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Hyper-Travel: 100 Countries in 2 years by Hardie Karges

I just finished reading Hyper-Travel: 100 Countries in 2 years – A backpackers Guide to the World and Soul by Hardie Karges. Reading this book is like a fast forwarding through a movie. Karges’ travel schedule is busier than airline employees. He travels through countries faster than some people change their clothes.

One of my favorite quotes: “Hyper-travel is the counting of your trip in countries, not days, weeks or months.”

This is a long book. My ecopy is over 200 pages, 8.5 x 11 size pages. The tale covers travel through 100 countries around the world. Karges groups his travel by area of the world then sets a plan to enter each country.

What I most liked about the book is Karge description of the flavor of the cities and types of food available. I am interested in the dining choices and types of dishes served in different parts of the world. I maintain a nearly vegan diet and ordering food when I cannot speak the local language concerns me. Karges eats a semi vegetarian diet including chicken and other foods not on my menu. He does make an effort to try local dishes everywhere he stays.

This is a budget travel adventure and dining is on the cheap. For me, these are the best places to get a real flavor for a region. Other challenges included finding low cost accommodations preferably with internet access. For those traveling abroad, be aware that internet service in most of the world is not as ubiquitous as it is in the United States.

Karges often talks about his wife Tang, an American of Thai descent. As a single traveler, he talks about being on his his own, away from his wife and his stressed marriage. Most of his lodging came with TVs and the book often includes comments on local television shows.

I admire Karges vast knowledge of each countries Visa or other entry requirements. Understanding the rules for 100 country, particularly with political changes was quite a feat. Also understanding with cash greases the political wheels is crucial.

Here is an example of the amount of ground covered in one of Karges’ trips. “East Mediterranean early 2009: February 16, 2009–April 16, 2009. This trip covers travel in the countries of Italy, Tunisia, Malta, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and France in the eastern Mediterranean.”

Each visit to a city includes an overview of the area and Karges perspective on the local culture. Scenic vistas, interesting foods and citizens are described. Here is a sample from “Tale Of Two Beaches: Cannes & Rimini”.

“Coming to France from Italy is definitely another dimension. The language becomes soft and swirly instead of hard and crispy. So does the food. The pizze and panini (that’s plural, Homeboy; trust me) become crepes and quiche. It’s raining when I first arrive, but the sun comes out almost immediately in some sort of sympathetic magic. The Africans here are selling sunglasses, not umbrellas. I think they’re all from the same hometown (the Africans not the umbrellas).”

Hyper-Travel: 100 Countries in 2 years by Hardie Karges is an adventure book for both who travel frequently and those who prefer to stay at home. Soak up the flavor of over 100 counties and fill you thirst for adventure.

Hardie Karges author Hypertravel: 100 Countries in Two Years

Homemade Food at Country Kettle in Hancock Wisconsin

Just north of Madison, Wisconsin is home to the Country Kettle Family Restaurant. Sisters Tina and Kristi opened the diner in June 2005. The pair built their business on an empty field at the intersection on County Road V at I39.

While the restaurant was built new, it captures the feel of a 50-60’s era small town diner.

Country Kettle in Hancock Wisconsin

Country Kettle in Hancock Wisconsin

The quaint location is a local favorite, known for hand-dipped fried chicken, fish fry and prime rib dinners. The dining area is divided into three areas plus counter service. Wait staff was friendly and helpful and our food came up quickly.

Lunch and dinner menus include Burgers and other sandwiches, shrimp, salads. We started with the mozzarella sticks with were served piping hot and golden brown with a side of marinade sauce. this is Wisconsin and cheese curds are also on the menu.

Breakfast menu items include pancakes, French toast, eggs, hash browns and more.

I tried the soup of the day, creamy vegetarian green bean casserole with carrots for color, Our patty melt and veggie cheeseburger came to our table fast and hot, cooked to order. The fries golden brown with a hint of seasoned salt.

