Elderhostel Notebook #43, April 1, 1999

Elderhostel Notebook provides a place for elderhostlers to share
information about Elderhosteling and other learning experiences
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    From the Editors Notebook

    Elderhostel News and  Reviews

      Kings Ranch Apache Junction - Central Arizona College
      Laurelville PA Mennonite Church Center
      Ocean City, Maryland
      Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center
      Jamaican Culture and Marine Biology
      Tybee Island, Georgia


    Editor's Notebook

 I will be discontinuing my jimo@discover-net.net address as of
April 1. You can reach me by e-mail at olsonjam@uwec.edu and
ehnotebook@aol.com, two addresses that are presently available.

Please also note the new web site address

We are pleased to see Glen and Dorothy Marsh posting reviews
again and note the link to their web page with pictures
illustrating their Jamaica Elderhostel in the notebook photo
album at the web site.

More and more elderhostelers are putting up web pages to describe
and illustrate their journeys and I welcome any reference I can
use as links in the notebook web site.

   Elderhostel News and Reviews

Kings Ranch Apache Junction - Central Arizona College


Our most recent elderhostel experience was at King's Ranch in
Apache Junction, Arizona.

Housing was at King's Ranch which is in the middle of the desert.
Each couple has a small "casita" with a spectacular view of the
Superstition Mountains. Food is quite good and prepared by one
lady in the "chuck house" which includes inside or outside
dining. We ate almost all of our meals outside feasting on both
the food and the scenery while being serenaded by quail and
flittering hummingbirds.

Classes were superb with many outdoor walks and one trek up the
mountains. The mountain climb was not for everyone, however, our
entire group made it. The staff is warm and friendly. Only
critique...there are two elderhostels held at the same time and
welcoming and parting activities were done all together. It would
probably be better to keep them separate. Also, the co-ordinator
might learn some ice breaker openers to get people better
introduced. A small complaint.

As my husband said, "When we were finished, we would have turned
around and done it all over again!"

Linda Williams
Bedford, Pa.


Site	- Laurelville Mennonite Church Center
Course - Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Date	- March 7, 1999

Located about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, the center is composed
of several buildings located on about 300 wooded acres.

We stayed in a modern, chalet like, building with rooms opening
on to an enclosed courtyard that served both as our living and
class rooms. It is relatively new and was a short walk down a
lane and through a covered bridge to the rustic dining room where
we enjoyed good home style meals.

The first day, we toured "Fallingwater," Wright's acclaimed house
built and cantilevered on top of a waterfall in the middle of the
woods. The house has three floors, a glass enclosed stairway from
the living room into the stream below it, a rock floored living
room, walls of glass windows that have no drapes go around the
corners of the house as corner beams were not needed due to the
design of the house. Designed for the Kaufmans, owners of the
largest department store in Pittsburgh, the house featured
bedrooms and terraces for the couple and their sole unmarried
son. After the original house was built a guest house was built
on a near by hill. The whole complex was started in 1934 and
completed in 1939. It has been written up as the most well known
house that has not been associated with royalty. It now sits on a
5000 acre estate.

"Fallingwater" which was given by the Kaufman family to the
Western Pa. Conservatory which now maintains it as a museum.

We also visited the "Kentuck Nob" house which was also in the
vicinity and was built in the 1950's. It is much smaller and
incorporates hexagons and triangles in its main design. A copper
roof with cantilevered overhangs dominates the entry side of the
house which sits on a 2000 acre estate.

Both houses exemplified many Wright features - low ceilings,
framing of outside views by vast window expanses to make the
inside blend into the outside, small doors, carports, built in
furniture, fireplaces and radiant heat in the floor.

Courses afterward were mainly given by staff from "Fallingwater."
They gave us a full picture of Wright the man and the architect.
We learned about his unique architecture schools in Wisconsin and
Arizona and saw many slides representing a good sampling of the
approximate 400 buildings that Wright built in his 70 year
career. He believed that buildings should be built in harmony
with nature and become part of the landscape rather than
obtrusive to it. He had no formal education, but had a fertile
and creative mind that ignored convention and tradition.

He died while working on his last building, the Guggenheim Museum
in New York at the age of 91.

Lecture, slides, and hands on learning experiences kept the
classes interesting.

It snowed the second day we were there and it added to the
ambiance of the rural location. One night we had an outdoor
bonfire and roasted mushrooms in the snowy setting.

It was a pleasant week and we learned a lot about an American
icon and his work.


