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MARCH 2018

TRAVEL WORLD’S 50 BEST BEACHES FAIRY-TALE TOWNS Explore Europe’s storybook cities page 8

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AZORES MAGIC Portugal’s untapped islands of adventure page 20


with Suran Built page 46

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TRAVEL 8 FAIRY-TALE TOWNS OF EUROPE Quaint villages and charming hamlets right out of a storybook 12 JUST DRIVE Ten amazing road trips across America 16 THE WAY TO MACHU PICCHU Fulfilling cravings (cultural and otherwise) in Cusco, Peru 20 UNSPOILED AZORES Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s best-kept secret beckons adventurers 24 WORLD’S 50 BEST BEACHES Travel agents, journalists and bloggers compile this year’s list of top spots for sand and surf 30 THE GLASS-HALF-FULL GUY: Tips for planning a trip that’s off the beaten path 32 SPRING BREAK STAY-CATIONS Stick around the suburbs for some no-fuss fun 34 TRAVEL TRENDS Industry insiders suggest Iceland and Italy will be among this year’s most-desirable destinations

FASHION & BEAUTY 36 FIRST-CLASS FASHIONS Fit for planes, trains and automobiles

BUSINESS & CIVIC 38 FAST TIMES AT GARY LANG AUTO GROUP After 35 years in business, McHenry car dealership staff members reminisce about the road to success 41 CALL OF THE WILD Conservationist Elizabeth S. Kessler preserves, protects county’s wide open spaces

HOME & LIFESTYLE 42 COUNTRYSIDE FLOWER SHOP AND NURSERY Brings dream landscapes to life 44 OUTDOOR OASIS How to go from bland and blah to backyard bliss


UNSPOILED AZORES Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s best-kept secret beckons adventurers Photos by Kara Silva

46 NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY KITCHEN Suran Built interior designer Kate Clements breathes new life into Crystal Lake family’s forever home

FAMILY IN FOCUS 49 SUBURBAN SUPERDAD: Considering a road trip with the kids? It’s not as bad as it sounds, and gas is (relatively) cheap

OUT & ABOUT 52 BOOK NOOK Nontraditional travel reads 54 CALENDAR See what’s happening in McHenry County this month!


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happens every day Learn how Centegra can care for your heart atMCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE | MARCH 2018 | 5 3/1/18 3:13 PM

Editor's Note Ah ... the travel issue! My favorite edition of the year. Normally, by March, I’d already be pining for my next trip – fully immersed in the planning, plotting and booking process. But not this year. This year, my calendar is wide open, which is really strange, but also intriguing. I’m allowing for spontaneity and the unknown to move into my travel forecast.

that make up the Azores archipelago – popped in my inbox, luring my attention away from the Internet clutter with its promise of round-trip flights (from Boston), a seven-night stay at a centrally-located hotel with an ocean-view room, hot breakfast daily and airport transfers, and all for the bargain price of $749. It didn’t take much convincing beyond that price tag.

Terceira island turned out to be a seasoned traveler’s dream, as there were no crowds; it’s easy to get around on your own; and tours with guides were intimate experiences more akin to Who knows? Maybe a friend planning to go on meeting up with a friend who offered to show a solo yoga retreat decides she wants some you around town. The island is an idyllic blend company. Maybe, on a whim, I’ll decide it’s of culture, beauty, good food (cheap drinks) and about time I saw the Grand Canyon, and I’ll book plenty to see and do, while the idea of hanging the next flight out. Maybe the family decides it’s out at a cute café all afternoon seems equally as time for a reunion, and reconnecting over cruise desirable as anything else. ship piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris I hope this issue inspires your next trip or – if is how we’re going to do it. Or, just maybe, a nothing else – motivates you to pull the trigger last-minute, too-good-to-pass-up travel deal will the next time a great vacation deal or travel drop in my inbox, and I’ll be a couple of clicks opportunity pops up. away from a budget-friendly escape to a place I Happy travels, and thanks for reading! didn’t even know I wanted to go. Who knows? Actually, that last possibility is exactly how I ended up in the virtually unknown Azores islands last May, which I also write about in “Unspoiled Azores,” on page 20.

Kara Silva, Editor

An eight-day Travelzoo deal to Portugal’s Terceira island – one of the nine Atlantic islands

on the


The folks at Canadian-owned travel agency Flight Network consulted with travel agents, journalists and bloggers to compile this year’s definitive list of the world’s 50 best beaches. From El Nido (cover) – a Philippine municipality on Palawan island – to the powdery white sands of Hyams Beach in Australia (pictured here), find out the top spots for sand and surf, on Page 24 .

McHenry County Magazine Published by Shaw Media 7717 S. Route 31 Crystal Lake, IL 60014 Phone: 815-459-4040

General Manager Jim Ringness 815-526-4614 Director of Niche Publishing Laura Shaw 630-427-6213 Editor Kara Silva 630-427-6209 Designer Allison McCaleb 815-526-4485 Correspondents Jonathan Bilyk, Kelsey O’Connor, Aimee Barrows, Allison Horne, Peter Stadalsky and Allison Manley Photographers Ron McKinney

McHenry County Magazine is available by subscription for $24 a year. If you would like each month’s edition mailed to your home, send payment information and address to McHenry County Magazine, 7717 S. Route 31, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 or via email at

Photos provided by Flight Network


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EURO Traveling to major cities – like London, Paris and Barcelona – has plenty of advantages. There’s an endless supply of things to do, see and eat, which is what makes them some of the most visited places in the world. But there’s something to be said about the tiny towns and charming hamlets off the beaten path. If their fairy-tale allure isn’t reason enough to visit, these idyllic locations also serve as a perfect alternative to waiting in lines and being stuck in a crowd, like many of the more popular thoroughfares. Any one of these European villages could be depicted in a fairy-tale story, and – even better – in your travel guide.


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Reine, Norway Photo provided by FotoKnoff

PE Reine, Norway


This quaint fishing village is nestled amongst a string of islands within the Arctic Circle. The sleepy Norwegian town is framed by the sea and soaring cliffs, making it the perfect spot to escape from the rush of modern life. Visitors can enjoy days full of kayaking, whale watching and biking, then spend nights in a converted fishing cottage. Hiking up the nearby Reinebringen mountain will offer breathtaking views of the entire island chain. Or catch a ferry to neighboring villages to explore on foot, such as the surrounding Lofoten Islands. The best time to visit is September through April, when visitors will have a front-row seat to the aurora borealis. (For more information, visit

Bibury, England

The Cotswold region is a hilly, rural area sprinkled with small villages, and none is as picturesque as Bibury. Often called the most beautiful village in England, Bibury looks like a painting of a quintessential English countryside. The town is made up of old-world stone buildings along the banks of the River Coln. One noteworthy site is Arlington Row. The 14th-century wool store has become so iconic that it appears on the inside cover of U.K. passports. Other attractions include St. Mary’s – the village church with beautiful stained glass windows – and the Bibury Trout Farm, one of the oldest trout farms in the country. Visitors can catch their own fish for dinner or enjoy a meal in the connected café. Or pick up a few snacks at the nearby Organic Farm Shop for a picnic in the bucolic hills.

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Colmar, France

Situated in the French region of Alsace, this historic town exudes country charm. The French region is famous for its outstanding wines, particularly Riesling and Gewürztraminer varieties. Colmar is an ideal home base for winelovers who want to visit the nearby vineyards along the Alsace Wine Route. The town itself has no shortage of quaint sites and attractions. A stroll through Colmar’s Old Town will take you back in time. The cobblestone streets are lined with medieval and early Renaissance buildings, including a 13th-century Gothic cathedral. Visit during the holidays to experience the town’s classic Christmas market.

Colmar, France Photo provided by Colmar Tourism

Giethoorn, Holland

This water village in the east Netherlands is known as the “Dutch Venice,” but with less crowds than its Italian counterpart. Built on a small island, Giethoorn is known for its scenic canal system that meanders beneath old wooden bridges and thatch-roofed farmhouses. Visitors can spend a leisurely afternoon gliding along the waterways with a canoe or small electric dinghy. Stay at a bed and breakfast on the water and dine at one of the canal-side restaurants, such as Michelin-star awarded De Lindenhof. There’s also plenty of history to explore in the countryside surrounding Giethoorn, including ancient castles Its name roughly translates to “suspended in the air.” Another good option is the Monastery of and churches. Holy Trinity – the most difficult to reach, but it The Meteora, Greece boasts some of the most captivating views. The Meteora is a rock formation in central Mostar, Bosnia Greece that’s home to a collection of six and Herzegovina monasteries precipitously perched along its The centerpiece of Mostar, an ancient city in cliffs. Beginning in the 14th century, Greek southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the Stari monks originally built more than 20 Eastern Most bridge, which is considered one of the Orthodox monasteries on rock pillars soaring 1,300 feet above the ground. This awe-inspiring best examples of Islamic architecture. The original bridge was built across the Neretva group is all that remains. Monks originally River in the 16th century by the Ottomans. It was ascended to these lofty locations via ropes and destroyed during the Bosnian War, but a faithful ladders, but today’s visitors can take the stairs. reconstruction of the bridge was built in 2004. If you’re short on time, head to Great Meteoron Monastery, the biggest and oldest of the bunch. The top of Stari Most offers panoramic views of 10 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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Giethoorn, Holland

the city. Those looking for an adrenaline rush can even learn how to bridge dive from the locals. Mostar also is considered the cultural capital of Herzegovina. Throughout the city, the narrow streets are lined with bustling shops and market stalls, detailed mosques and unique street art.

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

On first glance, it seems as if this stunning city has been carved directly from the rock on which it sits. The Italian gem teeters on a hill of volcanic ash that rises above a vast canyon, offering sweeping views and a pleasant solitude. The only way in and out is via a foot bridge that leads to the main entrance – a large stone passageway cut more than 2,500 years ago.

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Once inside this UNESCO World Heritage site, visitors are instantly transported to the Middle Ages. Strolling through the smooth cobblestone streets will reveal archways draped in ivy, flower-clad balconies, and elaborate Renaissance-era facades. Like many Italian towns, the main piazza is the heart of the city and the site of many festivals and outdoor cafes. Just plan your visit soon — the fate of this tiny town is threatened each year by increasing erosion.

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Ten amazing road trips across America | By KELSEY O’CONNOR

Photos provided by South Dakota Department of Tourism


he open road is one of the best ways to see the country. All you need is a car, a tank full of a gas and a good route in mind. Luckily, we’ve got the last part covered for you. Whether you’re looking to cruise along sandy beaches, wind though mountain passes or drive in dense forests, there’s a route to fit your road trip fancy.


