Hydrobikes for Exercise or Fishing on Crystal Lake

Hydrobike in Crystal Lake? My friend Paul Myers offered to take me out for a hydrobike waterbike ride on Crystal Lake. Paul assured me the bikes were safe, steady and unlikely to tip. We left the pier on the water bikes with Paul’s dog as our mascot. Paul assured me I would not get wet though, as a precaution, I wore a life vest and I left my cell phone in the car.

A hydrobike looks like a conventional bicycle attached a small platform straddling two pontoons. Riders peddle to turn the propeller and drive the impulsion system. There are no engines and the morning was nearly silent so we could easily talk as we water biked around smooth as glass Crystal Lake.

Hydrobiking on Crystal Lake

Paul and his family live on Crystal Lake and enjoy regular family hydrobike outings. Paul’s puppy jumps right on the platform for these trips. Paul likes to take the hydrobike out for exercise early in the mornings. I quickly felt ease on the water bike and the only concern was when I wandered into a shallow, weedy area. A few seconds of back peddling was all it took to dislodge the thick water plants which had wrapped themselves around the propeller.

Paul Myers and his dog take the hydrobike out on Crystal Lake

Ray Buresch invented hydrobikes, the pedal powered waterbike, in 1989. He then founded Fun Watercraft. Paul told me he can easily waterbike about five miles an hour. The hydrobikes can easily be ridden in even the windiest and waviest conditions and they are almost impossible to tip over according to Fun Watercraft. You can even fish from your hydrobike, something I didn’t have the chance to do the first time I saw this at Constitution Sportfishing San Diego. To learn more about these fun waterbikes, follow Hydrobikes on Facebook.

Colonial Cafe and Ice Cream in Crystal Lake

Colonial Cafe and Ice Cream recently moved to a larger location across Northwest Highway in Crystal Lake. The brightly colored walls at the new location are cheery and the many windows make for a airy feel.

We stopped by for lunch and ice cream. The menu remains the same as the prior location with a few additions. Breakfast fare include eggs, pancakes and waffles. Lunch and dinner items include burgers, other sandwiches, wraps, salads, pot roast and country fried steak.

We had the patty melt with fries and burschetta. Sweet potato fries are also available.

Colonial Cafe is known for the Kitchen Sink Sundae, a monster created with 6 scoops of ice cream, three toppings, two bananas, whipped cream and nuts all served in a bowl that looks like a kitchen sink. Our came with a candle and the staff sang happy birthday to Noel.

Our server was pleasant, answered all our questions and was more than happy to customize our order. She offered to add fresh peaches and mangoes to the iced tea. During the busy lunch hour on a summer weekday, the restaurant was full with a mix of people. Many families with small children came in for meals.

Colonial Cafe has restaurant locations and headquarters throughout the Chicago suburbs. Meeting rooms are available for clubs or events.

Colonial Cafe Kitchen Sink Sundae

Colonial Cafe Kitchen Sink Sundae

Food was served hot and tasty. The menu has a wide variety of foods including vegetarian choices.

Lunch at Colonial Cafe in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Lunch at Colonial Cafe in Crystal Lake, Illinois

The new location is at 5689 Northwest Highway.

Colonial Cafe on Urbanspoon

Chen Newest Chinese Restaurant in McHenry County

If you like Chinese food, check out Chen Chinese Cuisine restaurant in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County. This stand alone site which was once a Bakers Square restaurant has been completely remodeled. If the Chen name sounds familiar, you may have been to Chen’s original location which was in a strip mall across Randall Road for the past 8 years. The original restaurant, opened 16 years ago, is in Crystal Lake.

Throughout our meal we could hear the soothing sounds of the water sculpture in the front entry way. Large windows surround the dining area which is bisected by the bar area. Black lacquered tables and warm brown and red colors complete the atmosphere.

Our meal began with a pot of tea. We choose green tea; Oolong and jasmine tea are also available.

We ordered from the large lunch time specials menu. I had the vegetarian Ma Po Tofu, soft tofu with peas, carrots, dried pepper flakes in a brown sauce. Noel F. Williams had the Mongolian Beef, with beef, white and green onions in a somewhat sweet sauce served over a bed of rice noodles. Noel asked for his meal to be prepared spicy and the dish was not as hot as he would have liked.

Lunch specials come with crisp, fried vegetarian spring rolls and rice. Jasmine rice is served though brown and friend rice are available upon request.

Ma Po Tufu and Mongolian Beef

Ma Po Tufu and Mongolian Beef at Chen Chinese Cuisine in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

 

We also order soup with our lunch. Noel had a bowl of the egg drop soup. I ordered the vegetable soup with tofu, mushrooms and broccoli in vegetarian broth. My soup came in a large serving bowl with a ladle which I used to fill my bowl.

At the end of our meal the bill was served with a couple of traditional fortune cookies.

“The restaurant opened on January 26” said Owner Ming Chen, “and we have seen a surge in business. This location is more visible to existing and new customers who are driving by or shopping locally.”

Chen Chinese Cuisine Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

Chen Chinese Cuisine on Randall Road in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

 

Chen Chinese Cuisine is open daily.
270 N. Randall Road
Lake in the Hills, IL 60156
847-458-8000

Chen Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Chens King Wok Restaurant on Foodio54

Napa Valley and Beyond Wine Tasting at The Peninsula Hotel

My friend, Bob De Palma, invited me to two wine tastings this week. Bob is helping open a new wine bar in downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, called Exclusively Napa. I gladly accepted his invite to taste from over 200 wines at two different venues, all listed at Ifonly, too.

