Elderhostel Notebook #58, December 12,1999

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

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Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format.

   From the Editor's Notebook
This will probably be the last notebook of the century (I know
some of you disagree about when the new century begins- your
flames will be honored in their absence).

I wasn't able to get all of the reports in, but for those of you
in the "reserve" folder you will have the honor of being the
first reporters of the year 2000.

I suppose the adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it" applies to
the notebook as things seem to be going well with the combination
of the notebook and the Going To Learn Dialogue.

I did experiment a little with the mailing lists on a free
internet list/chat supplier, eGroup.com, but decided against
setting up an Elderhostel interactive mailing list after
subscribing to some of the existing lists on various topics to
see how it went. One that dealt with such an obscure topic of
using Epson printers on a Mac had 65 messages a day and I know
not many of you want an additional 50-65 messages per day in your
mail with some of them being more junk e-mail.

Meanwhile for th^¿ose wanting interactive and more immediate
responses there are Elderhostel forums, on AOL and internet
AARP, on SeniorNet (AOL and Internet versions), and Thirdage.

   Program Reviews
These reports all vary in format and indicate the range of
possibilities for inclusion here to meet our dual purpose of
helping each other choose programs and to provide a vicarious
Elderhostel experience.

Because the  programs in the catalog are listed by title and
sponsoring institution, it would be helpful to include the
catalog title and the sponsoring institution whenever possible
when you e-mail the report in to EHnotebook@aol.com


Programs Reviewed:

     Craftsbury Outdoor Center,Vermont
     Salem State College
     Miami Book Fair
     Jewish Community Center, San Antonio
     Hudson River Valley Maritime Museum
     Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Mexico
     Warwick, New York


Craftsbury Outdoor Center,Vermont
Sept. 26-Oct 1, l999
Sid Kessler, itisalive@erols.com

Autumn in Vermont is like a painting in progress, as the
colors  green, orange, red, yellow are more and more intense as the
days are shorter and the nights are cooler.

This Elderhostel was sponsored by Sterling College, a small
institution in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, squeezed
between New Hampshire and Canada.  It was my second time here,
for which I received a prize of a bottle of maple syrup by the
ever-attentive coordinator, Vivian Davis. Vivian was accompanied
this year by her lovely daughter Katherina.  This was my fourth
Elderhostel in Vermont; the other times were in White River
Junction.  Each one is highly recommended.  In all, this was my
49th EH experience, so there were some standards by which to
judge the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

To those kind people who commented on my previous experiences
this summer of l999 at Colby-Sawyer College, N.H. where the
indifferent coordinator was sub-standard, and Ferry Beach, Maine,
where the facilities were barely better than camping, the Vermont
adventure almost made up for these previous disappointments.  I
will never look at a description of Colby-Sawyer College, N.H. as
I believe it is a misleading "rip-off." I have not hesitated to
tell that to Elderhostel in Boston. I felt cheated. Coordinators
should be monitored!!  Coordinators should be interested in

The program at Craftsbury Outdoor Center included International
Folk Dancing, led by the friendly couple, Cy and Lynn Levine, who
have collected music and dances from such disparate places as the
Balkans and Israel. Cy led early morning nature walks, which were
very pleasant and invigorating.  Cy is a retired pharmacist who
served four years in the US Army as a combat medic. He was very
generous with stories and medical and personal advice. . The
course on Vermont Villages was led by Dave Linck. Dave taught a
number of courses at Sterling College, and knew all the local
roads, villages and personalities.  He was my canoe instructor
last year, and was very friendly and knowledgeable about area
lore Evenings saw presentations by local personalities in film
and in person.  They included a logging expert, a dairy farmer, a
local historian, and Fred Tuttle, the farmer who ran for the U.
S. Senate in the Republican primary, and upset a millionaire out
-of state-party candidate, only to lose to Senator Leahy.  For
the five days of classes, there were four days of field trips,
including an extensive tour of an unusual Vermont dairy farm. An
extra was an evening with a roving Russian circus, which was very

The facilities were dormitory style, or "down the hall" There
were only 22 people in the group, and there were no particular
problems with this arrangement

The food was prepared with good sensitivity to nutrition and
fresh vegetables. It doesn't hurt to know the name of the lovely
chef in charge of the lovely cooking.  Her name is Meredith.

If you do not mind dormitory living, this is one Elderhostel  I
would heartily recommend.  The good Lord willing, maybe I will
see you there next year!!!

Oh, an example of Vermont humor:  If you happen to ask how to get
to Burlington, Vermont, which is at the other end of the State,
the classic answer might be:: "Well, if I were you would not
start out from here!!!"

