The Most Haunted City in Illinois… First Unitarian Church

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Climbing back up the steep hills of Alton, I found myself at the First Unitarian Church (110 E. 3r St). A view from here of the mighty Mississippi, and the beautiful bridge, you would never guess the sadness that has happened at this church and on this spot. On the site of where a previous Church had burned down, the First Unitarian Church structure was erected, and both had been used as part of the “Underground Railroad.” Along with that,  in 1935, the Pastor of the Church hung himself, and he has been seen roaming the Church and its grounds ever since.  I thought the view was spectacular for all of the parishoners that still frequent this Church, but I also did feel some off energy in the front area. Again, this is a town I wouldn’t want to roam by myself at night- it speaks to you enough during the day. Check out the rest of my Haunted Alton Road Trip HERE.

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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 Journey to Meet Punxsutawney Phil

RoadTripLogoEverything starts with an idea right? Well I had been blessed with a Road Trip in 2017 where I drove up from Florida, into the East, up into the Midwest and back. It was life changing, and I knew that I had the travel bug, or as my Uncle Curt would say “Wanderlust is strong with this one” meaning me. So when I planned a bigger, longer road trip for 2018, I wanted to plan as much as possible, while still leaving in the dreaming and surprises. One of the stops that I have had on my bucket list for quite some time, was meeting the Groundhog, Phil himself, and getting to see where they host the ever famous “Groundhogs Day” Celebration. So hop in my car with me, there’s room for one more, don’t mind the fast food wrappers and red vines, and let’s head to Punxsutawney.

The day was July 31st, 2018..so about 18 months ago from this post being written. I had just been to the 9/11 area the day before, so I had driven about 3-4 hours to get to Punxsutawney to check-in around lunch. A beautiful hotel, I quickly grabbed the stuff I needed and headed up to the Park (It’s up on a large hill). The Park? Gobblers Knob, which seriously is the best name of a Park by far! I was so geeked out of my mind rolling up to the sign, I couldn’t contain my happiness.IMG_0871
It was a warm day in July, I honestly didn’t expect to see much of anyone or anything because it wasn’t the Season for it. I thought I’d grab some pics, go find lunch, and then chill at my Hotel. But what I found after I drove in a bit farther, was a Man who was greeting myself and others who came in after me, as an almost Council man type figure for the groundhog himself. He brought us all up to the stage where they have the ceremony, and right away I could feel the fun energy in this place. He told us the story of how Phil drinks a special “elixir” every couple of years, which makes him live forever. I loved this part of the story, because it just added that something magical for especially children to believe in. They said that the stump they remove him from for the big reveal moment, at first, Phil had learned to burrow into the ground underneath it and they panicked trying to find him one year. So they had to build a bottom into it, and I believe they said it is heated. They only put him in a couple of hours before the reveal, and then whisk him away right after the celebration. The Council of Men who take care of him and this sacred place are not only very serious about their furry friend, but passionate about the celebration. Honestly it was refreshing to hear someone so love their hobby and somewhat job without sarcasm, just pure joy. IMG_0890
He took my picture on stage, and by Phil’s reveal spot, and told us more about Bill Murray and how he came out one year to watch the Festival quietly in the background so that he wasn’t recognized. It was the year before the movie was made, so he was researching for the part. Also fun fact, the home that is the Bed and Breakfast that you repeatedly see in the movie is in Woodstock, Illinois, where a lot of the movie was filmed. I was surprised at how small this area was, for when you see it on TV, I thought it was a baseball stadium sized area, and it’s more like a public park area.


He handed out coins, stickers, bookmarks, buttons and a brochure about Phil. The coin was my favorite and I put it in a special place in my car that day, and it’s still there today! It’s just one of those things that’s just really cool to look at and remember what a cool day that was. After, I headed into town to have lunch at the infamous “Punxy Phils” which is your normal diner, but while there, you must partake in all that is Phil.IMG_0873

After I had a delicious Chef Salad, I headed downtown to find the furry guy myself. He is kept in the towns library, in a very nice, large habitat. He wasn’t up for autographs or pictures that day, so honestly I probably saw Phil’s butt. Meh, it’s something. I asked him to turn around but he wasn’t having it.

So after meeting Phil’s butt, I headed into the town more, and it’s about the size of every little town you can think of. It’s Main Street had the typical bank, gas station, and McDonalds. Yes, Phil likes his burgers, I can only assume. They had one tiny little gift shop dedicated to Phil, and it was donned with all sorts of Groundhog merch. I bought a magnet because that’s all I felt I wanted there. And that was basically it for my day. The rain started up and I just hunkered down in my hotel room with my laptop and Netflix and streamed the rest of the day while grazing on red vines.IMG_0877
Is it worth it? Heck yeah! It’s cool to see it without the stampede of people there for the Celebration, but I heard its an amazing party if you can make it for the actual day. I also loved being in shorts and not freezing my arse off for it, so you know, you do what you want to do. I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane with me today, as it is GROUNDHOGS DAY today and he DID NOT see his shadow….early Spring y’all. Yeah it doesn’t affect me in Florida but YAY for everyone else! On a side note, I now know how to spell Punxsutawney over and over again.