The Country Kettle is known for their desserts. We could not leave without tasting the Cherry Crumble pie served warm with two scoops of rich vanilla ice cream.

Homemade pie ala mode served with a smile at Country Kettle in Hancock, Wisconsin

Homemade pie ala mode served with a smile at Country Kettle in Hancock, Wisconsin

Kristi is known for her custom cakes. One wall is covered with pictures of her whimsical creations.

While we dined, we heard another table send their kudos to the kitchen staff for a delicious meal.

Tina told us, “we are known for our homemade food. We make our our gravy, soups and peel potatoes for our mashed potatoes.”

Near the door is a sign asking “Where are you from?” and maps of the local area and the United States. It was surprising to see pins marking visits from diners from Alaska to Hawaii to Florida.
Country Kettle Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant Washington DC

While in Washington D.C. we dined at Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant. We decided to try this restaurant due to the high ratings on Urban Spoon, 70 reviews, of which 80% were positive. When we arrived at 6PM, the small bar area was crowded though all 10 tables in the dining area were empty. Most of patrons were drinking imported beers with labels I was unfamiliar with. I nearly walked out when I spied the empty dining room. It turned out we were glad we stayed for dinner. When we left at 7PM, most of the tables were packed with an eclectic mix of people.

Do not let the dim lights and sparse decor scare you away from this gem. Pleasant servers confirmed our choices to be sure to get our order correct. I noticed at other tables the meals were combined and served family style on a single community platter. Our waiter asked if both our dinners could be served on the same tray. I declined, asking for my vegetarian meal to be served separately. They were happy to accommodate my request.

Our table had no silverware and we were not offered any utensils. We followed the custom of eating only with our right hand. Eating with the left hand is considered impolite and unclean as this hand is used for personal hygiene duties.

We started out with a couple of spinach sambusa appetizers. These golden, deep-fried dough packages were stuffed with seasoned spinach. They are similar to Greek spanakopita pockets.

We learned later that wot is a spicy stew. I ordered the Yeson wat, a vegetarian combo with six different items.

  • Kik alicha: yellow split peas with onions, garlic and tumeric.
  • Shiro wot: ground peas with onions, garlic, red pepper and vegetable oil
  • Dinch wot: potatoes and carrots, onion, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Miser wot: lentils cooked with red peppers, onions, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Teckl gomen: cabbage and carrots cooked with onions, garlic, turmeric and vegetable oil
  • Geomen wot: kale cooked with onions, garlic and vegetable oil
Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

My husband had the keyena Alicha combo, including half Key wot and Alicha wot dinners.

  • Key wot: beef marinated in red wine, cooked with red pepper sauce, onions, ginger root, garlic and exotic Ethopian spices
    Alicha wot: beef prepared in Ethiopian herbed butter spice, onions, ginger root, garlic and turmeric

These beef and vegetable dinners were generously seasoned. Both of our dinners came with a side of colorful tomato salad. The dishes were flavorful though not overly spicy. The tastes were new to me.

Imported Beer

Imported Beer

Two platters of food arrived served on Injera bread with a second serving of bread on a separate plate. The bread is shaped like a large crepe and has a spongy texture perfect for soaking up gravy. Each serving was mounded in rounded heaps in a decorative display on the bread. Instead of silverware, we pulled off chunks of the bread and used this to scoop up our meal.

Lalibela’s Ethiopian restaurant serves a variety of foods to satisfy a wide audience. We found the service friendly and helpful. Both of us enjoyed our meals and recommend this restaurant.

Lalibela on Urbanspoon
Lalibela Restaurant on Foodio54

Joes Place Marengo for Pizza and More

Joe’s Place in Marengo hosts a Wednesday cruise night. Advertising & Marketing Director Tyler Kunde invited us to stop by for the event and treated us to dinner. Classic cars, shiny, clean and polished lined the front of the building and a DJ spun golden oldies on the sound system. Cruise nights run Wednesday all summer long. Bring your car to show off or enjoy the rides parked out in front. Dan’s Custom Exhaust in Marengo sponsors the series.