With best wishes for Happy Elderhosteling, Sid Kessler

ANTIPODEAN WORLD HERITAGE (Program 30714): Australian
College for Seniors (ACFS): 3 Nov-5 Dec 1999

This was a good program that nicely balanced visits to world
heritage sites with some of the more expected tourist
destinations. I would have preferred more time at the heritage
sites but others in the group would not agree.

Lodging and meals were, with minor exceptions, well above
Elderhostel standards.

This was an activity rich program but there was still plenty of
time to shop

LODGING: Accommodations ranged from adequate to luxurious.

There were locations where we were housed in rather small rooms.
Other than that our accommodations were usually well above
Elderhostel norms. I went single and was paired with another tall
fellow but others also commented about the small rooms - most
strongly about our hotel in Sydney. For the most part we were in
good locations and the small rooms were likely dictated by cost

Of course there were occurrences of malfunctioning air
conditioners, TVs, etc. Problems that were fixed as quickly as
reported to management.

In most locations coin operated laundry facilities were available
on site (and almost all took advantage of that). Access to
shopping and/or optional activities was usually easy. Other than
one in-transit overnighter in Brisbane, lodgings were in
locations that made it safe to take an after dinner walk.

MEALS: I did not have an unacceptable meal on the entire trip
altho one came close. That said, most meals were in hotel or
motel dinning rooms and after a while a certain sameness was
evident. That's probably inevitable.

Serving was generally buffet. Occasionally warming provisions
were inadequate and those in the back of the line ate lukewarm

Fruit - usually fresh melon, sometimes canned fruit, sometimes
both - was available at almost every meal. Vegetables less so but
still enough to permit a good diet if you were so inclined.

This was an active program and a full, hot breakfast started
every day. Important point!

On the whole, dinning on this program met a high standard.

ACTIVITIES: We visited two of the three world heritage sites in
New Zealand - specifically Tongariro National Park and the
fiordland of southwest NZ. There was only one day spent in
Tongariro (not enough for me besides which it was a very rainy,
overcast day). We had one day each cruises on both Milford and
Doubtful Sounds which was reasonable but again we were plagued by
rain (made for spectacular waterfalls however).

Day hikes on the world famous trails in that area would have been
a nice addition.

The rest of the twelve days in NZ was spent in Auckland, Turangi,
Queenstown, and Rotorua. There was a decent introductory exposure
to Maori history and culture, a visit to a trout farm (still
trying to figure out what that has to do with world heritage),
stops at electrical power generating facilities (again I question
the relevance to world heritage), a sheep shearing demonstration
(I thought it was neat - not sure about the sheep's thoughts). In
short, we were kept busy on mostly interesting activities but Id
gladly trade some of them for more time at the heritage sites.
Actually, the program might be better if the time in NZ were
reduced and the time in Australia increased.

Australia included the world heritage sites of Fraser Island, the
tropical rainforest of Queensland, the great barrier reef,
Kakadu, and Ayers Rock. All well worth the time spent but I would
not have objected to a few days more - especially at the reef. As
you will note this program focused on the world heritage sites of
the east and north; and, of course, Ayers Rock in the interior.
There is just not enough time to do the south and west.

For those who wear glasses, the tour provider had vision
correcting goggles for snorkeling on the reef.

We also had a couple of nights in Alice Springs and four nights
in Sydney. Alice Springs is almost mandatory but I'm less sure of
the time in Sydney. Its a lovely, dynamic city well deserving of
the 2000 Olympics ... but some of that time would be better spent
at heritage sites.

I was displeased with some of the lectures and with a shortage of
evening programs. Several speakers, while entertaining, ignored
the planned subject and took off on their own agenda. Others,
however, addressed program related specifics that prepared us
well for field trips.

There were also occasions - Kakadu comes to mind - where evening
talks by the park staff might have added a lot to the program but
where we were left to our on devices. I do not consider shopping
an acceptable alternative to a good evening program. On balance,
the speaker/evening program gets only a mediocre rating.

The lectures by our site coordinators while on field trips were
more timely and informative than the outsides lectures. The site
coordinators were almost uniformly excellent; and our Group
Leader, who was with us for the duration, handled administrative
details with dispatch.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: This is a long trip with lots of in-country
flying. It adds up to about eighteen hours over the thirty day
program. Plan for it!

There are some scheduling inefficiencies in this program that
result in your sitting in airports or shopping malls for what
seems like forever. That is probably caused by flight schedules,
but I hope ACFS will address the movement logistics to reduce

The single supplement adds almost $2K to the basic cost. Singles
can certainly find better ways to rid themselves of $2K.