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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 2020 Sea World All Day Dining Deal: Part One…The Food Choices

Living the Relocated Tourist life, you discover little ways here and there to make the most out of your money, especially since I am in them 3-4 times a week. Having been a Passholder for a while, I had been curious about this “All Day Dining Deal” that they advertise all over their site and Parks. I am usually in the Parks from open to mid-afternoon, usually because I am trying to beat rush hour on the way home, so it is rare these days to do an open to close in any of the Theme Parks. An “All Day Dining Deal” for myself never seemed worth it because I usually ate breakfast at home or on the way, grabbed my lunch at the Park and then was home well in time for dinner. That being said, I thought it would be a fun blog to challenge myself to the “All Day Dining Deal.” Meaning I would eat on the hour, every hour the Park was open, to see what kind of food options, drinks, and such I could get out of the deal. Here’s the gluttonous tale…. I hope you’re hungry….said no one ever after doing this challenge.

First, I want to start off by thanking my amazing husband, Craig, who willingly agreed to do this challenge with me. Sea World was having a great offer for Passholders for the month of January, where I could bring in a friend for free. I am the Passholder of the family, so these deals are nice for me to bring in a family member on occasion without having to pay for family passes. (A nice perk if you’re thinking of becoming an Annual Passholder). So let’s state the facts first for your reference. It was a Monday, it was in January, their hours were 10-6, and it was a quiet Park. We were pretty sure there were more employees than visitors. January is typically a slow month in the Parks, so keep that in mind. These facts are important when deciding when and if you’d like to do the dining plan. Time of year means more or less people, which means more or less lines, which means more or less time to achieve this challenge in the first place. You have to get in line, then order your food, then pay for food, and then eat your food all in a span of time before the next hour was up to eat again. You’d think this would be an easy task, it wasn’t. Had we had bigger crowds with bigger lines, not only would we not have gotten so much done, but we wouldn’t have wanted to do as much because more people usually causes more stress which leads to me in my car going home as soon as possible.

We got to the Park right away at opening, again 10 am, and immediately bought the dining plan at a kiosk just inside the entrance, right next to the “Sea World” sign photo opp. (These kiosks are located throughout the Park) Since I am a Passholder, I was able to save 15% off. So for any adult, it would be $39.99 with tax, ($19.99 for children) and for me it was $33.99 with tax. They give you a wristband with a UPC Code for them to scan every time you purchase something. It was purchased at 10:09 a.m. which now was basically the green light to start eating. What is in the Dining Deal? The one that I bought gives you ONE entrée, ONE side or dessert, and ONE beverage. You can upgrade to include alcohol for $15 more- that’s ONE drink per hour. Who knew you could get lit at Sea World? Tis true! IMPORTANT NOTE- The ONLY place serving breakfast was “Seafire Inn” which is a couple right turns off the entrance. Again, you want to get the most for your purchase, so we headed there to grab breakfast first. You could get a fruit cup($3.99), choice of bakery item ($3.99), and then a drink($3.99) (fountain drink, bottled water, or milk). The total value of breakfast was roughly $13 let’s say. We recorded our time down at 10:17 a.m. and made sure to keep track of everything we were eating. Check out the next blog post about reviews of the food and the places we ate- I would’ve added it here but it would make this post about 80 pages long, aint no one got time for that! SW11

A note here, you can ask for a receipt for each transaction, but there are no prices listed on said receipt, you will want these for the time stamp on the bottom, so you know when you can get your next meal. When they say you can eat every hour, they mean it, and not a MINUTE sooner. Now drinks? They are more relaxed on those. I was told you can get as many as you want throughout the day, but I was told by another Team Member that they allow 12 beverages per visitor which equals a normal Park day’s hours are usually 12 hours. Since they were only open 8 on the day we went, she still said the system allows 12 each. So keep that in mind if you already used your meal credit for the hour but you’re dying for a bottle of water, go ahead and get it.

