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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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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Let’s see the HOUSE Pictures of “House on the Rock”

I took so many wonderful pictures during my time at “House on the Rock,” that I wanted to make sure to not overwhelm my readers with a novel of pictueres. So to break it up a bit, I thought I would just post a couple of pictoral posts about some of the rooms that were JUST AMAZING!! For more information about my visit, check out the FULL POST HERE. The “house” portion of this attraction is just as bizarre and crazy as the rest of the place! It contains 14 rooms, and I don’t know how I would ever feel comfortable in a home like this. Low ceilings, deep living spaces, slanted windows, staircases, and carpeted ceilings. Words don’t do it justice, just check out the pics below and 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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