Day 14: Monday, June 14th, 2021

Today I was bound for the Windy City….Chicago baby!  So much to see, so much to do, it was exciting to plan this part because I wanted to hit things that I hadn’t seen yet. Incredibly blessed with a friend who grew up going to Chicago all the time, they knew where to park and if you have ever been to CHI town, you know that parking is the biggest headache of them all here!  We found a paid lot by Lincoln Park, and started our day there.

I grew up with the Milwaukee County Zoo…always a field trip or a day with the family. It’s always nice to see other Zoos and how they run things… it was a really nice surprise that the Lincoln Park Zoo was free! See, this is why parking was $29, they get you somewhere. LOL It was such a beautiful day today, mid 70s, cool breeze…the heat had taken a break and we were VERY happy to have such a great weather day. ..

I was very impressed with the amount of animals they had, and the exhibits were in good shape and not run down.  The grounds were kept beautifully, and the gift shop had a nice, fresh vibe to it. (Although sadly they didn’t have any stickers of the Zoo…I mean what the heck am I supposed to put on my luggage now, a giraffe pen?)  We spent several hours there, snacking on popcorn and sodas, Walter had tons of fun, and we headed to find lunch at “The Patio” inside the Park.  I ordered an Impossible Burger on a Pretzel bun, and my friend got tacos. The setting was so pretty….the park, the boardwalk, the water… and the family that decided to let their little one run around over, and over, and over again just made it that extra special. LOL The food was ok, they can’t all be winners, but we were hungry and it was enough.

First we had to find the garage, the spot was reserved online, and it was the closest to the hotel. I love staying downtown now and then, but what a pain to find parking, even online, when it’s so easy and convenient staying at hotels outside of the city.  Once we were checked in, 20th floor, we headed to Navy Pier- MY FIRST TIME!!

I guess I had it in my head it was like the Boardwalk in other cities, but basically is was a food and shopping district on Lake Michigan. The Skywheel is impressive to see on the waterfront, but I got more excited to see a Tall Sails Ship docked on the Pier.  We signed up for the 5 pm tour and we had such a good time, even wound up on a rescue mission! There was a white thing floating farther out in the Lake, so our boat when to rescue someone or see what was in the water.  We all cheered as we saw it was a Unicorn pool floatie thankfully and not a person in the water…it was pretty funny.  The tour lasted about 75 minutes, costed $10 cheaper purchasing the tickets through Groupon, and it was a comfortable ride except for the music. The pirate music they lead out and lead into the Pier with FITS the feel of this ride…but once on the open water they play LOUD, pop rock music which makes no sense.  So the feel of a relaxed ride on the water becomes a party boat that nobody was dancing on, everyone just wanted to chill. So be aware of that if you want to ride the “Windy.” All in all, an experience I never had before AND I got to raise one of the Main Masts… it was AWESOME!!

After walking back from Navy Pier, we inhaled Chinese food before the “Ghosts and Gangsters Tour” in downtown Chicago. Caleb was our host, and he did a great job, but be prepared to WALK. And what I didn’t like was the tour wasn’t in a complete circle…we started near the Riverwalk and ended up at the Congress Hotel.  I learned a lot about Al Capone, the Chicago Fire, and a lot about the gangs that ran these streets so long ago. But after the full day I had had already, my feet were just about bleeding. It was a beautiful night, a great tour, just wasn’t the best thing to end my day with.

So I am now tucked away in Chicago tonight, excited for what life will bring tomorrow, and oh so thankful and blessed for the travels I have enjoyed so far. See you tomorrow!!

IMG_6353

Thank you for your kindness!!

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

$1.00

Day 13 …Sunday, June 13th, 2021

“The Ghost Tour of Naperville”…. let’s start there. WOW. First off, Kevin Frantz, author, historian, paranormal investigator and author, was just amazing.  The tour starts in downtown Naperville, which was challenging at times as it was at 8 pm on a Saturday night and the town was alive and well with party goers. This being the first weekend that they have reached phase 5, everyone was out to celebrate.  That being said, Kevin did a great job being loud and present so we didn’t have to strain to hear him over the noise. The tour costs $20 cash at the site, you can reserve online if you like but not required. He took us through each ghost story, and being the town’s Historian, he was being historically accurate.  Stories of lovers, lost loves, dug up bodies, and souls of the unrest kind…he had it all including EVP evidence and photos to back up the stories. He was theatrical, and he was passionate. I have been on some where they have this energy, and then the kind where they can’t wait to be done with their shift. It matters when it comes to ghost tours because you want to feel you are a part of that moment, that history…and the right host makes you feel right at home in that space.

