My 2020 Stream Play-Through of Fallout 3: Main Story pt. 1

*THIS BLOG CONTAINS ALL THE SPOILERS*

Let me just start by saying whoa! It was a long, wonderful journey wandering the Capital Wasteland for 99.1hrs on stream! Fallout 3 was the first story heavy game I started on my Twitch stream and I do not regret a single moment! Thank you to everyone who joined me for any part of the journey!

My Fallout 3 Blog will be broken in to a few different blog posts by topic. This is the first post of the main story of Fallout 3, I will write the main story blog in what I consider to be reasonably lengthened posts. Other posts will be about: the DLCs, side quests, and the vaults. (I will add hyperlinks to each post here as they are published.)

Okay, so let us delve in to the heart of Fallout 3… This was my favorite Fallout game for a few reasons. The first and main reason is because of the story! I know a lot of people were angry that it almost seemed linear and pushed you towards the good-guy play-through. In some ways I really disagree with this, I thought there were actually quite a few options you could have taken to complete an evil play-through if you really wanted to. Maybe it was not the choices you wanted, but there were plenty of opportunities in both the main quest and a lot of side quests to be evil. The second reason is because it is not only the first ever Fallout game I played, but was also my first ever action role-playing open world game. It was an amazing first experience… I learned a lot by making a lot of mistakes! The third reason is I love the location. I enjoyed exploring the ruins of the D.C. area and getting to explore the bombed out city, the museums and monuments. The rich history the area provided was very appealing to me.

My first play-through was in 2015. So it had been long enough between play-through that I could not remember a lot of details about my first time playing. Sure, I remembered some characters and some bits and pieces of quests, but it was foggy enough in some areas to feel like new. I also made sure to do every side quest I stumbled upon and explored all of the locations on the map. This time I had all the DLCs to play so those were complete blind play-throughs on stream (but more on those in my future DLC post!)

Before moving on to discuss the main quest it is important to know I did a good-guy play-through. I wanted to gain as much karma as I could by always being a nice person. I ran around the Wasteland helping everyone I possibly could. This might not be as fun for other players but I find it is actually a rather fun, hard play style. In some instances it would have been so much easier to just murder people and steal what I needed (and there were many times I considered it). Instead I had to get creative with my actions and word choices to accomplish my goals and not lose karma along the way. Was I always successful? No, but I did the best I could for the Capital Wasteland.

So begins my condensed play-by-play of the main story quest decisions I made along the way and why.

The Escape of Vault 101:

Escaping Vault 101 is so liberating. The Overseer is crazed (poor Amata having to put up with his shit). On the way out of the vault I made sure to collect the bobble head so I didn’t have to worry about getting it later. Feels good nabbing one at the start. Because I played a good person, I made sure to stop and save Ellen (Butch’s mom) from being murdered by radroaches. This is a fun task because Butch stops being a dick towards you and gives you his sweet Tunnel Snake Jacket! Later on if you answer Vault 101’s distress call you can chat with Butch and see how he is getting along. I know there is a way to get Butch as a companion, but since I don’t like rolling with companions (except Fawkes) I never really looked in to it. 

Butch! Tunnel Snakes Forever! (Not my image)

What is the first thing you do after leaving the vault? Do you have a Wasteland routine? I have a small starting routine. For me, I always check the little area of destroyed houses nearby and then go in to the Springvale Elementary School to gain XP by fighting the raiders and looting the area. Most of the time I ignore the ant nest in the basement of the school until I get better weapons and armor, just a preference though. The next step for me is always heading right to Megaton. It is also one of the first steps of the main story, “Following in his Footsteps” is a quest to find what knowledge you can about where your father went after he left the vault.

Vault Boy Escaped! (Not my Image)

Megaton:

I always find it hilarious that people decided to make a town around a fallen atomic bomb that could detonate at any time. They have no clue if it was a dud or just happened to not be armed when the bomber crashed. The great thing is they completed their goal and created a thriving little settlement in the Wasteland. Not only do people live there, they have people coming and going to trade or stay for the night. So outsiders are also okay with being in the vicinity of a large atomic bomb. Living in the wasteland would already be stressful with raiders, super mutants, and various mutated animal abominations running around. I know they originally ended up in the crater because they were not allowed to enter Vault 101 and they were trying to take shelter from all of the dust storms, but after the storms cleared I would have attempted to get as far away from that area as I possibly could. Not a chance in hell would I ever go anywhere near that area if I knew there was a bomb.

You have some options in Megaton; both in main quest and some side quest options. On your main quest you are told to go to the saloon and talk to Moriarty. When you walk in to the saloon you are confronted by a Mister Burke who gives you a side quest, “The Power of the Atom.” This quest puts the lives of the people of Megaton in your hands. Mister Burke wants you to detonate the bomb, destroying Megaton and killing the residents. The Sheriff of Megaton wants you to disarm the bomb, for obvious reasons. I chose to disarm the bomb for obvious reasons. One being I am doing a good guy play through. The second reason is I like using Megaton as my home base for my play through. It is relatively central to things and has Craterside Supply, where I do most of my buying and selling. 

