Elderhostel Notebook #53, Sept. 17, 1999

Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers
compare notes on elderhostel programs.

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Programs Reviewed:

   Ferry Beach Park Association Elderhostel
   Pritchards Island; U. of SC, Beaufort
   Quebec ElderhostelL'Auberge du Mont
   APPALACHIAN ADVENTURE: The Mountain; Highlands, NC
   Teton Science School Elderhostel
   Discovering Wales
   Grand Canyon, University of Northern Arizona


Occidental, CA  Aug. 29 - Sept. 3, 1999

This program, focused on film-making and Sonoma County, was
disorganized. Only two of the three courses promised were
actually given. One of the these should have been more accurately

A course on "The Wonders of Making Movies - Special Effects" left
everyone pleased. The speaker went out of his way to illustrate
his points with film clips and to answer questions. He has been
in the industry for 20 years.

The course on "So What Makes A Film Great" barely escaped being a
disaster. The main speaker offered a religiously slanted point of
view. When asked to stick to the course subject, he said he was
not prepared to do so. He offered to take the afternoon off if we
were not satisfied with his offering. A second speaker, a former
TV and film actor and director, was far more helpful and

The third course, "The Good Guys, Bad Guys, Adventures, And
Characters of Sonoma County" never was presented. It was supposed
to be on Jack London, Black Bart, and Charles Schultz, creator of
the Peanuts comic strip and a resident of Sonoma County.

A day-long field trip to sites where Alfred Hitchcock's "The
Birds" was filmed and to Jackson State Park lived up to our
expectations. A picnic at a Sonoma Valley winery highlighted the
field trip.

The food was excellent. No one went away hungry. The setting in a
stunning grove of redwood trees offered many chances for walks.
Conference Center staff led nature walks, conducted morning
exercise classes, and opened a heated pool in the late afternoon.

However, the description of accommodations was misleading. The
"motel-like accommodations were spartan instead. Each room,
approximately 11 x14 ft, including a separate shower stall and
toilet, was fitted with bunk beds. Had we known about the bunk
beds, we would not have attended this, our 28th Elderhostel.

The staff was enthusiastic and helpful. Our fellow Elderhostelers
were congenial and diverse. We did enjoy ourselves, but would
have preferred more "truth in advertising."

Kim   Victor Schlich                     Vschlich@ime.net


 Ferry Beach Park Association Elderhostel, Aug 22-27, l999

Topic: "Exploring the Maine Coast"

Ask any seasoned Elderhosteler about the EH experience, and
inevitably the response will be: "Each Elderhostel is different."
 The Ferry Beach EH, however, is "more different" than the
others, and I write this having just completed my 48th

Location and Atmosphere: Ferry Beach is a few miles below Old
Orchard Beach just off Route 4, easily accessible from the Maine
Turnpike.  It is an oasis of peace just a few miles from the
visitor-choked Route 1, where so many people come to Maine to get
away from the traffic, and, of course, get stuck in traffic!  The
small campus is a few steps away from 14 miles of a practically
empty long horseshoe curved beach, with Old Orchard Beach to the
left, and Camp Ellis to the right.  Both are within walking
distance, as well as Ferry Beach State Park.

This Elderhostel is operated by the Unitarian-Universalist
Church. There were several groups present in addition to the
EH'ers, such as the Tai Chi people and the dancers. There was a
chance to mingle with other folks, other ideas, other
generations, both on the wide porch which surrounded the main
building, and also at mealtimes and happy hours, which occurred
every afternoon and evening.

Everyone seemed determined to like each otherand they succeeded!!
 The office was staffed by Nan and Franno, they are not twins!who
can best be described as wonderful, as they were always available
with kindness and informationbless them!

Instruction:  This course was planned and taught by Dory, a
soft-spoken scholar who is a very serious, yet good-humored Ph.D.
candidate in physical oceanography at the University of Maine.
Dory is also a competitive lumberjillyes, you read that
correctly, for what else would you call a woman who knows a great
deal about axes and lumber?  Dory arranged a course that was well
balanced between learning about scientists and fishermen, and
also balanced between class lectures and discussions, slides
films, and field trips.  Three out of the five days were devoted
to field trips. Dory was organized!

