The Coolest Gravestones I Have Seen Thus Far….

I know, this may be a bit weird or off to some, but to me, gravestones are that last piece of art and expression of someone’s life. Whether it be the stone itself, or what is written upon it, these were some of the coolest, and CREEPIEST, I saw last year! I highly recommend you take a walk some time through a Cemetery and look at all the beauty they hold… there’s a certain peace it brings. Even bring a flower or too, respect should always be paid while enjoying these. Here are my favorites…enjoy!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

On my travels through the Midwest this summer, I found myself drawn to the life and times of the great man and then President, Abraham Lincoln.  And since Illinois is his home turf, it is a treasure trove of anything and everything connected to him. Some happier than others, but none the less, still worth a visit. One of those quiet and somber places was the Cemetery named in his honor.

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Located in Ellwood, IL, covering 982 acres (yes this place was HUGE), it is easily accessible and about 50 miles outside Chicago. It was dedicated in 1999 by the Department of Veteran Affairs, and is found on the grounds that formerly was the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. Which does make me curious how that works…

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Ironically it was named after the 16th President, yet he wasn’t buried or moved here. He can be found at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, which I also spent time at- BEAUTIFUL place!

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What makes this Cemetery revolutionary is that in 2015, the FIRST American federally approved monument was made to honor LGBT Veterans. VERY cool!

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I visited on a summer day, no admission required, just a simple drive in.  I stayed away from any burials going on, to pay my respects to so many there, and to see the Lincoln statue in the garden that was made.

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The statue is beautiful, inspirational words surround him, and it is worth a stop to see. It was quiet, peaceful, and I felt the love around me.  I encourage you to visit, thank you for stopping by!

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The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by Exclusive Travel Partners.…booking through me supports my mission and I appreciate that VERY much. Click the link and thank you!

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I LOVE sharing the joy of Disney, 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 that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Route 66…Luna Café and Al Capone

Excited to find every nook and cranny on the “Mother Road” also known as Route 66 in Illinois…I found myself in the itty, bitty city of Mitchell. Because I was coming through early, the Café unfortunately was not open, and possibly not open at all due to Covid at the time. It is known to be one of the few that are still in business on Route 66.

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Built in 1924, two years before the infamous road existed, it became a hot spot for gambling and scandalous behavior. It was rumored that if the “cherry” was lit up on the famous neon sign outside, that was a sign to the women in the area that the place was ready for “entertainment.”

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On top of practically being a Brothel, the place became famous for hosting THE Al Capone. He would frequent here coming back and forth from Chicago, meeting up with many a fellow gangster between those famous walls.  You can also visit Al Capone at his grave in Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

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The infamous neon sign still stands today for everyone traveling down Route 66- check it out next time you’re in town!

The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by Exclusive Travel Partners.…booking through me supports my mission and I appreciate that VERY much. Click the link and thank you!

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Thank you for your support!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Disney, 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 that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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Dorothy’s Grave from “The Wizard of Oz”

Yes….I know what you all are thinking. Wasn’t she fictional? I mean, Judy Garland was a real actress and person who played her, but there was no little girl who went to the land of Oz…right? Well, if you asked my 8 year old self that I would CONVINCE you that all of these things did in fact exist. But the 40s something self knows better…and then I stumbled across something that made me love this movie even more.

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Located in Bloomington, IL at 302 E. Miller St, lies a beautiful Cemetery known as Evergreen Memorial. And up until 2020, I had no idea that Dorothy was a real little girl. Yes, Dorothy Louise Gage was the niece of Frank L. Baum and tragically she passed away at the young age of 5 months old from a pneumonia like illness called “congestion of the brain.” To honor her memory and comfort his family, Baum gave her the honor of being his lead character in his beloved “Wizard of Oz.”

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Then many decades later, several oak trees in the Cemetery started dying off. Instead of just chopping them down or pulling them out, they got creative and carved the likeness of Dorothy, Toto, and the yellow brick road from the one nearest to her grave. 

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I went looking for it in June of 2020 and I was NOT disappointed! First of all, it did take some time to find her headstone.  There is a marker on the drive that tells you the area she is in, but you still have to do some walking to find it. The tree sculpture is on the LEFT of her grave, the marker is straight in front of her about 20 feet, and she is located between two bushes towards the back.

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Honestly seeing the little girl’s grave was emotional….knowing that she died so young, knowing she was the light of a childhood book and movie and that Mr. Baum and his family stood on that very spot to wish her a tearful goodbye. It’s a beautiful spot and I wished I had brought a teddy bear or something for the little soul. It is definitely worth checking out and paying your respects…I can only hope that she is skipping on her own yellow brick road right now. Some odd trivia for you…Dorothy passed away in June, the same month that Judy Garland passed away as well. In fact, Judy passed away on my birthday…and I played her in our Oz production in High School. Crazy huh? It’s a small world after all…

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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My Top Ten Favorite Places I Visited in 2020

Let me start by saying that many even reading this title will say “Are you talking about to my living room or to my kitchen?” I. Get. It. I also know that I made the best of a bad year as much as I could by finding the silver lining whenever and however I could. Because I travel solo, I was able to enjoy a lot because I could stay away from the public in many circumstances as possible. And because this is my passion and purpose, I still found a way to travel, so here are my top ten places I visited this past year- enjoy!