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 BLACK HILLS, SOUTH DAKOTA This small, isolated mountain range rising from the great plains makes for an unforgettable road trip. Start the journey on I-90 and take exit 131 for the Highway 240 Badlands Loop. The road winds through Badlands National Park and will take about 60 minutes without stopping – a little longer if you linger at any of the scenic overhangs. Make sure to swing by a few classic American attractions, such as Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug and Custer State Park. Just keep an eye out for bison crossing the roadways. TRAVEL

 COASTAL ROUTE 1, MAINE Also known as the Lobster Trail, this seaside route will take you through some of the most picturesque areas of downeast Maine. Begin in the picturesque beach town of Kennebunkport and head north. The route clings to the rocky coast, which is adorned with historic lighthouses and quaint New England fishing villages. Stop along the way on Sprucehead Island for a visit to McLoons Lobster Shack, where you can dine on delicious lobster fresh from the sea. Finish your trip in Bar Harbor, about 160 miles from your starting point.

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Photos courtesy of Blue Ridge Parkway Association

 BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA This almost-500 mile road connects two national parks and is the most popular road in the entire U.S. National Parks System. The road links Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Starting at Front Royal in Virginia, travel along Skyline Drive for spectacular panoramic views of the national park. There’s also a 500-mile network of trails to explore on foot. Continue south to the Natural Bridge and into North Carolina, where you’ll reach the jaw-dropping Great Smoky Mountains.  PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA One of the most iconic American road trips, California State Route 1 stretches more than 655 miles along the Pacific coast. The highway features ocean views, soaring bluffs, sandy beaches and plenty of roadside attractions. A good route to consider is from San Francisco to Los Angeles (or vice versa) – about 420 miles. Along the way, stop in Big Sur for photos along the famous Bixby Bridge, San Simeon to see the migrating elephant seals, and Santa Barbara for its beautiful beaches.

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-Continued from page 13  JACKSON, WYOMING TO GLACIER, MONTANA Technically, this drive would only take a day, but you could easily take a week exploring this route through Big Sky Country. Careful planning will take you through about 500 miles of stunning scenery and the best geologic wonders of the Northern Rockies. Start in Jackson and head to Grand Teton National Park, which boasts some of the most magnificent mountains of the Rockies. Your next stop is Yellowstone National Park for massive waterfalls, volcanic peaks and explosive geysers. Do not miss the wild and majestic Glacier National Park for some of the country’s best hiking.


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 OUTER BANKS SCENIC HIGHWAY, NORTH CAROLINA This maritime route clings to a thin strip of sand along the state’s easternmost edge, skirting the many barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks. The road begins at Bodie Lighthouse and continues about 142 miles past sandy beaches, wildlife refuges and charming coastal villages. Roadtrippers also should be ready to travel by sea, as visitors will need to take their car on the Hatteras Ferry to cross the sound and connect them to the next stretch of road. Make this trip while you still can; hurricanes and extreme weather continue to erode away parts of the highway.  HANA HIGHWAY, HAWAII What this route lacks in length, it makes up for in breathtaking beauty. The 59-mile highway hugs the eastern side of Maui and snakes past gorgeous beaches, basking seals and plunging sea cliffs covered with lush vegetation. The total drive time takes about two and a half hours, more if you make time to stop and enjoy the sites. Pull over to enjoy local fare from roadside vendors or to admire the view from an overlook. One area you should make time to see is Waiʻanapanapa State Park, which features black-sand beaches and hiking trails leading to sea caves and lava cliffs.


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 OLYMPIC PENINSULA, WASHINGTON Set your sights on Seattle for the beginning of an epic Pacific Northwest road trip. The 300-mile route is lined with lush natural scenery, quiet lakes, majestic mountains and plenty of spots to hop out of the car for hikes. The main attraction is Olympic National Park, home to one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. Other worthwhile stops include Hall of Mosses Trail, Ruby Beach, Sol Duc Falls and Tree Root Cave. If you want to do it right, allow four to six days to take U.S. 101 around the entire park.  OVERSEAS HIGHWAY, FLORIDA This route is one of the most recognizable, and unique highways in the country. U.S. Route 1, more commonly known as the Overseas Highway, stretches 150 miles over the sea to connect Miami and the Florida Keys. The ride takes about four hours and crosses 42 bridges. Along the way, stop at the various islands to experience the area’s unique culture, wildlife and cuisine. Noteworthy attractions include scuba diving or snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Seven Mile Bridge, and Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum.  PARKS HIGHWAY, ALASKA Stretching from Anchorage to Fairbanks, this northern road trip is unlike anything you’ve experienced in the lower 48. The highway extends 358 miles through the country’s rugged wilderness. Drivers enjoy spectacular views of Denali, the nation’s tallest mountain, which lies about halfway along the route. The best vantage point is in Willow, the official start of the Iditarod sled dog race and a perfect example of smalltown Alaska. You’ll also want to explore Denali National Park. It is comprised of more than six million miles and is home to dizzying peaks, placid lakes, glaciers, grizzly bears, caribou and more.


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Machu Picchu

Fulfilling cravings (cultural and otherwise) in Cusco, Peru By SHERYL DEVORE Photos provided by SHERYL DEVORE AND STEVEN D. BAILEY

As we exited the plane at the Cusco airport in Peru, we noticed a large vat overflowing with coca leaves. Chewing these leaves from trees grown along the eastern slopes of the Andes is said to relieve altitude sickness and increase energy. We tried them immediately – ready to immerse ourselves into Peruvian culture. My husband, Steve, and I were stopping in Cusco before visiting the famed Incan city of Machu Picchu, and the Manú National Park. It was late summer, and we had two weeks at our disposal. We soon would learn the city of Cusco (population 449,000) and the small town of Aguas Calientes (population 3,000) – both considered gateways to Machu Picchu – offered a glimpse into the ancient, as well as modern-day, culture of Peru, which visitors to the country likely cannot get by visiting Machu Picchu alone. The city of Cusco, situated more than 11,000 feet above sea level, sits within a river valley in the heart of the Andes Mountains. It once


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was run by the Incan Empire, which covered much of the Andes region during its heyday in the 15th and 16th centuries. Incans built beautiful, well-engineered temples, which were destroyed, in part, when the Spanish conquistadors came to the country, building their own cathedrals atop the temples. Today, the fusion of these two cultures, and their architectural styles and belief systems, can be seen throughout Cusco. Cusco, just like Machu Picchu, is a UNESCOdesignated World Heritage Center. As we got out of the taxi in front of our hotel, we had barely any time to grab our luggage before cars began honking. The old one-way, but well-made, brick-paved streets are so narrow that pedestrians (and even stray dogs) must hug the walls of the buildings to avoid the vehicles passing by. Once inside the Spanish colonial-style Antigua Casona San Blas, we found comfort in the hotel courtyard with a wood-burning fire pit. Staff brought cups of coca tea and threw a warm alpaca blanket over my lap.

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Tips for your visit TRIP FORECAST Avoid the rainy season (January through April) when floods can close roads and cause mudslides. The best times to visit are April through October, but June through August can be extremely crowded. Cool evenings in Cusco require jackets, but it can be quite hot in the sun during the day. FIND A GUIDE Find a tour guide to lead you through Cusco and Aguas Calientes – both of which can be tricky to navigate – or work with concierges at the more expensive hotels. EARLY BIRD Make sure to book hotels and train rides early, as this is a very popular tourist destination.

Though there are plenty of places to eat in Cusco, we dined at the hotel’s restaurant where we had homemade chicken soup, a mainstay in Peruvian fare. Later, at the bar, we sipped pisco sours while chatting with two young men from Australia. Pisco is a Peruvian brandy used in many local alcoholic beverages.

We visited Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun, built by Incas likely about year 1400. The Incas hauled calcareous rocks from at least 30 miles away to build the temple. They used trapezoidal shapes, rounded edges and specific inclinations so the buildings would withstand earthquakes.

Another day, Steve ordered another Peruvian classic – a guinea pig. Considered a Peruvian delicacy, guinea pigs often are saved for special occasions. Though I decided against dining on what Americans largely consider to be a cuddly childhood pet, my husband assured me that it was delicious.

When the Spaniards came, they destroyed part of that temple and built a Catholic church over it. An earthquake later destroyed part of the church, while the Inca structure below remained intact. We wandered the temple into various chambers learning about all of the gold once laden within its walls. The temple also was built to capture the sun’s rays in a way that could indicate the time of year, such as the spring equinox.

Temples and cathedrals Our guide through the city of Cusco was Nilo Zambrano, an architectural historian and college professor, who occasionally was greeted with hugs and hearty handshakes by former students as we walked the old city’s streets. He took us up and down steep pathways into an open plaza, pointing out Spanish versus Incan architecture and telling tales of mummies, ancient royalty and astronomy.

the Cusco Cathedral in the shape of a cross. The cathedral sits atop a sacred Inca site, and was built in Gothic and Renaissance style with some baroque features. Inside, visitors will find ornate chapels and 17th-century artwork and artifacts relating to Spanish religious beliefs and culture – including a painting of “The Last Supper” with guinea pig set on the table.

San Pedro Market You cannot come to Cusco without visiting the San Pedro Marketplace. No explanation can prepare you for what you’ll see inside.

In the center, Peruvians flash menus offering soup, fresh juice, tea, breakfast and lunch. Surrounding them are rows and rows of vendors offering donkey heads, whole fresh fish with Colorful gardens surrounded the temple heads and eyes intact, hundreds of kinds of outdoors. Our guide pointed out a grassy space grains, chuspas (hand-sewn pouches to carry with the symbols of a condor, puma and snake. your coca leaves), brightly decorated pastries, These symbols were said to link heaven with corn with kernels as large as quarters, woven earth and the underworld, and were prominent in baskets of different shapes stacked from the Inca culture. floor to the ceiling, wooden spoons and more kinds of breads than you’ve likely ever seen. When the Spaniards came, they brought with Nearly 4,000 kinds of potatoes grow in Peru and them Christianity, which is why they designed

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Train to Aguas Calientes (On the way to Machu Picchu) A shuttle bus leaving from Aguas Calientes will take travelers to Machu Picchu. Getting to Aguas Calientes involves a three-hour train ride from Cusco.

-Continued from page 17 many can be found in the market, each with its own taste and flavor, and some of which need to be aired out for months before they can eaten. Many Europeans, including the Irish, learned to grow potatoes from the Peruvians. Ladies wearing hats, purple or other hued leggings and billowing skirts, sat on the floor in front of fresh herbs and other wares. Tall glasses that look like they’re filled with flavored gelatin actually contain prepared cow parts and are touted as having medicinal purposes. Visiting Cusco offered a blend of all that’s natural, wild, lost, modern and ancient in Peru.

Aguas Calientes is settled in a valley beside the rushing Urubamba River, which is laden with natural stones the size of trucks and orange flowers with blooms the size of trumpets.

Peruvian pizza and Inka cola (akin to cream soda). While we were there, a flutist and guitarist performed traditional music, including the Peruvian folk song “El Condor Pasa,” which was made famous by Simon and Garfunkel.

