midwest

A trip To Heron County Park Wetlands(sooo cool)

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You just never know what you will run across. Marsh land isn’t common in the central Part of Illinois. Yep it is in the southern part of the state ( you’ve seen U.S Marshalls lol). This area is really unusual here.

It’s actually the North end of Lake Vermillion. Not much like it in this area. A true wetlands. Marsh, bog and just beautiful. They have a great observation tower but also a 950 ft floating boardwalk. You will see eagles, geese and ducks plus birds that I have no clue what they are. And I’m Native American. It’s a great place to relax and refresh. Plus there are a ton of great restaurants close by (look for a piece on our trip to the Nugget soon).

Just a few Miles North of Danville Illinois on West Newell Rd, it is a world class experience for zero cost if you are in the area. Worth the trip if you aren’t!!! Come see us!!!

 

A Great Visit To Mackinaw Valley Winery

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So we finally made it out to this place. Friends had told us for years to go. It’s not that far but given our schedules on the road it had just never happened. Soooo glad we did. Sandy and I loved it, and we have been to a lot of amazing places.

Beautiful grounds and facility with great service all while being so relaxing. I’ll wait to write a ton more as we go to various concert events but I wanted to give you an idea of just a normal outing here. A relaxing hour in the afternoon or an evening adventure.

First, the drive out there is great. Heading out of Bloomington IL starts like everything but as the cool old barns and hills pop up , the drive gets interesting. When you arrive you will be impresses with the look. Cool house that they seem to just keep adding on to. You can see the vines and I really like how they mark what they are( if you like wine , it’s nice to know). An incredible little shop with gourmet items as you enter and then the tasting room. You get three free tastings and then each after is a dollar. You can also buy a glass($6 on average) as well as beer. This part is awesome because as you will see in the pics, they have a gorgeous deck to sit on and relax.

In the warm months they have a great concert series which the grounds are perfect for. Sandy and I will being hitting that this year and you know those pics will show up right here. For now, enjoy the pictures and we will talk after the jump.

You should definitely check this place and it’s wines out. Great place, great wines and a great time. Take the time to go. Check out their link here for directions and more info. Mackinaw Valley Winery and definitely tell them Bob and Sandy from the Combat Sports Lifestyle blog (and Team Transcend ) told you to show up. Follow us on twitter @combatsportlife . Also contact us to come to your place. All the cool things I love and recommend

Riverbend Forest Preserve (a great hike & place to canoe,kayak)

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This place is my little relaxation playground when I’m home. When I am not traveling for writing work or fight camps this is my little getaway. In between teaching private training sessions(muay thai,conditioning,sport karate) I head out here with my dog Renegade and hike. It’s very close to town but the trails seem remote at times. Quiet, beautiful and doesn’t look at all like you are in the corn/bean fields where we live. On the weekend you will find me here in my canoe.

This is an old gravel pit with a large area of forest and prairie flowers. The company that operates a large gravel operation here donated this section and it became a park. The water is beautiful. Great fishing. Cool picnic areas. Better yet are they trails where we mostly see nobody. Deer, coyote and fox. Birds of all kinds. You can wander back to the Sangamon river or walk along the bluffs above the lake.

In summer heat it is also a place where I do hill runs and mud runs for training. One warning: In warm months you will run across copperheads and cottonmouths . Most are smaller and not at all aggressive but just so you know.

It’s worth a trip if you are nearby or looking for somewhere different . I’ll let the pictures speak from here out. Enjoy.

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Enjoy Downtown Champaign Including Food At Guido’s and The Esquire( Pictorial)

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When are not traveling, we love to relax in Downtown Champaign. Great bars and restaurants and a cool place just to wander around. As i’ve said before, traveling to all the places we do actually helps us look for more treasures in our own area.

Great burgers, pizza and drinks from two great places. Guidos has a great menu and bar. Lots of screens, cool look and great outdoor seating. It also has a gorgeous downtown view especially when it is snowing. I’ll do a piece on that this winter. The esquire is a classic old school bar with a broad age range and fantastic food. They also have great outdoor seating. You can’t go wrong with either one.

Check out the pictures that also include the awesome Ten Thousand Villages store and just street shots. Talk after the jump.

Get yourself down in this area if you live nearby or if you are just visiting. Take advantage of the cool things, culture and food we have here. It’s a great place to just enjoy yourself!

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Check out the very cool champaigncenter.com for more info on the area.

