road trip

Walking Through Opry Mills (pictorial)

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So in our recent stay at the Gaylord In Nashville, I had a bit of time to wander over to a nearby mall. Nearby meaning on the hotel complex but close to a half mile away.

Opry Mills is just flat cool. Close to the hotel. Right by the Opry House and Events center. It has great shops. Unusual restaurants and quite possibly the largest/most diverse food court I’ve ever seen. It’s a place you can relax and just wander for a bit. Grab a coffee or bite to eat. Buy anything you want or just people watch. It is huge. It’s cool and it’s easy to get to! Take a look at the pics and enjoy. Then get yourself to this place!!! Talk after the jump.

Take a look at a shopping/eating/relaxing experience. Heck Facebook used it as a VR location. You know it’s cool. Whatever you are looking for Opry Mills has something for you!Enjoy

 

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First Quick Post From Nashville 

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Guess what??!! You can expect a ton from here this year. So many great experiences here over the years and this trip. I’ll do in depth pieces on so many places but I wanted to put up just a few pics do you know what is going on. Between martial arts sessions and pr here in Nashville I’ve been busy but it’s coming!!!!  Enjoy some shots and I’ll talk to you soon. 

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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Random Fun Shots From Our Travels (a goofy pictorial)

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Just for fun I thought I would toss on a few outtake type shots from various trips. Trips from all over for fighting, writing and also my daughters dance comp(maybe some rodeo for my son). I shoot a lot of background stuff for extra and not all of them are great, but all tell a story about people/places and surroundings. Take a look and enjoy. Branson.           Virginia Beach and Colonial Williamburg, Destin, Daytona plus Chicago and Vegas. Heck even some I don’t know( West Virginia, Gatlinburg and who knows lol).

 

Pictures in And Around Virginia Beach Hotel And Conference Center .

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I’ve done a bit on this area but I just found a few more shots from this hotel itself. We were there for an event so I was not able to put together tons for a full review( relaxing after the event lol). The hotel was nice and not expensive. Nowhere near as luxurious as I often stay but great. In fact some things made it even better. The deck and deck bar were awesome. Seaboard cool with a touch of class. The week I was there I lost count of how many weddings were there.

It’s on the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the Atlantic so not the meat market beach. Serene but active at the same time. Gorgeous beach homes around. You could see the storms roll in and watch the gulls in the changing sky. Sit on the deck and have a cocktail. Night was especially perfect. Looking fro crabs and watching groups of people working nets for them. Camp fires on the beach. Sitting on the deck and getting a cocktail late into the night watching the waves and hearing the workers on tankers in the bay speak in various languages. Truly an experience. We also saw tons of dolphins just hanging out close to shore. Hopefully I will get a chance to do a full travel piece before long on this area and hotel, in the meantime enjoy the relaxing pictures.

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This a great area. History and seafood. Relaxing and nightlife at the same time. It truly is one of my favorite areas of the world(that is saying a lot!!!!) I would like to give this hotel another shot for a full review, so look for it soon.

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Enjoying Downtown Indy In Thoughts& Pictures (the first in a series)

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I love Indianapolis! I’ve been there so many times. It’s only a couple of hours from me and years ago I worked there two days a week. It has changed a lot since then. One of the big changes is how cool downtown has become. From new life to rehabbed buildings while retaining that very cool history vibe. Great bars,restaurants and art. Plus shopping and sports. That makes for a fantastic area. 

  There are truly world class restaurants there and a few that are actually known worldwide. That level of city life and yet easy to get around relative to most urban areas. There are also simple diners and fast food. If you want it, it’s there!  From unusual ethnic foods to chains. 

    It’s an area that my wife and I just love to go walk around. Eat, drink and wander. As you’ll see in this series it’s one of those places that can be romantic or family fun. Later in the series we will see the canal district and breakdown restaurants as well as the outer edges. Today’s is about Monument Circle and the area around Circle Center Mall. 

  The Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the circle was dedicated in 1902. It is gorgeous and just fun to wander around the circle and people watch. It also has a great museum in the basement. Just a great experience when you add in the city view and coffee shops you sit at. Circle Center Mall is also an oder rehabbed building, actually tied together set of buildings. Lots of shops, restaurants and even a brew pub. For me it’s interesting how they tied together a couple of very one hundred year old buildings and has the cool vibe it does. For me the best part is the glass dome atrium that soars over the street call the Arts Garden. Gorgeous place to sit and look at the city. They also have live music and various events there.  And now what you really want, a ton of pictures so you get the feeling of the place. Enjoy and we will talk after the jump. 


  Hopefully the pictures inspired you to go enjoy this awesome area. I say pictures because i know im a bad writer lol. Expect more from here soon as i add to this series. It is truly a great city in the world, and if you live in the midwest it is so easy to get to.
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Todays links

http://www.visitindy.com/

http://m.simon.com/default.aspx?id=163

https://m.facebook.com/Legacyhomeandranch/

A Trip To Historic Farm Days ( one of the biggest antique tractor shows in the world!)

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The title doesn’t cover it! Tractors. Implements of all kinds. Music. Demonstrations. It’s huge!  Amazing food everywhere in the middle of nowhere. It is one of the coolest things you can see. Farming drives much of America and the world. A fact that I’m proud of as a kid who grew up tossing hay bales and walking beans. I live in the heart of it. I may have been all over to fight, teach and travel but I’ve always called this home. 

  The show is run by and held on the grounds of the I&I tractor club in Penfield IL. Penfield is tiny, the grounds are huge. The old school is now a museum for the club and the grounds make a state fair location blush. Besides people bring stuff the club itself has amazing equipment it has restored. This includes a Hart Part steam tractor that they place on loan to The Smithsonian most of the year. Yep, that big of a deal. Full disclosure, we have been involved in this for for about 13 years. My dad and son decided to start restoring small hobby farm tractors and got involved. This got me involved lol. Even though my son his own home, there is still a project here in my shop!!! ( a Roof 60 if you’re interested in that type of thing). 

We love going. It’s not a far trip for us but it’s an annual family adventure. Food and farms!  Geographically the area might ring a bell. It’s about 7 or 8 miles from Gifford IL which became famous on CNN a few years back. Devastating tornado, which sadly is a bit normal where we live.  

    I’m going to let pictures ( a bunch of them) do the talking for a bit. Talk after the jump. 


As many pictures as i posted it doesnt even cover a quarter of it. Bbq, fried things and true americana. There really isnt anything like it to show you what rural ag life means. Parades, music and real farmers who know how to work on their own equipment.
This is in the heart of Illinois. If you take my advice and make this an adventure next July there are things close by. Two hours from chicago and indianapolis both. Besides that it is 35 minutes from Champaign/ Urbana ( uiuc campus) so plenty of places to stay! Give it some thought. If you have questions on the pictures, comment here and ill answer as best i can. Follow @combatsportlife on twitter and email tompkinscontent@gmail.com for ad/ sponsor info.
Check out the clubs website

http://www.antiquefarm.org/