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St. Charles man may be known for more than kilts
By Dave Heun | Daily Herald Columnist

Dan Starr of St. Charles might love kilts but he also loves books. He became an author when "The Last Protector" hit bookstores two weeks ago.


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Published: 6/8/2008 12:04 AM

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Dan Starr figures he had his few moments of fame six years ago when the Daily Herald published a story about his penchant for wearing kilts and playing a set of bagpipes in area parades and special events.

But the St. Charles man, known to many as a substitute teacher at St. Charles East High School and a Sunday school Bible study instructor at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, is finally ready for some different type of notoriety.

Starr has worked on book scripts for several years and finally had one of his projects -- nearly eight years in the making -- hit the bookshelves two weeks ago.

"The Last Protector," a science fiction novel that Starr says is "mostly about love and responsibility" focuses on a future world in which the carelessness and greed of people turns the Earth into a gigantic theme park.

The book is set 200 years into the future, and Starr says, "We've made a huge mess and the next generations are trying to clean it up."

The preface of the book has an interesting reference to his wife, Kim, whom Starr proclaims has qualified for sainthood.

"She has had to put up with an author for the last seven years, and that's tough," said Starr, who has lived in St. Charles since 1982. "I can be sitting in the corner, looking like I am doing nothing, and my wife will ask a question and doesn't get anything back resembling interest or an answer.

"We may look like we're not doing anything," Starr says of writers in general. "But we are always playing with our imaginary friends; just using our imagination, really."

Information about "The Last Protector" is available by visiting Starr's Web site at

Action on the Fox: Maybe it was the lure of the perfect weather we had last Sunday, but the hundreds of people enjoying the Fox River reminded me of what people who have lived here all their lives talk about -- that in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the river was an active vacation and summer fun paradise.

It made me believe that we're going to see a lot more people taking "staycations" -- staying home for vacations to save money on gas, airline tickets or hotels -- that the media has examined recently.

With that in mind, the following item will summarize what I would consider an excellent seven-day "staycation" in the Tri-Cities for a family of four.

This information might be especially helpful to those new to the area.

Your dream staycation: Plan this stay-at-home money-saver during one of the summer festivals. Pride of the Fox ends today, but Swedish Days in Geneva and Windmill City Days in Batavia are coming soon.

Here's your itinerary:

Monday: Go to a Kane County Cougars minor-league baseball game. Get there early and eat some of the great food offered at the park. You might get lucky and see a fireworks show after the game.

Tuesday: If it is Swedish Days week in Geneva, this is an excellent day and night to go, as the festival opens with great food and music throughout town.

Wednesday: A day at Fabyan Forest Preserve, hiking or biking along the trails, visiting the museum and windmill, or having a picnic and fishing. If you plan to make this a real adventure, a canoe rental adds to the fun.

Thursday: A paddleboat ride along the Fox River on the St. Charles Belle, finished with mini golf or even regular golf at Pottawatomie Park. Top it off with ice cream at Oberweis or Colonial, or the evening free concert in Lincoln Park.

Friday: A day at Cantigny in Winfield, with a visit to the military museum, and a walk through the gardens. You can plan a picnic on the grounds that day as well.

Saturday: A day at LeRoy Oakes in St. Charles, hiking the trails and visiting the Durant-Peterson house and Pioneer Sholes School. If this is a day you want to dine at a restaurant later, I recommend a cheeseburger at Country House, Portillo's or Egg Harbor.

Sunday: Time to get wet at one of the area water parks or public pools. Quarry Pool in Batavia is a fun throwback to yesteryear.

My cost estimate for this staycation for a family of four? Somewhere between $350 and $400 at the most.