Hiking In Sangamon Park(where I grew up and native landmark)

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Growing up we called this place New park. It was a place hardly anyone went. As a teen it was a place we could get away as well as have an illegal adult beverage or two(not condoning lol). It is in a very rural area of Piatt county where it meets Champaign county. Over the years people have built a number of houses nearby. There are whole developments. Still when you step back into this park, it all goes away. It is this area as it used to be. Prairie, river and trees. For me it holds a special place. As a young man I always felt a strange kindred spirit feeling when we went out there to hike and possibly consume beer. I always felt like someone was watching me, but in a good way.   In later years I found out there was a huge battle here between two native nations. Nobody knows who exactly but the thousands of arrowheads and bloody bones that came up as it was developed let everybody understand what it was. Around here we don’t always get attention from or care about the celebrity archaeologists lol. To this day a section of the river is known to locals as Bloody Bend. Now you know why.

These days living in Champaign county but not far away, it is a place my dog Renegade and I go to get away and just wander. When I am not on the road for fights or travel writing/pr it is one of our places several times a week.

If you are interested in just hiking, native folklore or just need to get away from people give this place a look. I use it for dog walks as well as a place to train(climb hills and force myself to work in bad weather) when I’m building my fight skills. Take a look at some pictures from Renegade’s most recent trip out there.

Give this place a look. Contact me with any questions about the area or how to get there. The county web for it is not very helpful. If you live in the area or are visiting the University Of Illinois it is a great place to get away. Probably 30 minutes from the campus.

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Pictures From Beautiful Southern Illinois (travel pics)

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My dad’s family moved from the native territory (called reservations elsewhere ) to drill the oilfields in Southern Illinois. AS a child we spent a ton of time in this area hiking and eating. Much of it is beyond rural lol. Great food, beautiful scenery and cool country folk. It is truly it’s own little world. Great state parks including Garden of The Gods and Cave In Rock ( famous from movies).as well as others. Much of the area still has native culture (Cherokee and osage which is my heritage). It creates an interesting area full of food, music and a love of nature. I’ll be doing more in depth posts including hotel stays and restaurant reviews . For now take a look at the natural beauty.   It’s a great place for an inexpensive trip, and worth it no matter where you are from.

 

Don’t overlook this great area to take a trip. Nature, food and country culture. You can’t go wrong with that!

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Check out all the great lifestyle products from our friends at Legacy. Tack, coffee and beautiful custom furniture. Build your life, build your Legacy.

 

 

 

Killing Time In Rosemont (ok waiting for a flight at Ohare)

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Rosemont IL and I go way back. I fought there several times including at the very cool convention center. Took my sport karate team to a National held there several times. Plus lots of conferences for business. At times I have had a love hate relationship with it. Recently they seem to have made great strides to add some cool restaurants and a great mall( wait,I’ll get to that lol). The retail and food end is growing instead of just being hotels next to a huge airport.

Recently my wife and I had some time to kill there while waiting for a flight. Her first stop, the Fashion Outlets of Chicago. Oh dear lord. I have to say it was way cooler than most outlet malls. Upscale, unusual stores and an interesting food court. Far more than I expected. And yes oh boy did she buyyyyy!!!!!

After the mall we hit one of our Chicago favorites Giordanos Pizza . Great stuffed pizza. Great bar and good beer/wine list. It is one of those places we seem to hit quite often when we are up that way. I know, we should only be at foodie type places lol. Nope, we hit those but this place is like comfort food for me. Always going to happen. Take a look at pictures from the afternoon to get an idea of the are. Ill be spending a weekend there soon and do a more in depth piece. Talk after the jump.

 

If you happen to be in the Midwest this could be a cool getaway weekend for you. Shopping, awesome food (yes some world class foodie places are there as well) and great hotels. Give it a look and watch for my next in depth piece. Contact us for personalized promotion including blog feature and Live Tweets (best value &best reaction). Fun, effective and inexpensive. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter.

Today’s links of awesome places to go. If I like them, you will like them!!!

 

 

A Quick Review Of Golden Harbor (authentic Chinese in the Midwest)

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Awesome, authentic and incredible. Golden harbor is just a simple looking place. Lots of little group tables and a few large round group family style tables. The cool part is the signage. IN an age where most Chinese food places are basically Americanized fast food, this place caters to our large Chinese and Asian community here. Truly caters .If  you are a real and truly adventurous foodie then it caters to you as well. A true food experience  There is an American menu but the adventure starts with the Chinese menu. Broad and delicious. All the signs in Chinese and menus prove what I mean. Come here to eat and experience what the food of this beautiful culture has to offer.

Before my wide ranging career in martial arts, it was just the standard fare for me. Eating with people from all over th world, in their homes or guided by them in restaurants taught me so much more. Watching what they ate(rarely on the menu) to asking questions. That brings me to this awesome place. From unusual seafood combinations to tons of tripe dishes it is the real deal. Thai dishes and a large number of plates from Taiwan(not the standard fare).