Joe’s Place has been in Marengo for 16 years. The new, spacious location on Grant Highway was built two years ago. The building seemed so large and I was surprised at how comfortable it felt inside.

The main dining room tables and booths were filled with families sharing a meal and swapping stories about their day. The casual atmosphere contributed to the smiles and laughter all around us.

Joe's Place Marengo Illinois

Diners at Joe’s Place Marengo Illinois

Peaking at the surrounding tables, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, ribs, soups and salads all looked good.  We had the grilled vegetable Panini sandwich and Italian beef sandwich with a huge basket of fresh cut French fries. The food came up piping hot and fast. We both enjoyed our tasty meal.

Next time I plan to try the Spinach & Strawberry with fresh spinach, strawberries, walnuts, red onions, dried cranberries, goat cheese & raspberry vinaigrette. Combined with a bowl of their homemade vegetarian minestrone soup would make a satisfying meal.  Or maybe the Penne a la Vodka Sauce. Or pizza!

Dinner at Joe's Place Marengo

Grilled Vegetable Panini and Italian Beef dinner at Joe’s Place Marengo


Short on time for dinner? Joe’s Place has you covered! Carry out a pizza or take your sandwiches to go. Joe’s also offers catering so you can relax and enjoy your party.

Just inside the door is the butcher shop. Meat, cheeses and salads are displayed attractively in long glass cases for your home cooked dinner. Butchers gladly help you select your custom order and even provide cooking instructions on request.  Vienna Beef products are featured. The butcher shop supplies the meats for Joe’s restaurant.

Butcher shop at Joe's Place Marengo

Butcher shop at Joe’s Place Marengo

Upstairs the banquet room seats 200 for weddings, graduation or other events. “On the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, come upstairs for a jazz band, cocktails and dinner. “ Tyler said. “The place is really hopping.” The lower level banquet hall seats 75 people.

Joe’s Place in Marengo is a comfortable family spot for lunch or dinner seven days a week.

Visit Joe’s Place Marengo on the internet, Twitter or Facebook for more menu, coupons and updates.

DJ at Joe's Place Marengo cruise night

DJ at Joe’s Place Marengo cruise night


Joe's Place Marengo classic car cruise night

Joe’s Place Marengo classic car cruise night


Joe's Place on Urbanspoon

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville

The Randall Roadhouse Tavern sits just a little south of the McHenry County border on the busy Randall Road corridor. Despite the large western exposure windows, the inside is a bit dark. The comfortable interior is a cross between north woods hunting lodge and a sports bar.

Large taxidermied animals share the walls with big screen televisions and neon beer signs. The televisions are always on and tuned to sports stations. Daily food and drink specials are prominently posted on the wall and tables.

The food menu has something for everyone. Start off with options from deep fried veggies, chicken wings, quesadillas, chips and salsa, to nachos. Lunch and dinner menues include steaks, burgers, sandwiches, salads, fish, pastas and pizza. The homemade chili got especially high marks on our visit.

There are some vegetarian items on the menu including Eggplant Parmigiana, Greek Salad, Cheese Ravioli, Stuffed Shells and pizza. Veggie burgers are noticeably missing from the menu.

Sandwiches are served with a variety of sides choices including fries, cole slaw, potato chips or Tater Tots. Soft drinks, beer, wine and full bar service available.

We visit frequently and find the wait staff friendly and attentive to our needs. They are generally open to any special requests or substitutions. Changing the type of cheese or bread for a sandwich, for instance, is no problem.

Pick your choice of seating areas from the L shaped bar lined with stools, tables on the main floor or booths and tables up the a half flight of stairs.

The Randall Roadhouse Tavern is located in a strip mall just south of Huntley Road. Plenty of parking is available in the lot in front of the building.

