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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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 Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio… Chicago, IL

 

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Some of my travels have taken me to the most beautiful of places, one being Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home found in Oak Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago). Located at 951 Chicago Avenue, it was built in 1889 in a shingle style architecture, and the man had an eye for using space as necessary but making it also a work of art to behold. One cannot enter any of his properties without a gasp of “How did he do that” or “WHY did he do that?” Maybe most of us have become immue to the imagination it takes to make these homes of wonder, or that it’s just to much time and energy to do so in the first place. This was his passion, his passion project to be more precise. Here is where he raised his children, family moments made, kisses with his beloved, and also where he would work in the Studio that was inside his home until 1909. A masterpiece, a work of art, a home.

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Tickets will cost you $20 per person for the “Home and Studio Guided Interior” Tour which is what I signed up for on Thursday, August 6th, 2020. I highly recommend for any travels during Covid times that you do your research, call ahead, and pay online- some DO NOT update their websites and you don’t need to pay for something, invest the energy into going, only to find out that it has been closed during Covid and never bothered to update their site. (Yes, it has happened to me). For now, their hours are 10 am- 3 pm, THURSDAY through SUNDAY ONLY, so plan accordingly. Children under the age of 8 are not permitted, and I am just going to assume because it’s a Museum of sorts now and little ones want to touch everything. Nothing here is behind velvet ropes or glass, you are truly walking as a guest into his home. The tour takes about 45 minutes, plus or minus a chatty person who has lots of questions OR someone who takes a ton of photos like myself.

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Due to Covid, they only allow 8 guests per tour, and that worked out wonderfully for me. I checked in under a white tent where they checked my ticket on my phone, got the small group of us together, and that’s how simple it was. Everyone stood far apart, and when we walked around I would make sure to hang back and be the last one so I had my space. Masks are required at all times, and they do have rubber mats on the floors to show you where to stand in certain rooms. I had no problem finding the home, and was able to park on the side in the neighborhood that he also designed several homes for. That area is MUCH QUIETER to park in, the main road of Chicago Avenue was VERY busy and wasn’t worth trying to park on. Also this was a beautiful suburb of Chicago, the neighborhood alone was worth the trip! After the tour, I highly recommend a walk through the gift shop (who doesn’t like a gift shop?) and grab yourself a $3 map of the area where they show you each home that he also designed-it’s really cool and I will share those photos in tomorrow’s blog post! The tour was DEFINITELY worth the money, and only took under an hour to complete ours, so it’s worth the stop to or from Chicago. Check it out and thanks for stopping by!

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“The Music of Yesterday”… The Music Machines 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 pictures. 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. Today’s installment, and FINAL one of the HOTR Pictorial Series, is that of the Music Machines. I didn’t even really understand the point of these upon my first time at the house. You find them in the home section, then littered throughout the Museum sections. You can normally purchase tokens, but with Covid, they were limiting a few given with your ticket purchased. The machines ONLY run on tokens, along with several fun things like a fortune teller and displays you can play. Most take ONE, but the large ones, that literally FILL a room, take TWO. It’s fun to enjoy with or without the kids, but it’s so unusual to play them that it’s worth it. Several times I passed them up, and then I thought I better start using my tokens, can’t use them to pay for my fries on the way home so might as well! The video can be seen on Facebook on The Relocated Tourist page, but here are the pics posted below of these mammoth music makers- enjoy! Check out more about the HOUSE here!

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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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Hollywood Palms Cinema, Bar, and Eatery in Naperville, IL

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Overture, curtains, lights…this is it, the height of heights…well, you know the “toon.” Honestly I didn’t know if I would ever head back to the Movies again post Covid, so many people packed into that small space! I had a day open and had heard about this really cool Theater in the area I have been staying in. Located at Westridge Court in Naperville, Illinois, it looks like your normal movie theater. My thinking was that they had JUST opened that week, so they would probably have low attendance, at least for the matinees anyways. So I booked a ticket online, $9.00 for a Noon matinee of “The New Mutants” for Theater 7, on Friday, August 28th, 2020. When you book, you can see who has booked for the same show, doesn’t include walk-ups, but it gives you a small idea, and there was noone but me headed to that flick that day-sweet!