While you are questioning Moriarty you are given another quest that tests your morality. Moriarty wants you to hunt down a lady named Silver and kill her and get the money she ‘stole’ from him. You have a couple different options for this but they all boil down to these: Killer her and take the money, convince her to give you the money and lie to Moriarty, don’t take her money and lie to Moriarty. I let her keep the money and lied to Moriarty saying she was taken care of. Because I didn’t take the money, this made my life a bit harder in the early stages of the game because it is tough to find enough caps to pay his fee to tell you what he knows. I had to scavenge more items to sell to come up with the caps. A little more time consuming to ensure you keep your good karma standing. After you pay him he gives you some info on where to look for your father.

Galaxy New Radio:

Galaxy News Radio!! (Not my image)

You eventually learn that your father was heading towards the Galaxy News Radio building (aka: the GNR). I wandered the wasteland until I came close to the GNR Plaza and that is when all hell broke loose. There are super mutants in the plaza trying to fight their way in to the building, but they stop and advance on you once they notice you’re there too. Since I did some game exploration stuff out of order, The Brotherhood of Steel was not outside to help fight the super mutants like they usually are (the building is under Brotherhood protection). Once you get rid of the super mutants a behemoth super mutant is set loose and on a rampage. You have to take out this bad boy before gaining access to the GNR building. Once the coast is clear, the Brotherhood will let you enter. Three Dog is upstairs. You have options here depending on your play style. You can murder Three Dog or go through his speech checks. For obvious good guy reasons, I did not murder Three Dog and instead helped him on his “Galaxy News Radio” quest. This was a fun quest which had you first search the Museum of Technology to retrieve the satellite dish off the Virgo II Exhibition lander. The museum was overrun with super mutants so you have to fight your way to the lander.  Once you get the satellite you bring it to the Washington Monument. I enjoyed getting to go to the crumbling monument and get on a rickety elevator (which not a chance in hell would I have ever done in real life) and bring it to the very top to install so Three Dog can broadcast to more of the Capital Wasteland. Three Dog is happy with your help and directs you on your way.

Three Dog!!! (Not my Image)

Rivet City:

My first look at Rivet City!

Your next area to look for your father is to go to Rivet City and speak to Dr. Li. If you’re not familiar with the backstory of Rivet City here is a brief history. Rivet City is a prewar aircraft carrier that was dry-docked at the Washington Naval Yard. The ship was eventually abandoned in the wake of the Great War after it collided with the peninsula near the naval yard. The ship was snapped in two and forever stuck beached not far from the Jefferson Memorial. Decades later it was found and established as the Rivet Station Science Outpost by Pinkerton, a part of the Naval Research Institute. He wanted to figure out a way to make the ship float once again. Eventually a small settlement would also come to establish themselves inside the great vessel and thus start Rivet City. Mirelurks took up residence in the flooded lower sections of the ship and still cause havoc to the city residence.Pinkerton had a falling out with Dr. Li and eventually left Rivet City to live in the front bow of the ship. Rivet City is the largest settlement and has the fourth most powerful military force in the Capital Wasteland. They established themselves a force not to be reckoned with. 

Dr. Li (who I am pretty sure is in love with your father), gave us more information on your parent’s past and their work on Project Purity (the goal of bringing clean water to all of the Wasteland.) Without out right saying it, Dr. Li blamed you for the project falling apart because your mother died after giving birth to you and your father took you and went to live in Vault 101. Dr. Li tells you of your father’s return to the project and how he went to the Jefferson Memorial where their old lab was. When you get to the Jefferson Memorial you quickly find that you have to fight your way in against super mutants. Upon clearing the facility out of the mutants you find your father’s holotape notes on Project Purity and one that says he had to go to Vault 112 (one of my favorite vaults in the series!)

A look at the Capital Wasteland from the top deck on Rivet City!

**We will continue the story in the next blog post! Please follow to make sure you don’t miss the next post!**

***I’d love to have discussions in the chat if you have any thoughts or want to talk about how you played! 

  • Thoughts on Fallout 3?
    • Most people talk about liking New Vegas more. If that is you please tell me your reasons!
  • Did you do a similar play style or did you go for a more the Evil play style or maybe even a hybrid?
  • If you did the Evil Route how did your journey differ from mine up until this point?

My Socials:

***The awesome Fallout Bread Boy featured image was made for my Twitch Subscribers by MissCupOfTeaDraws

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August 2020’s Dieting Update

I started my calorie counting diet on July 27th and can honestly say it is going rather well so far! My progress is a little slower than I would like, but that is because I haven’t been able to workouts in to the mix.

August turned in to a rather hectic month for me and I haven’t been able to properly manage my time. I found myself juggling a lot at once and until I find a balance my work out plans are on hold. Though this saddens me, I have at least been able to stick with the calorie counting aspect of my dieting plans. I slip occasionally and eat more than I know I should, but I just chalk it up as a cheat day and move on to doing better the next day. If I let one bad day or week get me down, my progress will be for nothing. So I am staying strong and just pushing through.

I weigh myself every Monday morning to track my weekly progress.