Next we hit up “Mango Joes” at 11:17 a.m. which was in the back corner of the Park, next to “Wild Artic.” Now being lunch time, we could get a little more creative with our choices. I wanted to pick different items at each offered location so that I could report a variety of offerings the Park has. We all get sick of chicken nuggets and fries don’t we? Here we chose the Impossible burger (which for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a plant based, vegan option)($14.99), a side summer salad($4.99), waffle fries came included with the entrée, and a Coke Zero($3.99). A total value of $25 let’s say with tax. Now just after TWO meals, we had gotten a value of $38- already $5 over what I paid into it. SW12

At 12:17, we found ourselves at “Waterway Grill” which is a brand new Restaurant back behind the newest ride “Infinity Falls.” A cleaner menu, they offered tofu, steak, and chicken, which was a nice variety to choose from. We chose the Churrasco Steak($15.99), which came with rice and beans, a large piece of carrot cake($3.99), and another Coke Zero($3.99). By the way, all meal plans come with the regular size drink, and not the 2 Liter size. Value around $25 for that meal. SW13

After saying hello to my favorite penguin crew, we dined at “Expedition Cafe” which is just outside their ride and area. We dined at 1:20 p.m. and I was super excited that they served Asian food here. We chose the Teriyaki chicken, Orange Chicken, Fried Veggies and Fried Rice combo ($15.99) with a large piece of Chocolate cake($3.99) and mixed things up a bit with a Lemonade($3.99)this round. A total value of $25 with tax. I even snagged a White Cherry(they had three flavors here) Icee ($4.99) after dinner as part of my “unlimited beverages.”SW14

At 2:20 p.m., we headed to “Captain Pete’s Island Hot Dogs” stand where we picked up a Foot Long Chili Cheese Hot Dog ($12.99), more waffle fries included, a bottle of water ($2.99), and a bag of cookies ($3.99). Total Value was roughly $21. I was excited about the cookies being in a bag, it was the first item we had received that I could take home with me, funny thing is I just remembered they were in my bag and currently eating one as I write.SW16

3:20 p.m. came fast, so we headed to “Voyagers” which is a BBQ Smokehouse. We got the Rib Platter which was 3 Ribs, a quarter Chicken, smoked sausage, waffle fries, and a dinner roll ($18.99). Also was a piece of cherry cheesecake ($3.99) and a Sprite ($3.99). A value roughly of $28.SW17

Since there was a large line at the last one, our time was bumped to 4:30 p.m. for the next gluttonous adventure. We headed to “Spice Mill” where we got the Bacon Cheeseburger with all the fixings ($13.49), a side of Potato Salad ($3.99) and TWO bottles of water ($2.99 each) (because again I could get as many as they’d let me). Total value was $24.SW9

5:30 p.m. came and we could see the end in sight….all I could think about is how much pepto I was going to have to take to counter act the battle that was about to happen in my digestive tract. We ended where we started, “Seafire Inn” where they now were serving dinner. We chose the Grilled Chicken Wrap ($12.99), piece of Chocolate Cake ($3.99) and another Coke Zero ($3.99) to end the day. Total value of this meal, $22 with tax.SW18

So again with estimation of tax, for the $33.99 that I had spent for ONE dining, all day, plan, the TOTAL value you COULD get in one EIGHT hour day is $183!!!! Now, let’s be realistic. Who is going to eat EIGHT meals during a Park day? Between rides and shows, you can barely sit for one, maybe two meals. The point though is that if you do your research, you can find the best value for that plan, and also you can get those beverages any time you like. Bottled water any time is a HUGE commodity in the Florida heat, so that alone with your meals is well worth the dining plan. NOW if you or your family are light eaters, I would say it’s not worth it. Split some meals up and save the cash. I split every single meal with my husband all day long – ONE plan- and we were STILL stuffed to the gills!!

Check out my next post about my review on the food we ate and the places we ate for this Challenge HERE. I hope you found this informative and that it helps YOU out on your next adventure to Sea World, Orlando!

Donations for Content

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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What’s In a Name?

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For those who don’t know our story, back in 2009, Craig and I were on our nightly walk when we not only came up with the name “The Relocated Tourist”, but also our mantra and life statement, which is “Going from what if, to why not?” Still love that to this day. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that has applied to our lives.

When I started blogging that 9 years ago, I was thirsty to share with the World what information we had collected for our big move to Florida. There wasn’t anything out there that talked about “REAL” life here, and that concerned us both.  Thus a building of a beautiful community of friends that I have had since that launch day, oh so long ago, that I wish I had realized that I didn’t have to stay in the box that I had created for myself back then.

People will tell you if you want the numbers, stay on target. Focus on what you want to talk about and go with that subject in mind.  But I have learned that I have lots I want to talk about and share with people, and I am definitely not “normal.”  The reason I LOVED the name of my blog was for the fact that I could talk about travel, relocation, Disney, Universal, Sea World, Florida, Wisconsin, road trips, life mishaps, etc… and why I hope that when the day comes that this isn’t all about Mickey and Main Street that you STILL follow along my adventures.

