “Disney” I had growing up in the nearby State was THIS Six Flags. Nothing was more exciting to me than a full day of rides, cotton candy, twisty unicorn suckers, and nachos. My favorite memory was my 16th Birthday celebrated at Great America, and I won a Buffalo with pink hair that stood as tall as me- 5 ft!  Imagine me walking around with this huge buffalo on my back, basically like carrying around a loveseat beanbag with hair. Seriously, it was hilarious.  I loved the spinning rides, the water rides, the IMAX, and running into the characters. Nope, not the rollercoasters, too scared of heights.  Still enough to do, and I made the most of my childhood here.

But now….. maybe it’s Covid, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s the lack of caring. The Six Flags I remember has been replaced with broken down rides, garbage everywhere, paint peeling here and there, and not a team member who seemed to care.  I realize it’s a job, it’s probably not that exciting, but it does count when at Disney, Cast Members are smiling, happy to see you, greeting you with open arms, and more than willing to help you with something.  Now, my ticket was $30- and then $25 for parking.  Still cheaper than a day at Disney, but this is more like a day at the County Fair now. 

My favorite ride as a child was the double-decker Carousel at the entrance…it was always so exciting to see and ride the first thing of my day. I of COURSE rode it today, Walter needed to ride it too, but there was no music. None. It was creepy, and we asked where the music was and of course got it “I don’t know.” Great, thanks for the help. LOL 

We rode some other things, but most of my favorite stuff was closed. Several eateries, stores, and including rides, were shut down.  Yes, like Disney, but for some reason I had hoped coming out of Covid it would be different. Lesson learned, and honestly, it was my last time. You have this moment as an adult when you realize that you’re good, you don’t need to repeat things to keep the memories alive. They happened, they exist, you enjoyed it at one time, and now it’s time to move on. So many wonderful times here with Craig and the girls, my parents, my brother, Kim and her Bachelorette party….and of course my Campus Life group and High School friends. It was time to close that chapter, and I was really ok with it.

Every time I am in this area, I have to hit up Gurnee Mills. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a large indoor Outlet Mall that has Rainforest Café, the Disney Store, and a HUGE Bass Pro Shop!  It was kind of a thing we would make a weekend of- one day at Six Flags, overnight it at a hotel, and then a day of shopping at Gurnee. We had a great time walking around, finding GREAT gifts at Disney, and then headed out to find dinner closer to home base.

Now lunch was basically a snack, but it was something. Chicken fingers and fries at Great America, so I did eat somewhere new. But dinner was a wonderful indulgence of 2 pounds of crab legs, warm butter, baked potato and seasoned green beans at Red Lobster.  I also treated myself to a Mojito, which was good, but not “Ale House” good. Good enough to get a bit lit before I headed to Target, cleaned my car and packed, addressing postcards, and now watching “The Cave” while blogging.  

One full day here tomorrow yet and then I head off to Wisconsin early Friday morning. My cup runneth over, I am ever so grateful. See you tomorrow.

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Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 15 …Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Waking up in Chicago this morning, the city was clearly awake and alive before I was.  Excited for that today held, I got ready and we were out the door and out and HEY BONUS- the car was STILL in the parking garage and still IN TACT.  Where we had parked was a bit on the questionable side, so you just hope for the best.  We did, it was still there, all was well in the World.

We headed to Chinatown, just about 10 minutes from where we were in the City, and stopped at Walgreens for essentials.   I checked out with my Advil, and she didn’t give me a bag nor ask me for one. I thought she was just forgetful or busy, so as my friend checked out, I tossed my meds in the bag and grabbed it for myself. She flipped!!  “This is the city…those are 7 cents each!” My face, was I am sure, priceless.  I said “Clearly I am not from the City…I always got my items with the bag.” I gave it back to her and she said “No, no, you take it, it’s ok” – I just felt stupid and embarrassed.  Why not just add the 7 cents to everyone’s purchases or ask them if they want a bag? Me think she saw my “Spread Kindness” shirt and didn’t want to make me feel any more embarrassed than I was. So that was my introduction to Chinatown…lol.

