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!

Thanks for you 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 William M. Black Steamboat

While visiting Dubuque, I decided to go and explore the Port area, coming across a Museum (The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium) that sat against the Mississippi River.  Two beautiful bridges surrounding the area, the Museum had sea life, along with a full steamboat and other marina vessels to tour.

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The dredge known as the William M. Black, was 277 feet long and 85 feet wide. One of the last steamboats to use steam in the 1930’s before diesel power replaced it. The US Corps used the vessel from 1934 to 1973 for opening important navigation channels. It would burn up to 7,000 gallons of oil a day, making it capable of dredging more than 75,000 cubic yards PER DAY!

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The Steamboat had a machine shop, two boilers with large smokestacks, two paddle areas, and a pump engine. Off the machine side, there were several living quarters, staterooms, storerooms, food prep and kitchen area, and captain and engineer’s rooms.

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A tour guide welcomes you onto the boat and then it’s a free for all on how you would like to tour. Everything was open to look at an explore, but they’d like you to follow the arrows on the ground to keep everyone from gathering together due to Covid.

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I was alone, I didn’t have much of anyone around me at any given time. I wore my mask the entire time, but I also got the chills on this steamboat that I was being watched.  The captains quarters area especially. 

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The view of Dubuque from the outside of the boat was spectacular, as was the other side of the Mississippi. There is signage everywhere so you know what you’re looking at, and it took about 45 minutes to tour the entire boat. I seriously don’t know how people did it back then or even now- I would crawl the walls being on a boat for months on end. Maybe that’s why I have never been on a Cruise yet? Check it out if you’re in the area- admittance is through the Museum. Enjoy!

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Thank you for believing in me!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Disney, Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my brand 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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The Mathias Ham House…. Haunted?

Finding lots of hidden gems to explore in the Dubuque area, I came upon this old Mansion sitting up on a hill. Known as the “Matthias-Ham House”, this Victorian home was built in 1856 standing on 2241 Lincoln Avenue. Designed by architect John F. Rague and built for lead miner, Mathias Ham, who also designed the Courthouse in Springfield, IL, another spot I had been this summer!

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The Mathias Ham House is now a Museum which is open during the summer and fall from Thursday-Sunday. And of course, I was there on a Monday, so no go for me. BUT I read online that there are NO pictures or video allowed inside the home, so a heads up if you are looking to document the inside. I would have loved to seen it, especially the ghost stories that surround the property. So much that their official site denounces the paranormal- I’m sure trying to defer people like myself that are interested in the haunted history. But still, there ARE ghosts…. you see Mr. Mathias Ham was not only a Miner, but also had successful businesses in lumber, agriculture, and a shipping fleet. With this large Mansion on a bluff, he was able to view the Mississippi from the cuppola atop his home. Here he could watch what ships were coming in, and warn others of pirates coming into the area. Apparently the Pirates weren’t of the Disney kind and found out that they were arrested because of Mathias Ham, vowing to take their revenge on him.

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As family members passed away, the only one left was his daughter, Sara. Living in the big mansion all by herself, she would begin to hear trespassers on the grounds and asked the neighbors to watch her home. She devised a lamp to be in her third floor window and if it was on, that was the signal to the neighbors that she was in distress. A night came and went as she heard footsteps again in her home, slowing walking the floors up to her at the top. As she heard them creep to her bedroom door, with noone answering her calls of “Who’s there” she turned the lamp on and fired her gun through the door. She had killed the Pirate Captain, dragging his body to the river. So the story goes that the Captain roams the halls of this home in search of the revenge he never got. Also the ghost of Mr. Mathias Ham himself has been known to been seen walking outside and around the grounds. Just walking around by myself in the sunlight, I could feel eyes looking down at me from the upstairs.

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The tour is $7.50 and covers not only the house, but the oldest cabin in Iowa (moved to the property), and a fake mine shaft. I say fake because it didn’t exist there, they made it for educational purposes. I would have been quite stoked if it was a REAL mine shaft! The home also doesn’t have it’s original furnishings, but has been kept up well. I enjoyed touring the grounds on my own, trying to imagine living in this big, beautiful home on a hill, the large tree in the front for shade. It is a great property and definitely a stop next time you’re in Dubuque- 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!

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Shot Tower in Dubuque, Iowa

OK, I want to preface this cozy and quaint little post with what I “thought” the Shot Tower would be. They advertise it all over town, so I figured this must be something amazing to walk up in, drive too, etc… They have tours LITERALLY downtown for just the Shot Tower, so I’m thinking this thing is going to be AH mazing- I was incorrect. 

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Let’s do the history of it, not that It helps my venture to it, but it’s always interesting to know why something exists in the first place. Standing 120 feet tall, the tower was built in 1856 to provide full shot for the shot gun. To make the shot, hot molten lead was poured into the top through a grate with holes. As they fell to the bottom, it gave enough time for each pellet to cool and form into sphere before hitting the water below. Because of the economy tanking later, it would be sold off and eventually used as a fire watchtower after the War.

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In 1911, the tower suffered from several fires, burning out it’s wooden interior. Then in 1976, the tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places with repairs and renovations going on since 2004.

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Now that you know all of that, and I read it as well after getting to the Tower, I realized I COULDN’T tour inside it, as that was not its purpose. So what is there to see? The Shot Tower stands right behind the Riverfront area of the great Mississippi, so it’s a fun little stop to take the pic in what looks like an abandoned train yard – yes, seriously. It will take you all of 10 minutes to take the pic and read the info and then take a nice walk on the riverfront. I guess if you are really into guns or the history of ammunition this may trip your trigger, but for me it was uneventful, and the only way I would recommend it is if you are in the Galena or Dubuque area already. Still cool, enjoy!