I can guarantee you we will relocate again down the road…but for now, the magic of Disney, the frustrations of Florida, and all of my road trip goodness will hopefully keep you tucked in at night.  Stay tuned!

Donations for Content

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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Dealing with Sense of Purpose

rsz_fmrm0238I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why I have been so “unsettled” the last few years of my life. There is the obvious marriage stuff and the move from WI to FL, but there was something else that had been bothering me.  What people may not realize, is that Craig and I are young parents. We got married right out of High School and had an instant family.  My entire life has been raising my kids and being a part of this cohesive family unit.  I don’t have the high paying career, or the fancy job- I stayed at home and tried to grow responsible human beings.  I think it worked…I hope it worked..who knows?!

So when we moved to Fl the first time, I had kids that were Junior High and Middle School age…well on their way to becoming young adults.  My focus was holding us all together and keeping the smile on my face at the end of the day, no matter how hard the road got here.  Kyra, then Emily, graduated and became their own persons, that purpose I had for the last 25 years of my life seemed to just vanish.  So not only did I have these moves, and a marriage under construction, but also I was becoming unemployed from the best job ever. And you know what I mean.  This concept of being “settled” is so foreign to me.  I mean, I have a home that’s a place to call so, but I feel like I am always lining up for something else.

I think I have had just so much change in the past 3 years that my mind hasn’t processed it all.  I walk into a Park thinking “How is this my life?” still to this day.  I know I am blessed to be able to have this blog and The Relocated Tourist as a point of purpose to share magic and joy with the World. But without it, I truly felt like I was just floating here.  They don’t give you a handbook after raising your kids that says “Here is what you do next.” (Although I would buy it).  People who have had careers all of their lives have raises and promotions.  After you raise a couple of humans, you get a great feeling, but the “What now” is scary.  It’s just something I am still processing and working on, maybe other Moms out there will get where I am coming from.

Donations for Content

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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Keep the Memories, Ditch the Rest

Back in 2011, those who followed us from the beginning know we had an “Epic Garage Sale” which you can read and see here.  https://relocatedtourist.com/2011/05/21/our-epic-garage-sale/

First move, we had decided to get rid of a good 85% of our belongings so we didn’t have to move it all to Florida. Now in hindsight, I will say taking everything we had in just two vehicles was definitely a sense of freedom I had never felt before.  Things tie you down more than you realize, so having little to move was awesome. So that was the good part. The bad part was that when we arrived to our new sunny state home, we had nothing to start with out the gate.  I think we unpacked in under an hour, it was a wall full of bins.  We had to start from scratch, which we had saved for, but the downside was that it was a pain to spend so much time traveling and shopping.  We didn’t know the area at all, so it was a lot of trial and error with different stores. We found a furniture place near the FL Mall that we bought our couches from that TO THIS DAY we think was a con, scam, something shady since they were literally gone the Monday after we had shopped there. So yeah, beware of the “too good to be true” deals. My sofa probably “fell of a truck.”

Second move, back to WI, we tried out “PODS.” Again we cleaned out our home, purged about 50% of our stuff this time so that everything fit into their largest model.  Going back we knew where the furniture stores were and what was available- it wasn’t this question like it was coming to Florida.  I knew I could hit up the garage sales and thrift stores for the smaller stuff and pay much less than to move it. Besides, I like change.

Third move, back to Florida, we purged my apartment and a house full of stuff about 50%. We used “PODS” again (Which I would NEVER USE AGAIN) and packed it full to the point we couldn’t fit our sectional- BUT we got the recliner in.  Mattresses, dining set, bins, clothes, scrapbooks, electronics, kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, these were things that went back and forth with us every time.

What I learned is that you have to be reasonable with yourself on what you will NEED the minute you land in your new pad.  You should have a bin filled with toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, cleaning wipes, paper plates, silverware, cups, your coffee maker, one frying pan and sauce pan, garbage bags, scissors, tablecloth, snacks, a plug-in (in case it smells off), and any other essential you can think of. With every move, we were exhausted from the drive.  It is so much easier to open the ONE bin that has the necessary stuff right away so you can take a breath before you unpack than digging into the nightmare that is the car, truck, or POD.

Of course it cost us money to move every time, but I think we broke even with move two and three. If we had rented another unit, it would have cost us more than the price of the sectional. We took our chances and got an affordable couch here which has worked out fine. Trust me, we have gotten really good at moving. We see a move as a chance to clean out our home, get rid of the clutter and noise that we don’t use and just move on.  We may buy it back down the road, we may never again- that’s the beauty of it.

Keep the memories, ditch the rest.

Donations for Content

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!

$5.00