xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #82 February 25, 2001 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. ################################################ From the Editor's Notebook ################################################ The e-mail Notebook started some five years ago with the web site following about a year later. As many of you know five years on the internet is a long time, but five years of a lifetime at our age is the blink of an eyelash even though it is an eternity to our teeny-bopper grandkids. Enough philosophy- just to note that although I will discontinue the web archives version of the notebook as I am using that time for various other projects, I do plan to continue the e-mail mailings and a simplified version of the web site for some time to come- maybe even a few more blinks as they take up very little time- even fleeting time. ################################################ Comments and Queries ################################################ From: HGlucks@aol.com Subject: Editing pictures California State University/San Bernardino/Desert Hot Springs is offering an Elderhostel course on editing photos on the computer, May 13-18. This looks like an easy way to learn how to edit pictures before printing, posting on a website, or sending them in e-mail. It should be fun to take out the wrinkles and see how I would look as a blond, ten pounds lighter. The location looks very nice from the description. We would appreciate hearing from anyone who has taken the course or been there. HG __________________ From: Mel79g@aol.com Would appreciate hearing from anyone who took the Rail Adventure of the American Heartland, Chicago to New Orleans. \ Thanks, Mel Grais, firstname.lastname@example.org _________________ Thailand From: email@example.com We recently returned from a trip to Thailand with Elderhostel and were impressed enough to want others to share in the experience. The trip was expensive, by Thai monetary standards, since our dollar is worth so much there. On the other hand we stayed at wonderful hotels with food to match. We were very unhappy to learn that forthcoming Elderhostels would not enjoy the guidance of Pui, the best group leader we have ever had, and that the University will no longer sponsor the trip. The trip will now be handled by the Lyons Travel Agency, at a lower cost so we are not in the position to recommend the trip. The question in, at a lower price, it is not likely to be the same experience. _____________ From: "Bill Longman"
Response on Waiver of Liability Several responded to me about the required signing of a waiver absolving the trustees of Georgia Southern Univ. of liability. We did sign it and send it in with dissenting comments since not doing so would have meant not attending the RV program at Okefenokee Swamp (see review in this issue). As it happens, GSU had little to do with the week's program which was in the capable hands of Stephen Foster St. Pk. staff where we were camping. We never heard anything from GSU about the rationale. Some of the EH Notebook readers said that accidents do happen even if not attributable to a sponsoring organization. Some said don't sign while others said it is purely routine like those forms kids signed before a school field trip. Still others said that in any case you can't sign away beforehand all rights to recover damages. It does seem much ado about nothing in some sense since GSU's presence was non existent at the EH except for prior planning. We still do not think this is a wise or practical requirement and will only serve to discourage some from participation. Bill Lee Longman ______________ From: "Judie Brown" In response to IA query of 12/31/00 re Ireland, Scotland England: In August we attended the "Three Capitol Cities" program in Edinburgh, Dublin, London, which was great!! One week in each city studying history culture. In Edinburgh, we stayed in university dorms, in the other cities, we stayed in modern hotels. The accommodations food were quite good (the dorm food was like all dorm food, nourishing but not gourmet; the rest was really good). We attended plays museums in all cities; and were lucky to be in Edinburgh during the International Festival (arts drama) and had a free evening to attend the military "Tattoo" which was a special treat. The presenters were top quality. A wonderful experience I would recommend to anyone. Judie Brown _________________ From: CarolKD@aol.com Response to questions about programs on food and wine. I don't know that particular food wine EH program but I have spent about 5 happy days in Taormina and the area and loved it there. It's a charming small town, where I stayed in a very pleasant family-run hotel in the historic upper town with a lovely large strolling street where locals and visitors promenade, shop, show off nice clothes and babies in true Italian small town fashion. The road winds down past ocean view hotels and resorts and to the main road, also lined with hotels and going off to the next town. By far, my favorite part of Taormina was that charming upper town of color and folklore and flowers and friendly people. And they don't know how to cook badly in Taormina! No one ever taught them......... Good luck; if you enjoyed Sicily before this should be fun again, even if Trinity isn't running it. By the way, I'd prepare for quite warm weather in Sicily in June, don't you think? That's just my guess, but it IS south! Maybe you can find some average temps on the internet under climate of weather. You make me want to try the Mondello program which is one of those run by Trinity that I've missed so far. I went to Sicily with a friend some years ago -- we did Taormina