The result have looked like this:

  • Week 1: lost 1.7Ibs
  • Week 2: lost 2.4 Ibs
  • Week 3: lost .4 Ibs (my worst week so far)
  • Week 4: lost 1Ibs
  • Week 5: lost .2 Ibs (Just kidding this was my worst week)

A five week total loss of 5.7 Ibs. I am happy with my progress so far. Could it be more? Definitely! But for me, any progress is progress no matter how small. I also lost a little more than the MyFitnessPal’s projected one pound per week so I am feeling good about that.

Off to a good start!!

I think if I can keep this up and eventually start adding some workouts in to the mix I will be able to get more of this weight off. As the weight slowly decreases, my self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-love are all on the rise.

The Beginning of my Dieting Journey in 2020

It is now August 2020 and I am really hitting rock bottom with my physical health struggles. I do want to start off with saying that my weight gain was not because I sat around stuffing my face with food. I have a lot of health issues for my age, one of them being a crazy thyroid. When my thyroid went haywire, I gained close to 40 pounds in a very very short amount of time. It was out of the blue for me and very disheartening. I used to be a very fit person, but then I became the chubby chick and I hate it. So I have decided to try and take my body back. I am not sure if I will be able to hit my weight goal, but I will certainly try my hardest.

Losing weight with my thyroid and other health issues will be very difficult. I figured starting a diet and trying to be more physical can only help. Even if the weight does not come off as much as I would like it to, I will still feel better physically and mentally about making better choices.

My original Summer of 2020 plan was to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, something I have been planning for 5 years. Sadly Covid-19 hit and my plans were canceled (and I have no idea in the future when I can reschedule). When I realized my dream hike was dead I let my depression take over and have not been as proactive with my health as I wish I had been this summer. With my new diet and lifestyle change all that will be different now. I plan on making a lot of healthier changes in my life.

So let me first state my goals:

  • Attempt to lose 35 pounds
  • Eat healthier
  • Be more active

My plan to help me accomplish my goals:

  • I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to help me calculate and track my calories.
  • At least once a week I will go on a hike or do some other physical activity.
  • At least once a week I will do some kind of at home workout.
  • Working on more meal prep and eating at home.
MyFitnessPal app to help me track my calories and weight progress.

I added in all of my information in MyFitnessPal app to calculate the recommended calories I should be eating a day to lose 1 pound a week. They recommend starting off with this goal when first getting going, but after a while I may adjust the calorie numbers to lose a little more weight weekly. We will see how I am feeling down the road. So, starting off I am supposed to keep my calories under 1390. If I plan accordingly and make good decisions, I think I can reliably meet this goal. Diet officially started Tuesday, July 27th.

My recommended daily calories to lose a pound a week.

With planning on losing a pound a week, I should be on track to lose 22 pounds by the end of 2020. Realistically I expect to fluctuate a lot, especially around the holidays. My reason for making a blog post about this is to hopefully have more accountably on my part. By posting this online I am sharing my goals with the public and not just simply telling myself I will be making these life changes but actually proving I did.

Before posting this I completed my first week of my challenge and so far, I have not gone over my calories. I actually ate less than my recommended calories every day. Some days were lower than others, but the first week went better than expected calories wise. I am working on meal plans and buying only healthier options for meals every day.

Week 1: Weight loss was 1.6 Ibs. A great first week!

**Follow to see future update posts with how my progress is going**

Quick Tips for first time Animal Crossing Players

*No spoilers, just quick tips so you can be most effective when first starting your new game.

Rocks:

You have six rocks on your island. Five resource rocks and one money rock. These can be farmed once a day. Each rock can give you a total of eight items (so eight resources each or eight bell drops for a total of 16k bells).

There are a few things you need to know to be the most efficient when mining your rocks.

  • There is a time limit from the first hit of the rock until you run out of time to get all eight of your items from the rock. (I will explain how to be efficient with your time)
  • Pick up or move anything that is in the immediate vicinity of the rock (ex. Sticks, flowers, fruit, etc…). If there is an item next to your rock and you begin your mining the rock item will have nowhere to land and you will miss out on an item.
  • Island tours have more rocks you can mine.
  • You can destroy your rocks if you do not like its location by eating a fruit before hitting the rock with your shovel. **Be warned though, that only one rock will re-spawn a day. So it is best to only destroy one rock a day (and only after you got the resources from it).

When you hit a rock you are recoiled and pushed back from the rock. This wastes valuable time to be able to spam hit your rock for its eight items.  There are a few ways to make sure you wont be recoiled back.

  1. The two hole methods:
    • Dig up two holes directly behind you so you are now between the holes and the rock. If you line yourself up right, the holes will prevent you from being pushed back. See video tutorial here: Two Hole Method
    • Diagonal Hole method. Dig two holes behind you in a more diagonal way. In this method you can jump from the opposite side of the holes and it will perfectly line you up between the holes and the rock to ensure no recoil. See video tutorial here: Diagonal hole method
  2. Cliff and/or River Method: In this method you will place yourself between a cliff edge or a river and the rock. This isn’t a perfect method because if you do not line yourself up right you can slide when hitting the rock. See video tutorial here: River or Cliff Method
  3. Tree and Hole Method: This method is similar to the two holes method but you use one hole next to a tree. Same concept as the two hole method. It is not perfect because if not lined up right you may slide on each hit. See video tutorial here: The tree & hole method.