Ocean City, Maryland

Had a Wonderful experience at an Ocean City, Maryland program
late last September. With U of Maryland Eastern Shore. We studied
Eastern Shore Architecture, which included a tour of a colonial
plantation, an early mansion in Salisbury, and a walking tour of
a section full of Victorian homes of all colors and styles. We
learned a lot and it was great fun.

We studied Values, extremely interesting, and Eastern Shore
History, also outstanding. The 3 instructors really knew their
stuff. The coordinator, Melody Griner, was very enthusiastic and
helpful. The week included a boat tour of the area (free), a
seafood dinner in a restaurant on the water, time for the beach,
and a mystery play dinner where we all had to guess the murderer
from among the excellent actors. We stayed at the Fenwick Inn and
had maid service and clean towels, etc., every day. Good food in
very pleasant surroundings. I had a truly terrific week!



Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center

Last fall we attended an elderhostel at the Southwest Virginia
4-H Educational Center which is for campers or comfortable
accommodations are provided in an air conditioned, very clean,
building with private baths. These people are so warm and
friendly and do everything to make you feel at home in every way.

Included is a night at the Barter Theater, the state theater of
Virginia. On another day, we went on a picnic and met the surgeon
who operated on ToJo, the Japanese emporer, saving his life for
the firing squad. The food is institutional, but quite adequate
with a fresh salad for each meal and plenty of fruit and snacks.
We learned storytelling from a husband and wife professional
team; hiked and biked on the Virginia Creeper trail; and delved
into every aspect of Appalachian history. It was a special corner
of Americana.

Linda Williams
Bedford, Pa.


Jamaican Culture and Marine Biology of the Caribbean

Our Elderhostel program, sponsored by Hofstra University of New
York, featured two courses, Jamaican Culture and Marine Biology

The Hofstra University Marine Lab is on oceanfront property which
it shares with the motel cottages in which we stayed. The
property is on the north shore of the island, on St. Ann's Bay
where Columbus landed in 1494. There were 31 Elderhostelers in
our group, all, like us, somewhat getting along in years. The
group included six married couples; one of the couples were our
good friends Ed and Lorna whom we have known for many years.
Eleven people came from Canada, from as far away as Vancouver.

Jamaican Culture

We learned something of Jamaican history in lectures by Trish,
one of our two teachers. Jamaica was originally settled by Arawak
Indians, most of whom were exterminated by Spanish colonists in
the 16th century. The Spanish never got too excited about
Jamaica, as they were looking for gold, and there is none on
Jamaica. The English invaded the island in 1655, and brought in
over a million slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries to work
sugar cane plantations. Some slaves escaped into the mountainous
region (7,000 ft elevation in the interior!) where they fought
guerrilla wars and won independence from the English. The
descendants of these people are known as Maroons.

We had several evening guest speakers: The principal of the
nearby primary school explained the school system--average 40
students per teacher--compulsory education to age 15. Students,
even through high school age, wear uniforms. The owner of the
units we were living in filled us in on other aspects of Jamaican
culture. Jamaica is a black country; the people are virtually all
descendants of slaves. There is practically no industry except
for some bauxite (aluminum ore) mining. The country is dirt poor;
the average annual income is only about $500. Coffee, bananas,
and sugar are principal exports, along with the bauxite.

Jamaica gained independence from Britain in the 1960s. The
British influence is evident in that the natives speak with a
British and Creole accent, a patois (hard to understand!), and
cars are driven on the left side of the road, British style.

We visited the site of a sugar cane plantation which now is
maintained by the National Trust. The site included the master's
"Great House", slave overseer's home, and typical slave hut made
of mud and wattles. Docents gave us a good tour.

Fishing used to be a major food source but all species have now
been overfished. There are religious overtones in the culture;
the attitude seems to be that God will provide, so the fishermen
do not observe any size limitations and many edible species are
in danger of extinction.

Hurricanes have caused great damage. Hurricane Allen, in 1980,
was bad, but the damage was worse during Hurricane Gilbert, 1988.
In Gilbert, much of the vegetation on the island was destroyed;
50 people were killed, and 10,000 homes destroyed. But now, 11
years later, the island is lush with vegetation. We were taken to
Cranbrook Flower Forest, where tourists may walk though a dense
jungle that follows along a fast-flowing river to a beautiful
waterfall. One would not suspect that the vegetation had been
destroyed so recently.

We were taken on an afternoon field trip to a small plantation
where Jamaican crops were grown: bananas, coconuts, akee, and
star apples. In the evening the plantation owner, a former
Jamaican senator, came to talk to us so we learned a bit about
Jamaican politics. For some years, Jamaican politics has been
dominated by a single family: two brothers and their cousin.