I remembered this area a lot differently then when I was here as a kid on field trips to Chicago.  Maybe it was because it was morning, a week day, but it was just ok.  Fearing I would get yelled at for anything in the area now, I just decided to spend a little time looking at Zodiac signs with Walter and then leave. I am born from the year of the Tiger….makes sense since I follow Tiger King on FB LOL.  It was pretty spot on, let me know if you think so too.

After a brief visit, we headed to Bohemian Cemetery. A very old, 1800’s type one, we had a good time driving around and looking at all of the neat stones.  But apparently there was a pervy ghost because I got the EVP “Strip” to me…..I laughed….yah sick perv ghost.

Next we went to find more movie and tv locations around the Chicago area. I of course got Walter in front of the Art Institute in Chicago where Ferris Bueller was filmed, and then we added another piece to our John Hughes Collection with Samantha’s house in Evanston, IL where “Sixteen Candles” was filmed. Oh and you bet your sweet butt I took pics of where Long Duck Dong was drunk on the front lawn and says “Automobile?” Cracks me up because you KNOW you just heard me say that in his voice! LOL We also drove through Skokie, IL where “Contagion” was filmed…you know, the one BEFORE Covid was a real thing in our lives? Anyways the Science Institute there is where some of the scenes were filmed. I highly encourage you to google your own area to see if anything has been filmed by you, it’s always a fun and FREE activity to do with the family!

Lunch was found in a quiet strip Mall in Skokie, “Flame On Peri-Peri” – a great chicken joint with different types of sauces, and I was more than happy to get some protein and veggies in me.  My poor digestive system, but I am on top of my vitamins and protein shakes, so I think I am keeping things even right now.  I will be adding my own exercise program for the road soon so I can lose while I travel and still feel really, really good eating the fun stuff around the Country.

Last but not least, I haven’t gotten to the real one yet in Italy, so I will take the next best thing. For some reason, IL wanted to make their own “Leaning Tower of Niles” in downtown Niles, IL.  It is located right in front of the YMCA, and there is ample parking to get out and take pictures. Another fun and free activity to do, and we had a good time trying to pose Walter with the infamous tower.  It was actually a lot bigger than I thought it would be! If you have ever been to Paris, TN, you may have seen their version of the Eiffel Tower, or the one at Epcot in Disney World, but this one was shocking to see as it came in to view. A great road trip stop. 94 feet tall, 28 feet in diameter, leans 7.4 feet, built in 1931 and completed in 1934, including 5 active bells in the tower. Compared to the real Pisa, the original in Italy is 177 feet tall, 56 feet wide, leans 15.2 feet, and built in the year 1171 and not completed until 1334. It’s a sight to see!

The rest of the day was spent getting back to home base, unpacking just to pack again for leaving Friday.  Taking some much needed rest and relaxation, and enjoying my host’s famous jambalaya and nice crisp, cold watermelon for dessert.  The windows are all open, it’s a cool breeze, YouTube is playing, life is good. See you tomorrow!

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 14: Monday, June 14th, 2021

Today I was bound for the Windy City….Chicago baby!  So much to see, so much to do, it was exciting to plan this part because I wanted to hit things that I hadn’t seen yet. Incredibly blessed with a friend who grew up going to Chicago all the time, they knew where to park and if you have ever been to CHI town, you know that parking is the biggest headache of them all here!  We found a paid lot by Lincoln Park, and started our day there.

I grew up with the Milwaukee County Zoo…always a field trip or a day with the family. It’s always nice to see other Zoos and how they run things… it was a really nice surprise that the Lincoln Park Zoo was free! See, this is why parking was $29, they get you somewhere. LOL It was such a beautiful day today, mid 70s, cool breeze…the heat had taken a break and we were VERY happy to have such a great weather day. ..

I was very impressed with the amount of animals they had, and the exhibits were in good shape and not run down.  The grounds were kept beautifully, and the gift shop had a nice, fresh vibe to it. (Although sadly they didn’t have any stickers of the Zoo…I mean what the heck am I supposed to put on my luggage now, a giraffe pen?)  We spent several hours there, snacking on popcorn and sodas, Walter had tons of fun, and we headed to find lunch at “The Patio” inside the Park.  I ordered an Impossible Burger on a Pretzel bun, and my friend got tacos. The setting was so pretty….the park, the boardwalk, the water… and the family that decided to let their little one run around over, and over, and over again just made it that extra special. LOL The food was ok, they can’t all be winners, but we were hungry and it was enough.