Trees & Wasps:

Getting the most from your trees can be very important for your game play, especially if you will be working to 100% your catalog (and even if that isn’t your goal…. who doesn’t like free stuff?)

Daily tree Spawns:

  • Five wasps will spawn in your trees daily (we will discuss the best method to catch these and not be stung under “Tree Shaking”).
  • Two items can be found daily in your trees by shaking them. (And one item per Mystery Island Tour)
  • Daily you can chop three pieces of wood per tree. *Do not eat a fruit before chopping your trees for wood or you will instantly chop them down.
  • Bells and sticks can fall from trees as well.

Tree shaking to prevent wasp stings:

If you always shake a tree from the front (your character’s back towards you) while holding your net you will be prepared when a wasp nest falls. The game will automatically face your character towards the wasps, then all you have to do is quickly catch them with your net. If you are anywhere else around the tree your net will likely smack the tree and miss the swarm before they sting you. Why would you want to catch the wasps? Besides donating one to the museum, wasps sell for a good amount of bells.  Example video here: Wasp Catching

*Fruit trees do not spawn wasps.

Daily money tree:

Once a day you will find a little glow spot you can dig up with your shovel to find a 1k bag of bells. You have the option to just plant the free 1k bag back in the hole (must be holding your shovel to do this) this will grow a tree with 3k bells on it (not bad! But you could do better!). OR you have two more options to get the most bang for your bells.

Your two best options:

  1. Plant 10k bells in the hole. This method guarantees you will get 30k bells when the tree is fully grown. 
  2. Plant 30k bells in the hole. This is slightly more “risky.” You won’t lose bells but there is a chance you won’t gain any bells either. There is a percent chance the tree when fully grown will produce 90k bells for you, but if it doesn’t you will at least make your 30k back. (This is the method I use when I have the bells to spare, because I am not out anything either way).

*Each money tree will only spawn money ONE time. So once you harvest your money tree, you can chop it down if you would like to.

An example tree planting video can be seen here: Daily Money Tree

Now, obviously you can choose any amount of money you want to plant and hope for the best. The two best options I explained above are just the best way to get the most back from your tree without losing bells in the process.

Easy Daily DIYs:

There are a few ways to get your daily DIYs.

  1. From balloons. This is not exactly a reliable way because there are a few things that can be found in the balloon drop pool. However, popping balloons gets you free stuff… So why not try it. (Balloon pool options: DIYs, Bells, Resources, Items).
  2. One bottle washes up on your beach daily and will contain a DIY recipe.
  3. Going to mystery islands has a chance of having a bottle on the beach too.
  4. At different times throughout the day a total of three of your villagers will be in their homes building something at their work bench. Usually a few hours pass before they stop building and a different villager starts building something.
  5. If you visit other people’s islands while one of their villagers is building you can talk to that villager and they will give you the recipe too.
  6. If you have amiibo cards you can invite one villager a day to your campsite and they will ask you to build them something. If what they ask you to build is a recipe you do not currently have, they will supply you with a DIY card.

None of these options guarantees you get a new DIY recipe, but there is always the chance you will. You can always sell the duplicates to the Nooklings, offer them to friends who need them, or sometimes people on Reddit will want to buy them from you. (The Iron Wood recipes are a bit hit)

This is an example of Sprocket building in his house.
What to look for when hunting your DIY message bottle on the beach.

Example of a successful money rock. If you use the rock methods successfully, you will walk away with 16k bells.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope some of these tips help get started on your island!

Please let me know if these tips and tutorial videos were helpful for you! Feedback is appreciated.

If they were helpful make sure you pass them along to all your Animal Crossing friends so they can learn the ropes too!

If you have any questions about my tips (or even just about AC in general) please let me know ❤

March 2020 First Friday: Trophy Tap and Table

I have been slowly trying to get my photographs seen by the public. I use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to try and promote my work. Along with social media I have been getting into local arts and craft shows. This has been a slow process because I am self taught and do not have contacts to help get my foot in the door places.

Having said all that, I feel like I have made great progress so far. Recently I was given the chance to participate in First Friday. First Friday is held on the first Friday of every month (hence the name) at local businesses in downtown Raleigh. Participating local businesses will host an artist for the month and have their art displayed. This is a big deal because they do not charge the artist to hang their work and they do not take any profit if the art sells. It’s mutually beneficial for both the artist and the business.

Five out of twenty of my framed photographs.

I was very excited when a downtown restaurant, Trophy Tap and Table asked me to participate in their First Friday for the month of March. This was my first time having my work professionally displayed. I hung them up on March 3rd and will take them down on either the 30th or 31st of the month so the next artist can get their work up for April.

Five more of my framed photos.