Bob Marley is sort of a Jamaican national hero; he lived only to
age 36, but is known as the King of Reggae Music. (Reggae is a
Jamaican form, a combination of indiginous music with rock n roll
and a heavy drum beat.) Though illiterate, during his short
lifetime Marley wrote poetry and music, and he worked toward
peaceful settlement of political differences in Jamaica.

On another field trip we visited Noel Coward's island retreat
which is high up in the mountains and commands a spectacular view
of the ocean. The facility is now owned by the Jamaican National
Trust. The bus trip, an hour and a half ride, gave us a good
opportunity to see the interior of the island with its small
farms, and people living under poverty conditions.

We saw the spectacular Dunn's River Falls at Ochos Rios. The
falls cascade down some six or eight hundred feet to the ocean,
and visitors may ascend the falls or walk alongside them. (We
chose the latter, but others in our group managed the slippery
climb to the top.) On the same outing we visited the Wassi Art
ceramic factory. Here Dorothy captured a dramatic picture of a
Jamaican artisan (the picture is in on our Web page) and she
purchased a small ceramic art tile depicting a hibiscus.

The food we ate was typical Jamaican. It was served family style
to the Elderhostelers. The curried meat dishes were quite tasty.
We also sampled "jerk" which is a backyard version of a Jamaican
barbecue originally practiced by the tenacious Maroons of Jamaica
to preserve the meat of wild hogs. Jerk has evolved into a type
of barbecue preparation that uses salt, pepper and pimento to
smoke domestic pork, chicken and fish. We were served native
fruits; bananas, oranges and tangerines. Yams were plentiful, and
callaloo, a leafy green vegetable similar in taste to Swiss

Our marine biology course was taught by two very knowledgeable
biologists, Mike and Trish, from Hofstra University. We were
given lectures, followed by ocean trips where we snorkeled into
reef areas. The crystal-clear water ranged in depth from waist
deep to about 50 ft. The reef areas abounded in brilliantly
colorful marine life: coral, algae, anemones, starfish, mollusks,
fish, sponges, etc. We identified several dozen species of fish,
amazingly beautiful.

We arrived in Jamaica during what should have been their dry
season but, possibly due to El Nino, they had been having
unprecedented rains all winter, often accompanied by high winds.
Fortunately for us the rain and wind passed through in squalls,
spaced enough to allow us to snorkel five different mornings.
These snorkeling adventures took place in the early mornings; we
left by boat at 8:30 am and we were back about 10:30 am. Each
snorkeling site was unique, each outing a memorable experience.
The ocean water temperature was a comfortable 80-deg.

In a snorkeling trip, the Elderhostelers assembled on a boat that
was tied up at a pier in front of the marine lab. The boat
operator then took us out to the reef areas, usually a mile or so
from shore. We put on our snorkel masks and fins and crept to the
side of the boat, and one at a time we took a "giant step",
kersplash! over the side of the boat and into the ocean. With our
snorkels and masks on, we could see the bottom clearly, even in
deep water. The reef areas where we snorkeled featured different
kinds of colorful coral formations, with brightly colored fish
swimming among the coral. We carried underwater cameras, too. To
help us climb back out, the boat was equipped with a ladder that
the operator lowered over the side.

One of the snorkel sites, Christopher Cove, was near shore, and
Mike directed us to a bat cave that was accessible only by
swimming through a small entrance. Once we were inside, the cave
appeared to be about as large as several rooms of a house. Enough
light came in from the entrance to permit seeing the bats flying
around inside. It was at Christopher Cove that our friends Ed and
Lorna encountered a sea wasp, a jellyfish which produced painful
stings on their arms and face. Mike treated the painful areas
with meat tenderizer which helped numb the stinging.

One day, when it was too windy to snorkel, we hiked along the
shore through a mangrove forest. Mangroves are trees that can
tolerate salt water. On another occasion we waded through
waist-deep water to a tide pool island where we saw great numbers
of mollusks and crabs and other tide pool dwellers.

Mike and Trish led the group on a seining adventure along the
beach. They stretched a seine a hundred feet from shore, and our
group moved it up onto shore, capturing small fish in the
process, which Mike and Trish identified for us. The captured
animals were returned to the habitat whence they came.