The Old Hospital where the little girl in pink is seen.

 

The tour ran for a little under 2 hours, slated for 100 minutes. We had lots of questions and he had lots of the answers. We had our own private chat with him after the tour group left, and we appreciate the time he took to talk to us about all of my Paranormal adventures and encounters- HIGHLY recommend him and the tour if you are in the area.  Hit the Taco Bell pretty hard on the way home, and then I’m pretty sure I fell asleep with my nachos. They didn’t complain.

After a late night at the Ghost Tour, I slept in and it felt AMAZING.  I took my time, I got stuff done, I figured out how to resize my pics faster, and I was just riding cloud 9 on the “Get er’ done” list.  So after enjoying the warm sunshine and cool breeze, we headed out to find lunch and the infamous Route 66.

We headed to the stretch of Route 66 in Wilmington because we had been through here last year. We had gotten to the “Launching Pad” late last year, and due to Covid, it was shut down. We had heard it had reopened and with Walter in tow, so we were pretty giddy ordering our cheeseburgers and sides. The family who owns it could not have been nicer…I mean seriously, these people were super kind, efficient, and the place just gave off the “Welcome” vibe the minute you stepped in. I loved the booths with the Route 66 table tops, and the 50’s music that was playing throughout the Restaurant.  The food came made to order, fresh, and absolutely one of the best cheeseburgers I have ever had.  The “Rocket Burger” can be made to whatever you want, and the prices were affordable and reasonable.  It was like you stepped back in time at this adorable diner, complete with it’s gift shop in the corner full of Launching Pad and Route 66 souvenirs. I picked up a sticker, as I am going to cover my suitcase in stickers from all of these travels.  They saw Walter and we HAD to get a pic with the family- so they were pumped to do it, and that’s always fun when they WANT to do it and they don’t look at me like I have lost my mind. (Yes, someone has decline a  pic with my loveable Muppet….the nerve LOL).  A great lunch, a great place, LOVED them and will be back!!

Next we headed up a ways, hit up a car wash by a Cheerleading team so we gave them a huge tip with it as the kindness for the day.  Then we took Walter to the Polka-Dot Drive In, and he enjoyed all the photo opps there and everywhere else on Route 66.  It was a lot of fun!! We finished up the adventure by checking out the “Joliet Route 66 Welcome Center” and grabbed some more pics.

Finished off the day with dinner with dear friend Cheryl, a long time reader from my OG group, and it was SO nice to get to know her better.  I got my favorite Pot Roast and she had a Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Tater Tots.  Mine was amazing, and she LOVED hers!  I had so much fin chatting with her, we will definitely be hanging out again. 

A great day, I am exhausted, I will catch y’all on the flip side tomorrow. Ryan Seacrest out.

IMG_6353

Thank you for your kindness!!

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

$1.00

Day 12 …Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Another hot and humid morning here in the Midwest, my friend and I came up with something different for today. Instead of an attraction, we would run around the area, hitting up the favorite Donut shops. Well, Walter caught wind of this and was ALL for it, so we decided to make it about him. So I introduce to you….Walter’s Donut Dash around Illinois.

First stop was “My Sister’s Lil Donut Shoppe” located in Oswego, we had a Chocolate Long John…light and fluffy. Walter approved.

Second stop was “Dimple’s Donuts” in Batavia where we tried a Chocolate Sprinkle Cake donut…wasn’t a fan of this one, Walter was meh about it.

Third stop was “Fresh Donuts” in Geneva where we had the Red Velvet….this was amazing and I think Walter’s favorite.

Fourth stop was “Bosa Donuts” in St. Charles, where we tried the Fruity Pebbles donut. I was super excited about this one, but the cereal on top tasted a bit stale. Walter likes Lucky Charms, so he wasn’t as impressed.

Fifth and final stop was “Roll N Donuts” in Algonquin where we had my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!! A Strawberry Shortcake donut that tasted just like it, with a very light feel to it. Delicious, Walter agreed!

It was a busy day of running around, but fun, and it was something to do out of the heat and also the continual downpours we had all day.  I hoped you enjoy this fun post, we did, and it was still something new I had for lunch LOL.  See you tomorrow!

IMG_6353

Thank you for your kindness!!