on our own and then went by bus across country to Palermo to meet our AlitaliaTour group. It wasn't nearly as good a program as EH will run and I'd like to go again. Another great program is the food and wine EH in Verona. I did the very first one about 3 years ago with Michael and Inez Campo running it. We had a wonderful time on that. In March I'm trying a new 8-day program, the Jewish Community in Rome which should be interesting. Trinity will run that, too. It's fun thinking back on all these; I think the Trinity Italian programs are the most consistently fine overseas trips that EH does, and Michael Campo who put them together originally is responsible. He used to quietly drop by each one of them at some point as they took place. Consequently, they ran like a dream and had great people in charge or changes were quickly. Good luck, Ciao, Carol Doctor, Wilmette, IL ___________ Subject: Br. Isles EH From: "Matt Schwartz" We agree generally with Carol Doctor"s comments. We EH'd in England (three university sites) and did Ireland and Scotland on our own. All 3 countries are appealing with the latter 2 just lovely. Our EH was in England and Wales. Food was fair to poor but we didn't expect gourmet fare and surely didn't get it. No matter what you hear, BEWARE THE COLLEGE DORMITORIES. We had iron framed army type cots in one facility and the others were hardly an improvement. No individual toileting facilities; Some were inadequate for the number of people using them, others were inconveniently located ON ANOTHER FLOOR . One thing was consistent in all facilities: cleanliness of toilets was woefully lacking and room and hall attention was a close second. Please remember that this applies only to the colleges in the EH program. Matt ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ The Sante Fe Trail by Motor Coach Bradenton, FL- Theatre Central Arizona College Golf/Jazz program ST. NICHOLAS RANCH CONFERENCE AND RETREAT CENTER Tybee Island, Georgia OLYMPIC PARK INSTITUTE/QUINAULT/KALALOCH Okefenokee Swamp Critters Creatures _________________________ The Sante Fe Trail by Motor Coach "Peter E. Abresch Sr." In the last issue some mention, in regard to Island Hopping-- "There are three reasons for any hostel trip: (1) new experiences and insights; (2) meeting interesting people with thoughtful, challenging ideas and (3) R Sub-topics of (3) are food and accommodations." For me there always a fourth, research for the Jim Dandy Elderhostel Mysteries. And so it was that I set forth the Sante Fe Trail, from Denver to La Junta to Trinidad to Sante Fe by motor coach with My wife Annemarie. Wayne Sundberg and his wife, Joan Day, were the coordinators who were informative and pleasant, and we had a great time. The brochure said that we had to be able to hike a mile over rough terrain, but I think that was a bit overkill for what we encountered. More that the walking the heat one day, an unseasonable high ninety degree day that might have set a record for September in La Junta, but only God can control the weather. The thing about it was that I learned so much about the history of the Southwest that had never even occurred to me, and I was a History Major. We visited Bent's Fort which, again, I had never heard about, but was a trading post out on the plains twenty some odd year before army moved out there. And the Sante Fe Trail was a commercial trail, not a pioneering trail, starting out in the 1820's and continuing on until the railroad replaced it in the 1880's, and while it lasted the trade across the trail probably rivaled that of the Great Sild Road in Asia. The accommodations were all in good motels except for in Sante Fe where we stayed at a Presbyterian Center where we had to rough it in that, while we all had private bathrooms, some of us had the showers down the hall. The meals were from good to outstanding, and we had box lunches along the trail. I personally had no quibbles about the meals, but a couple of people on the trip compared it to other this and found it wanting. My feeling is that if I wanted gourmet meals I would have gone to a five star hotel, and paid according. And in Sante Fe, a few of us went out on our own for dinner, Wayne and Joan included, and we had a fantastic meal. Everyone on the Elderhostel knew I was the author of the Elderhostel mysteries and kept suggesting places where a body might be found, who it might be nice to bump off. Finally, on the last night, at the end of a scrumptious meal, and everyone was mentioning things that had impressing them along the trail, I stood up and said, "I want you to know it was great meeting you all, but I'm the only one left alive." It took a few seconds before it sank in and then they started to laugh. It was great meeting them all which goes back to reason number 2 at the top of this report, meeting interesting people. Finally, Tip A Canoe has just been published to great reviews--check it out at http://www.elderhostelmysteries.com The book is based on View From a Canoe, a canoeing Elderhostel through the swamps of South Carolina, where we also had a ball. I am twenty-six chapters into a first draft of the one based on the Sante Fe Trail to be called Painted Lady. I will tell you there is a bit of oooOOOooo in this one in that a woman shaman who plunges to her death from a Denver Hotel, keep showing up in the paintings of artist Dodee Swisher, Jim Dandy's love life. I recommend both of these Elderhostels. And the books as well. Peter Abresch ________________________ Bradenton, FL- Theatre # 09650-0114-01 ... $572 The Historic Asolo Theater: Three LivePerformances firstname.lastname@example.org We will NEVER forget our Bradenton (FL) Elderhostel experience. Never. What