I took my allergy medication (Allegra) with me ... and used it.
But I noticed the same product being sold over-the-counter (not
sure if it was the same strength as the US prescription dose)

Charlie  cdolson@ipa

 Salem State College
 Salem, Massachusetts
 Classes: Four New England Seaports
 Dates: August 1-6, 1999
 jean sterling  sterlij@ibm.net

Accommodations were on the Salem State College campus and were
very nice. We shared a suite with one other couple, and we each
had our own bathroom. There was a common living area complete
with small kitchen and refrigerator ("A place to put my beer",
exulted my husband). The downside was that the campus was split,
and classes and the dining facilities were both about a mile down
the road. The food was regular cafeteria fare, and there was
transportation between the two campuses.

The people teaching the classes were very knowledgeable, but the
field trips could have been better. There were several field
trips - to Boston, Glouchester, Newport, and the Peabody Museum
in downtown Salem. However, we spent a good part of the time on a
bus, and for the three trips out of town we ate the same boxed
lunch each day. I would have enjoyed seeing one of the Newport
mansions "up close and personal" rather than seeing all of them
from the window of a bus.

The Peabody Museum was quite something to see. The collection of
Asian art had come from places like China and India when Salem
was a leading seaport The craftsmanship in hand-carved jade,
ivory, and wood was were really something to see.

Due to the split campus, it didn't seem like elderhostelers "hung
out" together as much as they do at some elderhostels. Also, we
weren't encouraged to use the campus facilities, which is one of
the reasons for attending on a college campus. I had chosen this
hostel because there was a 25 meter swimming pool, but the
coordinator (who ran the whole show himself) flat out told me
that I wouldn't have time to use it anyway. When I informed him
that I intended to make time because I was to swim in a national
event in a couple of months, he told me the hours that the pool
was open. However, I never learned where the library was or
whether there were computers available for e-mailing the kids.

Jean Sterling

Miami Book Fair

I attended the first Elderhostel at the Miami International
BookFair, sponsored by Barry University,  the week before
Thanksgiving. Report card: AAA++++ Highest marks for program --
five exciting days, with one ongoing problem: which sessions to
select amongst the  vast choice of  lectures, readings,
discussions by over 200 authors, all of whom have had a book
published this year.  Last on the program was a stimulating,
standing-room-only,  dual presentation by Alan Dershowitz and Roy
Black which was almost as exciting as the entertainment   that
night -- Dave Barry's Band, "The Rock Bottom Remainders" all
authors,  which lit up Saturday night with an hour and a half
outdoor concert on the Bay, with special guest Nestor Torres.
Where else could you hear a renowned classical flutist playing
jazz and rock, with Carl Hiaasen on lead guitar and Scott Turow
singing "Wild Man?"  Wild, indeed!

A plus for hotel: very comfortable, just steps from the Fair and
across the street from Bayside, a shopping and entertainment
center on Biscayne Bay

B plus for staff.  Well versed in the layout of the three
buildings of Miami-Dade Community College where most sessions
were held;  the blocks and blocks of book displays and vendors;
how to get from one venue to another;  when to go to get good
seats; where to line up for author signings.  They were very
attentive, tried very hard and, as it was their first BookFair
Elderhostel, seemed really  interested in  suggestions for

C for socialization.  Group too large (60) but great people, each
anxious to share  their favorite author and book.   Too bad there
was no place to get together and just hang out and chat.

C minus  for food;   mostly in hotel.   We got cash for some
lunches  on our own.  Would have been better if we had received
cash and bought our own dinners also, in any of the many eating
places in Bayside, across the street.  Breakfasts were fine.

D for bus tour of the city. Didn't show us any of the great Miami
sights: ocean, port, mansions, gardens, theaters, South Beach!  A
real disappointment especially for land-locked Elderhostelers and
annoying to those of us Floridians who knew what they were

Staff promised to correct the city tour next year -- but there
doesn't seem to be much they can do about the (apparently) low
amount budgeted for food as the hotel is very costly - what a
location! - and they are limited by Elderhostel as to what they
can charge.

However, despite the negatives the superb program - and the very
willing staff - made it one of the best of the eleven
Elderhostels I've attended.  Almost everyone said they intended
to  come back next year and I hope to be among them.