I did not account for the amount of preparation that was needed to get things ready to hang. This is where my newbie status really showed. I had to decide how many photographs (and which ones) I wanted to hang and then order the prints and frames. When the frames arrived I had to first clean them all before I could even think about putting anything in them. The frames were in good shape but they were dusty from whatever warehouse they were stored in. Once the prints arrived I had to matt them before they could be framed. I was really proud of how all the prints looked framed. The last step (which I thought would be pretty easy) was to add the hanging fixtures on the backs of the frames. This turned into more work than I realized it would. The screws would not screw into the wood on their own. I had to borrow a drill and some drill bits from a friend before proceeding to pre-drill holes for the screws.

Another five out of the twenty.

What turned out to be one of the easier parts of all this was hanging everything up. Luckily for me, Trophy Tap and Table has their walls rigged with a walker hanging display system. This system was incredibly easy to use (especially for a newbie like me). So when March 3rd rolled around I went in and hung the twenty frames up. It took me maybe thirty to forty minutes to get them on the wall? I was nervous how they would look up on the wall, but I have to say, they looked really good against their exposed brick wall.

The last fiver out of the twenty.

With COVID-19 running rampant, less and less people are going out to dinner and drinks (obviously this is a good thing to help prevent the spread of the virus), just has not been good for my work getting much exposure. There was no way in knowing when I chose to have March as my month that the world would be fighting a pandemic. Today, Governor Roy Cooper has issued an executive order stating, “restaurants and bars will close for dine-in customers. Takeout and delivery orders can continue.” So nobody will be able to sit in Trophy to enjoy a beer and my art. Oh well, the safety of humanity far outweighs me selling anything.

If you would like to follow me on any of my social media platforms:

Fallout 4: I did my best for the Commonwealth

**This Blog Contains Game Spoilers**

My goal for my winter break was to finish playing Fallout 4. I really enjoyed the game but I felt like until the main story was done, I could not enjoy any other heavily story based games. So I was ready to move on and complete the game. I was successful in my goal but little did I know the game could continue after you completed the main story quests. Both Fallout 3 and New Vegas ended the moment you did the main story, so I was rather caught off guard when I could keep playing. I like playing games with as little spoilers as possible, so even though the game has been out for years I managed a complete blind play through (of all three Fallouts I have played).

I have decided since I have completed the main story that I would be done with Fallout 4, at least for now. I have all the DLC packs for the game and I played through Far Harbor and Nuka-World. I have not done Automatron, so maybe one day if I go back to the game I will play through that. Otherwise I am not sure what my goals would be to return to the game? I have played a total of 6 days, 5 hrs, 15 mins. As for achievements I have unlocked 52/84, 61% of the achievements. Obviously I could go back and work on those. Not sure how many I could actually complete because some of the achievements are probably only able to be completed depending on your play style and what factions you chose. So I am not sure how many more I could actually get done, but that is definitely an option to go back and try and do the ones I can.

I did not care for settlement building. It was a cool idea (and I know a lot of people enjoyed it) but I found it incredibly annoying and time consuming. I hated when I would be in the middle of clearing out a vault or working in Nuka-World and/or Far Harbor and “X Settlement needs your help” would pop up. I am not going to go running out of the vault I am in the middle of and warp to a settlement. By the time I was done doing my thing, I failed the settlement.  I placed fortifications up when I could, guns and stuff but it was never enough unless I wanted to spend hours and mass amounts of resources to make each settlement impenetrable. That just was not fun for me. So I definitely wouldn’t go back to the game for any of that type of game play.

Bobble heads? Yeah, I could potentially hunt down all the bobble heads in the game. I only came across nine of them in my play through, so that leaves me eleven more I could go out and hunt for.  I did that in Fallout 3, I made sure to hunt them all down before completing the game. That was a fun challenge. I never took the time in New Vegas to get the snow globes. I am in the minority when I say I did not enjoy New Vegas very much. That was so many people’s favorite Fallout but I just couldn’t get into it as much. I put 69 hours into it, completing two of the DLCs. In Fallout hours that really is not a lot. For Fallout 4, I have 166 hours into it and still some potential game play left. I don’t have the hours I put into Fallout 3 because Steam would never record them for whatever reason. However I know I put a crazy amount of hours into it, way more than New Vegas. I played about halfway through it at one point before life got in the way. By the time I wanted to go back to it I needed to restart the game. That time I did a full play through. I spent time finding all the bobble heads and did a lot of side quests. I wish I had had the DLCs because I regret not doing any of them. One day I will buy the DLCs and replay 3, it was definitely my favorite of the three I have played, Fallout 4 being in second place.

Another option I could do is just wander the wasteland and find all the locations. I am sure I barely scraped the map. I do really enjoy the little side quests and stories you find on the computers, notes, and tapes. So I would not mind doing something like that.

Anyone else really enjoy the DLCs Nuka-World and Far Harbor? I put a lot of hours into the DLCs.

Nuka-World reminded me of Disney World. You had the different areas within the world to clear out like the Galactic Zone, Kiddie Kingdom, and the Safari Adventure areas. Each offering different enemies and challenges while you complete the little quests. I enjoyed going through each area. I never “100%” the missions because I was not going to let the raiders over take Nuka-World. I tried really hard to do a good guy approach to my play through. I know an option is to kill the leaders but when I originally played Nuka-World, I was low level and did not have the right stuff to do so. That is definitely something I could go back and do if I pick up the game again.

