EH Notebook #113     JAN 7, 2003

Welcome to EH Notebook, the e-zine where e-friends who have 
attended Elderhostel programs can compare notes. 

There is an independent but cooperatively maintained index to old 
issues at    http://members.aol.com/ehindex 

To subscribe to the e-mail publication and/or to submit reviews of 
programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Bob McAllester, at 

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

     From the Editor's Notebook

I have been asked if I have any special influence with Boston.  
No, I am an Elderhostel enthusiast just like the rest of you.  I 
do think that collectively we have an influence.  Keep your 
comments and reviews coming, good and bad.  Just remember that 
they will never be able to completely satisfy all of us.

I sometimes get comments like "Sorry, forgot how to fudge on 
address--please change it".  You only have to know how to defudge 
the address if you want to contact one of the contributors.  I use 
Microsoft Word to format the EH Notebook and so I use the Replace 
function of the Edit menu to fudge them all at once.

Bob McAllester

    Comments and Queries

We would really appreciate it if all reviewers would give 
sufficient information to help guide those of us who have some 
physical restrictions.  How much walking?  What terrain?  Steps?  
Any basic info.  Many of us are not wheel chair bound, we can walk 
but we need to know what to expect.

Thank you for any help you can share.

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We have registered for the March 16-21 New Orleans course given by 
the Center for New Orleans Studies/French Quarter. Can someone who 
has attended give us some feedback?

Bob   Diane Levine

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My travel buddy and I are interested in attending a program 
sponsored by College of William and Mary/Williamsburg.  There are 
several programs at the site which sound interesting, especially 
"Discovering Historic Williamsburg..."  We would like to have 
feedback from anyone who has attended one of these programs.


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One of the problems I have with Elderhostel programs is food.    
Despite my cautioning directors ahead of time of my gerd 
condition, my requests are usually not honored.  The simplest 
solution I see to my (and many others have same) problem is to 
have all meals buffet style.  I'm sure this would prevent a lot of 
garbage (it's pathetic to see the amount thrown out) and keep the 
escalating cost of the programs somewhat down.

I've done 35 programs and usually include comments like this (and 
they are monitored by Boston), but when I attend some programs, 
seems that directors have deaf ears.  If this continues, I'll be 
limiting the number of programs that I'll attend drastically.

Your fellow Elderhostel junkie
Leonard Rogus

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Has anyone taken the Hawaii National Parks Elderhostel?
How active is it?  (We don't like sitting in classrooms!)
Any info would be appreciated.


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In Elderhostel discussions, access for people with disabilities is 
a recurring concern.  Included are participants with minor 
infirmities, those who may not appear disabled but yet encounter 
some difficulties with walking, lifting, seeing or hearing.  

Many who attend Elderhostel programs have heart problems, hip or 
knee replacements, arthritis, etc.  Concerns about accessibility 
will continue to increase in the future because today's active 
baby boomers will be reluctant to give up Elderhostel, or travel 
in general, as they age. 

The Dallas Morning News recently addressed such issues in a 
lengthy, informative article by Candy B. Harrington titled "Have 
Disabilities, Will Travel."   For any Elderhostelers who may be 
interested, it is posted at:           

Ms. Harrington gives tips for obtaining barrier-free access on the 
ground, in the air, on trains, buses, or cruises.  Lists of 
resources, with contact information, are included.  


    Program Reviews

To use an e-mail address, substitute
the "at symbol" for the 3 characters $A$.


     U. Of Wisconsin, Baraboo, Sauk County 
     Japan by Rail: Faces Through Time 
     U. of Hawaii at Hilo and Kauai Historical Consortium
     Bay Area Classic Learning / Tiburon, CA

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U. Of Wisconsin, Baraboo, Sauk County
October 6-11, 2002

The Ringling Bros Circus World Museum,
Wisconsin Dells Geology,
The International Crane Foundation,
Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece Taliesin

Various, in the town of Baraboo, the Wisconsin River through the 
Wisconsin Dells (cruise) and surrounding areas.

Very luxurious large Antigua Bay resort (in the midst of the 
tourist area) with 2 swimming pools, sauna, laundry, restaurant.  
The rooms were very comfortable with cable TV and all necessities 

Daily breakfast buffet (cereal, fruit, bread, juice, hot 
coffee/tea).  Lunches and dinners varied in various locations and 
quality.  The meals in the hotel were served by a very caring 

Classes (subject matter):
Presented by very qualified presenters both indoors and outdoors

Circus museum (world's largest archive of circus memorabilia)and 
the ringling brothers sites by Gordon Emery.

