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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My Overnight at the “Richards House”

During the past year, I have been traveling much of the Midwest, staying safe and trying new places.  I had heard about Galena, IL and all of the charm with this small town that I had to try it out. But then I did some research and found that Dubuque, Iowa was 10 minutes away. Being the one to never shy away from adding another State and adventure to my growing list, it sounded like a plan! I would go to both Galena and Dubuque, but now was the ultimate choice I have every time…WHERE to stay. Now I will say the Internet has made it increasingly easier to make choices, based off reviews and current pictures, but experience first hand is just a thing of beauty. And so I came across on hotels.com a Bed & Breakfast called the “Richards House” which looked enticing. Why? Well, it looked like I would be spending the night in my own personal Haunted Mansion- yes you heard that right. The pics online did it no justice, including the scaffolding and yellow corvette, which was still parked there on my stay as well.

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I chose early September, a weeknight, and had no problem finding or driving to it after a beautiful day spent in Galena, IL.  Happy to be in Iowa, I pulled up to the 4 Story Victorian Home and felt like the Adams family may walk out at any time. Why? Well you see, the scaffolding is a bit distracting from what beauty this place could invite in from the outside world. Honestly it looked deserted, with the exterior a mess, one may think that this is the scariest home on the block. 

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I wound up parking on the side of the home, but I will tell you this neighborhood is a mess. The road that I had to park on was originally brick which was coming up in places, making it difficult to not only drivie on but also pull luggage on. Parking directly in front was taken by the corvette and other cars, and I should note, that street Is VERY busy.  Upon meeting the owner, a very kind gentleman, he instructed me to move my car to the lot adjacent to the home where there are video cameras so if there was any damage to it, they would have it recorded. Correct, this is not a SAFE area, so keep that in mind.

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Once past the stairs and through the heavy front doors, I was in a beautiful Victorian home. I LOVE old homes, and this was built in 1883 by the original owner B.B. Richards. The current owners are only the SECOND owners and that’s honestly impressive in itself! All of the original woodwork, light fixtures, fireplaces, basically anything that was nailed to the wall, floor, or ceiling was from 1883. I chose the Suite on the first floor, as it had tons of space and I thought it would be fun. “Thought” is the key word here.

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The owner starts to give me the tour, and shows me that my room is the only room on the first floor. I have the original, antique house key for the doors to lock the room, which was really cool too…..and then I was shown my room. First I am in awe of the sitting room, the fireplaces, the bedroom- and then I see the bathroom. It’s a tiny little room under the stairs with a toilet and vanity sink. Hmmm…where’s the shower?

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I ask, and the owner says, oh you didn’t see it when you walked in…and I turn around and see an old fashioned bath tub in the middle of this beautiful, Victorian sitting room with a privacy screen.  My sheer shock, again didn’t see this online, was “you want me to do what?”  Happy I only booked a night, I just went with the “flow”. But you have to admit, that’s weird right?

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Because it’s an older place, they didn’t have many outlets for charging my phone, plugging my fan in, etc… I forgot my golden rule of always bring a power strip when traveling, we all just have too many things to plug in these days! On a side note..they had a case full of old books. So I snooped to see if there was anything written in them and YES – Roberts signature and note to someone who he gave the book too with the 1800s year written in it. Surreal to be holding something from the 1800’s.

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The room had a tv, and there was Wifi, but I didn’t use much of either as I was too exhausted from my day.  I took my bath, tried not to kill myself getting out of the tub, and went straight to bed.  Thankfully I had a fan on for white noise during the night, or I’m sure I would have felt some of the Richards family stopping by to say hello. The noise level from the rest of the house was pretty good, again fan was on.

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Breakfast was served around 8 a.m. in the dining room area, and the owner served me with several courses of items.  For $80 a night, this was QUITE impressive! Breakfast delicacies galore came across my plate, and I enjoyed every bite! Now, ironically this was my second B&B this year, and I have to say I liked having it brought to my room so I could eat in bed more than eating among strangers (especially due to Covid).  But I give the food an A+!

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Thankfully my car was still there when I headed out, but most want to know would I stay here again. It’s close to the downtown Dubuque area, so that’s a plus. It’s under half an hours drive to Galena, IL- another hot spot for tourists.  The house is beautiful, but I would ask for a room with an ACTUAL shower. And even if they could provide that, the fact that owners were insisting of how I parked because it was a dangerous neighborhood, would give me pause to stay here again, but hey, I came out of it safely so you have that.  If anything, check it out if you’re in the area, it’s cool enough just to tour. Enjoy!

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I LOVE sharing the joy of Disney, Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my brand for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! So THANK YOU for YOU!!

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