What I am Thankful For in 2020

Let’s be honest here, I think we can all say that this year sucked. Not bad, not okay, it just bit the big one. I hate these “thankful” posts I see that are full of butterflies and sunshine when I KNOW that we all feel something else, it’s to what degree we each have buried that horrible feeling too. I’d like to think I am a positive person most of the time, I think many want too. I don’t have many friends who wake up each day shouting to the world how negative they are going to be, I just think life happens to each of us differently that makes “being positive” a lot harder than others.

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So with that said, let me paste that smile on my face y’all are used to seeing me with and tell you what I truly am thankful for.  I am thankful I didn’t get Covid yet, and I do mean yet. Don’t you feel like it’s just waiting for you somewhere? Of course I don’t want it, I don’t want ANYONE to get it, but at the end of each day, I am happy that I am alive to see the next one. I am thankful to have a home to call my own with a comfy bed and so on- I know many are fearing where their next paycheck is coming from or if they will lose their home.

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I am thankful for my family, for the love and joy they bring me every year. Yep, there is a ton of stress in there too, my shoulders can prove it. BUT at the end of the day, they are the ones who are always there for me. I am thankful that I still have them in my life, I am incredibly sad for those who are without this year.

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I am thankful for traveling during times that no one could or should- being on my own gave me the freedom to move safely while still adhering to restrictions by each State. I am thankful for National Parks that stayed open and finding spots all over the place that didn’t require admission or tickets.  I figured out how to travel with little to no contact with as many people as possible- it was great.  It became a game after awhile of how to visit or see something completely alone and away from the crowds.

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I am thankful for change in my life, in families lives, and friends as well. I am thankful for new and old jobs, friends I made this past year, experiences I had- the good and the bad. I think we get nervous about letting the “bad” change us, but we have to see it as teaching us- you don’t know what you don’t know.  It’s kind of sad when the bad seems to teach me more than the good. LOL  I’ll get it right someday.

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I AM thankful for all of you, for those of you who have followed my words since 2010, for those who have sought my friendship out and stuck with me over all these years, for so many of you who have encouraged my dreams and goals when I didn’t want to continue them. So let us all be thankful today… sarcasm or not, we are still here, and that has to count for something from the year of Hell. God bless each of you!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING- I am so THANKFUL for your support!!

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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The William M. Black Steamboat

While visiting Dubuque, I decided to go and explore the Port area, coming across a Museum (The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium) that sat against the Mississippi River.  Two beautiful bridges surrounding the area, the Museum had sea life, along with a full steamboat and other marina vessels to tour.

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The dredge known as the William M. Black, was 277 feet long and 85 feet wide. One of the last steamboats to use steam in the 1930’s before diesel power replaced it. The US Corps used the vessel from 1934 to 1973 for opening important navigation channels. It would burn up to 7,000 gallons of oil a day, making it capable of dredging more than 75,000 cubic yards PER DAY!

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The Steamboat had a machine shop, two boilers with large smokestacks, two paddle areas, and a pump engine. Off the machine side, there were several living quarters, staterooms, storerooms, food prep and kitchen area, and captain and engineer’s rooms.

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A tour guide welcomes you onto the boat and then it’s a free for all on how you would like to tour. Everything was open to look at an explore, but they’d like you to follow the arrows on the ground to keep everyone from gathering together due to Covid.

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I was alone, I didn’t have much of anyone around me at any given time. I wore my mask the entire time, but I also got the chills on this steamboat that I was being watched.  The captains quarters area especially. 

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The view of Dubuque from the outside of the boat was spectacular, as was the other side of the Mississippi. There is signage everywhere so you know what you’re looking at, and it took about 45 minutes to tour the entire boat. I seriously don’t know how people did it back then or even now- I would crawl the walls being on a boat for months on end. Maybe that’s why I have never been on a Cruise yet? Check it out if you’re in the area- admittance is through the Museum. Enjoy!

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Thank you for believing in me!