with Delta Airlines foul-ups and the "reception" we were treated to at the sleaze accommodations selected by Flanzer JCC for the Theater Seminar, the whole affair was clearly "a consumption devoutly to be wished." NOTTT. We left the preceding St Simons Island Seminar (#10248), where we had a wonderful time, at 3 p.m. on Friday for Sarasota, some 300 miles away. Shortly before midnight, frustrated and weary, we finally arrived at the Quality Inn in Bradenton, FL. Quality? Well, yes. But don't ask what KIND of quality. Located next to two porno establishments on busy Interstate 41, the instant impression we had when we finally got to our smelly room was "hot sheets" motel. And the way we got to this dingy room didn't help. The hotel was locked tighter than a drum when we arrived. Despite the fact that we had telephoned ahead to advise the desk of our late arrival, we were greeted by a surly, angry crew that made us stand in a little cubicle like "The Man in the Glass Booth," while we passed papers back and forth through a little slot. The bed sheets were a tattletale grey, and one of them had a big spot on it. The smelly room made us think it hadn't been aired for weeks. Not an auspicious beginning. The situation seemed brighter the next morning after a decent breakfast (included in the $65 room rate) and a trip to the nearby flea market where we spent most of Saturday morning. A reunion with a long-lost friend on Sunday morning revived our spirits considerably, especially after a superb lunch at the nearby Crab Trap restaurant. And once the official Elderhostel proceedings got under way under the charming and very professional guidance of Shirley Tatar and Sidney Shapiro, the choice of this seminar became more palatable. A major portion of our time was spent on lectures by Sharon Ohrenstein, a very gracious and knowledgeable professional. The lectures, largely based on quotes from books, took place in a cheerless, airless, claustrophoic little room didn't help at all and may explain why we decided to skip some parts of the program in favor of sitting at the pool to read our own books and partake of Florida's freezing sunshine. Caveat! This seminar is NOT for Elderhostelers who don't have "Sitzfleisch." (Sitting endurance.) Because that's ALL we did. Sit in the lecture room, sit in the dining room, sit in the bus on the way to the theater, sit IN the Asolo Theater, and sit in the bus on the way back. Not a single field trip to ANY place that would have required exercising ANY muscles other than those associated with the teeth. Combine this lack of physical activity with constant (and more than adequate) food supplies, and you will need a month of gym workouts to get back to normal. COURSE CONTENT To be fair, let me say this, right off: all the presenters were highly professional and competent, familiar with their material and the intricacies of theater life. Their offerings were well received by most of the hostelers present. MY only cavil (my wife agrees with it) is that a lot of the lecture material was straight out of Theater 101. Therefore, so that our snoring would not disturb the tranquility of others, we played hooky from some of the sessions and enjoyed the (COLD !) Florida sunshine instead. The windowless, cheerless, claustrophobic lecture room made this an easy choice. Lest this be considered a negative review, let me now switch to some of the enjoyable highlights of the Bradenton Theater seminar: Jackie LeClaire, the clown - In a word: Delightful! He provided a most memorable insight into "The Life of a Clown," and gave us a totally new slant on what it means to be "circus folk." He even convinced us to share his opinion that to call the Florida election "a circus" is a gross insult to the dedicated professional circus troupers who work so hard to make life worth living for the rest of us. Vickie Holden, in charge of costumes at the Asolo Theater, where we saw three productions (more on this later) - A totally delightful lady who knew whereof she spake. She not only gave us a deeper appreciation of the effort entailed in dressing actors effectively, but kept us royally entertained by her salty and forthright language skills. A very honest, imaginative and gentle teacher. David Peterson. scenic construction - Another gem who explained the difficulties of transforming one person's ideas on paper into a real-life set that is manageable and adaptable within the limits of a specific theater. He was even gracious enough to offer us a guided tour of his shop facilities, but time constraints prevented us from accepting his generous opportunity. RECOMMENDATION If you know nothing about the ins and outs of Theater life and work, by all means, GO. Otherwise, pass it by, especially if Flanzer JCC - despite loud howls of protest last year - continues to think that the Quality Inn Motel on Route 41 in Bradenton provides suitable accommodations for discerning Seniors. __________________ Central Arizona College Golf/Jazz program - Tucson Arizona....January 21-26, 2001 Accommodations were at Ramada Inn. Rooms were nice - It was a large complex with a pool and several hot tubs. It was actually too cool to swim the week we were there (high 60') but good golf weather. Phil, the coordinator was genial and helpful - The golf course was nearby and those without cars were transported in a van. Mainly the golf lesson was comprised of everyone lining up and hitting a few and suggestions were made. This is not a program for a non-golfer to come and learn to play. The courses (2) were nice and everyone seemed to have fun during the week. When on the course all day , delicious box lunches were provided. All other meals were at a