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  1. Woodstock, IL I had no idea that the town of Woodstock was the home turf of the movie “Groundhog Day.” It was so fun to walk around and see so many of the filming locations and how much to town has embraced it- including the famous Bed & Breakfast that he stayed at in the movie. Check out the full article HERE.
  2. Route 66 through Illinois– By chance, I stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom and saw a “Route 66” guidebook in the lobby. This would take me on a full day of tracing every Route 66 spot from city to city until dark. Fun to do and safe- check it out HERE.
  3. John Hughes Road Trip What started as looking for the “Home Alone” house became a quest to find all of his movies within a 100 mile radius. Everything from “Sixteen Candles” to “The Breakfast Club” and ending up at his grave to thank him for all the great movies. It was great and HIGHLY recommend you drive it for yourself! Check it out HERE.
  4. Chicago– two different day trips to the windy city where I enjoyed all of Michigan Avenue, the Loop area, and of course, the Disney Store. Complete with my first Metra ride!
  5. Galena, IL– this picturesque town is something out of a romance novel. With it’s quaint shops, beautiful parks, old homes, and amazing restaurants, it’s the old Main Street we crave more and more these days. Check it out HERE.
  6. Casey, IL– the little town with BIG dreams! I LOVED going here because it was genius how they turned a town on the decline into a major tourist attraction. Click HERE to see why!
  7. The Old Joliet Prison- I did the daytime and nighttime tours, they were really fascinating with a side of creepiness in the evening.
  8. Lincoln’s Tomb- It was so surreal to be where he was laid to rest, along with the rest of his family.
  9. Lincoln’s Presidential Library- It was my first visit to any Presidential Library and it was SO worth it! The presentation, the shows, the overall history of his legacy was a day of goosebumps. Check this one out!
  10. Billy Goat Tavern- known from “Saturday Night Live” and a local hang out to many now famous comedians and celebrities, this hidden gem under Michigan Avenue was THE coolest place!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Finding “Wayne’s World” in Aurora, IL

On my travels, one of my favorite boxes to check is film and tv locations. Having spent a great deal of time in the Midwest this year, I thought it only appropriate and responsible to find all of the amazing places they shot “Wayne’s World” while in Aurora- right? I mean who didn’t head bang to Queen with them in the Garth Mobile, who didn’t want to eat donuts with the guys or head to the club? I expected that some of it was movie magic, some of it was probably a sound stage or stages, but there had to be SOMETHING from the movie that was filmed in the namesake of the very city they live in and reference right?  WRONG!

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No, seriously, they just said the City and maybe did a drive-by shot for stock footage…that’s it. Yeah, it bummed me out. I mean, what’s the point of having the movie say your city and not take full advantage of it? I have traveled enough to know that there are cities that LEAN into their fame with the right intent and energy- Woodstock, IL for example.  “Groundhog Day” was filmed all over the town and they have embraced it with open arms. Check out my amazing day HERE.  Even if a movie or show just mentions you, USE IT to bring tourism in for the film nerds like me! 

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The only thing I could find was on Atlas Obscura, GREAT site, and they listed the Garth Mobile in Aurora. Say what now? I didn’t see it under any “Welcome to Aurora” signs, or it being the centerpiece of town, so what gives?  Nope, it’s there, just hidden away in a smokey Casino for all the gamblers to drool over when they need a break from their playing. Seriously. 

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I was super geeked to see it, but I had to traverse a maze in and around the Casino itself before actually finding it in a lobby type area off the Main Game room. It’s a replica, so there’s that, I mean COME ON were there not a bunch of these and you couldn’t acquire ONE of them for the CITY the movie was set in?? So frustrating. With some digging, I found out that the car was only recently brought into town for the 25th Anniversary of the film in which the City celebrated. Again, that’s it? I mean AT LEAST a Wayne’s World donut diner, or a photo opp on the famous couch in their basement.  Maybe it’s the Gen X in me that is holding onto the nostalgia a little to tight, but it’s a fun and favorite movie and it’s one they are KNOWN for – get it together Aurora! You’re not just the name of a Disney Princess….and yet ANOTHER thing they could somehow capitalize on in some way (the Disney in me would love that-but Disney has good lawyers and so there you go).