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

$1.00

Day 11 …Friday, June 11th, 2021

There are so many reasons why I don’t like Florida during the summers, but the heat and humidity top the list. And then the Midwest gets this blast of Hell fire this last week, and I wonder if it is actually cooler in Florida. No one should ever walk out the front door and scream “Oh my God” while trying to learn how to breathe again….it’s been hot.

I still love to garage sale, even though I have become quite the Minimalist. Quite proud of selling my Disney collection for this larger than life trip, but I still enjoy a find or two now and then.  We headed out, manned with water bottles fit for an army, hitting up a suburb sale. I was super excited to find items for others, but after only an hour, the heat zapped my energy and I was just exhausted.  It was pathetic honestly, I should be ready for this heat, but all I wanted was a nap.

On the travel agenda was the “Ellwood House” in DeKalb, a beautiful mansion built in 1879 by Isaac Ellwood.  He got into the barbed wire business, and not only became incredibly popular for it, but was able to use the money to build this spectacular Victorian style home.  I would love to share pictures with you of the inside, but to preserve the original furniture and fixtures, they ask that no pictures be taken.  Just imagine parlors with ornate fireplaces, a spiral staircase, velvet lined walls, breathtaking ceilings, and of course, a wine cellar. But my FAVORITE part is actually in the back yard…a full size play house he had built for his daughters.  With two adult size doors, you can actually walk into it and see all the doll rooms the kids would have played in- Walter LOVED it!  It is a beautiful place and I highly recommend you check it out.

I would love to say I got some AMAZING lunch today, but the heat got to me, as the Mansion we toured did NOT have a/c- it was VERY hot inside. So after the tour, I was just done. I just wanted something quick and to head back and take a much needed nap. After the much needed recharge, we headed to Hollywood Palms to watch a movie amongst crowds again. Relaxed in recliner seating, dinner ordered, it was time for “A Quiet Place 2” and I settled in.  It was REALLY good and definitely left me wanting another hour of it! 

Another day, another great memory.  Today was more rest than play, but honestly I need those.  I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow, have a good one!

IMG_6353

Thank you for your kindness!!

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

$1.00

Day 10: Thursday, June 10th, 2021

A beautiful morning here in Illinois, I woke up ready to join the day with new adventures waiting. My first pair of glasses had arrived, so I tried them on and felt them out this morning. Walter insisted on also trying them off….what a goof.

News of very warm weather this week brought hesitation to my scheduled activities, but the show must go on. With water bottles, trail mix, and of course, Walter, we headed out towards Starved Rock State Park.

Thankfully only an hour’s drive from here, we drove through the country side, enjoying the sights on the way.  We arrived at Starved Rock State Park around 10:00 a.m., parking free and plenty available.  This being a State Park, it was free to visit and it made for a GREAT source of exercise.  Starting at the Visitor’s Center, we headed up to Starved Rock first.  Get ready to climb…lots, and lots, and LOTS of stairs. Seriously I was so sweaty and gross just going to the Rock first, which ironically the wooden deck was placed “on top” of it, so it was like “Oh we are ON the infamous rock!”

Next was a healthy hike to Wildcat Canyon…. Up and down hills upon hills and then down a very steep wooden walkway and staircase to the bottom of the Canyon. But once there, it was so much cooler and it was incredibly beautiful with the waterfall trickling over the rocks. As sweaty and tiring as it was to get to it, it was well worth the sight.

Heading to find a place to eat, we came across the sweet, little town of Ottawa, IL. Loving Lincoln last summer, I was super excited to find this was another spot where Lincoln and Douglas first debated. This humble area had 1950’s music wafting down it’s Main Street, almost like being at Magic Kingdom. It was a neat experience that we just happened upon.

Exhausted and hungry, the temps dipping into the 90s, we headed to Plainfield for lunch at “Station One” Smokehouse. I ordered the St. Louis Ribs, with a side of tater tot casserole. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD!!!  Once again, I was happy to eat somewhere new….I would HIGHLY recommend this place if you find yourself in this area. 

The evening was spent watching one of my favorite movies “A Knight’s Tale” and snacking on Tootsie Rolls and Mod Pizza (A FAV of mine when in town).

Tomorrow brings another adventure, but oh so happy with the woods, the nature, and the smell of Earth today…always brings peace to my soul. See you tomorrow.

Thank you for your kindness!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! Spreading the kindness is my goal on this amazing journey, and I thank you for helping me make magic for so many people. So THANK YOU for YOU!!

