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!!!

 

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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.

Great Food, Great Drinks At Dublin ONeils (Cool Pub setting)

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Dublin ONeil’s in Downtown Champaign is a regular stop for Sandy and I. We love the downtown area and a good pub is just a go to place for us always. Yes we travel the world and hit five star restaurants but a pub is home!. This one just happens to also hit the culinary excellence mark. Unusual items with great prep and presentation.

The interior has that warm pub feel that makes you want to have a pint or a taste of whiskey. The fact that Dublin Oneil’s has also hit the mark with food is a bonus. From a true Irish breakfast to various puddings and a great burger. On the weekends there is a cool brunch menu that puts the place right up there on my list.

On this trip my wife Sandy had the corned beef and cabbage. Not like what you normally see. Traditional flavor but in an elegant presentation worthy of any foodie publication!! THE important part was that it was soooo tasty. I had a turkey sandwich. Let’s go a bit further about what it actually was. Turkey with brie and carmelized onion with strawberry jalepeno jam! Served on French toast and topped with a sunny side up egg. Yep, almost indescribable. A mimosa for her and a Big Thorn Farm Illinois pale ale for me. Finished with Irish coffee cake cheesecake! Let the pictures do the talking. Talk after

Stop by Dublin Oneils today. Just great food and drink in a place that will make it a great experience
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Quick Thoughts On the Awesome JT Walkers

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This place is literally walking distance(yep I do that on occasion ) in the small town I live in. I travel often as you know, but when we are home I hit it often. Great restaurant and sports bar on one side of the street , awesome old style brew pub on the other. I’ll do a full post on the whole operation when I have time to get down there  and spend take taking pictures and talking to Justin Taylor about the history. In the interim here are some thoughts on a recent meal, and pics from a few trips.

First it has world class beer in a casual yet hip environment. Truthfully it is a beer that I order anywhere they have it across our region. As a guy who has travelled the globe to fight and train that should tell you a bit! So well done. When I first moved to town this place was a really cool home store. Antiques, and great home products. The people that owned it were featured nationally in a magazine for their home(3500 people in town at that time). I love the building. It sat for  years. Then This place happened. The downtown area changed for the better in an incredibly positive way. Foodie and craft beer culture while retaining our small town roots.

This trip we ate in the sports bar. Sweet chicken chili wrap for me. Italian beef for Sandy. Guess what? Ohhh so good. My fave Hail to the Chief IPA and it was our kind of relaxing night. This is one of the reasons we love living here. We travel and eat at the Nobu/Brady’s of the world but this is our home. Can’t beat it. Take a look at the pics and expect soooo many post about this place in the future!

This is truly a destination place. If you make a trip here, good chance you’ll see Myself and Sensei Sandy as well as some other Transcend fighters. We always meet up here. Great food. GREAT BEER!! Classic building. Get here!

Want us to live tweet from your location or review? Get in Touch. Yes we specialize in motivation and fight training but we have a large interactive travel/food following because of that. Get inexpensive pr for your place. Priceless. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com for details today. Also follow @combatsportlife on twitter and friend me Bob Tompkins or Sandy Tompkins on FB

Check out jtwalkers.com

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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