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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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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“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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Finding the Blues Brothers in Illinois

I have to say that besides “Ferris Bueller,” the other movie that SCREAMS Illinois is the “Blues Brothers.” Funny enough, for me I first found them at the Joliet Correctional Facility in Joilet, Illinois. Not really THEM per say, but the spot where the boys had a famous scene just outside the prison walls. They literally have a plaque there commemorating the spot, it’s pretty cool to see (if you saw the film LOL).

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Next I saw them on a quiet moment where I was driving the country roads of Route 66, and someone stuck their infamous car high up on a pole…I thought, ok, weird but definitely worthy of a nod and noting of a bizarre roadside attraction.  There’s a lot of that “weird” in Illinois.

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I then decided over the summer to take a movie in and hedge my bets on a matinee that would be safe and probably empty- and I was right on both points! Hollywood Palms had JUST opened back up, and sure enough, there were the Blues Brothers again, sitting and having a drink, high above the entrance to the individual theaters.

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Next, I was on Route 66 again, having a good old time looking at all of the fun, kitschy 66 stuff and decided to stop at the “Polka Dot Drive In” for a burger, a soda, and a sit that wasn’t my car for awhile.  Marilyn Monroe, Superman, and you guessed it- the Blues Brothers were on the outside wall, dancing away!

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The irony of all of this is one, I haven’t seen the film. Two, I used to see these characters all the time at Universal Studios singing and driving around in their car. Three, now having seen them all over the place, I will definitely check out the film. I mean it has Dan and John, it must be good right?

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So if you are in the Illinois area, come check out the many places you can find the boys, snap a pic, and sing the blues. Enjoy!

Thank you fo supporting me!

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 Ferris Bueller in Chicago

As most of you know, Ferris Buellers Day Off was filmed heavily around Illinois, and mostly in Chicago. John Hughes, the director, had grown up in the suburbs, so he was talking from experience of what the area had to offer (and I am sure he had done himself growing up there). This past summer I was blessed with finding an impromptu “John Hughes Road Trip” experience in which I traveled around the great State of Illinois and tracked down some of his famous movie locations. You can check out that blog post HERE– it’s definitely worth the trip and the read!

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So while in Chicago this past year, I also wanted to catch some of the spots that Ferris partake of in the film. One was the Art Institute of Chicago, the Sears or Willis Building (wasn’t open for tours because of Covid), and of course, Wrigley Field.  Honestly I should just say nothing was open because of Covid, so I was resigned to get pics of the outsides, but hey, still counts.

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I’m not sure why I love this movie so much- maybe it’s his sense of adventure, his enthusiasm for “what could go wrong?” or his blatant want and need to skip school when we ALL felt that on one or more occasion. I have to say, as an adult, it is a wonderful thing not to have to go anymore. Also if you are looking for “Ferris” merch, there is a gift shop right across from Millennium Park that sells shirts from that film and also Tommy Boy. I highly encourage you to check these areas out and get your Ferris on – enjoy!

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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