$1.00

Day 9: Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

I hit the open road by 6 a.m. this morning, grateful for the kindness and hospitality by the Livers family, but also very excited to see friends in Illinois. With two hours of rain, the sun finally came out and I was quickly getting through Indiana and arrived safely at my friend’s home around the noon hour.  Since it was a driving day, and I napped when I arrived, there isn’t much to talk about today. SO I thought I would share with yall the lessons I learned thus far these 9 days into my year long trip.

Lesson #1  – Christa taught me how to use my Social Media more effectively and so I learned to be patient with myself and a few things around the Internet.

Lesson #2- Stephanie taught me that it’s ok to take life in the fast lane…..literally.

Lesson #3- Cheryl taught me about the “Hot Brown” and how it was a Kentucky staple. It was DELICIOUS and I thank her for teaching me about it. Oh, and to ALWAYS take leftovers.

Lesson #4- Ari taught me that small acts of thoughtfulness are sometimes done in silence and away from those that will notice.  She cared about my health and well-being and I will forever be grateful about that.

Lesson #5- Friends and family taught me that checking in with me is just enough to feel, and stay, connected on this journey across the Country.   It means a lot to me to never feel alone.

Lesson #6- Not every day will be exciting or great. Some will just be stinkers, and THAT’S OK!

Lesson #7- Keep my expectations in check. Stay excited but leave room for bad weather days, tired, days, and and just meh days.

Lesson #8- Enjoy the food, get exercise in when I can, and leave the worrying about weight going on and off for later.

Lesson #9- My biggest lessson may being kind to myself and accepting things for what they are.

So just a simple post today, but I wanted to share my thoughts. Tomorrow resumes lots of fun stuff here in Illinois, see you then!

Thank you for your kindness!!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! Spreading the kindness is my goal on this amazing journey, and I thank you for helping me make magic for so many people. So THANK YOU for YOU!!

$1.00

Day 8: Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Today was officially my last full day in Kentucky, and the time has gone by so fast! First off, before we get started in today’s happenings, I want to again send another shout out, a HUGE thank you, to Stephanie, Cheryl, and Ari for their wonderful kindness and hospitality these last 5 days….we had a lot of laughs and good times and I will remember them all. Now on to the main event.

As a child, I had read the story of Noah and his famous Ark and how he had gathered two of every animal along with his family onto this large, man- made boat before God flooded the Earth.  Even then, I was skeptical.  I wondered how the animals didn’t eat the other animals, how did they deal with the smell of that many animals defecating, and how did Noah determine which animals made it on the boat and which ones didn’t.  So when I heard that a man was building a true to size Ark, I thought this could be my chance to get some questions answered and see for myself if this was at all a possibility.  I asked the Livers if they’d like to go with me, and they said yes, and thus, today was born.

Let’s talk logistics first about this “Attraction” – and that’s what it is, it isn’t a church, it isn’t on holy land, it is a replica of a boat from the Bible.  Parking is $10, and to JUST get into the Ark will cost you $50 an adult, with prices lower for kids and seniors.  If you want to throw in the “Creation Museum” which is located 45 mins down the road, there is a combo ticket for $79.  We only did the Ark.  Now, once you park, there were HUGE lines for buying tickets and then claiming ones online. Both lines were ridiculously long, and not manned well at all. There was no one telling you where to go for what, so I would suggest to them to add more employees during the first hours of the day. Once ticket in hand, you must board a bus to get TO the Ark, as it is quite a ways away. No, you cannot walk to it. There is a bus for assisted needs if you need the additional help and room.  We were there at about 10:30 a.m. and had to wait in line a good 20 minutes before purchasing our tickets, but had no wait for the bus line.

They drive you out to the Ark, then drop you off at the “Answers Center” which, that name just didn’t sit well with me, and you can use the Restrooms here, grab a water, or go sit in their sanctuary if you needed to go to Church while visiting the Ark? They have presentations and videos playing there, but it gave off the church vibe greatly.  After you freshen up, you head out to the Rainbow that kicks off the entrance to the great boat herself.

Now, the sheer sight of the Ark will take your breath away- she be a big girl! It’s amazing to see something out of your Children’s Bible come to life before you, and I was quite excited to see the inside, as was Walter.  It’s a Tuesday, a week day, but it is summertime, and the crowds were INSANE! I would say come right as it opens, like Disney, it’s probably prudent to be the early bird on this one and get in while it isn’t crazy busy. Because here’s the thing….there were the long lines to buy the ticket, long lines to get into the Ark, and then LONGER lines to explore the Ark!