Geology by Prof Diann Kiesel (who took us on a walking field trip 
through fantastic rock formations and Devil's Lake State Park as 
well as on a great cruise lecture for several hours).

The staff of the International Crane Foundation;  The H.H. Bennett 
Studio and Museum (outstanding photos of the dells area);  Frank 
Lloyd Wright's Taliesin complex

Coordinator:  Maureen Reilly was most courteous and accommodating 
to 42 of us participants.

One of the real bonuses of this experience was seeing the 
absolutely gorgeous fall colors of Wisconsin  (we even had an old-
fashioned train ride through the back-woods areas)

Over-all evaluation:
Great for lovers of Wisconsin and the outdoors and circus buffs 
(but you must be able to walk over rough terrain---bring a walking 

Leonard Rogus       

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Train Treks

Japan by Rail: Faces Through Time 

This interested us because of its inclusion of train 
transportation and going throughout Japan.  Starting at Sapporo (a 
very cosmopolitan place) we had an overnight trip by train that 
went under the tunnel connecting to Honshu Island and our second 
stop--Kanazawa. Situated on the extreme western coast, Kanazawa 
should have had part of its Oct. quota of 7.5 inches of rain while 
we were there in October.  But there seemed to be a drought in 
many areas in which we traveled, so only 1 1/2 days had any rain 
at all. As you are going from top to tip of Japan (Nagasaki is on 
Kyushu, the southern most major island), we expected cooler 
weather up north,  but got a reverse--and nothing cold.  Although 
this upset our clothing plans   made for more "washing up",  we 
had glorious golden days during Oct. 9 through the 18th.   
Evidence that there is major rain were the frequent compartmented 
parking racks for umbrellas in stores and restaurants!

Our schedule followed that given in the catalogue with the 
pleasant exception of one less day in Sapporo and one additional 
one in Kanazawa,  not a famous place,  but an enchanting town 
built around a former shogun palace and easily walkable.

Hotels were very nice, clean, with comfortable beds and ample 
furnishings--if you don't mind missing CNN,  you'll be well-
served.   We were located where we were in the midst of things in 
each case.  Since these were on secondary alley-like roads that 
don't accommodate buses, most transportation was by a string of 
cabs that quickly accommodated our 28 member group.  All was paid 
for by our Japanese guide "mothers" who did a fine job of 
coordinating the complex arrangements for our stay. Cab drivers 
wear suits and ties and white gloves.   Cabs sport lace 
slipcovers and some are dual powered.

Breakfasts were always buffet in the hotel with English or 
Japanese choices available. Beyond that, we ate various places:  
private dining rooms, hotel buffets, restaurants, museum 
lunchrooms, etc.  Several opportunities for eating off on our own 
came complete with 1000 yen notes for covering the cost.   Yes,   
there were always chopsticks--but regular silver for those less 
adventuresome, and eating was an adventure.  Lots of fish (some 
sushi) and other seafood, huge bowls of fruit of excellent 
quality, salads, stews and chicken in various forms, plus 
occasionally expensive beef.  But all was always served in a 
beautiful pictorial construction, even if you weren't always 
sure what you were eating, and there was always enough to choose 
from.  Desserts were tiny serving of cakes usually.  All was VERY 
Japanese--but that is what we were there for!

Plenty of variety in activities as well!  Lots of walking seeing 
neighborhoods,  gardens, temples, and museums first-hand.   
Classes with fine and interesting instructors who acquainted us 
with history of the land and its religions, art, theater,  
music, costuming, and politics.  Most presentors were Japanese 
speaking with an interpreter doing the English version for us.   
In two cases we had a New Zealander   and expatriate U. S. man 
talk to us, plus a Japanese one-time Fullbright Scholar who'd 
been a Naval cadet when the WWII ended   kept us spellbound for 
nearly three hours after an already full day.  All were held in 
up-to-date facilities.

Japan IS expensive, so the all-inclusive Elderhostel costs of 
well over $6,000 per person is understandable   you didn't have to 
spend a cent more if you ignored shopping!  There is no tipping 
which is standard Elderhostel.  Go to this wonderful place where 
everyone stops until the traffic light turns green,  where you 
are treated royally by bank clerks and wait people in restaurants,  
clerks in stores,   and all you meet.  And where you needn't 
worry about theft.

