Prairie Fever » About


While researching six outdoor recreation guidebooks, I contracted at least a dozen cases of poison ivy. Some of the cases were minor and some were rather frightful. I will spare you the uncomfortable, itchy details.

Five of my books are now available through Menasha Ridge Press and FalconGuides Press: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago, Road Biking Illinois, Best Rail Trails Illinois, Camping Illinois, and Easy Hikes Close to Home: Chicago. (See the column on the right to learn about each of the books). In spring 2011, my sixth book, Best Bike Rides near Chicago, will be published by FalconGuides Press.

A Chicago resident for more than a dozen years, I have worked as a reporter for various daily and weekly newspapers, and have had freelance articles appear in The Chicago Tribune and the Des Moines Register. I’ve worked as a writer for nonprofit organizations and currently serve as the editor for the Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group that works to improve cycling, walking, and transit in the Chicago area.

I served as a volunteer Hiking Coach for the Illinois Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program in 2009 and 2010. While serving in this position, I led weekly training hikes throughout spring and summer to prepare hikers for major hikes at Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks.

Education-wise, I received a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and completed a master’s of arts in writing at DePaul University in Chicago.

Random things you may (or may not) want to know about me.

  • As a child, I briefly owned a pet hermit crab named “Hermy.”
  • Activities like biking, hiking, camping, and paddling are all great fun when accompanied by friends and family, but are also enjoyable as a solo operations.
  • I’m usually nursing one or two injuries acquired during soccer games that I play, typically, twice a week. Despite my middle age and shaky skills on the pitch, I continue to harbor the wildly unrealistic fantasy of playing professional soccer for the Chicago Fire.
  • During the 1,200-mile, three-week-long cycling trip my brother and I took around Lake Superior, I discovered I thrive on a diet of smoked fish and candy bars.