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The entrance lined with palm trees, you come upon the ticket area which is housed in a sort of hut. Confirmed my ticket with her on my phone, then was handed a menu for dining at my seat- LOVE IT!! A bar on my left and right, (no concessions stand) this was no cinema, this was an experience. Movie posters lined the walls, and they were done classy, they weren’t just thrown here and there. They were eye-pleasing, so much that AFTER my movie was done, I stayed another half hour just reading and looking at them all! As you enter what can only be described as the door from Jurassic Park or King Kong, you’re transported to waterfalls which start you on your adventure, but will path will you choose?

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Hollywood Palms has a total of 7 screens, with an additional screen upstairs for private events. Depending what movie you’re headed too will choose the fate of your screening experience! YES each screening area is themed differently- the coolest thing ever! If you head to the left of the waterfalls, you head to screens 1-4. Screen ONE is JUNGLE/ADVENTURE themed, screen TWO is ANIMATED themed, screen THREE is ASIAN themed, and screen FOUR is UNDER THE SEA themed.

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If you head to the right of the waterfalls, you head to screen FIVE which is Egyptian themed, SIX which is Oscars themed, and SEVEN…..my heart almost exploded from it…..an entire theater dedicated to THE WIZARD OF OZ!!! Seriously my heart couldn’t take the excitement, I made a video I will post on The Relocated Tourist FB page to better show the feel of it, but I will be posting as many pictures here and probably in seperate posts because of the number of pics I took. Sorry, but it’s THAT COOL of a place! This is something like a Cinematic Museum, an ode to Hollywood, a nod to the greats of past and present. AND you get to enjoy a movie, dinner, AND a cocktail from the relaxations of a reclining chair and moveable table.

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It’s not every day you get to watch a movie surrounded BY your favorite movie, but I was IN HEAVEN!! I had to wear a mask inside the Theater walking around to and from my seat, but once seated, I could remove it. Now, if you feel safer leaving it on, leave it on! I was handed a menu upon check-in, but I also noticed that under the table attached to my chair were more copies, in case you don’t get one at the ticket booth. They have everything from cocktails to full meal food,including this is the ONLY WAY you order your popcorn! I checked out the menu of every Hollywood delicious namesake and went for the Kevin Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, with a side of the Lord of the Rings Onion Rings….one onion ring to rule them all AND my digestion…huzzah! Along with a Diet Coke (they carry Coke products), I had ordered and recieved my food by the time the previews started running. Now, I was the only one in there, so the food was probably going to come fast, but it was still impressive. I have been to the dine and watch kind before and wound up getting my food near the end of the movie (yes, seriously, think it was “Malificent” at Disney Springs AMC- horrible). For safety reasons, they give you your food in closed take-out containers, which I found were just fine. I wasn’t expecting real dishes like at “Be Our Guest.” The KBLT was delicious, I don’t like mine toasted (why toast it?? It’s like sandpaper across the top of your mouth!) and my LOTR OR were yummy! It’s the kind of dining experience where you’re sad when it’s over- like he came out to see if I wanted a refill on my soda and I really didnt need one but I wanted to keep the feeling alive, so I got one.LOL

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Now, I can’t tell you how hard it is to pay attention to a movie when there is SO MUCH to look at around you! I literally had flying monkeys around me, I was as giddy as a girl on Christmas morning. Probably why they put MOST of the decor BEHIND you where the projector lives so that you aren’t focused on it the entire film. Seriously, the ANIMATION themed one, HOW are kids watching the movie?? The imagination and creativity it took to put this place together is just amazing, pretty sure my mouth never closed! After “The New Mutants” which was EXCELLENT, I asked Management if it was ok to peruse the other Theaters and see the different themes. Yes, only if they were empty, which unfortunately due to Covid and it being a matinee, all but one, were empty. I was able to look at all of the detail, take in the beauty of what this man created, and again, it was just a sight to behold.

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Like the movies? Go here. Hate the movies? Go here. Scared of getting Covid? Go during a matinee. They clean everything down, seats around you are meant to be empty, and the next row in front of behind you is already a good 6 feet- these are SPACIOUS seats! The staff was incredibly kind and attentive, and I would go back in a heart beat. Actually probably am for “Bill and Teds” before I head back to Florida. So if you’re in the Naperville area, check out Hollywood Palms- you won’t be disappointed!

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When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth…The Brookfield Zoo 2020

RoadTripLogoGrowing up in Wisconsin, every field trip that I can remember involved the Milwaukee Zoo or Museum. Here I would find my love of animals, and particularly, Penguins and Dinosaurs…I know, weird right? See the Penguins were the very first animal to greet you at the Zoo, so it became almost a tradition and need to see them right away to the start of my exciting day. The Dinosaurs were the cream of the crop at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and it was always my favorite part to visit and just sit and stare at.  What does that have to do with Brookfield Zoo? Well they had Penguins AND Dinos and it was something to do to get out of the house and into some fresh air while social distancing and masking.BZ28The Zoo is located in Brookfield, IL, and easily accessible. It reopened to Members on July 1st and to the Public on July 8th, 2020.  My friend is a Member, so they were able to get me in as a “plus one free” deal, so I was pumped to get a free day!  I didn’t do much homework on the place, I fugured a Zoo is a Zoo…and then I saw the large Dino that greets you at the front gate and I FREAKED out! I didn’t know that they had a special Dinosaur Exhibit there, and ONLY there this summer. It honestly saved the day because like everything else right now in the World, the Pandemic has made sure to shut down many things that normally would be open without a thought. BZoo5

It was my first time there, so I didn’t have really anything to compare it too. My first impression was that the grounds were kept up well and that it definitely was a large zoo.  It will take you several hours just to walk the entirety of it. BUT, for now, NONE of the buildings (INCLUDING my beloved Penguin building) were open except for restrooms. So on our 90 plus degree day, there were no a/c breaks to be taken.  They allow outside food and drink to be brought in, and ESPECIALLY during these times, you want to bring your own in for the sheer reason that you know you only touched it but for the bigger reason being that we could only find a stand here and there that was actually open. We had some delicious “Dippin’ Dots” and grabbed an Icee on the way out…it was like air conditioning for our mouths, it tasted sooooo good on a hot day.  Members get discounts on everything, so it’s worth it to be one if you live in the area and will be going back multiple times.BZoo1BZoo4BZoo3BZ3BZ2

Now the animals were hard to find…meaning I repeatedly said while walking around “Now there are dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour?” I’m sure the heat was a factor, but also possibly the animals got whiff of the pandemic and are social distancing themselves. Because when I tell you we were disappointed trying to find them, one after another, its true.  Does it matter? Well, I always think of those bringing the wee ones in who are all jazzed up to see them and when there’s none to be found, it’s just a disappointing day.  I did love the Lions, they had two Males which were easy to see, and a beautiful snow leopard that was snoozing away.BZoo7BZoo6BZoo11

What made the whole day worth the heat were the Dinos (ironically). Not only true to scale, but they were animatronics, so they moved and made noises. It was neat to see them spread across the entire Zoo, along with a special exhibit corner. If you know someone who LOVES Dinos like I do, this is a really great place to take them. They provide nice and clear signage of each Dinosaur, so it really is a great educational day for the kids on learning about these gentle (some) giants were on this Earth.BZ27BZ26BZ21BZ22BZ19BZ20BZ16BZ15BZ13BZ14BZ12BZ9BZ8BZ7BZ5

Let’s talk safety, because I know some are wondering how it is at Zoos now. First, masks are required here, so if you aren’t comfortable with that, come back another time. Second, it takes a reservation to get in, so they are counting and making sure to only allow so many in at certain times of the day. We were there at 10 a.m. and had no problem of a getting a parking spot or getting in.  They check your ticket at the gate while you are in your car and confirm the number of guests and that’s it- you park and walk in.  At no time were there crowds around us except for around 1 pm which was near the exit- the gift shop has a pop-up shop here and the information booth, so I assume that’s why. Again, no buildings were open, nor any shows going on. This is truly a walk around and see what animals are out, see the Dinos, and if you brought a picnic, find a secluded spot and stay away from everyone. They have social distancing signs everywhere and the parents we came across were good with making sure the kids stayed right next to them and not walking or standing next to us.  I felt safe and hand sanitized as much as I could. I did bring my own, but they have stations all over the Parks for hand sanitizer, on top of maps with them for you to find the next one.BZoo9BZoo10BZ10

To remember the day, I picked up a T-Rex “Moldorama”, because a day at the Zoo isn’t the same without one. I don’t know how this became a “Zoo” thing, but it’s what I remember being excited about the most when going. It was getting the hot plastic animal for my bedroom at home, collecting more with each trip. Funny what made us happy as kids…. all of 75 cents then, all of $3 now.  They have several machines located all over the Park, each with different animals. Ask the Information kiosk if you are looking for a specific animal so they may point you in the right direction.BZ23

I enjoyed my day at the Zoo and it was nice to just get some fresh air and feel “ok” again. Even though many things have changed for us, we can still find the small blessings and joys in each day, and I think this is a great place to relax and still feel safe. For more information, head their website 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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