First we had to find the garage, the spot was reserved online, and it was the closest to the hotel. I love staying downtown now and then, but what a pain to find parking, even online, when it’s so easy and convenient staying at hotels outside of the city.  Once we were checked in, 20th floor, we headed to Navy Pier- MY FIRST TIME!!

I guess I had it in my head it was like the Boardwalk in other cities, but basically is was a food and shopping district on Lake Michigan. The Skywheel is impressive to see on the waterfront, but I got more excited to see a Tall Sails Ship docked on the Pier.  We signed up for the 5 pm tour and we had such a good time, even wound up on a rescue mission! There was a white thing floating farther out in the Lake, so our boat when to rescue someone or see what was in the water.  We all cheered as we saw it was a Unicorn pool floatie thankfully and not a person in the water…it was pretty funny.  The tour lasted about 75 minutes, costed $10 cheaper purchasing the tickets through Groupon, and it was a comfortable ride except for the music. The pirate music they lead out and lead into the Pier with FITS the feel of this ride…but once on the open water they play LOUD, pop rock music which makes no sense.  So the feel of a relaxed ride on the water becomes a party boat that nobody was dancing on, everyone just wanted to chill. So be aware of that if you want to ride the “Windy.” All in all, an experience I never had before AND I got to raise one of the Main Masts… it was AWESOME!!

After walking back from Navy Pier, we inhaled Chinese food before the “Ghosts and Gangsters Tour” in downtown Chicago. Caleb was our host, and he did a great job, but be prepared to WALK. And what I didn’t like was the tour wasn’t in a complete circle…we started near the Riverwalk and ended up at the Congress Hotel.  I learned a lot about Al Capone, the Chicago Fire, and a lot about the gangs that ran these streets so long ago. But after the full day I had had already, my feet were just about bleeding. It was a beautiful night, a great tour, just wasn’t the best thing to end my day with.

Today’s Moments of Kindness: Gave money to a street musician, donated to the Zoo programs, took a family’s picture in the front of the Zoo.

So I am now tucked away in Chicago tonight, excited for what life will bring tomorrow, and oh so thankful and blessed for the travels I have enjoyed so far. See you tomorrow!!

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 13 …Sunday, June 13th, 2021

“The Ghost Tour of Naperville”…. let’s start there. WOW. First off, Kevin Frantz, author, historian, paranormal investigator and author, was just amazing.  The tour starts in downtown Naperville, which was challenging at times as it was at 8 pm on a Saturday night and the town was alive and well with party goers. This being the first weekend that they have reached phase 5, everyone was out to celebrate.  That being said, Kevin did a great job being loud and present so we didn’t have to strain to hear him over the noise. The tour costs $20 cash at the site, you can reserve online if you like but not required. He took us through each ghost story, and being the town’s Historian, he was being historically accurate.  Stories of lovers, lost loves, dug up bodies, and souls of the unrest kind…he had it all including EVP evidence and photos to back up the stories. He was theatrical, and he was passionate. I have been on some where they have this energy, and then the kind where they can’t wait to be done with their shift. It matters when it comes to ghost tours because you want to feel you are a part of that moment, that history…and the right host makes you feel right at home in that space.

The Old Hospital where the little girl in pink is seen.

The tour ran for a little under 2 hours, slated for 100 minutes. We had lots of questions and he had lots of the answers. We had our own private chat with him after the tour group left, and we appreciate the time he took to talk to us about all of my Paranormal adventures and encounters- HIGHLY recommend him and the tour if you are in the area.  Hit the Taco Bell pretty hard on the way home, and then I’m pretty sure I fell asleep with my nachos. They didn’t complain.

After a late night at the Ghost Tour, I slept in and it felt AMAZING.  I took my time, I got stuff done, I figured out how to resize my pics faster, and I was just riding cloud 9 on the “Get er’ done” list.  So after enjoying the warm sunshine and cool breeze, we headed out to find lunch and the infamous Route 66.

