The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio… Chicago, IL

 

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Some of my travels have taken me to the most beautiful of places, one being Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home found in Oak Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago). Located at 951 Chicago Avenue, it was built in 1889 in a shingle style architecture, and the man had an eye for using space as necessary but making it also a work of art to behold. One cannot enter any of his properties without a gasp of “How did he do that” or “WHY did he do that?” Maybe most of us have become immue to the imagination it takes to make these homes of wonder, or that it’s just to much time and energy to do so in the first place. This was his passion, his passion project to be more precise. Here is where he raised his children, family moments made, kisses with his beloved, and also where he would work in the Studio that was inside his home until 1909. A masterpiece, a work of art, a home.

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Tickets will cost you $20 per person for the “Home and Studio Guided Interior” Tour which is what I signed up for on Thursday, August 6th, 2020. I highly recommend for any travels during Covid times that you do your research, call ahead, and pay online- some DO NOT update their websites and you don’t need to pay for something, invest the energy into going, only to find out that it has been closed during Covid and never bothered to update their site. (Yes, it has happened to me). For now, their hours are 10 am- 3 pm, THURSDAY through SUNDAY ONLY, so plan accordingly. Children under the age of 8 are not permitted, and I am just going to assume because it’s a Museum of sorts now and little ones want to touch everything. Nothing here is behind velvet ropes or glass, you are truly walking as a guest into his home. The tour takes about 45 minutes, plus or minus a chatty person who has lots of questions OR someone who takes a ton of photos like myself.

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Due to Covid, they only allow 8 guests per tour, and that worked out wonderfully for me. I checked in under a white tent where they checked my ticket on my phone, got the small group of us together, and that’s how simple it was. Everyone stood far apart, and when we walked around I would make sure to hang back and be the last one so I had my space. Masks are required at all times, and they do have rubber mats on the floors to show you where to stand in certain rooms. I had no problem finding the home, and was able to park on the side in the neighborhood that he also designed several homes for. That area is MUCH QUIETER to park in, the main road of Chicago Avenue was VERY busy and wasn’t worth trying to park on. Also this was a beautiful suburb of Chicago, the neighborhood alone was worth the trip! After the tour, I highly recommend a walk through the gift shop (who doesn’t like a gift shop?) and grab yourself a $3 map of the area where they show you each home that he also designed-it’s really cool and I will share those photos in tomorrow’s blog post! The tour was DEFINITELY worth the money, and only took under an hour to complete ours, so it’s worth the stop to or from Chicago. Check it out and thanks for stopping by!

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The Gateway Arch in St. Louis

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One of my bucket lists, and I have many going, is to visit each National Park in the great U.S.A. I have been blessed to have been to many already, so I am well on my way to checking them off.  I am always intimidated by the “big city” on driving in, around, and especially the anxiety around parking.  You’d think that living in Florida I would be used to bumper to bumper traffic and being constantly on my guard when changing lanes or using my GPS, but alas, I was still intimidated here. Thankfully I was there on a Saturday morning, around 9 a.m., and the first parking lot I saw I took!  $10, pre-paid CC only lot, I didn’t care because it was nice and close to the Park and it was also close to the highway to get out- a VERY important detail!rsz_img_0198rsz_img_0199rsz_img_0200

I was there around 9 a.m. so lucky me, I had pretty much the place to myself.  The sun was shining, and the walk TO the Park was pretty neat!  I walked underneath their train system, then up a large hill lined with trees and clean sidewalks.  It was the kind of Park that you see picnics in, joggers running by, and kids holding parents hands.  As you get to the cusp of the hill, like a movie being revealed behind the red velvet curtains, the great Mississippi in all it’s majesty presents herself. It was so beautiful, it almost takes the attention away from the Arch that sits quietly above your head. Riverboat cruises and helicopter tours are provided down on the river, a large paved staircase located next to the one side of the Arch.rsz_img_0203rsz_img_0205rsz_img_0207