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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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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Grant Park in Galena, Illinois

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of this busy little town and not look at the whole picture. I don’t know about any of you, but when I see something in front of me, I tend to feed off the energy of that moment or thing, and I don’t take the time to look around the main event. For example, when I shop at garage sales, I see an item and it’s like my tractor beam hones in on it and doesn’t let go until I have it safely in my hands and THEN I look around my surroundings. Same happened here in Galena, trying to find parking, as it was VERY busy this past September (a good thing and a cautious thing with Covid) and I was too concerned on actually getting A spot that I didn’t pay attention to where my spot laid.

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After I had walked the entire downtown area of Galena, ate at Fried Green Tomatoes, toured the Dowling House, I was pooped and headed to my car. Then I saw some folks walking up a staircase over the grassy hills that I was parked against. Curiosity ALWAYS getting the best of me, I decided to muster up any energy I had left, and check out what was up there.

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As you ascend the staircase, you come across a lovely bridge lined with American flags. I headed over on it, I could see the train tracks beneath me and thought “What a cool view of a train coming” since it’s usually from my car at a stop that I see them most.  I would be blessed to catch a train coming through minutes later, loving every second of it. Also the view of the Town from the bridge is breathtaking, I suggest taking the time to enjoy it.

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On the other side of the bridge lies “Grant Park” which is named after Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President, who lived in Galena. The Park has rolling hills of green grass with a cute gazebo, a statue to the President himself, a pavilion and fountain.  A wonderful escape from the business of town, and a nice break under the shade of the beautiful trees.  I think we take parks for “GRANTed”….. thanks, I’ll be here all week, try the veal.  But seriously, we don’t appreciate these parks sometimes.  As a kid, all I did was lay under a tree and wonder what my adult life would look like, would I have a family, what would I be. We need these parks for our sanity, for the peace they bring without screens, without technology. Although I did take all these pics posted on my IPhone, videos too, so yeah, I know, it’s hard to put the tech toys away.

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Would I recommend the park? I’ll always encourage a sit, a break, a spot of time to just “be” for awhile without purpose or work.  I think this is a wonderful spot for yourself or the family to plop down on a blanket, look at the clouds, and feel the wind tickle your nose. Check it out and enjoy!

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Thank you for your support!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Ghost Story of “The Italian Bride”

Most of us enjoy a good yarn spun around a campfire, or these days, by the light of our cellphones. I was intrigued when I heard this story because of the proof they had to back it up. I can tell you that every ghost story I have heard, there is always a lady in white, walking a road somewhere, and ALWAYS after midnight. And when you hear them over and over again, you become kind of numb to them. The excitement isn’t really there anymore because there are SO MANY out there now, that you can’t keep straight half of them anymore…until her.

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Her name was Julia Buccola Petta, born March 17th, 1892. She would go on to marry in her 20s and become a house wife to her beloved husband, Mattew Petta. Unfortunately, she would die during childbirth at the age of 29, giving birth to a stillborn son. She was buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL, in her wedding dress (with her son), with a picture on her tomb of her in it on her wedding day. The story goes that her mother, Filomena Buccola, starting having nightmares where her beloved daughter was telling her that she was still alive! After 6 years of these dreams, Filomena got permission to exhume her daughter’s body. When they brought the coffin up, they could see it was disheveled and decomposed. BUT when it was opened…. she was in pristene condition except for her son and the arm that held him. Her mother actually took a picture of her daughter and what she saw….and it is ON THE TOMBSTONE!!!! They don’t have any real explanation for such great condition of the body but that they think back in those days that with the right ebalming liquids and an air tight coffin, decomposing would move at a slower rate. OR she’s a vampire. Who knows.

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Whats also interesting is that she was buried under her maiden name, not married name, and no mention of the child’s name that she had bore and eternally slept with. Rumors are that there may have been some beef with mom-in-law and the son-in-law, as happens, and once he got remarried, I’m sure Mom didn’t want any trace of him on her stone. The Mother also rests next to her now.

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And with any ghost story, they said you can see her walking among the stones in her area, or along the drive inside the Cemetery. Her stone is a full-size statue of herself in her wedding gown, along with her “live” and “afterlife” pictures on the stones. I can say looking at the photos I was creeped out, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she was hanging out in there, maybe chatting it up with Al Capone, who knows? To find her for yourself and pay your respects, you can find her in the Northeast corner of the cemetery, coming in from Harrison Street and taking an immediate left. She is right across from the offices and can’t be missed. Enjoy your visit!