If there is time, it might be worth planning a trip to the hot springs for which the town is named. However, these small, square concrete pools have been given It’s not an old city by South American standards. It was settled mixed reviews. in the early 1900s by a small You can stay in extremely group of indigenous people. It expensive or middle-of-the-road was only after Hiram Bingham III hotels in Aguas Calientes. Some rediscovered Machu Picchu in the can cost upward of $500 per 1920s that the train was built and night. We opted not to splurge, the city grew to become a tourist but – in retrospect – perhaps we should have. The Inkaterra Hotel attraction. is purported to be a slice of nature In Aguas Calientes – where train and peace amid the sometimes, tracks bisect the town – try Inka noisy town. Wasi, a restaurant that serves

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Azores Considered the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic,’ Europe’s bestkept secret beckons adventurers Story and photos by KARA SILVA


He can’t be serious. I glance at my friend for reassurance, but – instead – I’m met with the same panicked expression plastered across my own face. I don’t remember seeing THIS in the brochure! Do I resemble one of those happy helmeted tourists posing with my rent-a-bike in front of a sweeping pastoral setting on a sunny, 70-degree day? No – not quite.

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Within seconds of pedaling, I’m blown sideways and off of my bike. I guess a poncho operates more like a parachute under the wrong conditions. Lesson learned. We pedal on.

Then we learn that cycling with some speed combats the wind, but it also makes attempting Instead, we’re two terrified tourists being whipped to stop a sure way to end up on your butt with a bruised ego – among other things. around by wind and rain, while on top of a mountain encased by fog. The perfect confluence After a few near calamities with sharp turns of elements for some downhill mountain biking on wet cobblestone, and – yes – my friend’s breaks did betray her as expected, but – on the in the Azores. Slippery roads and zero visibility should make for a fun story when our breaks give bright side – instead of barreling off the side of a out and we accidentally ride off a cliff à la “Thelma mountain, she almost got hit by a car instead. and Louise." Once out of the clouds, we are finally met with There is only one way down the mountain, and


since our tour guide Andre Jesus will not be able to namedrop his way into the good graces of the weather gods today, we saddle up.


sunny, near-70-degree weather, pastoral views of

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Our guide could have abandoned us at that point, but decided to stick around to chat the afternoon away over bread and wine (and cheese, of course). Yes, we broke bread and sipped wine with Jesus. Cycling in the Azores was one of many unexpected, yet welcome, adventures that I experienced during an eight-day stay on Terceira island – one of the larger islands in the Azores volcanic archipelago.

electric green patchwork reminiscent of Ireland, and ocean visibility from nearly every vantage point. After a half-day of cycling, our tour ends at Queijo Vaquinha – a local cheese factory that happens to serve libations, too. Having completed the "perilous" two-wheeled adventure on tarmac, there was only one way to celebrate our survival: a block of cheese, carbs and a drink (or two).

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The Azores are a commercially untapped piece of Portugal situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 miles from mainland Europe. The nine islands that comprise the Azores are split up into three groups: the eastern (Sao Miguel and Santa Maria islands), central (Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial islands), and western (Flores and Corvo islands). Travel industry heavy-hitters have called the still virtually unspoiled Azores islands the Hawaii of the Atlantic, Europe’s best-kept secret, the next big travel destination – I could go on. Until recently, the Azores islands remained TRAVEL

an uncharted territory – inaccessible for international tourism – but flights from hub cities, like Boston and London – are making it easier for travelers to get to Azores shores. Boasting flight times under five hours (leaving from Boston), Terceira island’s pristine landscapes and culturally-rich city center has yet to be affected by oversaturated tourism. Terceira, which is home to UNESCO World Heritage site and historic city center Angra do Heroísmo, is teeming with possibility for travelers of all types. It’s an adventurers paradise, a foolproof jumping-off point for those considering traveling outside of the U.S. for the first time, and a perfect trip for tourists on a budget. (As someone coming off of a trip to Southeast Asia – a budget-conscious backpacker’s paradise – this place was cheap! For example, a bottle of wine, two entrees, an appetizer and dessert at a restaurant that also boasts oceanfront dining cost us about 35 Euro – total!)

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"There is only one way down the mountain, and since our tour guide Andre Jesus will not be able to namedrop his way into the good graces of the weather gods today, we saddle up." – KARA SILVA -Continued from page 21 Locals are hospitable and welcoming. Many of the tour operators with whom I came in contact aimed to give travelers a more intimate experience of the island. The line between professional tour guide and friend was often blurred by our guides who – refreshingly – seemed to care more about getting to know us than maximizing profits or tour group sizes. Though scattered with beaches, the part of Terceira really worth delving into is its adventurous side. From ample hiking trails and ropes courses to whale watching and horseback riding, exploring the lush local flora of Terceira island is well-worth the effort it takes to get there.

For their stark contrast in terrain, we opted to hike Baías da Agualva and the Rocha do Chambre trails, which meander along the coast and through the interior of the island, respectively. Classified as easy, the 2.5-mile linear route of Baías da Agualva takes hikers along the north coast of the island, past cow farms encased by stone walls, lush emerald landscapes and peaceful meadows. It also offers consistent sea views and cliff overlooks. After two hours of being lured by the sea, why not go for a swim at nearby Piscina das Quatro Ribeiras. The bathing site consists of natural sea pools formed by volcanic rock fit with a maze of stairways for easy access. Given a “medium” classification, the 5.7-mile circular route of Rocha do Chambre trail is as diverse as it is beautiful. Flanked by Azores junipers, the trail sweeps through enchanted forests filled with Japanese Cedar woods, over wooden bridges and lava rocks, and through a valley before ascending a steep, rope-led “stairway” that takes you up to the trails highest point at 2,300 feet. There you’re met with unobstructed valley views, rolling hills and the mesmerizing vastness of the land before you.

A more easily accessible trail is Monte Brasil, which is walking distance from the island’s seaside city center – Angra do Heroismo. The remnants of an underwater eruption, Monte Brasil offers panoramic views of the historic city Hiking and its bay, as well as close encounters with the The seven vast and varied hiking trails of Terceira deer that call this volcano dome home. are extremely well-marked, so hiring a guide is completely unnecessary. Instead, use the money to rent a car for a couple of days or utilize the islands bus system to get you to the trailheads. 22 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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Canyoning I took it as a good sign when our canyoning adventure kicked off with the musical stylings of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The greatest hits album, I assume, because we listened to the classic rock band for the entire duration of the drive, from Angra do Heroismo in the south to Praia Vitoria in the northeast. Bald, bearded and tattooed, our guide was just the man you want for the job when you’re about to repel down cliff faces in the remote wilderness. Opting for the “Adventure” trail,

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Photo by Taryn Kilroy

Horseback riding Mónica Vieira, a transplant from Portuguese-speaking Mozambique in Africa, is the proprietor of Basalto Horse Experience. Slight, kind and soft-spoken, but with an unrelenting strength about her, Vieira’s passion for horses was calm yet palpable. Situated at the end of a long, winding dirt road, the farm is a magical place. A wound-up Jack Russell Terrier patrols the stables and the horses are treated like family. No horse-riding experience was necessary, and Vieira taught us the basics with patience and ease. We rode two pure white steeds, fit with refined Spanish saddles. The horses were docile and sweet, and the riding experience was intimate – just three people total. (For more information on Basalto Horse Experience, visit www.

Whale watching

the five-hour tour included hiking; climbing up, over and through boulder-littered streambeds (sore muscles guaranteed); repelling down innumerable canyons; and epic zip-lining over treetops. As we had grown accustomed to in Terceira, our tour guided treated us to a cool beverage at a local bar, which – of course – overlooked the ocean. (For more information, visit

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Situated in the migratory pathway of an estimated 27 species of whales and dolphins, the Azores are a prime location for Whale watching. The ocean activity is year-round, but the time of year that you visit will determine the species viewed. Many whale watching tours can combine with other oceanic adventures, for example tour outfitter Ocean Emotion offers packages that include responsible swimming with dolphins (they’re wild), sunset cruises, snorkeling and islet-hopping. (For more information, visit www.



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World’s 50 BEST BEACHES Travel agents, journalists and bloggers compile this year’s definitive list of top spots for sand and surf across the globe. By KELSEY O’CONNOR If you’re planning a tropical vacation, why settle for any old beach when you can visit one of the best? The folks at Flight Network – one of the largest Canadian-owned online travel agencies – consulted with travel agents, journalists and bloggers to compile this year’s definitive list of the world’s 50 best beaches. Beaches were scored on their remoteness, sand and water quality, annual days of sunshine, average annual temperatures, and – of course – their sheer untouched beauty. The result is a diverse collection of both world-renowned spots and hidden gems representing nearly every corner of the globe. Without further ado, here are the world’s 50 best beaches:

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1 Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos


The best beach in the world is less than a four-hour flight away. The legendary Grace Bay boasts remarkably clear and serene waters thanks to the colorful barrier reef that protects the shores from debris and large ocean swells. People come from all over the world to swim in the warm waters and luxuriate on the plush sands. A short boat ride will take visitors to the coral reef for an underwater adventure. Snorkelers can spot an array of wildlife, including stingrays, turtles and seahorses jetting about the reef. With roughly 319 days of sunshine a year, there’s never a bad time to visit Grace Bay.


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Apartment Style Living We specialize in serving seniors 65 years and older of all income levels! 35

1. Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos 2. Whitehaven Beach, Australia 3. Anse Lazio, Seychelles 4. Pink Sands Beach, The Bahamas 5. Navagio Beach, Greece 6. Baia Dos Porcos, Brazil 7. Playa Paraiso, Mexico 8. Hyams Beach, Australia 9. Hidden Beach, Mexico 10. Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands 11. Maya Bay, Thailand 12. Pig Beach, The Bahamas 13. Blue Lagoon, Fiji 14. El Nido, Philippines 15. Muri Beach, Cook Islands 16. Salt Whistle Bay, St. Vincent & Grenadines 17. Half Moon Bay, Antigua 18. Lucky Bay, Australia 19. Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico 20. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland 21. Île aux Cerfs, Mauritius 22. Fulhadhoo Beach, Maldives 23. Vaeroy, Norway 24. Cayo Coco, Cuba 25. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands 26. Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles 27. Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda 28. Honokalani Beach, Maui, Hawaii, U.S. 29. Turquoise Bay, Australia 30. Elafonissi Beach, Greece 31. Champagne Beach, Vanuatu 32. Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii, U.S. 33. Kaputas Beach, Turkey 34. Dhigurah Island, Maldives 35. Île aux Nattes, Madagascar 36. Cala Goloritze, Italy 37. Los Roques, Venezuela 38. Long Beach, Canada 39. Grand Anse, Grenada 40. Boulders Beach, South Africa 41. Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, U.S. 42. Cala Mitjana, Spain 43. Shoal Bay, Anguilla 44. One Foot Island, Cook Islands 45. Ao Nang, Thailand 46. Radhanagar Beach, India 47. Eagle Beach, Aruba 48. Ageeba Beach, Egypt 49. Diani Beach, Kenya 50. Cannon Beach, Oregon, U.S.