Connoisseur Wines, a distributor based in Niles, Illinois hosted their 2011 Portfolio Event at The Library, located on the 40th floor of the 190 S. LaSalle Building in Chicago. The Library is an actual law library that doubles as an event facility.

Connoisser Wines represented approximately fifty wineries at the tasting, representing the United States, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.

Two of my favorites were Clendenen Family Vineyards from Central Coast, California (Stallion Vineyard 2009 Sauvignon Blanc) and Brick House Vineyard, Willamette Valley Oregon (Boulder Block Pinot Noir).

At this tasting I also saw Nick Domanico, owner of Tapas Calpe‘, a wine bar located inside Orchard Prime Meats in downtown Cary, Illinois.

Peninsula Hotel wine tasting

On the 40th Floor of “the Library”, an event facility at 190 South LaSalle. Spring wine tasting. 50 tables of wines from around the world. Off to the Peninsula Hotel next for the new release New Zealand wines.

 

Then it was off to The Peninsula Hotel for the New Release Tasting sponsored by New Zealand Wine. This event featured excellent wines from twenty nine different producers.

Peninsula Hotel wine tasting round two

Round 2: at the Peninsula Hotel for a plethora of pate’s and new release New Zealand wines.

 

Some of my favorites were Babich (Pinot Noir Marlbough 2009) Trinity Hill (Gimblett Gravels Syrah, Hawke’s Bay 2008), and Elephant Hill (Sauvignon Blanc, Hawkes’ Bay 2010).

Wine tastings

So many wines, so little time! You will be able to taste some of these gems in the near future at Exclusively Napa in downtown Crystal Lake.

A grand time was had by all.
6 Wines for $49.99 delivered from WineTasting.com!  Shop Now.

Holiday Inn Hotel Crystal Lake McHenry County

During our McHenry County media tour, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Crystal Lake, McHenry County, Illinois. Located in Crystal Lake on Route 31 at Northwest Highway Route 14. The hotel is convenient to the Metra Northwest Pacific Line Cary, Pingree Road and Crystal Lake stops and free shuttle service is available.

The hotel recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation of the guest rooms and public areas. Room upgrades included new furniture, linens and deluxe shower heads undoubtebly from Showerheadly.com. All rooms have high speed internet access. Plenty of free parking is available.

After a long day, relax in the heated indoor pool or on the large outdoor deck with views of Lake Acorn or visit with friends in the bright, airy, open lobby bar.

The hotel caters to the many Crystal Lake businesses and business travelers. There is an on site rent a car office or the hotel will shuttle guests to businesses within five miles of the hotel.

For McHenry County residents, the hotel meeting rooms and banquet facilities can host groups up to 1,200 people. We attended events at the hotel and enjoyed the convenience of staying overnight instead of a late night drive home, especially during winter. Overnight stays can be packaged with champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, pizza or meals. Ask the hotel when you make reservations.

Breakfast buffet at Holiday Inn Crystal Lake

Breakfast buffet at Holiday Inn Crystal Lake

Loree Rose, Director of Sales at Crystal Lake Holiday Inn joined us for breakfast and gave us a tour of the hotel.

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

Holiday Inn NW Chicago-Crystal Lake Conference Center Hotel
800 South Illinois Route 31
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014
Phone: (815) 477-7000

Follow Holiday Inn Crystal Lake on Facebook.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Crystal Lake Holiday Inn.
Three Oaks Lodge Sunday Champagne Brunch on Urbanspoon

Spotlight McHenry County Illinois Business

We will highlight selected McHenry County, Illinois businesses on this blog over the next several weeks. Located in northwest Illinois, McHenry County is a diverse blend of retail, wholesale, manufacturing and agricultural business.

Woodstock is the country seat. Housing options range from in-town condominiums to single family homes on large lots to rural homes and farms.

McHenry County includes these Northern Illinois suburbs, cities or villages and unincorporated areas.
* Algonquin
* Barrington Hills
* Cary
* Crystal Lake
* Fox Lake
* Fox River Grove
* Greenwood
* Harvard
* Hebron
* Huntley
* Island Lake
* Johnsburg
* Lake in the Hills
* Lakemoor
* Lakewood
* Marengo
* McHenry
* Oakwood Hills
* Port Barrington
* Prairie Grove
* Richmond
* Ringwood
* Spring Grove
* Trout Valley
* Wonder Lake
* Woodstock
* Unincorporated McHenry county

Adding these cities based on reader input
* Alden
* Big Foot
* Chemung

Follow our tweets on Twitter and Facebook.

*** Additions to the list: Thanks to David for sharing this information:

The 200 or so residents of Alden, Illinois may feel a bit slighted. Alden is at the intersection of Rte 173 and County Hwy 1, between Hebron and Harvard. Big Foot is another McHenry Co. community, at the intersection of State Line Road and route 14 north of Harvard. It is in Wisconsin and Illinois. Chemung is a small community on route 173 west of Harvard.

My apologies to Alden, Big Foot and Chemung for omitting them from the list above. Before writing this article, I contacted the McHenry County Webmaster to be sure I had all the municipalities. This was the response I received.

RE: Cities in McHenry County

Please refer to:

http://www.co.mchenry.il.us/Pages/Links.aspx

Lists all the websites for all the Villages/Cities in McHenry County…Thanks..

I wonder if McHenry County knows you guys are there in Alden, Big Foot and Chemung……

%d bloggers like this: