A Road Trip: Camping in KS

Camp Daddy and me messing with food and tent stuff

Picking up where I left off yesterday, we had just chosen our spot to camp for the night and were quickly getting things laid out for the evening. At first, there was what seemed to be a lot of things working against us.

To start, the tent I had brought had never been put together by any of us. In addition, our grill still needed to be assembled, food still needed to be cooked, AND a fire started. Now granted, all of these should seem like easy tasks, but the three of us are very hit and miss on making things happen.

Thankfully, that night was one where we didn’t have much issues. The Rival and I found a way to work together and had the tent set up in little to no time at all. Camp Daddy did Camp Daddy things and managed to find tools to get the grill quickly assembled (which I didn’t even know we had tools), lit a fire, and was cooking before we completely had the tent set up.

By the time the dust settled we had a beautiful campsite set up and were on our way to relaxation, or so we thought. But more on that later. In the meantime, we chowed down on a mix of spicy sausage, red beans, and rice while admiring the beautiful view we would have from our tent tomorrow.

A picture of our tent with what we referred to as the “sacrificial stone” in front of it

The rest of the evening was spent doing our favorite past time: Dungeons and Dragons. While we were driving, Camp Daddy had written a session for The Rival and I to play in. As much as I would love to give all the juicy details of that session, that would take up an entire post on its own.

So instead I will give you the gist of it. The Rival and I each played a dwarf characters that were trying to find an old dwarven temple. While we were there, we ran into some goblins and spent the remainder of the time threatening and killing them before finding an awesome underground area.

So as we closed down on the session, we began packing up and calling it a night. Everything seemed fine until I made one startling discovery: I had forgotten to pack my glasses. This began a fun new game to play the rest of the trip for Camp Daddy and The Rival: protect me from anything I couldn’t see at night.

The first thing they had to do for me? Identify the flashing lights and bangs I was hearing. Throughout the night while we played Dungeons and Dragons, we heard a constant barrage of explosions along with flashing lights in the distance. For awhile we assumed that it was nothing more than thunderstorms, after all the wind kept picking up and dying and occasionally some light rain would fall.

The rain also made things fun, because it led to us making a mad scramble to put the rain tarp on in the dark, something, as I said before, we had never done. But anyway, back to what was happening in the air around us.

We had went to bed assuming that it was a thunderstorm rolling through. As we laid there, we listened to the constant explosions, adjusting our bodies to deal with the inconsistencies of the ground going from hard to soft. After awhile we dozed off looking out the front of our tent watching the lake and the lightning flashing over it.

image by Frank Cone

It was around 3:00 a.m. that I was awoken by two things simultaneously. The first was the explosions starting up again with absolutely no storms around us. The second was the sound of what I thought were people outside the tent.

I laid silently and stiff as a corpse, in part because I didn’t want anyone to hear I was awake and because my body was that stiff from lying on the ground. After a few minutes I started to believe I was going crazy when I saw headlights.

I positioned myself to look out the window and saw a small red car trolling across the road. Me, being a paranoid person, worried that they were going to stop and come up on our tent. I whispered to The Rival and Camp Daddy, but if they were awake, they didn’t say anything. I watched as the taillights fade into the distance.

Next came another bang. It was at this point that I no longer believed that it was just thunder and so I decided to try and find out what was happening. Naturally, I did what any survivalist would do and googled “what are the explosions near me” on my iPhone.

Surprisingly, a hit came up. Apparently there was a military base called Fort Riley nearby and they tested weapons and equipment at all hours. It would take up too much room to write everything it said, so I’ll give a link to their description here.

After finding out what the noise was, I still was unable to sleep and so I spent the rest of the night waking up and drifting off again until the sun came up. Once this happened, Camp Daddy, The Rival, and I worked together to quickly pack up camp and hit the road again. While we tore down the tent, Camp Daddy was nice enough to even make us coffee over an open flame.

That concluded our first night of camping and although it was a beautiful location, it was nowhere near as perfect where we camped the next evening. But, if you want to know more about that and see double the images from it, you’ll have to follow my pages to see when the next part of the story drops!

Road Trip: First Stop, Kansas

What most of Kansas looked like. Photo by Robert D. Brozek

Welcome back to the exciting story of my road trip across the southwest! As much as I would love to give a summary of what happened last time (I image “The Road So Far…” popping up from a Supernatural season finale while Carry On Wayward Son plays) but instead, I’ll just insist that you explore my webpage and read what I wrote before.

