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).

Today’s Moments of Kindness: Many people stopped us and asked us where we got the portable fans we were wearing around our necks. We gave them the information and how they were saving our sanity this very hot day.

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!!

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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.

Today’s Moments of Kindness: Held doors open at Rest Areas, took people’s pictures for them.

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!!

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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.

Today’s Moments of Kindness: OK, today was one for myself. I was disappointed in the Ark, so I had to be kind to myself and remember that not everything will be a winner or positive experience. I still took pics of families for them though, and my patience was kindness for all today LOL.

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!!

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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.

Steph and I then headed over to Indiana to find a very famous Candy Store that is actually THE oldest one in America.  Called “ Schimpff’s” owned now by the Fourth Generation, Warren and Jill Schimpff.  It was like walking into Willy Wonka’s candy store in the beginning of the movie…. A step back in time to the old Soda Shop.  Three rooms, one that held a Museum of Candy and Chocolate, one where they made the candy, and the middle room being the Soda Shop with the old wooden booth and the boutique curled iron chairs.  We decided we MUST split a hot fudge sundae here, and of course, Walter HAD to get into the action!  We met Warren and Jill and they also got to meet Walter- such kind people and they loved being a part of Walter’s cross-country trip.

Back to Kentucky, we drove around Old Louisville and looked at beautiful, old homes. Then onto the “Mega Caverns” which were man made caverns, located deep beneath the city and under the Zoo.  We took the tram tour, lasting about an hour, very informative, and bring a jacket if you are going to check it out.  I tell ya, they put a ghost tour down there and it would be insanely scary.  Ever seen the “Descent?” Yeah, like that.  They also have ziplining but I was not ready for that today, maybe another time.

Today’s Moments of Kindness: Cheryl and Steph blessed me all day with kindness…which helps me down the road when I am on my own and alone. So thank you.

It was a full day, ending with pizza from “Bearno’s” – my own deep dish delight, which has fueled me enough to get this written and posted tonight. Another day done, lots of smiles, one more day in Kentucky tomorrow. Goodnight!

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!!

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