Constructed in the early 1960s, and costing $13 million, the land they needed to build the arch would need 40 blocks of the downtown St. Louis area, and demolish it they would along with 290 Businesses.  Ouch! The legs were built seperately, so if they were even off by a HAIR, they would not reconnect at the top correctly! Can you imagine them getting to that point and being like “well crap, it’s a do over!” LOL.  Kind of a cool fact, it is as high as it is wide. 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide! Now, the Tram wasn’t operating, due to Covid at the time, but my Mom had ridden it and said it’s a spectacular view but a terrifying experience- especially if you don’t like heights.  Part elevator and part ferris wheel, it takes you to the top where you can see out of windows, and then back down again. rsz_img_0208rsz_img_0188rsz_img_0213

Personally, I was just happy to touch it. I was so happy standing underneath it, taking pictures, and enjoying the view of the Mississippi. They had food trucks near the Main Entrance of the Park, and then souvenirs being sold out of another truck.  It’s a great location to walk from to enjoy the River or the Downtown area, which I then walked to get to the City Museum. Check out that post HERE.  It was a great experience, everyone had masks on, and you can easily social distance in this spacious area. 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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Everything But “Global Thermal Nuclear War”….Galloping Ghost Arcade

Let’s head back to the 80s… clearly a simpler time for us Gen Xers where a day spent well was at the arcade on a Saturday afternoon.  Mine was called “Aladdin’s Castle” in Sheboygan, WI at Memorial Mall. The adrenaline you would feel as your parents dropped you off, walking down the mall, getting closer to the sounds of your enemies being defeated. The smell of teenage angst as you strolled among each game, deciding on who was worthy of your quarter that day, and whose high score were you about to annihilate.  Before gaming consoles really took off, this was our place to hang, to play, to fall in love, and to let off some good ole steam of the week. Nothing would make me happier than to have a baggie full of quarters, a ride to the Mall, and the freedom to play as long as I wanted. Then life happened….things change, you raise a family, go to work, pay your bills, and that small, tiny amount of freedom that Arcade brought you seems to just sit on a dusty shelf in your memory.GG1Then I found Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Illinois….and I was a teenager again. On the outside, you wouldn’t know the treasure that this city block holds. And when I say city block, I mean a CITY BLOCK. They have over 700 games between the Arcade and Pinball Machines – the largest arcade in the Country! Who knew the gem I had found? I called to make sure they were open (Covid) and I was pleasantly surprised that they had just reopened! Open 11am- 2 am, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. What makes this place unique is that the machines don’t run on quarters, just a one time fee at the door of $20 for the Arcade,  $15 for Pinball, and $30 for both and you can play all day, as long as you want! I found this detrimental to my ALIENS game, as I played it to completion for over an hour.  On  side note, its gamer etiquette to give someone else a turn when someone is waiting.  There was literally no one near me the entire time I played it.GG26GG25GG13After paying, he explained to us how to reset the machine to start it again once your turn had expired. Basically, hit the red button below for continued game play. I didn’t run to a game at first, I just wanted to walk the rows. Yes, the nerd I am, I closed my eyes, mask on, and just listened to my teenage years flood back.  Pac-Man, Gauntlet, Tapper, Pole Position, Paper Boy, Pengo and Dig Dug…. All of them like old friends who I was having my own special little reunion with.  My smile just kept on growing…room after room of memories. It’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the 80’s Café in Colorado, you just never wanted to leave.  That nostalgia feeling is something pretty powerful, and maybe it’s because I am middle-age now, but it’s like a drug I can’t get enough of.GG23GG19GG16GG8GG17I was there on a Sunday, July 5th, 2020, and I felt it was pretty quiet. Now, they had just reopened that week, so the word may have not gotten out yet. Masks are encouraged here, and they ask you don’t play a game right next to someone, staying social distancing aware. Now I can tell you that when you are REALLY into your game, you aren’t looking at who is around you, so try to keep it in mind as best you can.  In the old days, I remember all of my friends gathered around me at the machine, not an inch of space to be found.  Not now, and honestly, who needs the pressure? Back then I remember playing Pitfall and thinking “Stop crowding me and I might just be able to get past this stupid level!”GG24GG22What I discovered revisiting my childhood from a place of adulthood now, is that wow, technology had definitely changed how we game, but how much those joysticks truly sucked. I don’t know how many times I would just need to turn quickly or jump in sucession and that thing would be so slow to react that half the time I would just give up on the game and go play something else.  We have been spoiled by gaming systems, and although perfect for the introvert at home and now, a pandemic, the community feel of the Arcade was something really special. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, and I thank Jesus every day that I was blessed to have a childhood without IPhones and the Internet.GG20GG21GG18I played for about 3 hours time, taking a break to buy a soda and just walk around for awhile. There are small snacks you can purchase, along with water or soda, but you won’t find alcohol here or any meal type food.  So if you’d like to make it an all day thing, you can leave and come back the same day – Culvers is just down the street for a quick lunch outside (no dine in right now). I found the $20 worth it for the three hours I played, and I didn’t find my mask to be bothersome at all while playing.  It is air conditioned in there, and there are stools for you to sit and play if you choose not to stand.  My favorite game wound up being “ALIENS” because I felt “Why not prepare myself for the next 2020 thing?” and also an old favorite “Pengo” that I played nonstop at my familys campground we owned.GG11GG15GG7GG6GG3GG2I played about 15 games of the 700, there were so many choices my head was going to explode. I enjoyed playing “Frogger” and making sure I put George Costanza’s initials in the high scores.  I loved the attention to detail with the Arcade on giving props to all the Gamers out there- he has World Records and High Scores on top of most of the games, along with a “Hall of Fame” of Gamers who made their mark on the Arcade. I WILL be back again this summer to enjoy another day of play, thanks for the nostalgia…we all need a dose of it now and then. Check out more of my travels through Illinois HERE– 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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How We Did Washington D.C.