Topics covered in class and during evening programs included:
Introduction to Oceanography, Basin formation, estuaries,(Dory's
specialty), chemistry of the ocean, eels, instrumentation,
History of Saco and area, trawling impact, worm gut research,
environmental issues, to name a few.  Frankly, my dears, some of
this was beyond my simple brain, but at least I received an
appreciation of oceanographic scientific research in general, and
a renewed sense of awe regarding my nephew Jack, who is an

Dory arranged for interesting field trips.  These included a
specimen collection right at Ferry Beach, a delightful mail boat
trip out of Portland, a Fish Auction Tour (where else but with
Elderhostel can you get fishy with the fishermen and women?), the
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, where we saw bird
banding and had an excellent guided nature walk, and the Darling
Marine Center, part of the University of Maine, where we saw some
marine labs, and had a chance to talk to the Director about the
academics.  It was quite interesting to have a perspective of the
advanced academics of marine studies.  Finally, we had an
opportunity to explore the wonderful Maine Maritime Museum at

Food and Accommodations:  If you are a beachnik, you will
overlook any shortcomings; if you suffer from an excess of
fastidiousness, you may not be happy here.  Personally, the
atmosphere of friendship, the instruction and the field trips
made up for any deficiency so far as I was concerned.  The food
can be described as tolerable or fair, but in all objectivity,
there were attempts to satisfy veggie people with lots of fresh
fruit during the day, and a good salad bar for lunch.  The
breakfast was the best meal, with lots of choices.  The three box
lunches were fair. Dinners featured lots of cholesterol, so one
might want to watch their arteries and practice girth control
before coming here.

The accommodations were best described by my new friends as
"better than a campground, but worse than a dormitory." There
were only two bathrooms that served one person at a time for ten
people on my floor.  The bathrooms were cleaned only once, toward
the end of the week. There were appeals for funds to refurbish
the bathrooms right where one had to use them. The showers had
plenty of hot water, but it was impossible to avoid wetting the
floor due to the construction of the shower stalls. The room I
had contained no closets; only a three dresser drawer with one
drawer missing.  The charge of $110 extra for a single room, I
felt, was excessive. On a scale of one to ten, the accommodations
were minus something.  Of course, there was sand everywhere.

The true test:  Would I come here again?  It is a "different"
Elderhostel, but there are those who love it!!  Yes, I shall
return!!  For me, the positives outweigh all the rest. And Happy
Elderhosteling to you all!!!

Sid Kessler 508 Stonybrook Drive Deptford, N. J. 08096 Email::

Pritchards Island; U. of SC, Beaufort

The Pritchards Island Elderhostel was very favorably reviewed in
an earlier Notebook but those reviews were for the spring
program. The good news ... the late summer program is even

Spring is to see the loggerhead turtles lay their eggs. The late
summer program lets you witness the hatchlings emerge and make
their way to the ocean. It is an awesome affirmation of life!

Of course there is no guarantee that you'll see either the laying
or the hatching. The turtles will do their thing to their unique
timing. But with a little luck ...

To the cautions made earlier for the spring program (shared
sleeping rooms and baths, helping with the housekeeping chores,
etc.) add ... late summer in the SC low country can be very hot
and very humid. And the bugs will eat you alive if you don't take
precautions. The facility is air conditioned but you must walk
the beaches to see the turtle activity.

Checking on the turtle nests is the evening activity. Mornings
are low intensity because you may have been up late. There are
afternoon lectures/walks on subjects related to the geology,
ecology, etc. of a barrier island (Pritchards being one). Nothing
very demanding - the entire program is pretty much oriented to
observing the turtles which is exactly as it should be.

I can report one great improvement from earlier reviews. A
reverse osmosis water purifier has been installed so the
brackish, sulfurous bathing water is a thing of the past

Evening meals were excellent. Breakfast and lunch about the same
as any other Elderhostel program.

