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updated: 7/18/2011 5:14 PM

'Take a Hike' a must-have for those who like trails

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  • Barbara I. Bond of Geneva is atop Little Huckleberry Mountain in the state of Washington during one of her hikes.

    Barbara I. Bond of Geneva is atop Little Huckleberry Mountain in the state of Washington during one of her hikes.
    Courtesy of Barbara Bond


Anyone who reads my column has likely figured out that my wife and I enjoy walking around the Tri-Cities, Fox Valley and surrounding areas.

We were disappointed when we missed the recent book signing session for Barbara I. Bond of Geneva at Town House Books in St. Charles. Bond has written an excellent hiking guide, "Take a Hike Chicago," which features great walking trails within two hours of the city.

But quite a few people interested in this topic made sure they didn't miss the signing.

"The event at Town House was wonderful," said Bond, who will soon be moving from Geneva, Ill., to Geneva, Switzerland, for a couple of years. "Well over 30 or 40 people stopped by and bought books, and I met a lot of folks who were interested in sharing their love for the trails and outdoors."

Bond was told this was a particularly well-attended book signing at Town House.

"We nearly sold out of books, and I look forward to future events there," Bond said.

Bond previously lived in Portland, Ore., but she's been in Geneva and the Tri-Cities area since 2008 and has spent many other years in or around Chicago.

"I spent plenty of time on the ground exploring area trails," Bond said. "I did all of the hikes for this book last summer."

That's a lot of hikes -- more than 50 -- and the book notes some quite familiar local trails, including along the Fox River in Geneva, Nelson Lake in Batavia and Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville.

Bond, who is an active member of Mazamas, a nonprofit mountaineering organization, enjoys every trail she hikes, but has some favorites.

"I love the ruggedness of the Mississippi Palisades, and Starved Rock and Matthiessen (state parks) are wonderful," Bond said. "I fell in love with prairie wildflowers while researching this book, and I found wonderful examples at James 'Pate' Philip State Park."

The book is available at Town House Books and other major bookstores, or online at or You can also visit Bond's website at to learn more about her hiking adventures.

Long, winding trail: Those who live in the Tri-Cities have always had a nice vacation option an hour away in Lake Geneva, Wis., which features some of the most impressive lakeside mansions and real estate in this country.

Plus, it's just a fun place to hang out on a nice summer day.

My wife and I recently hiked along the lakeshore trail, which was featured in "Take a Hike Chicago," and we recommend it to anyone who enjoys looking at a magnificent lake, landscapes and homes.

You're actually walking right through the property of homeowners, as landowners had to agree to a covenant that called for a 3-foot easement along the lakefront, creating a 21-mile trail around Geneva Lake.

Determined to be better: Being named best city of its size in the country by Family Circle magazine provided a moment of great pride for everyone in St. Charles.

It was excellent recognition, especially for those who put in so much time and effort into making the city what it is.

The key is that the magazine honor reinforces something that has been going on for a long time -- in this entire area. The civic, school and service leaders of St. Charles have a good grasp of the problems and challenges facing them and, more importantly, they understand the changing economy and what it will take to make the community continue to stand out.

Making his return: About 12 years ago, I wrote about a Brian Wilson concert at Norris Cultural Arts Center that was considered a key comeback for The Beach Boys legend. Mainly, it was a perfect launchpad for Wilson to start performing concerts again because he lived in St. Charles at the time, and it was a taping for a "Soundstage" TV concert.

I wrote that it remained obvious this musical genius was at the very core of The Beach Boys' greatness.

Wilson hasn't been back here since selling his Crane Road home in 2001, but he has a lot of music connections in the area, and he'll be hitting the stage July 30 at the Arcada Theatre.

Those wonderful lollipops: There's a good chance that 8-year-old Tommy Antonson of Geneva is going to enjoy lollipops his entire life. Tommy was one of 12 Chicago area youths to earn a $1,000 scholarship from the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program for education. The winners were chosen for making a positive change in their communities -- and Tommy did it by raising more than $1,700 by selling lollipops for Project Mobility, an organization that makes custom bikes for people with disabilities.

Tommy qualifies for a shot at Kohl's national scholarship of $10,000, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.