We headed to the stretch of Route 66 in Wilmington because we had been through here last year. We had gotten to the “Launching Pad” late last year, and due to Covid, it was shut down. We had heard it had reopened and with Walter in tow, so we were pretty giddy ordering our cheeseburgers and sides. The family who owns it could not have been nicer…I mean seriously, these people were super kind, efficient, and the place just gave off the “Welcome” vibe the minute you stepped in. I loved the booths with the Route 66 table tops, and the 50’s music that was playing throughout the Restaurant.  The food came made to order, fresh, and absolutely one of the best cheeseburgers I have ever had.  The “Rocket Burger” can be made to whatever you want, and the prices were affordable and reasonable.  It was like you stepped back in time at this adorable diner, complete with it’s gift shop in the corner full of Launching Pad and Route 66 souvenirs. I picked up a sticker, as I am going to cover my suitcase in stickers from all of these travels.  They saw Walter and we HAD to get a pic with the family- so they were pumped to do it, and that’s always fun when they WANT to do it and they don’t look at me like I have lost my mind. (Yes, someone has decline a  pic with my loveable Muppet….the nerve LOL).  A great lunch, a great place, LOVED them and will be back!!

Next we headed up a ways, hit up a car wash by a Cheerleading team so we gave them a huge tip with it as the kindness for the day.  Then we took Walter to the Polka-Dot Drive In, and he enjoyed all the photo opps there and everywhere else on Route 66.  It was a lot of fun!! We finished up the adventure by checking out the “Joliet Route 66 Welcome Center” and grabbed some more pics.

Finished off the day with dinner with dear friend Cheryl, a long time reader from my OG group, and it was SO nice to get to know her better.  I got my favorite Pot Roast and she had a Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Tater Tots.  Mine was amazing, and she LOVED hers!  I had so much fin chatting with her, we will definitely be hanging out again. 

Today’s Moments of Kindness: We saw a High School Cheerleading team washing cars on Route 66, so we paid them and tipped them well for it towards their program. Cheryl showed her kindness to me at dinner, along with calling the Manager over and telling them what a great job our waitress “Demi” did.

A great day, I am exhausted, I will catch y’all on the flip side tomorrow. Ryan Seacrest out.

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 12 …Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Another hot and humid morning here in the Midwest, my friend and I came up with something different for today. Instead of an attraction, we would run around the area, hitting up the favorite Donut shops. Well, Walter caught wind of this and was ALL for it, so we decided to make it about him. So I introduce to you….Walter’s Donut Dash around Illinois.

First stop was “My Sister’s Lil Donut Shoppe” located in Oswego, we had a Chocolate Long John…light and fluffy. Walter approved.

Second stop was “Dimple’s Donuts” in Batavia where we tried a Chocolate Sprinkle Cake donut…wasn’t a fan of this one, Walter was meh about it.

Third stop was “Fresh Donuts” in Geneva where we had the Red Velvet….this was amazing and I think Walter’s favorite.

Fourth stop was “Bosa Donuts” in St. Charles, where we tried the Fruity Pebbles donut. I was super excited about this one, but the cereal on top tasted a bit stale. Walter likes Lucky Charms, so he wasn’t as impressed.

Fifth and final stop was “Roll N Donuts” in Algonquin where we had my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!! A Strawberry Shortcake donut that tasted just like it, with a very light feel to it. Delicious, Walter agreed!

Today’s Moments of Kindness: We tried to treat someone behind us in the Drive-Thru when grabbing a drink, but noone showed up behind us. LOL So today’s was pretty much to ourselves in the form of donuts. Sometimes the situations just don’t present themselves, so I will bring it more tomorrow.

It was a busy day of running around, but fun, and it was something to do out of the heat and also the continual downpours we had all day.  I hoped you enjoy this fun post, we did, and it was still something new I had for lunch LOL.  See you tomorrow!

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 11 …Friday, June 11th, 2021

There are so many reasons why I don’t like Florida during the summers, but the heat and humidity top the list. And then the Midwest gets this blast of Hell fire this last week, and I wonder if it is actually cooler in Florida. No one should ever walk out the front door and scream “Oh my God” while trying to learn how to breathe again….it’s been hot.