Anyway, back to the story. So we had just left Champaign, Illinois and began our long trek west. It was an exciting time for me because as far as I can recall, the farthest west I’ve ever been is somewhere in Arkansas. (I suspect I may be wrong on this account and will be getting a call from my parents stating otherwise).

As for Camp Daddy and The Rival, both of them had been west several times before so they didn’t seem as eager to see everything as I was. However, our first destination was one that none of us had been to before: Arches National Park in Utah.

In case you don’t want to click the link. Photo by Christopher Janda

Over the course of our day, we drove for about 8 hours that day, driving through Illinois, Missouri, and stopping a little ways past Kansas City.

During that drive, nothing too crazy had happened. We spoke about our usual passions like Dungeons and Dragons, our friends, and what we were expecting to get out of this road trip.

Our camp was chosen for two reasons and these two reasons would be the guiding principles as to how sites were chosen: First it had to be free and decently rated on the Campendium app. Second was that we had to be able to reach it and have camp set up and dinner cooking before it got dark. We didn’t always follow that second rule as things went on, but I’ll explain more on that later.

On our way to camp, we passed through this awesome town called Wamego. This was one of those hidden treasure areas that you don’t really hear too much about. As we drove through the town, we found that it was mainly covered in Wizard of Oz things. It was fun to drive through and see all of the different themed places they had and if we hadn’t been on a time crunch, we would have probably spent the day there.

Downtown Wamego, KS

It was a shame to pass through this town, but we were on a budget and so we eventually made our way to Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 2. Don’t ask me what happened to the first lake, because none of us knew and we were too scared to ask.

The site itself was beautiful. After leaving the luxury of black top roads behind, we traveled up and down some hills on gravel roads until we eventually came down into a wooded area with a gorgeous lake smacked in the middle. We slowly followed the road around, checking out the various other tents setup back in the woods and close to the lake.

Although I was slightly envious of the campers that were able to get spots away from the road, we were able to snag a nice campsite next to the lake that was equipped with both a picnic table and fire pit. In no time at all, we were unpacked and beginning to set up camp.

That’s it for today! Come back to the blog tomorrow, as I’m going to change things up and do a back to back road trip posting and in the meantime, enjoy your weekend.

A Road Trip: The Battle to Leave Champaign

Who’s ready for another installment of my road trip story? Doesn’t matter, because I’m ready to tell it!

So if you recall from last week’s post, my friends The Rival, Camp Daddy, and myself had decided to take a road trip around the southwestern United States after The Rival had a job fall through in Las Vegas. UPDATE: He’s now taking the same job and going at the end of the month so now he has to travel on his own.

But anyway, this story isn’t just about him, it’s about all three of us. So the morning of July 30th we were all awoken by The Rival and pushed to shower and get ready to leave by 9.

To say we did well at this would be a joke. There was a lot of fumbling around with showering and getting ready and a reluctance to go shopping for groceries since we had put that off. However, in the end we finally got moving.

We first went to McDonald’s for a breakfast that can only be described as “cheap.” For real, I don’t think any of us spent over $5.00 before we headed over to ValuCheck, where we loaded up on what we believed to be all the supplies we needed.

After what seemed like an eternity, which was only 20 minutes in real time, we finally had all our groceries and were headed back to the house to begin packing our “midsize” SUV. I cannot stress enough how much Hertz sucks for giving us the vehicle we didn’t want.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t call and complain either, trust me I did. The few times I called and questioned if I had the right car, they insisted I did and would hang up. Don’t book with them.

Back to the story. Once we came home the true battle was on. A full week’s worth of groceries. Sleeping bags. A tent. Coolers. Random assortment of camping supplies. All of this was to be wrestled into a compact SUV and we still had to get a small charcoal grill to add later on.

It was a long, uphill battle but after some wizarding moves by Camp Daddy (something he’d continue to do the whole trip) we got everything to fit with just enough room for the three of us to sit comfortably. Sadly, we did have to leave behind camp chairs, which would bite us in the ass later on.

Once the car was loaded, there was just one last stop before we hit the road: a pickup at Walmart. It only took us 10 minutes to get there and while Camp Daddy and The Rival went to go snacks and drinks for the trip, I was charged with grabbing the charcoal grill.

The pickup experience at Walmart is what I would call “bizarre.” You essentially enter your information either on their app or a screen near a desk and just wait until someone shows up with your items. There really wasn’t any indication that it worked until someone came out with my product.