rsz_img_3226Over the last two road trips I traversed, I was blessed to be able too visit Washington D.C. on each.  I fell in love with the history, the patriotism, and the overall city.  I was truly hooked.  So when Craig and I discussed what we could travel too before our next chapter, we decided on D.C. so that he and Emily could experience it for themselves. Thus the planning began.  And since all I have done since 2011 is move across the County 4 times with my family and no real vacation with them, it was exciting to plan a joint venture together.

D.C. isn’t Disney….obviously…but I hadn’t planned anything like it since my move and Mickey trips. So I decided to make a list of everything I had enjoyed, and everything I hadn’t done yet. Then I had Craig and Emily each make their lists and that was the base of the planning.  I had been fortunate enough to have a dear friend live near DC that I had been driven in and out both trips, so doing it on our own was going to be a challenge.  There is so much information out there, like a Disney vacation, that it did become overwhelming. I didn’t know what areas were safe, or the best play to stay or heck even whether to use LYFT or UBER.  So, here’s the real of it – we winged most of it.

If you want to do things like the Holocaust Museum, the Capital, the White House, and specialty Museums, tickets need to be reserved/purchased well before you head there. We planned around 60 days out, and I mean REAL planning, and we lost out on getting into several places because the tickets were already sold out.  Some places you can check the day of your touring to see if tickets are available, as some are offered the day of.  I am sure this is more of a summer issue, as this is the busiest time. So pick your week, book the tickets, and then work around those times.  Those times are in stone so you can find what is located near those places and tour them each day in blocks, so you aren’t running across town wasting time and energy.

So this is what worked out for us, we had our locked in times for certain things and then just toured around that.  For transportation, we parked at Arlington every day and walked in and took LYFT back to the car.  It was easier doing this because you stay out of the busier traffic from the city in this area, on and off the highway nearby, and the parking was reasonably priced. A LYFT ride back to Arlington from the Mall area usually was around $8-$10- well worth it when it feels like your feet are about to fall off.

We did a week in DC and it was plenty of time. Spending 2-3 hours per Smithsonian, we took our time. The popular Natural and American History ones were over run with school groups, so it was difficult to really enjoy those, whereas the African-American, Art, and others were quieter and you could actually read and enjoy the calmness. The Spy Museum took about 3 hours and was worth EVERY PENNY!  We filled a backpack every day full of snacks and drinks, something you will want to do if you are out and about touring for 6-7 straight days. Bottled water and drinks are available in most gift shops and food trucks, but there are “Dollar Guys” on most corners who are selling bottled water and Gatorade for $1.  We went that route when our drinks were gone, or we tried to save our bottles and refill them at drinking fountains.  Food trucks offer a large variety of foods, and we found they were mostly there on the weekends only. Many offered samples, so ask to try something if you aren’t sure.