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OK so the car- it’s fun for a photo opp and it’s protected by those fancy roadbock signs, so no touchy! It’s an AMC Pacer, baby blue with the graphics on it like in the film. Garth’s drum sticks laid on the dash board, but there was no licorice dispenser! It was still fun to see, but one of the real deals will always pull more people in- it’s called PLANET HOLLYWOOD. Anyways, would I recommend it? Well, if you are in the area for something else, stop by the Hollywood Casino on 1 W. New York Street, parking in the back.  Just ask where it is, because it took a little time to find it.  And as always, “Party on Wayne,” “Party on Garth” – enjoy!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Grant Park in Galena, Illinois

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of this busy little town and not look at the whole picture. I don’t know about any of you, but when I see something in front of me, I tend to feed off the energy of that moment or thing, and I don’t take the time to look around the main event. For example, when I shop at garage sales, I see an item and it’s like my tractor beam hones in on it and doesn’t let go until I have it safely in my hands and THEN I look around my surroundings. Same happened here in Galena, trying to find parking, as it was VERY busy this past September (a good thing and a cautious thing with Covid) and I was too concerned on actually getting A spot that I didn’t pay attention to where my spot laid.

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After I had walked the entire downtown area of Galena, ate at Fried Green Tomatoes, toured the Dowling House, I was pooped and headed to my car. Then I saw some folks walking up a staircase over the grassy hills that I was parked against. Curiosity ALWAYS getting the best of me, I decided to muster up any energy I had left, and check out what was up there.

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As you ascend the staircase, you come across a lovely bridge lined with American flags. I headed over on it, I could see the train tracks beneath me and thought “What a cool view of a train coming” since it’s usually from my car at a stop that I see them most.  I would be blessed to catch a train coming through minutes later, loving every second of it. Also the view of the Town from the bridge is breathtaking, I suggest taking the time to enjoy it.

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On the other side of the bridge lies “Grant Park” which is named after Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President, who lived in Galena. The Park has rolling hills of green grass with a cute gazebo, a statue to the President himself, a pavilion and fountain.  A wonderful escape from the business of town, and a nice break under the shade of the beautiful trees.  I think we take parks for “GRANTed”….. thanks, I’ll be here all week, try the veal.  But seriously, we don’t appreciate these parks sometimes.  As a kid, all I did was lay under a tree and wonder what my adult life would look like, would I have a family, what would I be. We need these parks for our sanity, for the peace they bring without screens, without technology. Although I did take all these pics posted on my IPhone, videos too, so yeah, I know, it’s hard to put the tech toys away.

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Would I recommend the park? I’ll always encourage a sit, a break, a spot of time to just “be” for awhile without purpose or work.  I think this is a wonderful spot for yourself or the family to plop down on a blanket, look at the clouds, and feel the wind tickle your nose. Check it out and enjoy!

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Thank you for your support!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Dowling House…Galena, IL

I don’t know what it is about old homes that I just fall in love with- the architecture, the history, or the feel they bring. There hasn’t been an old mansion or home that I have toured without feeling eyes on me- friend or foe, who knows, but ALWAYS felt. So as I toured the beautiful town of Galena, I came across the “Dowling House.” An attraction for this sleepy little town, it boasts that it is the oldest home in the area, built in 1826.  To me, anything from the 1800’s seems to have something attached to it that hasn’t left. I saw this as a challenge- tour something historic, old, and maybe catch something (hopefully not Covid).

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There is a small building next to the home, located up the hill off of the Main Street and adjacent from the Restaurant “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Here you can purchase your ticket for a scheduled time to tour the home with a Guide.  My group had maybe 10 people in it, social distancing with masks on, as I tried to stay away from people in the confined space of the small home. There is a steep staircase in it, so it is not wheelchair friendly, as I always try to observe when touring places like these. Even with the small group, I found myself hanging back after every room so I could take the time for pics and videos. Not a fan when a tour rushes you through it so quickly that you had no time to enjoy taking pics because you had to keep up all the time. My guide was great and gave all of us plenty of time to look and explore. He shared a story of a family member who passed and that the family was so devastated that when the man was buried in the Cemetery across town, they made his tombstone so tall that it could be seen from the home on the hill- and you could see it from the upstairs windows. Pretty neat.

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Built all of limestone, John Dowling’s home was the scene of the only trading post in town. Fur trading and selling of goods in the lower part of his home, the second floor hosting his modest living quarters. He would go on to build his company right across from his home, which still stands there today.  My tour guide was informative and patient, and it only cost $10 to take it.  I was allowed to film and take pictures inside with permission as of September 2020 (Yes, ASK! I have been on MANY a tour that do NOT let you take photos inside historic buildings). Many ghost tours in town will make this place a stop to check out, so of course I made sure to walk by it in the evening as well- gave off quite the creep vibe!

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If you’re in town, this is definitely a cool thing to check out. I wouldn’t make a trip JUST for it, but Galena alone is worth the travels. Check it out and enjoy!

Thank you for your support!!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!1

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