Program management, by Lynn Corliss, was never intrusive ...
never interfered with the mainline activities

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

For those who might seriously consider this program (and it's not
for everyone), I'll gladly answer e-mail queries on specifics.
I'm  cdolson@ipa.net


Quebec ElderhostelL'Auberge du Mont
Helen Sternheim ,Amherst, MA, helen@k12s.phast.UMass.edu

My husband and I returned from our 17th Elderhostel yesterday.
We attended The St. Lawrence River: Heartland of Quebec, Aug. 29
- Sept. 3, 1999 held at the , St-Gabriel de Valcartier Quebec.

This Elderhostel has been reviewed previously on the Elderhostel
Notebook www site, http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook/. We found
that it lived up to our expectations.  The rooms all had private
baths, the food was nutritious and served in the Auberge
cafeteria.  There were two to three main course choices for each

The courses were all presented in English, by people who knew
their subjects well and apologized in advance for their English.
Several of the presenters claimed that this was the first time in
over a year that they were using English for a presentation.
Their English was fine, and the presentations were very well

Two field trips were held on Tuesday and Thursday, with free time
on Wednesday afternoon.  The Tuesday trip was very long, four
hours  on a luxury coach, to Tadoussac, Quebec.  Most of us then
went on a Whale Watch Cruise on the St. Lawrence at the mouth of
the Saguenay River.  There was a modest additional charge for the
cruise ($35 Canadian) and all but a few participants went and
enjoyed a truly super whale watching experience.  We saw blue
whales (these whales had not been seen on earlier trips) and
finback whales from the boat and some minke whales in the harbor.

On the bus trip, we had rest breaks midway in both directions.
A bag lunch prepared by the Auberge was eaten in a room at the
Hotel Tadoussac.  Supper was a Quebecois Buffet dinner at  Le
Bateau Restaurant, also in Tadoussac. All in all this was a
delightful outing day and the weather cooperated and was sunny
and warm.

Our Thursday outing was to  Montmorency Falls Park in the
morning, followed by an elegant lunch at the Auberge La Goeliche
on the Island of Orleans. Our tour coordinator Sara Seward led
the hardy on a hike up the stairs to the top of the falls, the
rest of us took the bus and met them there.  One or two people
took the tram ride to the top.

Our afternoon was spent in Quebec City.  Sara led us to three
churches near the Hotel Frontenac.  We then had the option of
returning to the Auberge du Mont at 3:30 PM or staying on in
Quebec City and meeting the bus at 7:30 for our return.  About
half the participants stayed in town and took the later bus home.
 We and another couple had an elegant supper at "Cafe de la
Paix". This is a three star restaurant and to our delight had an
"early bird" menu. With a shared bottle of wine the tab for four
people was $112 Cnd ($77 US) for a truly excellent meal.

On our free afternoon on Wednesday, we and some new Elderhostel
friends went to Jacques-Cartier Park.  This is a truly
breathtaking park on the Jacques-Cartier River.  We first visited
the interpretive center and then drove on a good dirt road to km
marker 18 to cross the river on a bridge and walk on the serene
trail alongside the river for a short distance. The park has many
hiking trails for the more ambitious.  It also had people
canoeing and kayaking on the river. It was delightfully uncrowded
that afternoon.

We drove to this Elderhostel and stayed at the Delta Sherbrooke
the night before and after.  We toured the falls along the Magog
River in Sherbrooke on Sunday morning before continuing on to the
Elderhostel.  On our way home we toured the Forges-du Saint
Maurice  National Historic Park just North of Trois Riveres
Quebec.  This is a very modern museum with French and English
explanations of all the exhibits.

Next we will attend an Elderhostel sponsored by the Cape Cod
Natural History Museum in Brewster MA at the end of October.
This will be housed at the Old Sea Pine Inn and promises to be
another great experience.  We always try to attend programs that
have several field trips, since we do not enjoy sitting in the
classroom for hours.