Far Harbor was really fun too. I liked teaming up with the different factions on the island. Again, playing the good guy I found reasonable ways to make everyone live together peacefully on the island. It was not exactly easy, but I enjoyed the struggle of doing just enough for each faction to trust me and then make them see that they could live together without murdering each other.  One of the missions I really liked was Brain Dead, the one in the robot vault under the hotel. Just found the murder mystery element fun to figure out for a bunch of brain robots. Also was just a good change up instead of having to clear out a vault like usual.

I recently went to Greenport, New York and saw this on a distant dock. I tried getting closer but the area was closed to the public. I am sure I missed out on some great raider loot stashed in there. 

Reminds me of the raiders harbor set up in Libertalia.

What faction(s) did you choose to align with? For most of the play through I aligned with all the factions. I knew I wouldn’t end with the Brotherhood of Steel but I aligned with them to do some of their quests. Kind of enjoyed doing the ones given in the police station where you went to clear out areas and find a component they wanted. Simple enough tasks to do on occasion. My main faction was The Railroad. I liked doing their quests and I got more on board with their ideals of saving the Synths. I followed The Institute up until they wanted to destroy The Railroad, then I did the quests to help arm the synths who wanted to escape and bring down the Institute. I was very caught off guard when I learned my son was now “older” than me and running The Institute. This almost made me align with them and go through with their plans, but I chose The Railroad over my son and his mission. It was a difficult choice, but I think I made the best one I could? How did you feel about that ‘mind blowing’ turn of events? Were you spoiled before your play through?

Overall I really enjoyed Fallout 4. I thought it was a beautifully done game. My play through was 100% blind and I really enjoyed not knowing what would happen next if I made the wrong choices with the factions. There is still a lot of game play left untouched, so maybe one day I will go back and explore more. What do you recommend? Anything I missed that was your favorite and worth putting more hours into the game?

I highly considered playing Fallout 76, however I do not like that I have to pay a subscription to be able to have private maps with my friends. I get they want their money, but I honestly find it ridiculous. So for now, I will not be spending money on it. I like the idea of multiplayer, it would add a new element, I just do not want to play with random people online who could mess up my enjoyment. I know some people would disagree with me, but to each their own. 

2020 Goal: The Appalachian Trail

(Not my photograph)

For years I have wanted to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT for short). I kept putting it off for a thousand different reasons. I finally decided 2020 would be my year. I turn 30 in May, so what better way to celebrate and finally do something I have wanted for so long. Sadly I do not have enough time off from work to do a full thru-hike (thru-hike: to hike the entire trail in one calendar year). Instead of once again putting it off for hopes of having more time in the future, I decided to go ahead and hike as far as I have time for.  Depending on how things turn out, I will have roughly 108 days to hike over the summer.

I would rather hike some of the trail when I have the time then never get the chance to hike any of it. So approximately on May 9th-ish, I will leave to hike as far as possible before having to return to work in September. Whatever is left of the trail will then be hiked in the future whenever I can. Even if it is just a few miles here and there over long weekends or breaks. I will slowly but surely complete the entire trail, no matter how long it takes me.

There have been so many people who have called me crazy or flat out said I would never make it. Who knows, maybe I won’t make it, but how will I ever know if I never try? I will not let the doubters keep me from attempting my dream. There are a lot of reasons people don’t complete the trail: injuries, family obligations, finances, decide trail life is not for them, etc… These are only a few of the bigger reasons but everyone has their reasons to hike and their reasons to stop.

Besides dreaming of hiking the AT for years, I have a few other reasons to help keep me going. My life has not gone according to my original plans of getting a career, getting married and starting a family and everything else people want in life. I let my health problems, depression, and many other things destroy my life. I never started that career and along with turning 30 this year, my divorce will also be finalized. Not exactly where I saw myself at age 30. I have been slowly trying to figure out this new life path I am on. It is very rocky and I have no idea what the future holds, but one thing that has remained is my love of hiking and dreams of the AT. So this summer I will take an adventure and walk hundreds of miles on a beautiful trail to gain a new perspective of life and hopefully find some much needed peace.

The thing about wanting to hike long distances for months is you have to plan accordingly (not exactly more strong suit). Many people don’t think about the difficulties you face before even getting out on the trail. For one thing, hiking the AT is actually rather expensive. How expensive can living in the woods for months be? Very expensive indeed. Just because I will be living on the trail over the summer does not mean I get to stop paying my bills at home. I will not be making any income on the trail, however rent for my apartment will still be due on the first of the month, car insurance, phone bills, student loans, and all other bills are still due regardless of where I am. Then there is all the gear, food and other resources needed along the way. Needless to say, I have been trying to save up for this for a long time.