Can't neglect mentioning beautiful Nagasaki with its beautiful 
harbor and surrounding mountain ring.  Our Elderhostel ended atop 
one of the mountains at a lovely dinner overlooking the city at 
night preceded  by a sensational "rising sun" type of sunset.

Only two caveats.  Japan Air seats seem made for Japanese bodies 
and were really constricting for that long of a trip.  And the 
"box" lunches of cold Japanese food that we had occasion to eat 
for the train rides were pretty unappetizing to most of us.  That 
said, this is an Elderhostel that measures up to any trip we've 
ever made overseas.

Vel and Bill Dysart

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University of Hawaii at Hilo and Kauai Historical Consortium

The Elderhostel catalog listed this as a ten-night 
program, with 5 nights on Kauai and 5 nights on the Big Island of 
Hawaii.  In actuality, they turned out to be two separate, very 
dissimilar programs.  Since they were sponsored by different 
institutions, with different policies and different coordinators, 
they are being reviewed separately. 

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Kauai Historical Consortium Kauai, 
Hawaii November 12 - 17, 2002 

The location for the Kauai program was one of the best in the 
world, an island of breathtaking natural beauty.  The hotel and 
food were fine, the weather was ideal, but the program itself left 
much to be desired.  It was poorly organized with a watered-down 
itinerary, resulting in one disappointment after another.

The person listed on the handouts as our Elderhostel coordinator 
was with us for only the first and last nights.  She was 
apparently the "official" coordinator, at least on paper, since 
she was the only one who signed the certificates we received.  
Throughout the program, we had a substitute coordinator, a local 
man obviously unfamiliar with Elderhostel policies and procedures.  
He told us that he had never seen an Elderhostel catalog and was 
unaware of their existence until we started talking about them.  

We expected to have the usual Elderhostel "get acquainted" 
introductions the first night or the second day, but there were 
none at any time during this program. 

Some of the participants received evaluation forms, while others 
did not.

A school bus was available for trips each day.  We were taken to 
the Kauai Museum one day and Grove Farm Homestead Museum the next.  
Instead of logically grouping the places of interest in each area 
together and including a number of them on the same trip, we would 
be driven directly to and from our destination without visiting 
any of the other attractions along the way. 

If we expressed an interest in seeing a nearby attraction along 
the route, the stock reply would be "It's not on the schedule" or 
"There's not enough time."  We were then taken back to the hotel, 
where nothing else would be scheduled until dinnertime, several 
hours later.

This program had a lot of wasted time.  Classes and dinners seldom 
started when they were scheduled.  If we had been told in advance 
when there were going to be delays, then we could have spent the 
extra time outdoors instead of sitting around in the hotel waiting 
for the next activity to begin.

Classes held inside the musty hotel meeting room would have been 
much more appropriately presented out in the field.  For example, 
we were shown slides of the picturesque Kilauea Lighthouse and 
Wildlife Refuge. The area, less than 20 miles from our hotel, is 
famous for its wide variety of seabirds and for spectacular 
panoramic views of the island's windswept northern shoreline. 
After sitting through the slide presentation, we naturally 
expected that we would be taken out there to see the sights for 
ourselves.  When we inquired, we learned that we would not be 
going there because it was "not on the schedule."  

Our coordinator did not seem to comprehend that we had flown 
halfway across the Pacific Ocean to experience this beautiful 
island firsthand, not to sit around indoors looking at slides or 
videos about it.  If that was what we had wanted to do, we could 
have saved a great deal of money simply by staying at home and 
watching the Travel Channel.

There were some beautiful waterfalls located only a short distance 
from the main highway that we traveled each day.  Opaekaa Falls 
and Wailua Falls are described in the guide books as attractions 
"Not To Be Missed."  We missed them. 

Kauai is renowned for a number of its famous beaches that 
continually appear on the lists of the most attractive beaches in 
the world.  We were not taken to any of them.  

The beach behind our hotel was too dangerous for swimming.  There 
was a safe, sheltered swimming beach at a lovely park a few miles 
down the road, but we were never taken there.  We weren't even 
taken to see the historic buildings in the interesting, quaint 
nearby village of Kapaa (a five-minute drive away). 

We had arrived with high expectations for this program, described 
as "Hawaii Beyond The Postcard: A Cultural and Natural History 
Experience."  Near the end of the week, when we realized how 
little we would be getting from this program, several of us rented 
cars in order to provide some of the experience "beyond the 
postcard" for ourselves.  