restaurant at Ramada. Food was good and the staff was very nice. The only complaint was breakfast -we were given tickets and a choice of eggs/bacon/hash browns or a continental breakfast. Anything else you paid for. Many of the group would have liked cereal as a choice. The jazz program was interesting. The instructor had records and videos of the artists discussed. He also had a good sense of humor - I think there were about 36 people at this program - mainly married couples but also single women/ father and son. A congenial group. We were given Wednesday afternoon off and there is plenty to see and do. Many visited the Sonoran Desert Museum -an interesting and worthwhile exhibit of desert plants and animals. email@example.com __________________ ST. NICHOLAS RANCH CONFERENCE AND RETREAT CENTER 05688-0107/2001 EXPERIENCE GREECE WITHOUT LEAVING THE USA After driving into the remote Sierra Nevada Mountains a new church sitting high in the foothills leads you to St Nicholas. Cozy rooms, an abundance of tasty Greek style meals and the affable coordinator Eleni Tsagaris were all part of the hospitality ascribed to the Centers namesake. Drs. Victor Hansen, Bruce Helling and Harry Costis thoroughly led us on a very interesting journey through Greek Mythology and the Golden Age of Classics. Dave McFadden lectured on the flora and fauna in the area and Frank Helling presented an equally entertaining monologue on the life of John Muir. Evening were filled with slide presentations and movies of Greece, Greek dancing demonstrations and a visit to the women's monastery. This was a well orchestrated program and a must for anyone contemplating a trip to Greece. Carl Larson Ou8j@aol.com ___________________________ Tybee Island, Georgia I recently attended an Elderhostel hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University and held on Tybee Island, GA. We stayed at the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort which speaks for itself. Meals were at the Sunrise Restaurant, a couple of blocks away. Meals were buffet style and quite good. There were three very interesting courses. - Basin to 52nd Street explored jazz and ended on Thursday evening with a live 2 hour concert by a 5 piece combo. - Savannah's Streets and Squares included a day in Savannah's historic district. - Forts, Flags, and Generals was presented by "Robert E. Lee" in authentic costume followed by a tour of historic forts in the area. We had a terrific coordinator with a delightful sense of humor. I would highly recommend this Elderhostel. Bobroyle@aol.com _____________ OLYMPIC PARK INSTITUTE/QUINAULT/KALALOCH 47130-1114/1999 RAIN FOREST AND WILDERNESS COAST We stayed at the rustic Lake Quinault Lodge on the southern edge of the Olympia National Forest. The buffet style food was very good. In our room was a complimentary rain poncho and we had ample opportunity to use it. Maybe that's why it's called a rain forest? We were introduced to the surrounding environment by a number of local experts on and were given the opportunity to observe first hand on our trail walks. On Wednesday, after a trip to a fish hatchery, we moved to the Kalaloch Lodge on the Pacific Ocean. We had nice cozy cabins over looking the beach. After a couple of lectures, one from a Danish expert on mosses and lichens, we walked the tide pools along the coast. Our young coordinators Justine Chorley and Ian Miller went out of their way to be informative and helpful. It was a very interesting experience. Carl Larson Ou8j@aol.com ________________ Okefenokee Swamp Critters Creatures Georgia Southern Univ. RV Elderhostel Feb. 4-9, 2001 Want to see alligators sunning on the bank nearby and swimming alongside your boat? How about spotting a pileated woodpecker on a day bird hike and a barred owl above you on a night boat trip? Or seeing a fox loping across the road with deer grazing nearby? Want to visit Billy's Island where settlers once lived deep in the midst of the swamp and later in the week hear shape note singing by some descendants of pioneers? This and more was experienced in the RV Elderhostel Feb. 4-9 which we recommend to others. Held in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge our campsite was in the Stephen Foster State Park on one of the islands in the swamp. Although EH sponsor was Georgia Southern Univ. in charge of basic planning, state park interpreter Jackie Clay was the host and in effect the coordinator. We learned about the critters and creatures and also the history of the Okefenokee. Don Berryhill of Valdosta State was a principle teacher about the plant and animal wildlife being protected in the Refuge. Other presentations were made by Jackie and other staff members on bee keeping, forest management, Indian habitation, endangered species, alligators, etc. Fortunately the weather was perfect: cool nights with warm sunny days. So it was a great week for exploring the biodiversity in the swamp by hiking and boating and just camping in the oak-pine forest. Each of the fourteen participants ate breakfast in their own RV rigs. Lunch was limited sandwich fixings. But dinners were home cooked and delicious. We've got copies of Lila's recipes for sweet potato souffle, blueberry crunch, zucchini relish, key lime pie. We hope that more EH programs will be developed for those who enjoy camping in their trailers, vans, and motor homes. This is the 3rd such RV one of our 16 Elderhostels. Glad to answer any inquiries. BTW, we've signed up for the EH on "Ireland: Heritage and Culture" in early September. Any suggestions on extra travel there? (Please see comments elsewhere about the liability waiver issue) Bill Lee Longman, Springfield, MO firstname.lastname@example.org