The proper gear is incredibly important and an expensive investment. Without the right gear you are setting yourself up for failure. I have been trying to buy as much of my gear on sales from REI as I possibly can. I highly recommend using REI for your hiking and camping needs (they also have other outdoor sports equipment as well). REI has an incredible return policy for all of their stuff. I have already bought and returned two pairs of hiking shoes because I can’t find the right ones for me. As long as the tread is still good, you can return them up to a year. As I am slowly testing out my gear I am able to return any of it for up to a year. This really helps make sure you find exactly what you need. They also offer some really great sales throughout the year.

I have been slowly buying my gear over the past year. Tent, sleeping bag, sleep pad, clothes, etc… There is a lot of thought and research that goes into gear purchases. The weight of the items is incredibly important. You have to fit everything into your backpack and carry it for X-miles over a few months. Every ounce of an item really adds up. The lighter the gear, the more expensive it is too. So I have been trying to find a balance with price and weight of my gear. I can’t afford the top of the line, the lightest gear possible but I am trying to cut weight were I can. 

I have already been called crazy for wanting to bring my Cannon XS on the trail. I love photography and if I am going to be walking the trail, I am bringing my camera. Yes, it will be a heavier base weight for my pack, but I am willing to do it. I want to really experience the trail, I don’t want to rush miles just to have the highest mileage per day. Maybe if I was doing a full thruhike I would feel differently, but since I won’t be able to, I want to take in all the views and really experience everything. For me, this means bringing my camera and taking photographs along the way. There is a term on the trail called ‘Hike Your Own Hike.’. That is exactly what I plan to do. I will hike my own hike with my camera and hopefully have some awesome pictures to show people when I get back.

A good info graphic on the AT.

I am honestly not worried about the hiking part of the trail. It is the camping I am worried about. I love to hiking. I enjoy camping but I am what you would consider an amateur. So while I will be training for the hiking aspect, I will definitely be practicing my camping skills more. Practicing speed setting up/taking down my tent so when it is pouring I can do it in as little time as possible. Practicing using my camp stove and water filtration techniques.

Once I dial in all of my gear, I plan on writing a gear blog. I will explain everything I chose and why. It will not only be a good way to share with everyone, but also a good way for me to compile everything to see if I missed anything or could cut some things.

Various boxes of gear I have ordered from REI. Some things I have kept, others I have returned. Still trying to find the right gear. Once everything is dialed in I will do an updated picture of everything together.

Also over the next few months some blogs will be about my training for the AT. I will be doing various practice hikes with and without gear to get myself more in trail shape. I will write about how things went and what I learned.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Still debated who actually said this.

(Regardless of who actually said this, it resonates with my goals)

Long Island Photo Journal

This is my Long Island winter 2019 trip in 15 photographs.

The links to my photographs will also be available if you would like to see more of my work or purchase anything.

‘Fire Island Sunset’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fire-island-sunset-selena-lorraine.html
‘Purple Sand Beach’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/purple-sand-beach-selena-lorraine.html
‘Fire Island Lighthouse in BW’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fire-island-lighthouse-in-bw-selena-lorraine.html
‘Fire Island Lighthouse’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fire-island-lighthouse-selena-lorraine.html
‘Lighthouse Spiral Stairs BW’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/lighthouse-spiral-stairs-bw-selena-lorraine.html
‘Captree State Park Pier Silhouetted’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/captree-state-park-pier-silhouetted-selena-lorraine.html
‘Driftwood on Trumans Beach in BW’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/driftwood-on-trumans-beach-in-bw-selena-lorraine.html
‘Pebbly and Shell Beach’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/pebbly-and-shell-beach-selena-lorraine.html
‘Orient Point Lighthouse BW’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/orient-point-lighthouse-bw-selena-lorraine.html
‘Tree Down on an Orient Beach’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tree-down-on-an-orient-beach-selena-lorraine.html
‘Greenport Docks’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/greenport-docks-selena-lorraine.html
‘Fire Fighter’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fire-fighter-selena-lorraine.html
‘Fire Fighter Life Preserver’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fire-fighter-life-preserver-selena-lorraine.html
‘Morning Call at Sunset’
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/morning-call-at-sunset-selena-lorraine.html

These were fifteen of my favorite photographs I took while on my adventures in Long Island. Hope you enjoyed them as well.

Getting Started in the Art World

It has been a struggle to get my work seen by the public. I started by putting all my work on the FineArtAmerica site. This was a good first step. I learned a lot from other artists on there. I progressed in to social media platforms by sharing my work on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and a Facebook group I created for my work. Using the hashtags and tagging people on these platforms has helped me share my work with more and more people. It’s not only about getting your work seen, it is also about learning the market. What are people looking at? Which of my work seems to get more traffic?

While still working on my online presence, I have started trying to get myself into arts/craft shows too. This has been rather difficult. My area is a pretty tough market. Shows can only accept so many applicants and since I am new, I am low on the list. I did not let this deter me from trying though. I was able to get into three local shows and split a booth with family in Florida for a holiday show down there.

My first little set up at a local art show. Only one 6ft table was allowed for this little show, so I set up what I could.

