xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #53, Sept. 17, 1999 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers compare notes on elderhostel programs. EN is an independent project, appreciative of but not associated with Elderhostel Inc. http://www.elderhostel.org EN has a WWW site at http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook To subscribe to the e-mail edition and/or to submit reviews of programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Jim Olson, at EHnotebook@aol.com Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format. ################################################ Programs Reviewed: ALLIANCE REDWOOD CONFERENCE CENTER 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 _____________ ALLIANCE REDWOOD CONFERENCE CENTER Occidental, CA Aug. 29 - Sept. 3, 1999 email@example.com 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 described. 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 informed. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 oceanographer. 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 Bath. 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:: email@example.com ________________ Pritchards Island; U. of SC, Beaufort SEA TURTLES ... and MORE firstname.lastname@example.org 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 better! 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 email@example.com ________________ Quebec ElderhostelL'Auberge du Mont Helen Sternheim ,Amherst, MA, firstname.lastname@example.org.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 meal. 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 done. 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 email@example.com A superior program for active Elderhostelers who want a not-too-demanding introduction to whitewater and hiking activities. 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 downriver. 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. firstname.lastname@example.org ________________ Teton Science School Elderhostel Jackson Hole, Wyoming Jhpelton@aol.com 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 groups. 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 communicators. 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, email@example.com Hanover Park, Illinois _______________ Discovering Wales Aug. 23 - Sept. 9, 1999 JoycesC@aol.com 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 helpful. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 introductions. 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 feeder. 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.