APPALACHIAN ADVENTURE: The Mountain; Highlands, NC

A superior program for active Elderhostelers who want a
not-too-demanding introduction to whitewater and hiking

Program management was well handled by Susan Smith. That means it
was done without fanfare and did not interfere with more
important activities.

Housing is in either the lodge or dispersed cabins. I was in the
lodge. It was clean and quiet.  I cannot speak to the cabin
accommodations as I never set foot in one.

Meals were pretty much standard institutional fare. Adequate but
nothing to get excited about.

Activities were super. One morning spent on an introduction to
hiking and rafting. Then a day and a half of hikes and two days
of whitewater rafting. Friday morning was spent on a low level
challenge course where you both individually and as teams solve
physically demanding problems (e.g, 12 Elderhostelers trying to
balance on a large teeter-totter - which we finally did)

Hikes were on well maintained trails with a mostly gentle slope.
We max'd at about 5 miles (including an optional side hike) with
only about a 1000 foot altitude change. For almost everyone, the
hikes were pretty easy. The routes were scenic and thru eastern
hardwood forests. Nice, pleasant walks and you always have the
option of turning back early if you began to tire.

Rafting was one day each on the Nantahala and Chattooga Rivers.
You get a short training session on whitewater paddling and off
you go. The rapids are mostly Class I and II which usually means
a little splashing that feels good on a summer day - a couple of
Class IIIs which almost ensures taking some water. One Class IV
where things start to get exciting.

Do not be put off by the Release of Liability form you are
required to sign. The form reads as if you have little chance of
surviving. Not so - the form is more intimidating than the trip

And if your guide offers you the opportunity to roll overboard
and just float down the gentler portions of the river --- well,
do it!

On all of the whitewater activities safety is the first priority
so if you get the OK to do something you can be sure that it is
also safe.

It's a long van drive to and from some of the activities. I don't
know how they can avoid that but it is a downside factor.

There were a couple of excellent evening programs featuring songs
and stories by Lee Knight, a highly regarded folk artist who both
performs and teaches at many Elderhostels

All-in-all, a very good outdoor program.



 Teton Science School Elderhostel
 Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Returned home today from  Teton Science School Elderhostel in
Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This is my fifth Elderhostel and ranks
second, just after my bike tour along the Danube from Dusseldorf
to Vienna. The TSS is a private, nonprofit mainly postgraduate
study school specializing in research on the ecology of the
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This summer they have 18 graduate
students lodging and studying there, as well as hosting various

The setting was rugged and lovely, with a view of the Tetons
outside our cabins. Our intrepid guides for the well-planned,
daily six-hour hikes in the mountains were also our instructors
for the evening sessions on the flora, fauna, and geology of the
Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. They were all excellent!
Each evening Becky, Jamie and John would describe the three
choices for the next day's hike, as to scenery, topography, and
difficulty and so we self-divided into three groups each day. As
research scientists, as well as outdoorspeople, they were
unfailingly enthusiastic and knowledgeable and good

The fellowship and good humor among the 28 attendees and the food
were as nourishing as the natural beauty of the area. We finished
up with two days hiking in Yellowstone with lodging at the
historic Old Faithful Inn. Joanne Pelton Pitulla, jpelton@aol.com
Hanover Park, Illinois


Discovering Wales  Aug. 23 - Sept. 9, 1999

This is a wonderful trip regardless of whether you have Welsh
roots.  The first week was spent at Bangor in Northern Wales on a
small college campus.  Rooms were single and spartan with
private, though small, bath with shower.  Meals were in the
dining hall and were plain but edible.  The lecturer, Gwylm
Jones, was one of the best I have ever had.  He's a great story
teller and wove all the early history together including trips to
Conwy, Carnarveron Castle, and Anglesey.

The second week was at Carmarthan in Southern Wales again at a
small college with slightly larger single rooms with private bath
with shower.  Meals in the dining hall were appreciably better.
The lecturer there, Richard Keen, was also very good specializing
in industrial history and architecture.  Field trips were to
Cardiff, a manor house where the docents dressed and acted as
they would have in 1645, and an outdoor museum of Welsh life
containing many old buildings of common people.