Once you walk up a large walkway into the boat, there is everything and anything on the walls explaining everything. The problem is that all it takes is a couple of people to gather around these signs, and you can’t read them at all.  Lines starting forming for every exhibit, so frustrations unfortunately set in because you would be in really long lines to read some of it, so most just tried to keep moving forward.

The first floor is the hull and bottom of the boat….showing you what was stored on this floor including the amazing workmanship on the cages.  Now, again, we don’t know for sure what it looked like back then, but this was an interesting take on what they felt it was.  The second floor was more of the animals, but larger ones, including dinosaurs? I scratched my head on that one. The third floor was the living quarters of the family and where they would grow their food, grabbing sunlight and water out of the top of the boat for growing their own food.  Impressive set up to say the least.

Now, I have to say that I enjoyed seeing the sheer size of it and what it must have felt like to be on the Ark. What I did NOT enjoy was the commercialism of it, even though it is foremost an attraction at the end of the day.  Something about charging $50 a head and then the endless rooms of their gift shop- I just left feeling weird.  It’s probably why I never visited the “Holy Land Experience” in Orlando…something about it never sat well with me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I saw it for myself finally, but I am not sure if I would recommend it.  I didn’t realize it was so highly controversial, and I pride myself on being a safe space for all, so it was just a bit disappointing for how excited I was to start my day with.  Lesson learned, moving on.

We headed on over to Shelbyville to check out a VERY famous Restaurant in Kentucky started by a VERY famous Colonel.  Colonel Sanders and his wife moved to the area where they would come up with their FAMOUS RECIPE for Fried Chicken RIGHT HERE.  They started this Restaurant FIRST before heading out and starting the “Kentucky Fried Chickens” you know today! It’s called “Claudia Sanders Dinner House” and it is VERY elegant! The famous duo lived in the big white house located in front of their Restaurant, where it still stands today.  I was excited because while in Kentucky, you have to have Kentucky Fried Chicken….but this was the REALLY good stuff that came first. It was DELICIOUS and we had all 8 sides, family style, with Cheryl taking home all of the leftovers!  I HIGHLY recommend dining here and enjoying a bit of foodie history with some GREAT fried chicken.

Another full day in the books, and I am again, beat. I head out bright and early for Illinois next, passing through Indiana on the way (I hit Indiana again later).  The rain is making me sleepy and melancholy for routine, but I am happy and feeling blessed with everything I have been able to see and experience…even if it’s controversial.  See you tomorrow for another driving day.

Thank you for helping me spread kindness with your support!!!

I LOVE sharing the joy of Adventure, and Travel! Every dollar you support me with goes right back into my mission for equipment, gas, and essentials. But most importantly, when you support me financially it tells me you BELIEVE in me and MY VALUE, and that means more to me than ANYTHING! Spreading the kindness is my goal on this amazing journey, and I thank you for helping me make magic for so many people. So THANK YOU for YOU!!

$1.00

Day 7: Monday, June 7th, 2021

It is officially my first week done, and I am so proud of myself.  I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends and family in my life, and today was just another beautiful reflection of that. I didn’t have much on the agenda today due to weather being iffy, so Steph and I took to the road with a pocketful of ideas and the sun finally peeking out of the clouds.  We headed to “Farmington” first which is a Plantation that Abraham Lincoln stayed at.  They allow you to visit the grounds even when the home itself isn’t open, so that’s what we did. Of course we looked in windows, checked out the beautiful gardens, and made sure Walter was in on the action.

Next we toured Eastern Cemetery, which is a very old 1800s one which was known for burying bodies over other bodies. A scam they ran by selling lots over lots that were already in use….it was definitely and eerie place.

Onto then downtown Louisville, and I must say, on a Monday it was awesome. There was little to no traffic, stores were adorable, it was clean, safe, and it didn’t give off that “big city” feel like some other big cities do.  I enjoyed the sites and sounds, grabbing pics all over the city before heading to lunch at the “Galthouse” Hotel with Steph’s mom, Cheryl.

We ate “Jockey Silks” which was a Speakeasy type bar/restaurant in the hotel.  It was beautiful, and we enjoyed a half booth while I ordered the chopped salad with grilled chicken.  Appetizers were cheese curds with ranch dressing…and this Cheesehead can tell you they were DELICIOUS!!  The salad hit the spot, and Cheryl was gracious enough to give me a tour of the hotel’s upstairs which looked over the city of Louisville and Indiana across the Ohio River.