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5 Navagio Beach, Greece Nestled in a rocky cove on a remote island, this Greek oasis will dazzle any visitor who makes the trek. Also known as Shipwreck Beach, the first thing you’ll notice is the crumbling remains on a smuggler’s shipping vessel settled on the pristine shores. The stunning contrast of the ancient wreckage, soaring golden cliffs and aquamarine waters creates an enchanting atmosphere. Visitors can explore the ruins, lay on the warm shores or climb the surrounding cliffs for panoramic views of the beach and surrounding sea.

No matter what the groundhog says, you’ll be warm at Hearthstone 1 and 2 Bedroom Apartments Chef Prepared Meals Fitness Center Call 815-321-2110 for information. Or visit us at 28 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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12 Pig Beach, The Bahamas You’ve probably seen plenty of photos from this Instagram-famous beach, but there’s nothing quite like seeing in the flesh. Pig Beach is home to world-class diving, pristine sands and some very cute locals. Beachgoers will be greeted by a group of friendly, spotted pigs, the island’s sole inhabitants. They’ll happily swim alongside you as you explore the turquoise waters of this Caribbean paradise. As far as burdensome, longdistance traveling goes, this one’s an easy trip. It’ll take about four hours in the air and usually includes a quick layover. Once you’re there, the only way to access the island is via boat, adding to the beach’s peaceful, remote vibe.

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19 Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico The top U.S. beach on the list, Flamenco Beach, has everything you could want in a seaside getaway. This secluded, crescent-shaped beach is located on the tiny island of Culebra. With a mile of silky sands wrapped around a sheltered bay, the shallow waters of Flamenco Beach are the perfect spot to swim, dive and snorkel. Float over untouched coral reefs, explore U.S. naval tanks left from the 1970s, or just sit back and enjoy the silky white sands with a piña colada in hand.

28 Honokalani Beach, Maui, Hawaii, U.S. Tucked away within Wai‘anapanapa State Park, this volcanic beach is unlike any other in the world. The jet black sands, cerulean waters and lush greenery all combine to create an unbelievably stunning natural wonder. It’s comes as no surprise that the area is considered sacred by the Hawaiian people. The striking black sands were formed by lava flows that cooled and hardened, then eroded into tiny pieces by the pressure of thousands of years of ocean waves. Save time to explore the park surrounding the beach, which includes 122 acres of sea caves, blow holes, steep cliffs and Hawaii’s largest temple. SM-CL1503066

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The GlassHalf-Full Guy:



eople often ask how I find myself being invited into stranger’s homes for dinner in foreign countries or how I get offered free room and board when traveling, like the time an Irish woman offered me her castle to sleep in for a night. It boils down to how you plan your trip and how you travel.

“behind-the-curtain” look at a culture. Ask your hosts where their favorite hangout is, and let them introduce you to their friends. Be open to a little local advice, and you won’t believe the places you’ll find yourself.


This is the biggest killer of getting the fivecourse experience. And I get it; there is a lot There are many ways to travel. If your main of fear in leaving things open-ended or loosely objective is to put your feet up and be catered planned. But I’ve found that if I book up every to, it’s rare that you’ll find yourself in the midst of single day with activities and reservations than the local experience. it’s nearly impossible to accept a new friend’s invitation. If you want to get past the trinket booths and would rather get to know new people and places Less is more in that doing less leaves more time when traveling, then here are a few tips to get to be spontaneous. It also forces you to explore and ask around for suggestions. Get out of the you started: guidebooks and off Google’s “Top 10 places you  DON’T STAY AT HOTELS have to see in Costa Rica.” If you want to be treated like a tourist and seen as a dollar sign, then book your stay at a hotel or I like to have a loose plan written in pencil, with a huge eraser ready, so I can say “yes” to an resort. There’s nothing wrong with vacationing impromptu invitation. like this, but it puts you in the “visitor” zone. I think it’s also good to stay away from hostels because that’s where all the other travelers hang out. You won’t meet any locals in a hostel, just some dude named Carl from Georgia. Some of the best ways to experience a culture is to find a bed and breakfast or use Airbnb. Another option is to peruse websites like Couchsurfing, where you can stay with locals in every country on Earth. I know it sounds like a setup for disaster, but my friend, who is in her ’60s, got me into couchsurfing, and I’ve had only amazing experiences. Typically, these options will get you off of the main drag – maybe even out into a small village – and you’ll have the opportunity to have a 30 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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 BE WILLING TO MAKE FRIENDS Sure, mountains, beaches, ruins, museums and old churches are beautiful, but nothing can compare to meeting new people and making connections. Making friends is such an enriching element when visiting new places. It’s hard to compare sitting in someone’s home and getting to know that person – what he or she values and how that person enjoys life. The pleasure also comes in the form of offering to host that person if he or she wishes to visit your country or state in the future. Part of the deal, in a metaphysical sense, is to be willing to invite people into your own home. Return the TRAVEL

favor, in essence, so that you’re not just a taker, but also a giver. People’s generosity and kindness always blows my mind, and I am always eager to repay that kindness. It’s amazing to have friends all over the world; you only need be willing to strike up a conversation and be yourself!


You may be thinking, “So, Pete, you think I should just walk up to a stranger and shouldn’t be worried that they’ll rob me or take advantage of me?” My answer is “yes!” Believe it or not, most people are gracious, kind and loving. Traveling only requires a reasonable amount of street smarts and intuition. If you can survive a trip to Chicago for the day, you can go anywhere. In the 10 years I’ve been traveling the world, sleeping on couches and in cabins, I’ve encountered less than 10 weirdos and thousands of wonderful people. If something seems suspicious or unnatural, just say “No thank you,” and walk away. But I can’t imagine letting the fear of weirdos spoil my desire to explore the world and meet it’s beautiful people. I think people deserve a little trust, and when we can grant that, it’s absolutely incredible what follows.

u Peter Stadalsky lives in the Chicago suburbs and is an adventurer. He shares his travel experiences with a “glass-halffull” view of the world.

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The Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva Photo provided



orget that expensive out-of-state spring break trip, and – instead – head to one of the exquisite hotels or boutique bed and breakfasts right here in the ’burbs. Enjoy what the local communities have to offer for some nofuss fun! So, pack a (small) bag and treat yourself to some local R&R.

The Victorian Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast in Algonquin Photo provided

Rest, relaxation and rejuvenation For those who like the finer things in life, boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts offer personal attention not often found in bigger hotel chains.

The Victorian Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast in Algonquin was transformed into a bed and breakfast in 1995 after owner Sherry Brewer got the idea while visiting a B&B on her own. Brewer raised her children in the home after purchasing it in 1974. The house now has four bedrooms with private bathrooms for guests who come from all over the world (as well as from down the street).

Another vibrant B&B that has been drawing guests from all over since 1987 is the Harrison House in Naperville. Located in the heart of downtown Naperville, the historic home dates back to 1904 and offers six private guest rooms with a massive wraparound porch. It also provides access to the riverwalk, Naper Settlement, plenty of bars, restaurants and the Metra train.

“The ambiance of the B&B, even if you’ve never been here before, just permeates through the place,” says Debbie Browning, owner and innkeeper. “It’s just so “The property itself is amazing,” Brewer says. “Even though it’s from 1886, it’s got a lot of amenities and a peaceful and content and happy. The guests love it lot of wood. It’s very quiet, and we like to have a nice here.” aroma of chocolate cookies when guests come in.” Aside from the breakfast served daily, there is a refrigerator filled with soda, water, beer, wine and While The Victorian offers a personal touch, it also milk, as well as three different complimentary is in close proximity to plenty of activities in town. snack baskets. The Harrison House also offers a There are five restaurants within walking distance, complimentary tandem bicycle for guests to take including Cocina Bella, Bold American Fare and Port Edward Restaurant, while the River bottom Ice Cream around town. Company and Scorched Earth Brewing Company also “We’re very blessed to have a property like this,” says are nearby. Diane Baldus, assistant innkeeper and manager of special events. “It’s surrounded by restaurants, and The house is even located across from the Fox River shopping, and other beautiful sites to go to.” Trail, which provides miles of trails for biking or running, and spans from Aurora to Wisconsin. It often gets special event bookings, such as business meetings, showers, bachelorette parties “Some people have never stayed at a B&B, and it’s just a different experience from a hotel,” Brewer says. and wedding receptions. It also offers special packages for couples or guests staying for other “Beyond the property, it’s the personal attention. We’re very attentive, but give them their space, too. special occasions, as well.


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If they want to talk, we talk. But we also let them have their privacy.”


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“A lot of times, when you go to hotels, everyone’s in their own frame of mind,” Baldus says. “Being that it’s so intimate, people just feel comfortable here amongst friends.” The home also has a couple of furry friends that hang out around the house: Beau Jangles and Bella – the hypoallergenic “mascots” of the house. For anyone hoping for a close-knit feeling with more of a traditional hotel experience, then look no further than The Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva. There are 61 rooms with fireplaces, luxury baths and balconies overlooking the Fox River. The building itself was a creamery in the late 1800s, and the Europeanstyle inn is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Harrison House in Naperville Photo provided

bands, while Zanies hosts comedians, such as Chris Franjola and Larry Reeb.

