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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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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A Visit to Downtown Dubuque

After my evening at the Richard’s House, an old Victorian Bed and Breakfast, I was pretty excited to walk around downtown Dubuque in Iowa. It was September 14th, 2020, and it being a Monday, I figured the place would be busy with city life. I was shocked at how quiet it really was! Now with Covid taking a hit on our lives, both health and the economy, I had a feeling that maybe that was the case here. It was also around 8 a.m. when I parked to peruse the City, so maybe it didn’t wake up until late.

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I love old, metal signage, and the murals were just breathtaking- a lot of talent lives here! Because the city was just waking up, I was able to just walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds without anyone around me. I felt safe and I was never harassed or approached (Yes, this happens in Orlando ALL the time!). I was able to take my time, get some great pics, and just absorb the city in all its artistic beauty.  Check out all the great pics I took- enjoy!

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Thank you 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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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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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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“There is a Superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the Cape” Visiting Metropolis, IL

Having driven all over Illinois this past year, and getting the lay of the land, I found a quieter way to drive back and forth out of the State. Most normally take the highways in and around Chicago when cutting through the State, albeit it faster, it also is a stressor for people like myself. Give me the quiet whir of the pavement under my wheels, some caffeine in my cup holder, and nothing but open spaces and I am good to go. So when I found this quieter junction, right at the bottom of the State, I was super excited. I saw the sign and thought, where have I heard Metropolis before? Ah yes, Superman! And so it begins….

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Now, Metropolis in my mind was something of a Chicago right? Tall buildings, hustle and bustle of city life, traffic honking all day and night.  What I came upon was nothing more than quiet Main Street of USA, very similar to Walt Disney’s hometown, Marceline, in Missouri. This small town sits on the Ohio River, just across from Kentucky, and only has around 6500 people. And even though there is no “Daily Planet” for real here, the town was proclaimed the official “Hometown of Superman” on June 9th, 1972 by the Illinois House of Representatives.

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So what I am assuming this town did was, of course, capitalize on the name. Like Casey, IL, who decided to make their town something of an attraction, so did this one, too bad it was just a but underwhelming. Of course a small town isn’t going to be the big city, but they didn’t have much in the ways of “Superman” that they could have. Now I visited during Covid, so things may have been closed or not provided, so let me add that before the “Super” fans jump down my throat.

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I followed my GPS to the Main Street area where are large Superman statue stands, as to look over the town from his super spot. Adjacent to this is a Superman gift shop, museum, a phone booth for great pics (because you HAVE to, that’s where he does his super change LOL) and that was about it.  I was told there is normally a tour you can take in town, and the Museum portion wasn’t open when I visited, but it cost only $5 to check out. It’s a great place for photos, and the Store was really cool! If you are looking for something for the Superman fan in your life, this is the Store for you. Pretty sure the Store itself is the first part of the Museum, because I saw merch in there from forever ago.

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After getting my “super” on, I was famished! Before hitting the road once again, I found a cute, little Mexican Restaurant just a block down from the Superman action. Enjoyed a dish of enchiladas while I perused my IPhone- the food was delicious.

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Is it worth a trip to see the town? Well, if you are driving past, or find yourself wanting something to do on a Sunday afternoon, yes. But it is roughly 6-7 hours from the Chicago area, and to drive that amount JUST to see this area, no, it isn’t. I am glad I stopped and it was cool to see once, but it isn’t something I would want to do again.  Check it out for yourself, 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 Billy Goat Tavern & Grill in Chicago, IL

If you have followed my travels this past summer, you know I have been to Chicago a couple of times. On my first trip back, I came across the “Billy Goat Tavern” not really even knowing the diamond in the rough I had crossed paths with.  I didn’t even BEGIN to know the amazing history behind this famous place until I sat with my Chicago hot dog and began to read the walls of lined history.

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So let’s talk about how it got it’s name first. Apparently a German immigrant named William Sianis purchased the then “Lincoln Tavern” which was located across from the Chicago Stadium for $205 = sounds cheap but this was 1934. As the story goes, a billy goat roamed into the bar one day and decided to stay. William loved the idea so much that he was nicknamed for it, named his Tavern after it, and even began to grow a goatee to match his furry friend!

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And then there’s the curse…and it’s way too long to explain, but much more to do with the goat. Check out their website to read more.

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But it would reach its most infamous days when Saturday Night Live, in 1978, would do a sketch on the very Tavern that many of the Alumni would eat at during their Second City days in Chicago.  Known for shouting out “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger” for over 40 years, the sketch did right by the famous spot. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Loraine Newman, you can find the sketch now on YouTube- and the rest is history! They say that Bill Murray still stops in when in Chicago…can you imagine if he had been there? I would’ve honestly lost it.

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I was impressed by the authenticity of the place, the diner feel, and the old fashioned diner prices. It wasn’t this huge spot, but this small, comfy and cozy place tucked under the bustling street of patrons. The staff was incredibly kind, and even though I didn’t have any alcohol, they had quite the selection of spirits to choose from behind the bar. While I ate, I looked around and imagined the SNL cast gathering here, before they were big stars, just having a bite to eat and enjoying each other’s company. So cool. If you can’t make it to Chicago, they have several other locations, including one in D.C.!  The food was great, the place was even better, check them 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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