The ultimate disappointment occurred on our trip to the 
magnificent Waimea Canyon, the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific."  
That was to be the highlight of the program, the one to which we 
had looked forward all week.  Along the canyon road are a series 
of scenic overlooks.  Two of the most spectacular views occur at 
the Kalalau and Puuo Kila Lookouts, described as "one of the 
greatest views in the Pacific" and "A Real Gem."  

To our disbelief, we were taken to only ONE Waimea Canyon lookout!   
We did not go to the Kalalau or Puuo Kila lookouts, although we 
were only a short distance from them.  When we asked to see them, 
we received the reply --- (Yes, you have already guessed) ---
"They're not on the schedule."  

If you have been to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, can you imagine 
driving all the way out there, stopping at only one of the 
magnificent overlooks, then turning around and leaving without 
seeing any of the other views?  If so, you have an idea of how 
badly cheated we felt.

Someone remarked that it seemed very strange, as though the agenda 
had been deliberately stripped down to the bare minimum necessary 
to qualify it as an Elderhostel program.

At the final dinner, our coordinator announced that he was putting 
a bucket at the back of the room for tips, adding that they were 
optional.  We had never before heard an Elderhostel coordinator 
make such an announcement.

Several participants in our group, new to Elderhostel, were 
unaware that gratuities were already included in the cost of the 
program.  Upon hearing the announcement they naturally assumed 
that they were expected to leave tips, and so they did.   

Kauai is a small island with good roads.  The attractions are 
close together. With a rental car, a road map and a good guide 
book or two, you can visit Kauai on your own, easily plan your own 
itinerary and experience a program far superior to the one we had 
with Elderhostel.  You can even have the guided tours at the 
museums and botanical gardens because they are available to all 
visitors, not just to organized groups.  This Elderhostel program 
has a lot of potential, but it is badly in need of an overhaul.  
Some planning and caring would go a long way here.  

As Elderhostel enthusiasts who love Kauai, we are hoping the 
program will be revamped and greatly improved if it is to be 
offered again in the future.


Editors note:
A copy of this review was sent to several people at 
Elderhostel.org immediately after receiving it.  Grace and I are 
going to attend this same Elderhostel in March.  I hope that we 
will have a better report.

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University of Hawaii at Hilo 
The "Big Island" of Hawaii 
November 17 - 22, 2002

This outstanding program was a winner in every respect, one of the 
very best Elderhostels we have ever attended.

For starters, the setting alone made it unique.  Not too many 
Elderhostel programs are held on an island with active volcanoes 
and lava flows.  On top of that, the program was extremely well 
organized and run.  It was easy to see that the itinerary had been 
carefully planned to make each day's activities as enjoyable and 
informative as possible.

It is often said that the Elderhostel coordinator is the one who 
can make or break a program.  The success of this program was 
clearly due to the efforts of its knowledgeable and caring 
coordinator, Claudia Ziroli-Coyl.  She knocked herself out to show 
us around and make sure that we had the best experiences possible.  

We could tell it was going to be good right from the very 
beginning.  Our group arrived in Hilo early in the afternoon, 
before our hotel rooms were ready.  Claudia met us at the airport 
with leis for everyone.  Instead of dumping us at the hotel to sit 
around waiting for our rooms to be serviced, she took us out to 
beautiful nearby Nani Mau Gardens.  There, she gave us a guided 
tour, identifying all the exotic plants and flowers.  On the way 
back to the hotel, we stopped for coffee and ice-cream at a candy 
factory where we watched the workers on the assembly line making 
candy while we enjoyed our treats.  

By the time we got back to the hotel, our rooms were ready.  It 
was off-season and the hotel had vacancies, so we were all 
upgraded to better rooms on the higher floors at no additional 
charge.  Our rooms each had full floor-to-ceiling glass walls that 
provided magnificent views overlooking the water, with Mauna Kea 
and Mauna Loa volcanoes in the distance.  We could lie in bed 
watching the sunrise each morning and the ships below us entering 
and leaving the bay.

With field trips every day, almost all of our classes were held 
on-site at the locations that we were studying so that we could 
experience the attractions for ourselves.  We had excellent 
speakers as our instructors and guides, who sometimes took us to 
places behind-the-scenes where tourists cannot go on their own. 

As we traveled along on the bus, or when visiting sites that had 
no official guide (such as waterfalls and beaches), Claudia 
herself functioned as instructor, providing us with commentary 
about the plants, wildlife, geological and historical features of 
each area.