A catering menu is available to serve parties large and small. Ask about the off-site catering where they bring the party to you.

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville, Illinois

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville, Illinois on Randall Road


Randall Roadhouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

El Burrito Mexican Food Crystal Lake McHenry County

El Burrito is located in a quiet strip mall in Crystal Lake, McHenry County. This authentic Mexican restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The sea foam green walls, colorful pinatas and scenic paintings transport diners south of the border as Mexican music plays in the background. Those who need more persuading can order a margarita or cerveza from the bar.

Menu items include the traditional tacos, quesadilla, enchiladas, burritos and chimichanga cooked on the open kitchen grill. Enjoy chips and salsa while you wait for your meal.

Noel F. Williams had the steak taco dinner served with rice, beans. I had the Fiesta Mixta including nachos, quesadilla and stuffed jalapeño poppers. On previous visits, we had the burritos and enchiladas.

Steak Tacos

Steak Tacos at El Burrito in Crystal Lake, McHenry County


Fiesta Mixta

Fiesta Mixta at El Burrito in McHenry County


The food at El Burrito is muy bueno!

815) 477-0751
Crystal Lake
6236 Northwest Hwy
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

El Burrito Restaurant on Urbanspoon
El Burrito Restaurant on Foodio54

Algonquin Golden Corral Buffet Restaurant McHenry County, Illinois.

Golden Corral is a buffet restaurant in Algonquin, McHenry County, Illinois. Prices for meals include everything on the menu except for drinks.

Grab a plate and help yourself to your choice of foods from a wide variety of menu items. Foods are grouped in sections of like foods. The first section is a salad bar with several types of greens, toppings and dressings. Also in this area is nacho and chili fixings.

The next area had soups, potatoes, vegetables, mac and cheese, popcorn shrimp and other hot dishes. In a third area we found several meats and rice, pizza, quiche and a grill.

The last section included breads, pastries, cookies, pudding, ice cream and toppings.

Golden Corral buffet restaurant Algonquin McHenry County

Golden Corral buffet restaurant Algonquin, McHenry County


The restaurant is located in the Algonquin Galleria Center, an outdoor shopping mall, there is plenty of free parking. Families with children filled most of the restaurant.

A large meeting room with a door can be reserved at no charge for private parties or meetings.

Buffet foods

Help yourself to your favorites at the Golden Corral in Algonquin Galleria Center

Golden Corral on Urbanspoon

Diced Restaurant Fresh Food Fast

One of my favorite fast food restaurants is Diced Fresh in Algonquin. It is convenient for us to stop at Diced Fresh on Randall Road for lunch in between errands. Chili, soups, baked potatoes and salads are featured items. If you have not stopped in to try their meals, I recommend you do.

The Diced Fresh menu offers a wide variety of choices and is vegetarian friendly. Perfect for winter, traditional and vegetarian chili dishes are offered. During a recent visit, six daily soup selections were available including two vegetarians soups and three premium soups.


Pair your soup with a baked potato topped with your favorite fixings or as a meal itself.

The salads are my favorite. Diners choose one of the salads on the menu and the staff assembles your salad right in front of you. Since everything is made to order, you can ask them to skip an ingredient if you wish.

When I visit, I choose a made to order salad. This starts with a base of iceberg, romaine, spring mix or spinach topped with the ingredients I select. With over fifty add ins, your salad is an individual as you are.

Topping include a variety of cheeses, pine nuts, dried cranberries, red and green bell peppers, hearts of palm, sun dried tomatoes. Of course, the usual cucumber, tomato, carrots, etc. are there.

Salad dressing choices are overwhelming. Whether you like spicy, tangy, low fat, creamy or chunky, they got you covered. You can even request a taste before making your choice. The salad comes with a choice of bread and I prefer the rosemary herb roll.

If  you cannot decide, pair up two smaller portions like soup and salad or chili and baked potato.

Have Diced Fresh cater your next event and leave the cooking to them.