WhoisSylvia, Pompano Beach, FL

Jewish Community Center, San Antonio

We have just returned from one of the best of the 16 Elderhostels
that we have attended. We went to the Jewish Community Center in
San Antonio, Texas from Nov. 7-12, studying about San Antonio.
The one person who was responsible for this wonderful experience,
was Joanne Wells, our site coordinator. If you would consider
giving an award to the "Site Coordinator of the Year," we would
like to nominate Joanne. Her devotion to our group was truly
remarkable. She was so well organized and everything was timely.
She was with us for all of our trips, gave a great lecture and
organized the program in such a meaningful way that all of us
marveled at what she could provide for us. She was concerned
about the welfare of all of us.

Our fun filled week began with registration and introductions at
the Emily Morgan Hotel, which is located across the street from
the Alamo. The accommodations were excellent and the buffet style
food at the hotel was good.

We all ate a Mexican dinner, especially prepared for us before we
had our first lecture about the Alamo. On Monday we visited the
Alamo, where a film and a tour was arranged for us. We had four
other excellent lectures about San Antonio. They included the
history of the city starting when it was first established, the
military influence on the growth, the politics and the Jewish
community. Some of the trips included: Mission San Jose, King
William Historic District, the Mexican market, a tour of the
city, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Institute of Texas
Culture, to mention just a few of the highlights. On Thursday we
had an excursion to the Hill country and toured the LBJ Ranch and
the town of Fredricksburg. We attended lectures at the book fair
at the Jewish Community Center and saw the play 'Rumors' by Neil

We usually ate two meals at the hotel and experienced the varied
cuisine of the city for the third meal at different restaurants.
One night we ate on the Riverwalk and another at the Tower built
for the Hemisphere. Since we were only 2 blocks from the
Riverwalk, we could enjoy that as well. Walking is required to
fully enjoy this experience, but provisions were made for those
who were more limited, physically.

This was truly a great Elderhostel experience. Hilda and Bernie


Hudson River Valley Maritime Museum EH

This was one of the best Elderhostels we have attended. The EH
was held at a resort near Kingston, NY. The rooms were adequate,
the food was outstanding. Breakfast was a buffet, but lunch and
dinner was always served. We were taken to the Culinary Institute
of America for a tour and an unforgettable lunch. The resort had
a large area of hiking trails and was very enjoyable to visit.
The people in the group were very friendly and the host/hostesses
were very hospitable.

The courses included the Huegenot settlers of the area, the food
and wines of the area and the Maritime museum. We took field
trips each day and generally had a great time. They included a
trip to a light house on the river, the restored Huegenot
village, a trip to a couple of mansions in the area and the trip
to the CIA.

There is so much to see and do in the Hudson River valley that we
spent several days after the EH "seeing the sights".


Nogales, AZ/Nogales, Mexico
University of Arizona

My wife and I attended this Elderhostel from November 7 to
November 13, 1999.  The group of fifteen people spent three days
on each side of the border.  Transportation between the locations
was provided by the University of Arizona.

We would recommend this Elderhostel to anyone who had an interest
in Mexico.  All the lecturers were knowledgeable.  Because of
their unique personal experiences, they were able to provide
insight into Mexico.  This was a well-run Elderhostel.

The field trips included listening to an outstanding Mariachi
band in a local high school, a visit to the Tumacacori National
Monument (mission), a shopping trip to the Tubac Presidio State
Park and art/craft shopping center, a tour of a maquiladora
manufacturing plant, and shopping trip to Nogales, Mexico.  We
ate  two excellent meals on the field trips.

We stayed in a Days Inn in Nogales, AZ and the Nogales Plaza in
Nogales, Mexico.  Classes were held next door to the Days Inn and
at the Nogales Plaza.

The Days Inn had just been remodeled.  The living quarters were
standard motel accommodations, but the meals were better than
expected for a motel.

The Nogales Plaza was ten years old and beginning to show lack of
maintenance, but the accommodation were better than average.  The
grounds were attractive with a large irregularly shaped pool
between the buildings which were located on a hillside.  The food
was excellent.

If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Myrle   Don Helfer


Warwick, New York


The Elderhostel at Warwick Conference Center in Warwick, New
York, took place on November 7th to 12th. The Conference center
is atop a big hill, and the views of the surrounding area are
fantastic.Accommodations were good, everything was clean, and kept
clean. The food was ample , buffet style, with snacks in between.
In spite of the fact that there were not enough Elderhostelers,
Warwick ran the elderhostel, and for those of us that were so
looking forward to the experience, it was a special time.

Every evening we had fine entertainment, one night a professional
magician, the others an amateur Shakesperean theatrical  group.
The subjects fot the courses were :Women in Revolutionary times,
taught by a very knowledgeable and personable young lady, A
different look at Shakespeare, and best of all Crossword Puzzles,
which got so interesting that we forgot the time! Trips were to
Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh, that was okay, and West
Point, that was very good.