Once I had the grill, I decided to sit and wait on a bench for a few minutes as the guys wrapped up shopping. However, this did not last long as I learned a lot of people do not have a concept of personal space, as multiple people about ran into me while I sat looking like a lost child clutching the small grill I picked up.

I eventually went out to the car and waited for Camp Daddy and The Rival to find me. After cranking some pop hits on the radio and blasting the AC they finally arrived. I was given the Kyle Juice I requested and we were on our way to our first camp location, which was found with the help of the Campendium app.

That’s it for today! If you haven’t followed this blog or any of my social media pages, make sure to click the links at the bottom of the page to do so! Also, check out Camp Daddy’s and The Rival’s Instagram pages. Both are well traveled men and have some great content to check out.

Post Fantasy Football Draft Hype…or Lack There Of

So I’m a day late on this follow up post, but I doubt anyone minds too much. I had planned on writing a quick hype post about how awesome my team is, but if you read my last football post, you’d know that my team probably isn’t that great. Take a look below:

That bad Ty? Really? I know that’s what you have to be asking yourself, following that up with: why do you do this each year if you’re really that bad?

Well truth be told, I don’t think my team is THAT bad. Do I trust it? Not at all. However, I’m cautiously optimistic that I can at lease get myself out of the bottom of the barrel this year with the lineup I have. So without further ado, here is what my projected starting roster looks like for week 1:

First off, I really hope you all love that my team is literally called Dumpster Fire 2019 with a picture of a fire on it. But second, if you’ve ever wanted to see a mix bag of starters on one team this is it.

I mean, I really don’t know what I was thinking with some of these. Antonio Brown just now said he was going to return to his team after throwing a tantrum about wearing a new helmet AND having frostbite in his feet. Like what?

Then I decided to keep Le’Veon despite his not playing this year. I waited on a TE until late and ended up with a mid-tier guy, and the rest of my starters are no means proven studs. It really is quite worrisome. So how does the rest of my team look? Well let’s take a look:

Now all and all, that is a decent bench and I think any of them can sub in well if I need them. In fact, I really don’t have much of a qualm with my bench and I’m kind of excited I was able to snag Anthony Miller.

Overall, I wish I could say I believe that this team is something special. A team everyone in my league should watch out for. But that just isn’t the case. I think it’s going to be a perfectly mediocre team that will at least dig me out of my consistent last place efforts and finally push me to the middle of the pack.

So what are your thoughts? Think I’ve made an accurate assessment or was I too harsh. Did you draft a better team. Comment and follow my pages to let me know what you think!

Oh, and if you’re in this league with me, just know I don’t think any of your drafts were much better. I think we’re all going to have a collectively mediocre year and I can’t wait to embarrass some of you when you lose to my team. Enjoy!

Fantasy Football Time

Well that time of the year has come upon me once again. That special time where I get excited for a few weeks, only to have everything come crashing down in shambles. That’s right: it’s fantasy football season.

If you’re just getting to know me on social media, well let me say that I absolutely love fantasy football and just watching the sport in general. Don’t ask me why, since I really don’t have a great answer, it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed sitting down and watching on Sundays. With that said…Bear Down!

But that’s not why I’m writing this today. I could probably go on for hours about why I love football and how the Bears are going to the Super Bowl this year, but this post is about fantasy football. It’s a very special hobby that I have that inflicts a wide range of emotions: from happiness to anger to straight up wishing I never got invested in it.

Tomorrow marks I believe the 7th year that a core group of college friends and myself have done a fantasy football league together and let me just say that it’s great. The day of the draft, most of us do our best to try and meet up and have a few drinks, some good food, and a lot of trash talk before it starts.

I always look forward to this part of the season because it’s when hope and optimism is still alive. It takes place in that magical time before you find out that Le’Veon Bell is going to sit out a full season when you draft him with the first overall pick.

It lets you forget about the year before when you make a big trade for David Johnson in the offseason, only for him to break his wrist in the first game or two and miss the rest of the season.

This time of year lets you also have hope that your luck will be better than THREE YEARS AGO when Adrian Peterson got hurt and I took him off the promise of a great season.

But anyway, I digress. I’m hopeful that this year will be the year with these guys. I’m already second guessing my keepers with Le’Veon in the first and Lamar Jackson in the 18th round which is always a good sign.

All that’s left to do is draft. I’ll more than likely give a full analysis tomorrow night coming off the high that my team can go “all the way” this year.

Side note: my team has been bottom 3 the last four years so I’ve got some high standards.