Thanks for the 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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Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa

Some of the best things in my life have been the unexpected. I didn’t plan it, just came upon it doing something else, or looking for something else- and with that my mood instantly changes from a strange excitement to the childlike curiosity I had as a kid. Remember just exploring? Just walking out your front door, hopping on your bike, and letting the wind just take you on an adventure? Well, this experience was one of those.

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I had stayed in Dubuque at an old Bed & Breakfast, which was an adventure in itself, but I hadn’t really planned much past Galena. After a walk amongst the beautiful artwork downtown, I went searching online for what else to do in town.  That’s when I came across the “Fenelon Place Elevator” which was just bizarre to me. Described at the World’s steepest, scenic railway, it’s more like a cable car that acts like an elevator, the feel of a child’s size train from an amusement park, with still that added bonus of heights (a STRONG fear I have). 296 feet in length, taking you 189 feet above Fourth Street in Dubuque to Fenelon Place where the view is just simply spectacular!

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Like you, I wondered, why is it there? It seemed so random in the spot it sat. Mr. J.K. Graves lived on top of the bluff, but like many, worked on the bottom. So he decided to create the cable car for himself, since he cut his time in going all the way around on horse and buggy.  He used a coal-fired steam enine boiler and winch. Modeled after the cable cars in the Swiss Alps, it was hauled up and down on two rails with rope. Now it needed someone at the top to operate it, so he had his Gardner work it, and eventually neighbors and townsfolk started asking to use it for they saw the potential in time it saved. Because of it’s use of coal, it was inevitable there would eventually be a fire, the car was after all made of wood. They wouldn’t have just one fire, but three fires in total over the years. In 1977 the cars were completely rebuilt and attached with a DC Motor- which is how I found it now.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first- I was visiting in September of 2020 so Covid kept (and keeping) many people home. So there was all sorts of available parking for me, and I was fortunate enough they were even operating it during these times. Hours seem to be 8 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week. Because there is no human to talk to on the bottom, you just have signs to go by on how to go about riding this thing. Yeah, it was a bit weird. I am putting my life in some stranger’s hands at the top of this thing, someone I can’t see or even talk to- there’s not even an intercom! You just get in, ring the bell, and it starts to move towards the top while the opposite car comes down the other track. I’m telling you, it was the coolest and scariest experience I had had in a while.  Oh, and it’s not free, it’s $1.50 one way or $3 round trip- CASH ONLY and I don’t even have a clue what would happen if you got to the top and didn’t have the money to pay for the ride you already got. I paid at the top, enjoyed the view, and then rode it back down. It’s like riding some amusement park ride, but it looks more like you’re sitting on a staircase then in a small train car.

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Now, again, I don’t like heights, but I did just fine. It goes up and down pretty slow, and it feels safe and secure. Now there are no seatbelts just so you know, and there’s just a payment area at the top with an overlook area of the city- nothing else that I saw to do from that point there if I wasn’t heading back down. (No Restrooms Either). There are some adorable little shops at the bottom in the Square area, so it’s worth a ride and some light shopping to enjoy your day. I HIGHLY recommend this as it IS on the National Registry of Historical Places and it’s a fun thing to say you did. 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!

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Thunder Bay Falls…Galena, IL

On the way to Galena, lies a beautiful waterfall area that is worth the stop! Located on Thunder Bay Road, the GPS got me there in one piece, but the parking is a bit screwy. BEFORE you pass the Falls, right after you enter the area, there is a small, gravel parking lot on the right. The signage was confusing on if there was a sticker needed, did you need to pay for admission, etc… so I risked it and parked my car and quickly walked to the Falls, grabbed a pic, and headed out. Beautiful spot for pictures and a not miss if you are enjoying Galena for the day. Check it out!

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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 Wizard of Oz Park

On a cold and very windy day this past October, I decided to get my tail on over to Lincoln Park..a suburb of Chicago. I had heard of a beautiful park that laid here, and I had to see it while I was still visiting the Midwest. I am sure it is quite a beautiful sight during the summer, but it was 45 degrees that day and windy, the sun providing a little warmth.  Parking was an absolute bear that day, as they were having only parking on side of the street, the ENTIRE area.   But I found a spot and while my toes froze, I walked the “Oz Park” FINALLY!!!

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So depending on what end you start on, is who you’ll see first. Don’t start near the tennis courts, none of the statues are in that corner. But two of the corners had the Lion and the Tinman on each. BEAUITFULLY done, these Characters were brought to life on the blustery day and it was super cool to finally see them. 

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The Scarecrow was put more inside the Park near the Emerald City Garden. Due to Covid, the Garden was closed (and it’s Fall, so there’s that).

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Dorothy and Toto were hanging out in the center edge of the – skipping along the yellow brick road in front of “Dorothy’s Playground”. I was so happy to finally see them all.

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Why an OZ Park? Well Frank L. Baum(1856-1919) was from the Chicago area, settling in 1891 a couple miles West from the Park. An author, he didn’t even start writing children’s books until he was 41! He would go on to write more than 60 books, 14 of which involved the lovely land of Oz.  And as we know, the famous “Wizard of Oz” was released in Theaters in 1939.  Over time, the City council commissioned artists to make one statue after another, finally at one point completing the project with all foursome.

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I would love to see Munchkinland represented in the future, or a yellow brick road curving in and out of the Park. The Park has 14 acres to play with, so we shall see what they have up their sleeves in the future for it. I encourage you to go check it out for yourself (find it 2021 N. Burling St, Chicago) especially if you are a “Wizard of Oz” fan. Enjoy!

Thank you for supporting me!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Disney, Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my brand 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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