Accommodations range from For those looking to spend time relaxing, the Herrington whirlpool suites and executive Inn has an on-site spa that offers massages, facial suits to bi-level family suites treatments and body treatments. It also offers in-room and loft suites for larger couples massages, and even shoe-shining. parties. For those seeking an “We offer very different amenities,” says Lisa Landers, upgraded stay, the penthouse director of sales and marketing. “[It’s] a hotel with provides a beautiful view of the so much character, and our team is so friendly and countryside. helpful.” Don’t forget the restaurants While the Herrington Inn offers means of rest and and bars – while staying at relaxation, it can also provide a bit of adventure for Pheasant Run, Barth says that those looking to get out around town. stopping at Bourbon Street is a must. “We are located in downtown Geneva in walking distance to shopping, dining and the river trails,” The Harvest restaurant, which is housed in a historic Landers says. “Many people like to rent bikes in the dairy barn, also is a top spot for dinner. The restaurant spring and ride these nice trails.” serves quality farm-to-table fare – think dry-aged steaks, grain-fed poultry and seasonal produce. The Metra station also is nearby, so having a car isn’t necessary. For anyone looking for more outdoorsy activities, the newly-renovated Waterfront Hotel and For the adventurous vacationers Marina in Johnsburg provides a riverside spot to For those who get a little stir-crazy at the thought of hang out, eat and relax after a long day of boating. sitting cooped up in a room or hotel for a weekend, Conveniently located near the marina, there are spots there are plenty of places to stay with access to along the Fox River to grab a bite to eat, or visitors can activities on-site. dock a rental boat for the day while staying at the hotel. There’s no shortage of things to do while staying at “It’s a fun place to come to,” says Gary Guy, general Pheasant Run in St. Charles. The hotel is located manager and son-in-law of Mario Arcari, the owner on 250 acres in the Fox River Valley with 293 diverse responsible for the new vision and remodel. “There’s a rooms, and most guests don’t even need to leave the lot of hustle and bustle, whether it’s music outside or grounds to have a good time. people sitting on the patio.” “We have a host of things you can do,” says Hal The hotel also features the Wave Bar and Grill, which Barth, director of sales and marketing. “From golf, the provides the perfect hangout spot for trivia, live music Mainstage Theater, iPanic Escape Rooms, restaurants, Zanies, Spa Vargas, and indoor/outdoor pool – open all and outdoor games (during the warmer months). year – plus another indoor pool; we have activities all From B&Bs with a comforting Midwestern vibe to year round.” hotels that offer extravagant event-filled weekends, one thing is for sure – a spring break stay-cation in the The Mainstage Theater offers performances from the suburbs sounds pretty good. likes of American English, and Garth Brooks cover

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Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles Photo provided


The Victorian Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast 314 Washington St., Algonquin 847-854-9667 Waterfront Hotel and Marina 3309 N. Chapel Hill Road, Johnsburg 815-344-3131 Harrison House 26 N. Eagle St., Naperville 630-420-1117 The Herrington Inn and Spa 15 S. River Lane, Geneva 630-208-7433 Pheasant Run Resort 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles 630-584-6300


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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK Italy, Iceland and river cruises make the list of 2018 travel trends | By ALLISON HORNE


ome people are happy to park their butt in the sand for a week while on vacation. Others consider a vacation as a time of discovery and exploration, from experiencing different cultures and site-seeing to scaling a mountainside and hiking in the woods. Either way, vacations are what you make them.

Many current travel trends, including cruises, adventure travel and unique destinations have people itching to mark some PTO on the calendar. While there has always been a constant request for the typical vacations, like the Caribbean, Mexico and Alaska, Crystal Lake Travel agency co-owner Sue Swett has seen an uptick in the request for more unusual destinations. “We’ve dealt with some common destinations coming from the Midwest, but people really want to get out there and see something new,” Swett says. “They want to see new history and other cultural experiences.” Some of the hottest places right now include the ever-popular Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Central America, Africa, Thailand and Hawaii.

While Europe tends to be the most popular for river cruising, other locations – such as the Amazon and Myanmar – are different options.

people are realizing they waited too long in their lives to travel and that you should be doing it now while you’re healthy and can still do it. – Neelie Kruse, owner of Cary Travel Express

Kruse notes that while river cruises are on the rise, traditional cruises have always been their No. 1 seller and probably will continue to be. Other all-inclusive trips to tropical locations, such as Mexico and the Caribbean, also are popular. “They’re definitely a great way to travel,” Swett says. “The quality has gone up considerably, and there are some really nice options out there.”

Whether it’s a relaxing all-inclusive cruise or a hike up Machu Picchu, there’s no better time than right now to book that dream vacation.

Kruse also notes that South America has risen in popularity due to its location (no jetlag), the U.S. dollar being strong and shorter flights. Many people also are choosing unique locations for vacations due to their passions and favorite activities, which both Kruse and Swett agree is a driving force behind popular spots. “The activities really determine the destination depending on what someone likes,” says Swett, who spent time training for a trip to Peru to hike Machu Picchu. “Whether it is hiking, mountain climbing, scuba, snorkeling, golfing – whatever happens to be that person’s thing.”

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“The boats are small … and it [has] very upscale service,” Kruse says. “It’s a nice way to see Europe without having to pack and unpack. Once people go on one, they want to go on more.”

“On a river cruise, you get to see different destinations every single day … ,” Swett says. “Your ship is literally a floating hotel, and the way the cities were set up, you literally Life’s too short. A lot of pull right up to the city.”

“I think you’re going to see more and more people traveling to Thailand,” says Cary Travel Express owner Neelie Kruse. “And Iceland has been really off the charts lately.”


While cruising has always been a great way to travel, river cruising has been steadily rising in popularity. The boats aren’t as large as cruise ships and many amenities and perks are included.

“I think people should travel because it’s life experience,” Kruse says. “Life’s too short. A lot of people are realizing they waited too long in their lives to travel and that you should be doing it now while you’re healthy and can still do it. That’s the time to go.” Travel also provides an opportunity for individual growth. “There’s so much that you can learn by traveling – getting outside of your own little community and seeing how other people think, how they live – plus it’s beautiful, and it’s fun,” Swett says.


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FIRST-CLASS fashions Attire fit for planes, trains and automobiles | By SHONDA DUDLICEK

Tired of looking like a tourist when you travel? Here are some fashionable, yet simple, tips to dressing better while in transit and when reaching your final destination, too. “Go simple in clothing and use accessories to the fullest,” says Brenda Marchuk, owner of Sonshine Girl boutique in Woodstock. “You want to bring minimal amounts of stuff.”

Back to basics During the packing process, keep in mind that there are two staple items that you might not want to leave home without. “Depending on the vacation, start out with one basic item, like a casual denim,” says Marchuk. “Then a basic black dress you can dress up or down. You can do that with flats, heels and boots, and expand from there.” Stephanie Ormsby, owner of Wear Did U Get in Crystal Lake, says that there are a lot of great pastel colors to incorporate into your look. “Pinks and blues are really fun. And mustard is not going away any time soon; it’s a good fall color.”

Timeless denim “Denim is always here,” Marchuk says. “We’re seeing embroidery on denim – it all goes in cycles. The embroidery today is subtle and adds a twist. Jeans are always around, but now you have a ‘jegging’-type, in-between jeans, and leggings and a longer tunic.”


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Accessories can add versatility to outfits you wear while on vacation. “No scarves on a Caribbean vacation,” Marchuk says. “Bring an extra layer and remove [it] depending on the temperature on the plane. [Wear] a piece you can remove, like a cardigan or poncho. On warmer trips camis are good for everything; they lightly smooth things out.” Leisure time often calls for light and trendy pieces. “For vacations, pack a top with sleeve details,” Ormsby says. “Flutter sleeves and off-the-shoulder tops. These are more for vacations than for traveling. Pack those with light, layered pieces.”

Bottom half Leggings can be one of the most versatile pieces, both Marchuk and Ormsby agree. “Leggings work well with boots and flats. Older women sometimes don’t think they can wear dresses anymore, and we tell them to get a tunic-length dress and pair it with leggings,” Marchuk says. Ponte pants are a good alternative to leggings, as the material is a bit more “heavy-duty” and they are not see-through, says Marchuk. “[Ponte pants] do not bag in the knees,” she adds. “Black and gray work well. They’re not falling down in the waist. I’m wearing them now!”

By utilizing patterns you can create a more unique look.

Ormsby also recommends wearing pull-on pants or leggings for comfort while traveling and pairing them with a tunic or dress.

“If you’re wearing a pant with a floral print and a solid shirt, then you can bring in a fun pattern with a scarf, earrings and bracelets in bright colors. Tassel earrings are very trendy,” Ormsby says.

“And there are super-cute dresses for the airport,” Ormsby says. “You can wear them with a tennis shoe or a ballet flat to travel. And you can add a wedge shoe for a different look. Wear a nice, good flat if you’re doing lots of walking.”


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Fast times at Gary Lang Auto Group After 35 years in business, McHenry car dealership staff reminisce on road to success By KEVIN DRULEY | Photos by RON McKINNEY

Situated at his desk inside the McHenry car dealership for which he has worked for 27 years, Ryan Miller rubs his chin and smiles. Pinpointing the reasons behind the sustained success at Gary Lang Auto Group comes easily to Miller – now the organization’s used car manager. He sensed a special camaraderie between employees and customers from the time he first entered the building, located at 1107 S. Route 31. The bond continues to blossom as Gary Lang marks its 35th anniversary this month.

the showroom and the service department and everything,” Miller says. “We just take care of people. We don’t want to just sell a car to people. We want them to come back.” Make no mistake, the subject of loyalty rivals any automotive topic when it comes to shop talk around the 22-acre campus. It’s a two-way street, connecting employees with customers and vice-versa. General manager Mike Fullmer tells the story of a confused customer who thought he was purchasing a truck with four-wheel drive and the no-questions-asked, full refund Lang granted to him for the two-wheel drive model months later. Fullmer says the same customer has since purchased five cars from the auto group,

“It just kind of flows into 38 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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which offers seven makes – Chevrolet, Kia, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

We just take care of people. We don’t want to just sell a car to people. We want them to come back.

of good people working here. I mean, yes, it’s your job; but you’re here so much, it gets like family.”

Fullmer likens the work atmosphere to that of a “We take care of them; we know them theme park. His anticipation for another day at all,” Miller says. “You know, if it’s a Gary Lang helps fuel a nearly hour-long commute — Ryan Miller, Long-time Sales previous customer or something, we’ll from Bloomingdale in DuPage County. Manager at Gary Lang Auto Group bend over backward for them anyway. “I think [working at Gary Lang Auto is] like being at If they’re servicing a car, buying cars Disneyland, meaning that it is a fun place to work,” here – they know. We take a lot of market share from other areas, Fullmer says. “You walk in here, and a lot of people are smiling; too. Those are hard to retain all the time. I think Gary [Lang] makes it everybody’s laughing. Everybody’s having a great time. The staff is pretty easy.” always looking out for what’s best for the customers and how we can Lang recently received the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce’s help them find what they’re looking for.” annual Frank E. Low award for his exemplary contributions to the Of course, even Disneyland encounters challenges sometimes. For community. Lang’s efforts include donating cars to local schools Fullmer, the most prominent one is finding quality people whose for driver’s education programs; sponsoring community and school interest in the company and customer service is genuine and geared sports teams and events; giving back to local businesses and toward the long-term. charities in McHenry County, including Toys for Tots and local blood centers; and assisting with funding for such local events as Fiesta That ethic permeates the entire operation at Lang. Fullmer Days, the McHenry River Run and Green Street Cruise Night. understands that buying a car or needing repairs on a vehicle can be In addition, Lang is a prominent supporter of the McBark Dog Park in stressful, so he maintains an empathetic approach with customers when they come to Gary Lang. McHenry, helping cover maintenance costs and other fees to allow for lower membership costs among residents and non-residents. He “…The customer is the most important thing,” Fullmer says. and various employees also have served on the local chamber and “Customers, they’re OK to get upset. They’re going to. Especially other community boards over the years. when they bring their car in for service when it’s broken. Who’s happy about that? Buying a car, too, can be a big – and sometimes Service department assistant Mary Kay Pokorny admires Lang’s commitment and knows she isn’t alone. Just witness what transpires unforeseen – expense, and it’s not always a happy experience. Our job is to say, ‘Hey, we understand. It’s going to happen. Let me try to when Lang requests employee assistance at certain events. make it as easy as possible or as fun as possible.’” “They’ll put up a volunteer sheet, and there’s always volunteers,” Pokorny says. “Never an issue. Never an issue. Because there’s a lot — Continued on page 40

Pictured from left are Ryan Miller (27-Year Employee), Mike Fullmer (General Manager) and Mary Kay Pokorny (Dedicated Customer Service Representative). This year Gary Lang Auto Group celebrates its 35th anniversary.