How the Road Trip Began

So recently I had the pleasure of taking a road trip around the southwestern part of the United States. It was a great week of exploration and boondocking (a new term I learned for what we were doing) and I had a blast doing all of it.

However, for a lot of people that have been following me on social media, I never did share why I went on this trip or how it even came together. This post will clear all of that up.

Originally, this trip was a plan to help move a friend from Chicago to Las Vegas. We were going to make it a week long adventure in his car that would conclude with leaving him in Vegas while I flew back to Illinois and returned to everyday life.

Well as things moved forward, my buddy had his boss become sketchy with the contracting job in Vegas and so he decided to pull out of the move before it became too late. However, at this point, it was already too late for myself and another friend that took a week off work to help him move.

For the sake of this story, and possibly ones published after, I’m going to give both of these friends nicknames. This isn’t because we necessarily did anything wrong, I just don’t know if they want to appear by name in multiple posts. So the one moving to Vegas we’ll call The Rival and the buddy that took off a week we’ll call Camp Daddy (he was the only one prepared for camping on this trip).

Back to the story. So Camp Daddy and I were prepared for a big adventure and decided with the time off we still needed to do something. Que the road trip. We had already mapped out a route we wanted to originally take to Vegas so we could explore the southwest before leaving The Rival in Vegas forever.

We decided to follow that path and instead of hitting Vegas we would just loop back around to Illinois. It was a simple plan that mostly worked out well. We rented a vehicle, gathered supplies, and set the date to leave for July 30.

I should note that the weekend before we were going to leave, we did get cold feet about the trip. Looking back at it now, I feel we would have fully regretted skipping out on this trip if that would have happened. Thankfully, I was on a bachelor party that weekend and the contract we signed with Hertz said we couldn’t cancel the vehicle rental, which kept us locked in.

Oh! Also, don’t trust Hertz. When I booked our vehicle, I requested a mid-size SUV with a ski rack and built in navigation system. Now I may be wrong and/or crazy, but I don’t think a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with no ski rack and built in GPS is the same. That car also sucked and I don’t care that it was a 2019. Seriously, gas pedal on the ground and still can’t accelerate kind of sucked.

But anyway, that’s how this trip began. What started as a nice gesture to move The Rival out to Vegas ended in the three of us going out road tripping for a week, camping in random locations, and repeatedly deciding that water is best used for drinking and not showers. Yeah that’s right, we didn’t shower for a week.

That’s it for now, make sure to follow the blog or any of my social media to keep an eye out on the road trip adventure of 2019.

Finally home!

Just as the title suggest, I’m back in town and ready to do some writing! These past two weeks have been awesome and I’m excited to share some stories about where I went and what I was up to while I was there.

For now though, I’ll be taking the time to try and compile images, links, and the best stories to tell about my travels. In the meantime, here are some of the places I’ve visited over the last few weeks:

  • Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (Bachelor party!)
  • Kansas (camping)
  • Colorado (Rocky Mountains and camping)
  • Utah (Canyonlands and camping)
  • Arizona (The Grand Canyon and camping)
  • New Mexico (Camping)
  • Oklahoma (Camping)

So get excited! I’ll have plenty of insight on the places I visited and the shenanigans that took place.

P.S. If you’re looking for up to date content, make sure to follow me on social media. I frequently post new images on Instagram, interact with followers on Twitter, and relay new information on my Facebook. I’ll also continue to post new fiction and writing prompts as I update the blog as well.

If you would like a preview of some of the blogs, check out my friend’s Instagram page here. He took over 500 shots from our road trip and can give you a peek into some of the places I’ll be writing about.

The Absence

Hello everyone!

Let me just say that I have missed writing for you all daily and I feel bad about my online presence disappearing for awhile there. So let me go ahead and explain what happened.

So from where I can see on my blog, I left with a writing prompt that I never officially did myself. No worries there, tomorrow there will be a new post that will allow you to see how I handled that prompt. Don’t worry, it is something that I’ve had done for a little while, I just need to re-read it and make sure that errors and other problems were cleaned up.

So why the sporadic hiatus? Well originally that took place due to me falling ill. A few weeks ago, I found myself with an inability to swallow, body pains, and a stubbornness to go see the doctor. After a few days I relented and went and made an appointment, only to discover that I had an upper respiratory infection. Luckily, getting over it didn’t involve any specific medication, just a lot of time sleeping and keeping away from a screen, hence why I didn’t return back to the blog for a week.