Diced Fresh
132 South Randall Road
Algonquin, IL 60102-9774
(847) 458-7687
Follow Diced Fresh on Facebook

Diced Fresh on Urbanspoon

Hawaii Revealed Books Review

People often ask me how we find off the beaten path places the “Where Are You Today?” crew visits. Many of our travel ideas come from reading books, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

The books we use the most are the “Revealed” series of books by Andrew Doughty and Harriet Friedman. The candid reviews tell it like it is. If you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, I highly recommend these books for your trip.

These books were our constant companions on our first trips and enhanced our experience. The activities and hotel information we not sugar coated. The margins of our books are filled with notes and additional facts we add each trip back. The publisher posts updates on a website so the content stays up to date.

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii. Photo credit: Noel F. Williams


Oahu was the first Hawaiian island we visited. We purchased for the in depth activity and sightseeing information. Detailed reviews and aerial photos of hotels combined with zoned maps gave us the tools we needed to choose lodging to meet our comfort levels.

We rented a car and planned day trips based on the recommended routes. This book was our user guide as we navigated around the island. When we visited Pearl Harbor, we were glad we followed the suggestions to arrive early to reserve our tickets to visit the Arizona Memorial.

The book includes tips like: “This Chinese restaurant does not serve tea unless you ask for it.”

The section on Hawaiian words and Pidgin or Hawaiian slang proved very helpful.


Maui was the next island we visited and we were glad to have the

Big Island of Hawaii

On our trip the the Big Island of Hawaii, we made sure to bring


When visiting Kauai, check out the

Microsoft Retail Takes on Apple and Apple Store in Oak Brook

Microsoft opens their first Illinois retail store in Oak Brook, Illinois as they get ready to take on Apple and the popular Apple Stores. Microsoft invited us to tour the new store and share our thoughts with you.

The Microsoft Windows 7 logo is the only signage outside the store, just like Apple Stores use the Apple logo. Inside the store we were greeted by advisers in colorful t-shirts and lanyards. The store is laid out like an Apple store with tables covered with electronic gadgets you can try out. Our store tour guide, Evelyn Kong, explained the target audience is a young mom who is not tech savvy. Advisers are on hand to help you select the item best for your needs.

Microsoft Retail Store Oak Brook, Illinois

Microsoft Retail Store Oak Brook, Illinois

Around the perimeter of the store, large flat panel monitors show product demonstrations and interactive games. These screens added energy and life to the store. Computers of all sizes are arranged through out the middle of the room. One of the desktop solutions on display was connected to three monitors for the serious multi-tasker. Also available are laptops, netbooks, smart phones and Kindle readers to try for yourself.

A limited number of the most popular software titles are on the shelf. Over 900 additional titles are available through the in-store kiosk. Select the titles you are interested and pay for your purchase. The software is burned onto a branded CD, the label is printed and the disc is placed into a shrink wrapper case while you wait.

Shoppers can schedule a free 15 minute consultation with an Microsoft expert who can fix or diagnose your technology problem. Store staff can help you set up your new purchase and training sessions are available.

A home theater area showcased Xbox in the family gaming center setting. Microsoft has a solution for those who do not like the look of their Xbox or laptop clashing with their home or office colors. Bring your logo or a picture to the store and Microsoft can create a skin to cover your product. Put your company logo on your laptops for your sales team, brand music players you give customers or cover your Xbox to match your living room decor.

The kids in the store gravitated to Kinect game played on the 100+” touch screen television. Using wireless sensors, the kids rafted down a river using their bodies to control the movement of the raft. Companies and individuals can rent this big screen area at no charge for parties or classes.

This area with a large screen is available for free rentals. Have your company meeting or clients in for a session. Contact the store to make reservations and additional information.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Microsoft offer programs and networking session for business owners. Contact the store for more information.

Microsoft sponsored our visit. The Microsoft Retail store in located in Oakbrook Center. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

100 Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523-1838
(630) 573-0700