Ill keep my bad writer review short here and talk with pictures. I had the Chengdu chicken and my wife had the Generals tofu. We also had vegetable dumplings. I’ve  also had the baby squid here and a tripe dish that I can’t remember the name. All awesome. My dish had tons of peppers in it but strangely was not over powering in heat level. I love spice but like complexity. It had that on very level. My wife’s tofu dish was truly the best tofu prep I have ever had. Perfectly cooked. As a former pro fighter that has travelled everywhere, I have eaten lots of tofu. The BEST!    The dumplings aere moist and yet done. No clue what they were filled with but it was delicious. I’ll let the pictures tell the story and we will finish up after the jump.

 

 

Seriously, if you are anywhere near this part of America check this place out. Heck message me here and we will hang out! I like it that much. Ok now the standard business. If you want a link or ad on here we can do that. Want live tweets and pr from our large twitter following? We can do that. Think radio remote but cooler, cheaper and more effective.On location or just ads. Facebook, twitter and blog features. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter. Hit me up at Bob Tompkins on FB.

Go here now!!!!!!

A Quick Review Of Farren’s Pub (a hideaway destination)

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When I say hideaway I mean it in a very cool way. Off the street in an alley but right downtown. Think speakeasy but cool and clean lol. It truly is a destination location and one you should go to! You will see when I start posting pictures in a minute.

I know the Farren family personally as our daughters danced together on a comp tem and we travelled all over the country. They also keep horses at the stable my son owns. They are really cool and unusual people. It makes them great restaurant owners!  Actually I have been going here though long before I knew them from those activities. Pretty much since it opened and I found it on accident. An awesome accident.

Years ago I think it was storage for another set of restaurants nearby (ill have to ask Carolyn). It gives it that hideaway warehouse feel with a cool ambience. On to the food though! Year after year they win the  best burger award in all the local media. The burgers are awesome but there is so much more. Thinks bistro hip foodie while maintaining a cool bar food pub stance. You will find tech hipsters , finance people and older folks after a college football game. Heck, obviously you also find old retired fighters lol.

IMG_4384On this trip I go the Sante Fe chicken sandwich. Full disclosure, I often get that. A great chicken breast on fresh bread with an awesome pesto. A bit of peppers and cheese and it is perfect. It just has the right amount of pop with creaminess, flavorful without being heavy. Sandy had the  mushroom and cheese and it was perfectly done. Too rich for me but right up her alley! Add in a great beer from Triptych ( another of our great local craft brewers ) and the meal was just awesome. Always is. Check the pictures and we will talk after  jump.

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If you want to get great magazine foodie level food at bar prices, check this place out. It is worth the trip. I might be a regular but you should try it at least once. If you are in central Illinois you should be a regular!

Get in touch with us for features and ads. Get live tweets and FB from our large social following Inexpensive and fun. We are always fun lol. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter

Todays links

farrenspub.com

triptychbrewing.com

 

Strolling The Canal District In Indianapolis pt1 ( details & tons of pictures)

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The canal district in Indy is awesome. It can be a romantic walk, a place for a great run or an afternoon of kayaking. Loads of incredible museums, monuments and the gorgeous canal. Connecting to White River State Park, the area is a true gem just wander. A stunning 17ft waterfall, fountains and the awesome architecture of the museums (the Eiteljorg is stunning, but that’s another post). 

    I’m going to eventually make this a 3 or 4 part section of my Indy series as the museums, hotels and architecture need their own. Today is mostly showing you pictures of just walking part of it. OK, with a short stop in the Cole Porter Room at the Indiana Historical Society!  You can rent paddle boats, kayaks or ride a gondola. You can also rent bikes,segways or even a Surrey.  All this sitting at the edge of downtown. It is both serene and urban hip at the same time.  A truly fantastic place for a romantic stroll. Hey I may be a torn old fighter, but I have a beautiful wife to keep happy! I know my romantic strolls. 

During this stroll we had been all over so getting a bit tired, we stopped on the Stardust Terrace at Indiana Historical Society and had something to drink. I love terraces on water and this one is gorgeous. Even if you don’t go in the museum part, stop here and hang out. Definitely go inside to the Cole Porter Room. It looks like the bar in the Waldorf. Pictures and other things but most importantly, someone who sings his songs with an electronic grand piano!!!  The lady when we went was phenomenal.  OK, now for the pictures. Talk more after the jump. 

































 If  The canal district is a must see if you get to Indianapolis. No matter where you live but definitely if you are in the Midwest. Romantic,educational and just fun. Plus it can be very budget friendly for a short trip.
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Todays links
http://www.indianahistory.org/
http://www.downtownindy.org/
http://martiniinthemorning.com/