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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 Lemp Mansion…Most Haunted in St. Louis

Another location I had heard about for years was the “Lemp Mansion.” Located in St. Louis, Missouri, at 3322 DeMenil Place, this Mansion holds lots of secrets, and sadly, many suicides.  Found in the posh side of town, what was then known as “Benton Park,” Lemp built this home from his fame and fortune from his Brewery, found just down the road from his home.  Adam Lemp came from Germany and decided to sell his own vinegar and beer here in the States. His beer became popular because it was German lagers instead of the American Ales, focusing and creating his “Western Brewery.”

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As generations lived on over the years, indiscretion, children out of marriages, disease, and so on, would move four of the family members to commit suicide INSIDE the house. And of course, with so much death in the home, there was bound to be a few who stayed behind to haunt.  Everything from appartitions, slamming doors, cold spots, and more have been experienced inside the house. After the last of the family members passed, it was turned into a boarding home and then again bought and revived in 1975.  The Pointer family brought it back to it’s glory, and it now serves as a Restaurant and Bed & Breakfast.  LempMansion4LempMansion2rsz_img_0415rsz_img_0436 (1)

I was touring all day when I came upon this on Saturday, August 22nd. I was so excited to see it, and of course, they had a wedding going on so it was a no go to walk in. Again, what is meant for me is meant for me, and maybe I was being kept from something sinister and I am OK with that!  Honestly just the outside of the home had a very dark vibe to it, and I just felt heaviness on my chest as I looked up into the windows.  The neighborhood it sits in is also famous and adorable and it was just neat to see it all in person.  If you like the haunted stuff, I highly encourage you to call ahead for dinner reservations or room reservations and then you can say you stayed at one of THE most haunted places in the U.S.! Want to read about more haunted places? Check HERE and enjoy!rsz_img_0433rsz_img_0438

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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 Most Haunted City in Illinois….Meet Alton

Over the years, I have watched shows, read the books, and saw the pictures about the scary little town of Alton, Illinois. What makes it so scary? Well it hosts so many haunted areas and buildings, that it is a plethora of delights for the historian and ghost hunter in me.  As they say here, “Where all your Witches come true,” this place isn’t for the faint of heart. Lined with limestone rock, the town sits upon the Mississippi River, which is a recipe for paranormal activity.rsz_img_0139

18 miles outside of St. Louis, MO, it made for a perfect “two-fer” road trip! Easy to get to Alton, and also to get to St. Louis from there. Downtown Alton was a sleepy little town, full of the Main Street feel, buried in hills that surround it opposite the Mississippi. Free parking downtown, plenty of it, and stores and restaurants were open, but the visitors center was closed due to Covid.  rsz_img_0105rsz_img_0018rsz_img_0015rsz_img_0010rsz_img_0014

First, I had written one long blog post about everything I saw and visited and it was far too long and way to boring. So, in this age of 2020, our attention spans are only so long and hence, the many parts of my Alton trip were born. So much easier for everyone to find, and short and sweet just works better sometimes.  Check out my posts about the HAUNTED McPike Mansion, First Unitarian Church, Alton Prison, Confederate Cemetary, Mineral Springs Hotel, and the Alton Cemetery.  rsz_img_0061

As for the town itself, it hosts some pretty cool people people that used to walk this Earth. Miles Davis, a very famous Jazz performer was born here, along with the Tallest Man in the World, Robert Wadlow.  Also a famous argument, hence a DEBATE, happened here between a beloved President and one who wished he could be. The very spot the building rest for the infamous “Lincoln-Douglas” Debate can be found right in town, across from the large water towers “Alton” sign. Check out more of this spot HERE. rsz_img_0133rsz_img_0134rsz_img_0055Alton1

Enjoy the Town’s pictures and check out all of the highlighted subjects to read more about my amazing haunted road trip to Alton- enjoy!rsz_img_0019rsz_img_9999rsz_img_9990

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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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