I still love to garage sale, even though I have become quite the Minimalist. Quite proud of selling my Disney collection for this larger than life trip, but I still enjoy a find or two now and then.  We headed out, manned with water bottles fit for an army, hitting up a suburb sale. I was super excited to find items for others, but after only an hour, the heat zapped my energy and I was just exhausted.  It was pathetic honestly, I should be ready for this heat, but all I wanted was a nap.

On the travel agenda was the “Ellwood House” in DeKalb, a beautiful mansion built in 1879 by Isaac Ellwood.  He got into the barbed wire business, and not only became incredibly popular for it, but was able to use the money to build this spectacular Victorian style home.  I would love to share pictures with you of the inside, but to preserve the original furniture and fixtures, they ask that no pictures be taken.  Just imagine parlors with ornate fireplaces, a spiral staircase, velvet lined walls, breathtaking ceilings, and of course, a wine cellar. But my FAVORITE part is actually in the back yard…a full size play house he had built for his daughters.  With two adult size doors, you can actually walk into it and see all the doll rooms the kids would have played in- Walter LOVED it!  It is a beautiful place and I highly recommend you check it out.

I would love to say I got some AMAZING lunch today, but the heat got to me, as the Mansion we toured did NOT have a/c- it was VERY hot inside. So after the tour, I was just done. I just wanted something quick and to head back and take a much needed nap. After the much needed recharge, we headed to Hollywood Palms to watch a movie amongst crowds again. Relaxed in recliner seating, dinner ordered, it was time for “A Quiet Place 2” and I settled in.  It was REALLY good and definitely left me wanting another hour of it! 

Today’s Moments of Kindness: I had such a great time getting to know our tour guide today that I gave her great tips on other tours, and ghost tours, in IL. We made sure to know her bosses knew how awesome she was.

Another day, another great memory.  Today was more rest than play, but honestly I need those.  I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow, have a good one!

Thank you for your kindness!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Day 10: Thursday, June 10th, 2021

A beautiful morning here in Illinois, I woke up ready to join the day with new adventures waiting. My first pair of glasses had arrived, so I tried them on and felt them out this morning. Walter insisted on also trying them off….what a goof.

News of very warm weather this week brought hesitation to my scheduled activities, but the show must go on. With water bottles, trail mix, and of course, Walter, we headed out towards Starved Rock State Park.

Thankfully only an hour’s drive from here, we drove through the country side, enjoying the sights on the way.  We arrived at Starved Rock State Park around 10:00 a.m., parking free and plenty available.  This being a State Park, it was free to visit and it made for a GREAT source of exercise.  Starting at the Visitor’s Center, we headed up to Starved Rock first.  Get ready to climb…lots, and lots, and LOTS of stairs. Seriously I was so sweaty and gross just going to the Rock first, which ironically the wooden deck was placed “on top” of it, so it was like “Oh we are ON the infamous rock!”

Next was a healthy hike to Wildcat Canyon…. Up and down hills upon hills and then down a very steep wooden walkway and staircase to the bottom of the Canyon. But once there, it was so much cooler and it was incredibly beautiful with the waterfall trickling over the rocks. As sweaty and tiring as it was to get to it, it was well worth the sight.

Heading to find a place to eat, we came across the sweet, little town of Ottawa, IL. Loving Lincoln last summer, I was super excited to find this was another spot where Lincoln and Douglas first debated. This humble area had 1950’s music wafting down it’s Main Street, almost like being at Magic Kingdom. It was a neat experience that we just happened upon.

Exhausted and hungry, the temps dipping into the 90s, we headed to Plainfield for lunch at “Station One” Smokehouse. I ordered the St. Louis Ribs, with a side of tater tot casserole. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD!!!  Once again, I was happy to eat somewhere new….I would HIGHLY recommend this place if you find yourself in this area. 

The evening was spent watching one of my favorite movies “A Knight’s Tale” and snacking on Tootsie Rolls and Mod Pizza (A FAV of mine when in town).

Today’s Moments of Kindness: Many people stopped us and asked us where we got the portable fans we were wearing around our necks. We gave them the information and how they were saving our sanity this very hot day.

Tomorrow brings another adventure, but oh so happy with the woods, the nature, and the smell of Earth today…always brings peace to my soul. See you tomorrow.

Thank you for your kindness!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! Spreading the kindness is my goal on this amazing journey, and I thank you for helping me make magic for so many people. So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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