Before lunch on most days our snorkeling teachers/babysitters,
Mike and Trish, gave lectures on marine biology. We learned about
reef formation, coral zonation, natural and human impact on the
coral reefs, fish form and function. They showed videos too. The
lab contained a museum of preserved samples of many species, and
we used stereo microscopes to view tiny worms, shrimp and crabs.
With the lectures and snorkeling, we learned a great deal about
Caribbean marine life in a short time. Snorkeling in open ocean,
and viewing the brightly colored fish and other creatures, was
one of the great experiences of our lifetime.

On the last night, Mike and Trish arranged for a Jamaican Party.
Here we had dancing to a Reggae music combo with Mike on drums,
followed by first class acts--singers, bamboo and Limbo dancers,
a fire-eater, and Rubber Man, a contortionist. This was a real
Jamaican party, a fitting end to a memorable trip --Glenn

edtiors note- I have put a link to photo illustrations of this
report on the notebook photo album page. That page is


Elderhostel at Tybee Island, Georgia, March 7, 1999
"Nils and Susie Hokansson" hoke@coastalnet.com

Courses:  The Joy of Classical Music
               Savannah's Alluring Architecture

The music course was far and away the best of the three.  The
instructor, Michael Grose, was informative, educational, and
entertaining.  The other courses were adequate but not up to the
standard that Grose set.  We would have preferred more walking in
Savannah but it was limited to two bus tours with a little
walking.  Also, the tour director kept informing us about things
we would not be able to see since our group was so large.

Accommodations were very good, probably among the best in
elderhostels, at Ocean Beach Resort, a new ocean front motel.
The only thing that could have been better would have been to be
on the ocean side, but we understood that these are premium
rooms.  Food, on the other hand, was merely adequate. Meals were
furnished in a diner type restaurant across the street with
seating typical for that type of establishment.  It did not lend
itself to mixing and getting acquainted  (booths and tables
seating 4).  Although the food was not bad, exactly the same food
was served  for every breakfast and lunch, with slight variations
at the evening dinner.  They ran out of some items, also.  The
restaurant was open to the public for some meals which was ok but
there was no non-smoking section.

The coordinator added two short courses  which were not in the
published program - Johnny Mercer music and Birds of the area.
The Mercer session was very good and the bird session was

Weather was cold.  We had gone "south" from North Carolina for
winter warmth and wished we had brought winter coats.  However,
only one morning of rain so no real complaints.  Just be warned
that Georgia in March can be cold.

We have only attended three elderhostels and although not
terrible, this would have to rank third.


EH Presentation
From: Wallace171@aol.com

Evey  and I gave  a course about Elderhosteling at Hofstra
University, PEIR -Professionals and Executives in Retirement, an
ILR (Institute for Learning in Retirement, affiliated with the
Elderhostel Institute Network.   As you know, Elderhostel is a
study-travel program. ILR is a study-non travel program

On average, about 50 members of PEIR attended each session - not
all the same people.  We measure success in that at the end of
each session several attendees came up saying they had never been
on an Elderhostel and now could not wait to go on one; and those
who had been on an Elderhostel were excited to learn about new
locations to visit.

Our series at PEIR, Hofstra was apparently well received because
we were asked to repeat the opening session (Introduction to
Elderhostel and Elderhostel Potpourri) at the ILR at State
University of New York (SUNY) Farmingdale.   The Farmingdale has
a weekly lecture series. We were advised the attendance was well
above average.

Evey and Wally Lepkin
Seaford  NY

editors note- for details on the course e-mail Evy or Wally at
the address above


From: wdevery wdevery@willamette.edu
Subject: Seeking feedback on Samoa program

Hi, My wife   I have been on four Elderhostels in the USA and are
considering one abroad. She grew up in American Samoa as a Navy
brat and so we are interested in the Fiji, Tonga, Western Samoa
program. It is quite spendy for us however, and I would like any
feedback I can get about customer satisfaction with this
program.	Thanks for your time, Bill Devery


From: Richard and Pam Duchaine duchaine@azstarnet.COM

We are booked on a July 1999 EH, "Four Scandinavian Capitals" and
would appreciate reviews for former attendees.

Pam Duchaine
duchaine@azstarnet.com (Until May 1)
duchaine@vbe.com	(After May 1)


From: PNestor@aol.com

I would like any information about the EH at Trout Lodge,
Missouri. Thanks.

Pat Nestor


From: L  doyles@bigfoot.com

Anyone been on the 11 day program: "Cities of cibola: Ancient
Civilizations   Area Cultures" - Held by New Mexico State
University/Grants. Would appreciate any feedback.

Larry Doyle doyles@bigfoot.com