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— Continued from page 39 Lang ostensibly entered the auto business in an equally upbeat fashion. Looking for work after a previous job as a laborer ended, he applied for a radio installer position with Sorensen Chevrolet in Waukegan. Lang soon learned the position had been filled, but he also was told he could come back the next day if he had any interest in being a salesman. Clad in a canary yellow leisure suit, Lang obliged. He started in sales part time before beginning his ascent through the ranks, ultimately growing enough in the business to open his own dealership. Colleagues believe Lang’s blue-collar background influences his personal touch. “Working for Gary [Lang], it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. He’ll have his hand on your back, saying you’re doing a great job, and he lets you know that you’re the most important part of the organization and the customer experience,” Fullmer says. Multiple technological advances have altered the experience for customers and employees since Gary Lang Auto Group opened in 1983. Information about new and used makes and models abound on the Internet. “Everything is high-tech now,” Pokorny says. Gone are the days when customers simply pulled away from the lot upon buying a car. Whether an owner’s manual is in print or online, lessons on new performance and safety functions usually beckon before a driver feels completely comfortable operating a vehicle today.


Lang and his employees have overseen both eras, and look forward to serving McHenry County customers well into the future.

1107 S. Route 31, McHenry Sales: 815-385-2100 Service: 815-669-5144 Parts: 815-669-5668


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“The dealership sells itself,” Miller says. “Look at this place. I mean, have you seen a dealership this clean – this big? And we’re always revamping this place. It just keeps getting bigger.”

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CALL OF THE WILD Conservationist Elizabeth S. Kessler preserves, protects wide open spaces By MELISSA RUBALCABA RISKE | Photo by FROM ME 2 YOU PHOTOGRAPHY


or Elizabeth S. Kessler, work isn’t about managing the day to day. As the executive director of the McHenry County Conservation District, her work is dedicated to future generations who will walk, bike and row through the lands she and her staff cultivate and preserve.

“Conservation is about preserving and protecting the land we cherish,” Kessler says. “It’s about the habitat for the flora and fauna, creating a sense of place for people within the community and ensuring its protection for future generations. It’s what ties everyone together. It’s a part of all of us.” Kessler leads a staff of more than 70 people, including wildlife biologists, restoration ecologists, educators, landscape architects and park rangers, who manage more than 25,000 acres of open space in McHenry. There also are countless volunteer stewards who offer their time to help care for the land. Caring for the land is much more than understanding foliage and native plants. Not long after Kessler joined the district in 2006, its board of trustees asked voters for their support to increase its footprint. Voters said “yes,” which approved a measure to invest $73 million in protecting and acquiring open space and restoring land.

She says Kessler joined the district and accepted the work of improving the organization and making it more visible and connected to the community. “One of the big issues had been reaching out to the community,” Leahy says. “That was a really big task for her. The district had become quite insular.” Leahy says Kessler has focused on making the district a viable organization financially and through the relationships between municipalities, community leaders and citizens. “She worked so hard,” Leahy says. “She saw what needed to be done and did it.” From promoting education programs and encouraging staff members to attend community events to the recent hosting of the second Conservation Congress for McHenry Open Space, Kessler and her staff have found ways to reach community representatives, residents and business leaders. Each month Kessler hosts Wide Open Spaces, a radio program on Huntley Community Radio sharing news about programs. “We’re dependent on the Earth for our health and well-being, and we have the personal responsibility to be good stewards,” Kessler says.

Kessler and her staff set to work examining real estate and tackling the work of creating a visitor/ education center at Glacial Park and opening more sites and trails for the public. The district has acquired 5,000 acres of land in the last 11 years.

Kessler shares her experience and leadership with national organizations, including her role as the past president and board member of the National Recreation and Park Association and board member of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. She also is the vice president of Chicago Wilderness Trust, a four-state regional alliance leading strategy to preserve, improve and expand nature.

Former McHenry County Conservation District Trustee Bonnie Leahy served from 2003-2014.

And when she’s not at work, Kessler and her husband, Ken, are practicing what they preach.

In 2013, they bought a 16-acre farm in Harvard and – most weekends – they can be found at the farm working on a list of projects, from prairie restoration to tending to the garden. Kessler says they named the property Dance Up the Sun – a nod to her passion for dancing, renewal and love of the land. And as the land thaws and the season shifts to spring Kessler says that she’s excited for the many activities and programming hosted by the district to start up, including the Earth Day Celebrations (April 21), Weekend of Restoration XIII: Restoring Land and Spirit (April 21), International Migratory Bird Days (April 28-29), and the Native Flora and Wildlife Exhibit (April 14 through June 3).

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Dream Landscapes Can Come True

With Countryside Flower Shop and Nursery


uilding a special dream home can take many steps and years to complete. Such was the case for this homeowner in Barrington Hills. The property was purchased years before the planning and ultimate construction of the house. The initial landscape concept plan included a location for an unspecified water feature. In the spring of 2015, we were invited to view the spectacular property and talk about the possibility of the water feature becoming a reality. The home was nearly complete, and now the details around the building were ready to be designed. The owner described his fond memories of the family home in Italy and the stream that was part of that landscape. His house reflected his love of Italy; so the water feature would as well. The terrain was excellent for a cascading stream and dramatic falls. Marsh waters at the rear of the property made a breathtaking background for the feature. The falls and stream needed to be enjoyed from inside the kitchen and screen room, as well as outside from the porch and lower seating area. All of these factors drove the design of the new water feature. The dream of the home owner, combined with our artistry and expertise, produced an exciting addition to this beautiful home. Countryside maintains the feature with yearly cleaning and the additions of water plants for color and interest. The feature can be viewed from many places inside and outside the residence. We are told it is a favorite place to relax, sip a glass of wine or even take a nap. The completed falls and pond resulted in a water feature that created an inviting outdoor living space reminiscent of the Italian stream the homeowner envisioned. Views from several locations allow unique enjoyment of this custom feature and offers special places to relax and escape. From the rose garden at the bottom of the falls, the entire water feature can be enjoyed. The Illinois Landscape Contractors Association Awards Committee and ILCA members congratulate Countryside Flower Shop and Nursery’s Landscape Department on receiving an “Excellence in Landscape Merit Award in the Specialty Element” category. The “Italian Waterfall” entry, designed with the client’s Tuscan style residence and slopes in the backyard lead to the perfect location for a grand waterfall. The feature was designed by Barbara Kindinger and installed by Manuel Zambrano and his crew. When you are ready for your backyard oasis call Countryside Flower Shop and Nursery’s Landscape Department. Our award-winning landscape designers and installation crews will have you outside enjoying the beauty of your home with family and friends.

5301 E. TERRA COTTA AVE. | CRYSTAL LAKE | 815-459-8130

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How to go from bland and blah to backyard bliss


backyard doesn’t have to be a chunk of grass you dread cutting or a place for the neighborhood rabbits to wreak havoc. Rather, it can become an extension of your home and turned into usable living space. From fire pits and water features to outdoor kitchens and living room sets (complete with TVs), many homeowners are turning to local landscape designers to create a beautiful living space just a few steps out the back door.

“It is kind of what’s old is new again,” Nierman says. “It seems to all be based around quality family time. It’s become an extension of indoor living.”

Not only does it help accentuate the landscape and outdoor design, it also is affordable and requires very little maintenance to keep it looking great.

While ponds were popular in the past, many of the trends have been leaning toward lowmaintenance water features, like pond-less waterfalls.

“Some of the newer LEDs are a brighter white, they aren’t cheesy old-fashioned styles, and you can put the light in, and it’ll last for 10 or more years,” Nierman says. “The older styles are maintenance-intensive, and you had to change the bulbs every year, while these you can put in and forget about them.”

“People like pond-less water features because an actual pond is nothing but maintenance,” says Todd Manke, president and owner of Cal and Shan’s Landscape and Design in Woodstock. “People don’t like something they constantly have to worry about.”

“With the economy doing better, what we’re starting to see more of is outdoor backyard living,” says Tom Nierman, owner of Nierman Landscape and Design in Woodstock. “Everyone’s One outdoor aspect that is extremely lowbeen doing fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and maintenance, but makes all of the difference is pools.” outdoor lighting. Kitchens can range from something as simple “You can put in the nicest landscape, but when as a built-in grill to pizza ovens, refrigerators and do people usually enjoy it? At night or early smokers. evening,” Manke says. “Lighting makes it look so Other cool patio accessories include water features, fire features, walking paths and vertical accents, such as pergolas and seating walls.

much better; it adds value, and it looks beautiful even when you’re not out there.”

“A lot of it has to do with getting back into nature and outdoors with fresh air,” Nierman says. “A lot of the parents are trying to push getting the kids outside with some activity instead of video games, TVs and computers.”

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Not only are they maintenance-free, but – with new advances in technology – lighting systems also can be controlled with the touch of a button via a smartphone. Manke notes that a lot of his clients are committing to backyard renovations because of recent upgrades to materials that give homeowners different options. With more cost-efficient options and unique upgrades, transforming the backyard into an oasis can be affordable and beneficial both to the current homeowner who will enjoy the space and in the long run for resale value. “It’s a great investment, and it’s a huge return if someone is looking to make an impact on their home,” Manke says. “It’s great for families and people wanting to be in their backyards, and it’s a trend that’s continuing to grow.”

Nierman says he’s seen an increase in pool installation, as well as a resurgence in fun outdoor activities, like horseshoes. 44 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE


Nierman says that people deserve to have a nice outdoor space to come home to after working all day. HOME & LIFESTYLE

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Not just another pretty kitchen Suran Built interior designer Kate Clements breathes new life into Crystal Lake family’s forever home | By KELSEY O’CONNOR


hould they stay or should they go? A local Crystal Lake family was faced with this decision after living in their home of more than fifteen years and raising their five children. It’s rare to live in a home and not have to make updates to it over time. As the needs of homeowners grow and change, updates to living spaces could be made to accommodate these needs. This family knew their options were to either move or update the layout of their cramped kitchen and divided first floor that was lacking natural light. After some deliberation, the couple decided to stay in their beloved home filled with memories and – instead – chose to remodel the space. The Crystal Lake couple wasn’t sure what the remodel would entail. The homeowners planned to grow old in the home, so they wanted to make the house “the best that it can be.” They knew updates needed to be made to their dark and unfunctional space, but they quickly realized that they needed the help and guidance of a professional to determine the potential of their space. They brought in Suran Built, a design-build firm in Downtown Crystal Lake. Kate Clements, a lead designer at Suran Built, guided the homeowners every step during the project which evolved into a first-floor renovation. “It’s often difficult for homeowners to see the potential of the space when they’re used to seeing it the same way for so long,” says


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Clements. “It’s our job to let our clients know the options that are available to them. They were very open to seeing the possibilities for their space.”

special occasions.