Evening activities included Welsh men's choirs and harpists along
with appropriate movies.  We also visited Dylan Thomas' home and
heard an excellent presentation by the author of a new book on
him but I do not believe this is usually part of the course.  All
the staff we met at both locations were most welcoming and

The second location allowed us to use their computer room for
sending and receiving e-mail.  The last day on the way back to
London we spent several hours in Bath which was an added bonus.


Grand Canyon, University of Northern Arizona

Sunday, April 18

Arrive in Phoenix at about 12:10.  The plane was full but the
trip was uneventful. Get on the plane to Flagstaff for a very
bumpy 40 minutes ride.  There are piles of snow in front of the
airport, left over from last weeks snowstorm.  I also view the
wonderful San Francisco Peaks.

We have supper at the Galaxy Diner  a 50s imitation on Route 66.
After Dinner we have orientation by Rich Stevens, our field
coordinator, a very pleasant young man.  Then there are

Monday April 19th

Breakfast is at the Galaxy Diner and then on to class at Old
Main.  First we tour the sculpture by John M Soderberg.  This is
an amazing display.  His medium is bronze sculpture.

Our lecturer for today is Bob Munson on the history of the
Southwest.  He dresses the part and his lectures are stories and
history in an entertaining mix.  He also dresses Bobi in the
outfit of a Spanish Woman in Arizonas early history. We get a
walking tour of the campus before lunch in the Timber Inn.
Afternoon was more recent history with Bob Munson. Our evening
lecture was on geology with Randy Reed.

Tuesday, April 20th

Today was our field trip to Walnut Canyon.  Our Lumberjack bus
was well used, but got us there.  We had an interesting
introduction by Ruben, a Hopi Indian.  The so-called Indian names
that we use came from the archeologists and others.  For example,
Anastasie means not Navaho.  Sinagua comes from the Spanish
meaning without water. The Sinagua were the people who lived in
the cliff dwellings that we find here.  We walked down and saw
what was left of these ruins.  They suffered severe looting in
the past.

After lunch we visited the museum of Northern Arizona.  We split
into two groups and listened to discussions by two docents  on
geology and artifacts.  Then we had time to visit the museum, its
beautiful bathrooms, and watch the pine siskins at the bird

In the evening Randy Reed takes us up through the layers of the
Grand Canyon, and the fossil creatures found there.  He gets us
ready for our trip tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21st

We start out at 8, on a better bus, for our trip to the Canyon.
Our first stop is Cameron Trading Post, Navajo Nation.  We talk
about Chierotherium tracks in stone, in front of and inside the
art gallery.  Then we view the Little Colorado behind the motel.

Another stop is at Desert View.  We hear a talk by Randy on the
2nd floor terrace and admire the view. We are now heading for
Yavapai Point on the South Rim and lunch.  After lunch we walk
along the rim walk to Mather Point.

On to Bright Angel Lodge.  We take a walk to see fossils and then
visit the shops before boarding the bus back to Flagstaff.  It
has been a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 22nd

Our morning lecture is on Women of the West and we hear about
women of the gold rush from Dr. Jeanette Rodda.  She comes from a
mining family and presents interesting information on womens
views of the 49 Gold Rush. In the afternoon we travel with
Virginia and Harold Varce to Sunset Crater and the Wapatki Ruins.
Our first stop is at the Visitors Center, and then we take the
Lava Flow walk of about a mile.

Friday, April 22nd

Our morning lecture is on Lumber and Livestock with Susan
Olberding. We hear about the 5 Babbitt brothers, who come to
Flagstaff and know that Bruce Babbitt is their descendent.
Following this we have graduation and present Rich with a parting
gift.  He ran an excellent Elderhostel.  Each shares a highlight
of the trip. After lunch we say good-bye, and we head our
separate ways on to Tucson.