The start up costs of doing shows is also something to overcome. Until now, all my stuff had been digital and if anything sold, the FineArtAmerica site took care of printing and shipping the products (which is why I only made a few dollars per sale). To have a booth at a show means I have to have physical products to show and sell. Along with the products you need things like a tent, tables, table cloths, ways to display your products, and a means for taking payments. Some of those are one time costs (tents, tables, etc..). Others can be recurring costs. I decided to stick with matted 8x10s and 11x14s. My recurring costs are the matting supplies and any of the photographs I want to sell. Then there are the frames to consider if I wanted to frame some. You also have to pay for your spot in the show, I have seen anywhere from $20 to $150 for a spot. All these costs adds up very fast.

This was my set up for my first tent booth. Was able to fit two 6ft tables and still have my large canvas on display.
(Pictures taken before it began to pour all day)

I have also learned a great deal from my four shows.

  • A good tent is important, especially in bad weather. My second show basically had a monsoon the entire day. I had a river running through my tent but the roof and walls held up. Very minimal drips. My products stayed safe and dry.
  • How you display your products will have an affect on your sales. If they can’t easily browse your work they will most likely wander away. This is still something I am trying to figure out. I need to work on a way to hang my stuff in the tent.
  • Taking credit cards is essential. People don’t carry around a lot of cash now days. They want the ease of a quick purchase.
  • Make sure if you can’t get electricity to your booth you have ample ways to charge your phone and card readers. Get external batteries, I usually stock up on them on Black Friday and Cyber Monday or other sales days. You can never have enough.
  • Bring a long outside extension cord and surge protector. You never know if you’ll end up near an electricity source you didn’t know about. This could help you keep your things charged and even add lightning to your setup if you wanted.
  • Take constructive criticism. Other show members, artists, and clients will say what is on their minds. They are not trying to be mean. Learn from what they say. Maybe you need to consider a new set up? Price adjustments? More of a product? Etc…
  • The day might not go according to plan. Bad weather- did you set up hold? No people traffic- was this to the show itself or just your booth? No sales- why? Layout not according to plan- what could you have done better? Were any of these things you could have controlled? If yes, what will your plan be in the future? Use everything as a learning experience.
A table set up I had at another small art show. The one table limits at shows are difficult but do-able if you get crafty enough.

I have sold a few things at each show. The market is tough for me because I have to rely on the people who like my work actually having the wall space to want to purchase things. I get a lot of great feedback but I only sell a few things each show. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful to have sold anything. I just need to work on having more versatile products. On my FineArtAmerica site I do pretty well with selling mugs and occasional tote bags. I just don’t know how to create those products myself and still be profitable after sales. I don’t necessarily want to bulk buy because that usually means one photograph on multiple mugs and/or totes. I would rather have a variety of styles to sell. This is something I am still pondering on. If anyone has any knowledge on this front I would be grateful.

This show I had the use of an 8ft table and had room to have my large canvas up behind it.

I learned recently that my efforts of trying to get my work noticed has paid off some. A local restaurant, Trophy Tap +Table, wants to sponsor me for March’s First Friday. This is an event held on the first Friday of each month. Local businesses and galleries sponsor a local artist for the month. On First Friday the participating businesses will have little events featuring their sponsored artists. Most participating businesses will offer beverages and have specials (specialty menu items or discounts on items) for the night to entice the public to walk from location to location viewing the artwork and giving business to the local downtown businesses. This is a wonderful way for the public to both support their local businesses and artists.

I am so grateful for Trophy to give me a chance in March. I am frantically trying to decide what pieces I want to display on their walls for a month. Do I do a cohesive gallery or do I bring a mix to show my range? I am leaning more towards a range of work so people can see a variety of what I do and maybe even see something they think would look good on their walls. It’s a very tough call. Will gladly take other people’s opinions on this.

Getting started in the art world has been incredibly challenging and though I still have a very long way to go and a lot to learn, I am very excited and proud of what I have accomplished so far.

If you would like to follow me on any of my social media platforms:

Top 10 Photographs taken in 2019

I would like to share my ten favorite photographs I took in 2019. I chose five colored and five black and white photographs. The link to each of the photographs will be available as well.

Five Colored Photographs:

‘Sunshine Through the Sunflower’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/sunshine-through-the-sunflower-selena-wagner.html
‘The Bean 4’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-bean-4-selena-wagner.html
‘Lone Tree Seen in a Pasture’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/lone-tree-seen-in-a-pasture-selena-lorraine.html
‘Fall on the Parkway’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fall-on-the-parkway-selena-lorraine.html
‘Raleigh Under a Pergola’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/raleigh-under-a-pergola-selena-wagner.html

Five Black and White Photographs:

‘A Lonely Foggy Mountain in BW’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/a-lonely-foggy-mountain-in-bw-selena-lorraine.html
‘Industrial Stairs Going Down’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/industrial-stairs-going-down-selena-wagner.html
‘Good Morning Sunflower in BW’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/good-morning-sunflower-bw-selena-wagner.html
‘A Ship’s Bow Over Chicago’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/a-ships-bow-over-chicago-selena-wagner.html
‘Window of Andrew-Duncan House Monochrome’

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/window-of-andrews-duncan-house-monochrome-selena-wagner.html