Clements created a functional kitchen with a new open layout and improved lighting. Clements’ design included a hidden breakfast station, a builtKitchens can be a particularly difficult project for in paper towel holder and hidden appliances to homeowners because the demand of a kitchen space has changed significantly over time. Besides keep the counters clear of clutter while having all of the necessities at their fingertips. serving its primary function, it also serves as the heart of the home for entertaining family and As the homeowners watched the transformation friends. of their home, they were eager to work with Clements on ideas on how to expand the remodel. “So much has changed in the last 10-15 years in Clements was able to hone in on other ways to kitchen design,” says Clements. “Kitchens are improve their space and provide solutions to much more connected to living spaces now. The space needs to have daily function as well as meet enhance the flow of the first floor. Relocating an existing closet in the entryway opened it up and social needs.” allowed for more connection throughout the first The Crystal Lake homeowners needed to floor without losing necessary storage. incorporate all of these elements into their new Project add-ons can have the potential to throw space. Their initial objective was to remove a a wrench in home renovation projects, but Suran fireplace that was blocking the flow from the Built takes them in strides and understands kitchen to the living space. Suran Built knew that that it’s part of the job. The design team works removing the full brick fireplace would not be a cohesively with the construction team ensuring challenge and that it was essential in allowing that they have all the information needed to keep more light to flow within the space and create a the job running smoothly. more open layout. “There are a lot of components that go into the Clements met with the homeowners to learn more design and construction phases,” says Clements. about the family and their lifestyle. “We’re unique because we’re a design-build team; our design team and construction crews work “Our design process begins by gathering together from the initial design through completed information to determine how we can improve construction to see that all the moving-parts are their space based on how they live,” according to Clements. “then we process that information and being accounted for during the entire process.” translate it into a practical design that is specific One area that required some special consideration to their needs.” was making the space more accessible for the couple’s youngest son, who has cerebral palsy and The couple says that they were immediately often uses his walker. reassured by Clements’ ideas and expertise. Clements enhanced the homeowners vision, “We really thought about how this house can opening their eyes to new possibilities. best fit his needs. We widened doorways, added support to the walls with wainscoting as well as A large kitchen island with a lot of seating was a made sure that there was a clear, straight path must for the homeowner’s big family, as well as — Continued on page 48 a separate, formal dining area for holidays and

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— Continued from page 47 through the house.” Along with cabinet design and layout, Clements also guided the homeowners on cosmetic choices for their new space. Finishes for design elements such as paint colors, backsplash, flooring, hardware and lighting were selected and presented in client meetings. The final design came together with accents suggested by Clements such as a custom designed barn door and the accent color for the island. The completed design reflected their personality and was unique to them.

“There’s a lot of love and memories in those walls. Seeing how happy they are with the outcome and knowing they’ll be able to stay in their home and continue to make memories is the best reward a job can offer.” – Kate Clements, kitchen and bath designer at Suran Built in Crystal Lake

Not only did her recommendations make the space more aesthetically pleasing, but also more functional. The team was able to significantly expand the kitchen’s storage space and relocating the pantry from the hallway to make everything more accessible. “We provided them with increased storage by giving them more cabinetry without adding actual square footage,” says Clements. “It’s all within the same footprint; we just reworked it to have a more modern form and function.” The project wrapped up in November and the homeowners are still floored by the outcome saying that their home looks like they “went on an HGTV show.” Clements was also thrilled with the results and not just because her and the Suran team created a beautiful space. “There’s a lot of love and memories in those walls. Seeing how happy they are with the outcome and knowing they’ll be able to stay in their home and continue to make memories is the best reward a job can offer.” 48 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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Suburban Superdad:

Considering a road trip with the kids? It’s not as bad as it sounds, and gas is (relatively) cheap. | By JONATHAN BILYK


rom my earliest memories, flying has always held its grip on my imagination.

Growing up in the northwest suburbs, the ability to watch a big silver bird’s wing, with its dull roar overhead and the sun glinting off its frame, always made me wonder where it was going and marvel at the technology that allowed something like that to soar so effortlessly. As a kid growing up in the lower middle class, I was born to parents with several mouths to feed and feet to shod. So, the opportunity to actually fly anywhere remained an elusive dream. While family vacations still happened every summer, they involved a van full of kids and a road trip somewhere in the U.S. – usually Pure Michigan (And, before that, “Yes! Michigan.” Illinoisans of a certain age will get that reference.) – but sometimes to points significantly more distant, including Maine, Montana and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Then, one day, I grew up. I earned some money, and – with excitement – bought my first airline tickets, plunging headlong into the cattle call of the modern international airport. Certainly, there’s something to be said for the time-saving convenience (for lack of a better word) of air travel. Leave your home in the western ’burbs and be somewhere on the West Coast in a few hours? Nice. However, there’s not a thing I would trade for the road trips I’ve taken with my wife and our two kids, chewing up the pavement between our flatlands and the Pacific Ocean en route to Oregon and Washington, and, most recently, to southern California. I know for many, the only vacation nightmare

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more horrifying than the thought of being stuck in an airport or on an airliner with screaming kids, is to be stuck in a car with them for dozens more hours.

Beach amid the quirkiness of Portland, and up the coast to Seattle and Olympic National Park – about as far as you can drive and still be in the U.S.

But you know those electronic pacifiers (i.e. smartphones) that work so well in airports and airplanes? They also work in your car, too! And, in my experience, the most incredible thing eventually happens – they will eventually, and voluntarily, set the devices aside, and – amid fleeting periods of sweet sleep – even begin to talk with you.

(More real talk: Visit Olympic National Park before you die. Just do it. You’re welcome.)

Shocking, I know. A couple of years ago, we were somewhere in Utah, when my eldest first set down her screen and began to look around. Beginning with a low, “Whoaaa” from the backseat, amid a setting of soaring red rocks amplifying the hues of a mid-summer sunset. She and I had a long talk stretching over a few hundred miles about geology, biology, evolution, humanity, civilization and American history.

This summer, no matter where you decide to go, try to give the kids something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. For all the epic scenery on tap in so many places in the U.S., it’s the moments of serenity that stir the soul. Take that road trip you’ve been daydreaming about. It’s worth those moments when the kids fall asleep in the backseat, and leave you to your thoughts as the miles roll by; or, even better, when they’re so inspired by something outside the window that they can’t help but ask questions; or so bored, that talking to good ol’ pop seems exciting (beggars can’t be choosers).

It’s a big reason why, today, even with two kids, it’s still the open road that calls my name. Or, actually, it may be the toddler in the backseat more likely, because it would be awfully weird I think she emerged from the chat generally for the road to call me “daddy” and ask to go to unscathed, and perhaps even a bit enlightened by a few coherent nuggets of knowledge gleaned the bathroom. Again. from the recesses of my memory of high school  Jonathan Bilyk writes and college courses, and more than a few about the triumphs National Geographic magazines. and travails of being a (Real talk, though: If you ever get the chance, modern-day dad who drive through Utah. Sure, it’s mostly empty, and, legitimately enjoys time culturally, it’s still Utah – but even YOU would with his family, while appreciate the sheer movie-set quality of such tolerating a dog that geological eye-candy.) seems to adore him. He From there, our epic trip – fueled by $2-a-gallon also doesn’t really like the moniker “Superdad” gasoline, even more gallons of caffeine and bags because it makes it sound like he wants to wear of apples, pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn – his undergarments on the outside of his pants. took us, eventually, to a summer snowball fight (Also, the cape remains on back order.) atop Oregon’s Mt. Hood, a chilly dip at Cannon FAMILY IN FOCUS


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KIDS KORNER Cary Early Learning Center

100 CARY-ALGONQUIN ROAD | CARY | 224-357-4229 WWW.CARYEARLYLEARNINGCENTER.COM Cary Early Learning Center is a community-based preschool and childcare center serving the Cary and Fox River Grove area. The center offers both a full-day and morning preschool for 3-year-old children, and pre-kindergarten for 4-year-old children. It also offers a full-day program for junior preschool (2-yearolds), toddlers and infants. The center is open year round with continuous education in both the morning and afternoon. Low-salt, lowsugar meals are prepared on site each day. For more information, visit

Dolphin Swim Club


At Dolphin Swim Club of Crystal Lake, students learn much more than how to swim. In a positive and comfortable environment, students can learn that they can do nearly anything they put their minds to. The club offers year-round swim lessons for infants through adults, prenatal water groups, preschool playgroups, summer camps, mermaid clinics, family open swim time, lap lane swimming and birthday parties. Call 847-854-1300 for a free trial lesson, and mention “McHenry County Magazine” at registration for $20 off of your 2018 facility fee.

Huntington Learning Center

4590 PRINCETON LANE, SUITE 100 | LAKE IN THE HILLS 847-669-5454 | WWW.HUNTINGTONHELPS.COM Huntington Learning Center tutors students in preparation for ACT and SAT exams. The center also does subject tutoring – from physics and chemistry to calculus and geometry – and helps younger students with reading, math, phonics and study skills. The center specializes in one-onone tutoring and offers many strategies aimed at raising a student’s exam scores. The mission of the center is to give every child the best education possible. Call and mention the word “Magazine” to get $100 off your exam prep evaluation. For more information, visit 50 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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Huntley Gymnastics Academy

10725 WOLF DR. | HUNTLEY | 224-858-4989 WWW.HUNTLEYGYM.COM $10 off any non team program! Expires June 2018. (Code MCHM18)

Huntley Gymnastics Academy consists of USA Gymnastics men’s and women’s competitive teams, performance and non-competitive teams, recreational gymnastics classes for all ages, dance (ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop), cheer, tumbling, hoop-nastics and circus acts, tumbling, aerial arts, ninja zone, open gym and preschool open gym. For more information about classes, parties, fundraisers and party groups, call the academy at 224-858-4989. The academy is offering $10 off of any non-team program. Expires June 2018. (Code MCHM18)

The Learning Experience

15 CRYSTAL LAKE ROAD | LAKE IN THE HILLS 847-458-4611 | WWW.THELEARNINGEXPERIENCE.COM The Learning Experience in Lake in the Hills is gearing up for its Camp TLE summer program and a great enrollment offer. Enroll today to receive $100 off tuition for the first three months. This offer expires May 15, 2018. There is no better time to schedule a tour and see the state-of-the-art Academy of Early Education. For more information, call 847-458-4611 or visit

TLC Chiropractic

14 MILLER ROAD | LAKE IN THE HILLS | 224-678-7334 WWW.TLCCHIROLITH.COM TLC Chiropractic provides gentle and specific chiropractic adjustments to children of all ages to help with ear infections, sensory processing, ADHD and autism. By affecting the central nervous system, chiropractic adjustments have a tremendous effect on how the brain communicates with the body. Dr Jennifer Pishotta has additional specialization in adjustments designed specifically for infants and children. Chiropractic adjustments helped her daughter process information better, and it decreased her child’s meltdowns so much that Pishotta wanted to share this gift with other families.