I don’t think there really is a “bad way” to do D.C. I think there is so much to see that you truly do need a plan so that you don’t miss anything, but we did so much more than we had hoped.  It is set up in a way that on your way (by foot) you come across something else, and so on.  I HIGHLY recommend walking it (if possible) because you just get to feel the city so much more.  One of my favorite days was walking Constitution Avenue on my own and just enjoying the sights and sounds.  My favorite building by far was the Library of Congress- soooo beautiful- like being in a Castle.  I can’t say anything was really a negative, as much as a disappointment was that the reflection pool was being cleaned so it was empty and the National Cathedral had a commencement so they only gave us certain angles to see it.  Stick to the Avenues to stay in the shade, walking around the bottom of the Washington Monument is awesome the first time, but it is incredibly hot and in zero shade of anything to walk past more than once. Scooters and bikes are left all around the Mall to use to get around as well- we didn’t use them.  LYFT worked 3 out of 4 rides. The last ride she got lost taking us back to Arlington and winding up near the Pentagon, so we are disputing the charges since we were about a mile from Arlington and a ride of about $8 wound up being $22 because SHE got lost.  Seems shady so we shall see what happens with that dispute. One driver actually told us she doesn’t know the city at all…. WHY would you tell your riders this? She was super kind and did wind up getting us where we needed to go, but I was shocked she said it.

I don’t know if we will ever go back, as we have some big things coming up next year, but I am happy we had this family trip together, although we missed our Kyra very much.  I highly recommend a visit!RoadTripLogo

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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 Distracted Parent at the Parks

rsz_img_e6378Recently on a trip to the Parks, I was waiting in line at Slinky Dog with the family.  As we all know, the culmination of tired guests at the end of a long day, can make those lines seem even longer. I GET IT.  But that being said, I watched as a couple were in deep discussion over a map or kissing, whatever, as their small children of probably 5 years old, played around my family and I behind them… at first it’s cute. You tell yourself that kids will be kids and let them have their fun.  Then they step on you….they don’t mean it so you try to keep your cool and again convince yourselves that these little humans don’t realize they can be jerks.  But as I watched the parents, time and time again over the next 90 minute wait we had, my blood began to boil.  If you say something, you’re the bad guy.  PLUS you get the added bonus of waiting in line with the people you just asked to stop for however long and that’s just as uncomfortable. At one point we had moved forward a good ten feet and their kids were playing on the poles and Mom and Dad didn’t even notice they were a good 4 parties behind them. Nothing. It wasn’t until the kids ran up to join them that they even looked down.

I get it folks, people want to celebrate with their kids in this happy place.  But you know what doesn’t make it happy anymore? When I constantly have to watch your child for you because you are too distracted.  Parenting is rough, many of us have been through it or are still in the trenches. And yes, it does take a Village. Here’s an example of when I was more than happy to help. I have found that the parade environment, at Disney especially, can be a very toxic place. The reason is that EVERYONE feels entitled to see, have the perfect spot, and it doesn’t matter who around them has to deal with it.  I have sat hours beforehand to get a perfect picture or that “just right” experience and I don’t mind standing to let little ones sit or stand in front of me.  When parents ASK ME I have totally ok with it- as long as the kids are going to sit still and I am not having to babysit. But when parents decide to SHOVE their little human in front of me and yell “Its just a child, it’s just a child” I truthfully want to shout back at the parent “It’s my foot, it’s just my foot.” Read into that how you want.  I was sitting on Main Street with the family on a vacation back in the day and a stroller came behind us, parked, and the child’s ice cream dripped down my back.  Nothing like getting my spot early only to have to deal with a sticky backside and parents who didn’t care as I looked back at them with “the look.”  Or holding a place for hours on end just to be made to feel like you’re a bad human because you got there first and did the time and they can’t believe they can’t just walk up and sit in your spot. Oh and on a side not, for Pete’s sake if you need to put your child up on your shoulders to see, stand in the BACK.

What people get wrong about the Parks is that they are for EVERYONE. Not just families, not just the single rider, and certainly not just for the kids- EVERYBODY. So it just takes a little time and respect to watch your kids in line, say sorry when your kid does something to a stranger, and please don’t play it off when they do and think “It’s just my kid being a kid.”  Most people, like myself, will give the benefit of the doubt repeatedly because we don’t want to come off looking like jerks either.  We want your kids and your family to have a GREAT time, just be aware that you’re not the only one enjoying the magic.

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