To supplement a class on Hawaii's Unique Marine Environment, we 
were taken out to Onekahakaha Beach reef (Love those Hawaiian 
names!) to wade or snorkel in the lagoon, gathering and studying 
its abundant marine life.  Claudia identified and described the 
assortment of creepy-looking little critters that our group 
collected from beneath the rocks. After taking pictures of them, 
we released them all and then enjoyed a nice picnic lunch at 
tables overlooking the water. 

If there was anything that anyone wanted to see or do, Claudia 
made it happen. This conscientious coordinator planned our routing 
each day to include as many highlights as possible, taking us on 
detours to see the waterfalls, rain forests, scenic bypass roads 
and overlooks along the way.  

We spent a full day at Volcanoes National Park.  Our guide there 
was a geoscientist and volcano video specialist, a friend of 
Claudia's, who took us up into the observatory that is not open to 
the public.  We stopped at all the crater overlooks around the 
Crater Rim Trail, the sulfur banks and steam vents, walked through 
the Thurston Lava Tube and along the Devastation Trail. 

In the town of Hilo, we visited a wonderful farmer's market - flea 
market where we had a chance to meet and mingle with the local 
people.  There, we saw and tasted unusual fruits and vegetables 
that we had never seen before. 

At the nearby Pacific Tsunami Museum, the museum director 
presented a very interesting program about tsunamis.

We took a trip to the coastal area below the volcano where entire 
villages had been wiped out by lava flows.  There, a local woman, 
from one of the villages that had been destroyed, was our 
guide/speaker.  She took us back into the area where she lived, 
beyond the barricade where the road is closed to the public.  It 
was quite a sight to behold.  We walked out on the lava flows, 
where she told us poignant stories about the lives of her family 
members and others who had lived there.  

On the last day, we had a special treat.  After a picnic lunch, we 
spent several hours swimming and floating around in Ahalanui 
Geothermal pool, a beautiful volcanically heated spring and ocean-
fed pool at the edge of the ocean, surrounded by palm trees. 

Our thoughtful coordinator went above and beyond, impressing us 
all with her concern for our comfort and enjoyment.  When we went 
walking at the reef, she brought along hiking poles and reef shoes 
for us.  When we visited places where we would be out in the sun, 
she provided large umbrellas.  When we went swimming at the beach, 
she gave us towels so that we would not need to bring our own from 
the hotel.  She even brought along what she called "floaties" for 
everyone (those long noodle things for playing around in the 
water).  At picnic lunches, we were not only given choices of 
sandwiches and beverages, but of snacks as well.

We found out that Claudia also offers programs on some of the 
other Hawaiian islands from time to time.  If you are planning to 
attend an Elderhostel program in Hawaii, we would suggest trying 
to find one that has Claudia Ziroli-Coyl as its coordinator.  Any 
program that she runs is bound to be topnotch.

It was a fascinating Elderhostel program, very highly recommended.  
We had a wonderful time from beginning to end.  


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Bay Area Classic Learning / Tiburon 
December 8 -13, 2002 

The Tiburon site has been reviewed in the first issue of the 
Notebook (March 96) and in issues 32, 35, 55, 77 and 84.  It meets 
in an old but very comfortable hotel, across the Golden Gate 
Bridge from San Francisco.  It is handicapped accessible.  No 
special diets are offered but the food is served buffet style, 
which allows you to select from the limited offering (single 

This was our fifth Elderhostel with BACL, the third at Tiburon.  
Our first two were at Pacifica, which is no longer being used by 

The three courses at this program were:

John Rothmann - Defeated Presidential Candidates
It is intriguing to contemplate what might have been if some of 
these candidates had been elected.  John captivates the attention 
of the entire class as he describes each of these candidates that 
ran but never won a presidential election.

Grover Sales -- The Great Duke Ellington
This is the fascinating life story of Duke Ellington, his music 
and the fellow musicians with whom he worked.  We all gyrated to 
the music.

Roberta Shaw -- One thousand years of Russian Art History
We thought that this was going to be the sleeper course, but we 
found that the art history was integrally connected to the 
political history of Russia.  We all came out with a better 
knowledge of the history of Russia and its art.  I didn't notice 
anyone sleeping during the course.

The magnet that keeps drawing us back to Tiburon is John Rothmann.  
We are signed up to return again for his course on Richard Nixon 
(Mar 23-28).  When we tell friends we are going to study Richard 
Nixon, the reaction is usually quite negative but I expect it to 
give a unique perspective into the White House, the arrogance and 
temptations that can go with it.  I also expect it to reveal more 
of the life of John Rothmann who I find intriguing.

Grace and Bob McAllester