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Book Nook


Finding an interesting travel guide or travel memoir is pretty easy. Visit your local bookstore or library, find the travel section, and pick from hundreds of wellwritten books on the subject. But what about books that aren’t traditional travel stories? If you have the travel bug but you’re tired of reading the same old books, check out these nontraditional travel reads.

 ‘THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10’ By Ruth Ware “The Woman in Cabin 10” is an addictive thriller about Lo, a travel writer who lands a highstatus assignment onboard an extremely luxurious cruise ship. A brief interaction with the woman in cabin 10 seems innocent enough, until – shortly after Lo’s trip begins – she witnesses the woman falling to her death into the sea. Or that’s what she thinks she sees. As Lo puts her investigative journalism skills to work, the tension in the story slowly but steadily builds. The missing woman and her death moves “The Woman in Cabin 10” forward, but Lo’s personal life creates its own kind of drama, adding to her confusion while onboard the ship. Even though the story is set in the present, the affluent characters and the lavish cruise ship setting give the book an exquisite 1940s Agatha Christie quality. Ruth Ware shows that the art of the murdermystery is far from dead in this original and engrossing novel.  ‘‘LOVECRAFT COUNTRY’ By Matt Ruff

Allison Manley was born in Georgia and raised in Island Lake. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in creative writing. She loves opera, craft beer, and (of course!) reading.

cult-leading ancestors, each chapter could be its own standalone story, since each one features a new creature, ghost or terror. Characters make peace with the ghosts living in a haunted house; mysterious potions and spells change (and hurt) the protagonists and their enemies; and wormholes take characters to secret, dark places that shouldn’t be visited. Ultimately, “Lovecraft Country” shows that humans are just as capable of being monsters as the creatures you find in horror stories. But the novel does this by letting you see how the main characters cope with and defeat the monstrosities that are trying to hurt them.  ‘‘ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY’ By Neil deGrasse Tyson While space travel isn’t accessible like travel is on Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” comes close to emulating the experience of traveling through the cosmos. Tyson concisely explains all the esoteric astrophysics terminology with jokes that only he can pull off. His effortless humor (and his ability to make the science behind the cosmos understandable) make this set of essays readable and enjoyable.

“Lovecraft Country” is a novel about three African-American families living in Chicago in the 1950s. It’s also about mysterious centuries-old cults, Lovecraftian monsters and ghosts, and the horror of the Jim Crow laws in the U.S.

Some of the essays focus on the solar system and beyond, but others travel down to the atomic level and describe the physics that makes the universe work. And even though these concepts may seem dull to people who don’t work for NASA, Tyson puts the science in context and answers the question, “What does this have to do with me?”

Atticus Turner’s trip from Florida to Chicago spurs an adventure that ends up involving his closest loved ones, modern-day alchemy and his own family’s history.

A sassy and engaging collection, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” is a unique must-read for science fans and newbies alike.

While the whole book centers around Atticus’s


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MY SISTER’S DRESS WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10 WHERE: Centegra Health Bridge Fitness Center Huntley, 10450 W. Algonquin Road, Huntley

The 11th annual My Sister’s Dress event iscollecting new and almostnew formal gowns and accessories to benefit local nonprofit organization Home of the Sparrow. The mission of My Sister’s Dress is to make prom affordable to everyone. The dress sale will take place March 10, and The My Sister’s Dress drive is now accepting donations. The following local businesses will accept dress and accessory donations during their business hours: Star 105.5, Sage YMCA, all American Community Bank locations, Stryker, both Health Bridge Fitness Centers, Home of the Sparrow headquarters in McHenry, and any of the Seven Sparrow’s Nest Thrift Store locations (located in Algonquin, McHenry, Palatine, Mundelein, Third Lake, Cary and Woodstock). All proceeds from this event will benefit Home of the Sparrow’s programs and services for homeless women and children in McHenry County. For more information, visit or email My Sister’s Dress at

CARY EARLY LEARNING CENTER SPRING OPEN HOUSE WHEN: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 10 WHERE: Cary Early Learning Center, 100 CaryAlgonquin Road, Cary Cary Early Learning Center will host an open house March 10. The event will feature an Easter egg scavenger hunt and free photos taken with the Easter bunny. For more information, visit

THOM MCNAMEE MEMORIAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE AND KILTED 5K WHEN: 8:30 a.m. (5K) and 11 a.m. (parade), Saturday, March 10 WHERE: East Dundee This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will march south from Wenholz Avenue and Water Street, and then East on Barrington Avenue, and then South on River Street, ending at Jackson Street. The grandstand will be located on River Street just south of Barrington Avenue in front of the East Dundee Depot. After the Kilted 5K, the grandstand area will open at 10 a.m. and will feature a pet parade, circus acts, Irish dancers, a crowning of the Irish Queen and Princess, a corned beef competition, and games and prizes. Parade entries will be judged for the first, second and third place for “Best in Community.” The DUbliNDee fireworks will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, over the Fox River on the footbridge, where there also will be bagpipers.

THE IRISH COMEDY TOUR WHEN: 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 10 WHERE: Raue Center For The Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake

Ireland – Derrick Keane. The performance is rated PG-13. Tickets start at $25. For tickets or more information, visit

AFFAIR OF THE ARTS WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 11 WHERE: The Shores of Turtle Creek, 7908 Winn Road, Spring Grove The Affair of the Arts will feature 10,000 square feet of handcrafted items, such as jewelry, ceramics, paintings, glasswork, printmaking, photography, fiber art, wood, metalwork, 3D mixed media, fine art, home accessories and artisan fashion items. There will be cocktails, artist demonstrations and more. Admission is free. For more information, visit

CREATIVE LIVING SERIES: MARY SKINNER TALKS ‘MARY SENDLER: IN THE NAME OF THEIR MOTHERS’ WHEN: 10 a.m. Thursday, March 15 WHERE: Woodstock Opera House, 121 E. Van Buren, Woodstock Filmmaker Mary Skinner, the daughter of a Polish World War II orphan, spent seven years making “Irene Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers.” The award-winning documentary had its National PBS premiere in 2011 on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Mary Skinner also will answer questions from the audience. For more information, visit

SHAMROCKED WOODSTOCK STREETFEST WHEN: 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 17 WHERE: Along Benton Street in Woodstock The SHAMROCKED Woodstock Streetfest will feature live music and heated tents. Live music with include The Boy Band Night group, which will perform songs by N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, Boyz 2 Men, One Direction and more. The Ron Burgundy’s will perform yacht rock and soft rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s; The GooRoos will take care of today’s hit songs; and Marc Esses and Danny Vintage will host a deejay/drum performance.

MCHENRY SHAMROCKS THE FOX WHEN: Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18 WHERE: Various locations, downtown McHenry McHenry’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will feature the Shamrock Shuffle 5K and kids run (8 a.m.), the first annual dyeing of the Fox River by Blarney Island (10 a.m.), the St. Patrick’s Day parade (noon) in downtown McHenry and a live music festival featuring bagpipers and bands, such as Gina Gonzalez Music and the Wingmen, Pirate Radio and Anthem. Sunday will feature familyfriendly activities, more live music, and food and drinks. For more information, visit the event Facebook page.

DISNEY’S ‘THE LITTLE MERMAID’ WHEN: 8 p.m. March 10, 16 and 17, and 2 p.m. March 11, 17 and 18 WHERE: Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” the musical is presented

by TownSquare Players. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories, and the classic animated film, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is a beautiful love story for the ages. The fable features irresistible songs, including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.” Tickets start at $15. For tickets or more information, visit

BREAKFAST WITH THE BUNNY WHEN: 9:30 to 11 a.m. March 24 WHERE: Park Place Banquets, 406 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake The event will feature a breakfast buffet (eggs, pancakes, sausage, hash browns, muffins, fruit, milk, juice and coffee), and the Easter Bunny will hop through the room making stops at each table. After making rounds, the Bunny will be available for photos. There will be small crafts available for children two years and older. Each family member must be registered, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. There is no reserved seating. Admission costs $12 a person and children 24 months old and younger will be admitted free of charge. For more information, visit

AN EVENING WITH STEVE COCHRAN AND FRIENDS WHEN: 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 24 WHERE: Raue Center For The Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake Steve Cochran, John DaCosse and Mike Toomey make up the comedy group that will take the Raue Center’s stage. A radio personality for more than 30 years, Cochran worked as an actor, appearing in several films, including “Grumpy Old Men,” and also worked as a writer for “Saturday Night Live.” Throughout his lengthy career, Cochran has also performed stand-up comedy with many of the greats in the business. A WGN Radio personality, DaCosse has opened for big name comedians, including Ellen DeGeneres, George Lopez, Craig Ferguson and Billy Gardell, and has appeared on NBC, Comedy Central and TBS. Known for his sharp delivery, quick wit and unique style, Toomey has been a favorite at comedy clubs and special events since 1982. Tickets start at $25. For tickets or more information, visit

DOGGY EGG HUNT WHEN: 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24 WHERE: Rotary Building at Veterans Acres, 431 N. Walkup Ave., Crystal Lake The Crystal Lake Park District will host a Doggy Egg Hunt, where your dog can sniff out treat-filled eggs hidden in Veteran Acres park. Attendees should bring a basket or bag to collect eggs. Each dog will be allowed to collect up to 10 eggs. The hunt will start promptly at 1:15 p.m. After the hunt, all dogs are invited to participate in the Easter Bonnet contest to show off their spring best. Families and all friendly dogs on leashes are welcome, but registration is required. An adult must accompany dog-owners under the age of 18. The registration deadline is March 14. For more information, visit www. crystallakeparks. org.

The Irish Comedy Tour takes the party atmosphere of a Dublin pub and combines it with a boisterous band of hooligans. The comedians, whose ancestors hail from the Emerald Isle, include Detroit native Derek Richards, Boston-born Mike McCarthy, Nova Scotia’s Damon Leibert, and from Inchicore – a suburb of Dublin, 54 | MARCH 2018 | MCHENRY COUNTY MAGAZINE

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MC Mag March 2018  
MC Mag March 2018