From there, the hiatus grew longer as I accepted a position at a new job and began filling out the paperwork and preparing to start. I had initially planned on returning to this blog after I had my first successful day, but found myself unwilling to get back to writing. Call it lack of ambition or enjoying being back to work, but either way I stayed away from writing something new.

But here we are and I have finally found my groove and need to write again. I believe at this point, looking at my blog and the successful, and oft times not successful posts, I have decided to keep the formula close to being the same. I will continually provide writing prompts for readers to do, show how I handled the prompt, and even provide some free creative stories once again.

However, I will be looking to add something new as well. Whether it is doing reviews, writing about something that has garnered my interests, or just a post like this, where I speak to anyone willing to listen, I will bring some kind of new writing to the fold.

So thank you to those that have followed my page and read what I have to say and start making a point to come visit these posts once again, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

P.S. visit my Amazon page whenever you have a chance because within the next few days I will be releasing a new, non-fiction piece just in time for Halloween.

Update On….ME!

Hey everybody, so I just thought I would just do a quick post today to give an update on me, myself, and I. It will basically cover what I’ve been working on and why there haven’t been as many posts as I usually do.

So to start things off, I would like to let everyone know that if you have the time and energy, I will be doing a book signing of A Monstrous Tomorrow in Peru, Illinois. Details are listed on my Facebook page. The event will run from 1-3:30 with yours truly doing a reading from the book (which story is still being determined) along with a Q&A session after. There will be a limited quantity of books for sale and will run $10 a piece. Please bring cash or make sure to try and get your copy of the book through Amazon ASAP.

Next order of business is the sequel to A Monstrous Tomorrow, or as it its known on this blog, A Book Has No Name. As it stands, I’ve only written one chapter since the last time I gave any information on the book. As a reminder, it will be a full length novel and not a collection of short stories this time around. It will feature one of the characters from A Monstrous Tomorrow, so if you’re interested in the second book of The Forsaken World Chronicles, I highly recommend reading A Monstrous Tomorrow.

Besides the book, there are two other projects I’m working on. One is entirely under wraps but let me just say, when it’s done, everyone will fall in love with it. The other is of course, Pantheon Productions. We have backtracked a bit and began filming short creative pieces again and look forward to getting those out to the public soon. In the meantime, I am continuing to try and strive towards making our three fiction towns feel as real as possible.

I believe that is it for now. As it stands, my focus over the past two weeks was first vacation and now my book signing. After this weekend, my focus will return to solely the blog and only my writing projects.

Make sure to come back tomorrow because I can guarantee there will be a new fiction piece up for everyone to enjoy!

The Dreaded Writers Block

It has finally happened. After a couple steady month’s of chugging along with my writing, I have been struck with the dreaded writer’s block. Now I know what you may be thinking, “How could this happen to you?!” and quite frankly, I don’t know. Another question may be “how are you writing right now if you have writer’s block?” Well that’s another great question and one that I have a bit of an answer to.

So for starters, I think part of the reason I’ve hit a block has to do with either my sinuses or allergies acting up, I’m not sure which yet. This may come off as a lame excuse, but when you’re having difficulty breathing and a headache to go with it, it makes life a bit difficult. Not saying that I shouldn’t be able to write because of this, just saying that it probably has a bit of an effect.

I believe my main problem is the weather in general. See with writer’s block, at least how I get it, it’s more of an inability to concentrate on creating what is in my head. I know the entire story. Hell, if I wanted, I could probably list how my current manuscript and the next few will go no problem. The issue is making hit the page with the write words and eloquent delivery. I personally believe that the new development of having fall-like weather, mixed in with a flurry of other things on my mind, has led to more a distraction, making it hard to just sit down and write.

I struggled to even get myself to the chair to write/complain about my block today.

I think the other issue is that I’m at a place in my novel where I want to move on. I know for a lot of writers, they are able to bounce around. If they don’t want to write any more scenes that help develop setting and character, they can bounce to another scene, one that is more exciting, and write that before headed back to those scenes. I, sadly, am not one of those people. When I begin something, I need to go from start to finish. I know that if I don’t, those scenes just won’t get done.

So yeah, at this point, there isn’t much more to really update on the manuscript. I am sticking with Dan Harmon’s philosophy on writer’s block, which is even if you have it, you need to continue to write. So that’s what I’m doing. I cranked out a whole two pages yesterday for the antagonist of my series and the page count is now up to 35 pages. I’ve done some editing today as well, so even with a moment of not feeling the manuscript, at least something was accomplished.

That’s got to be worth something right?