Elderhostel Notebook#26, May 2, 1998

Elderhostel Notebook  is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens.

It provides a place for elderhostlers to share information about
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    From the Editors Notebook

    Elderhostel Reviews


    Editor's Notebook

 Maggie and I have just returned from an Elderhostel at Henry
Horton State park just a few miles south of Nashville, Tennessee.
We'll be writing a report for the next issue and may have some

In the last issue I promised some discussion of the general
issues involved in going to an elderhostel as a single. I think I
will do that outside of the newsletter  and file it in the
archives as a retrievable standalone along with some other
general issues that come up from time to time such as the issue
referred to in one of the personals in this issue- that of
arranging your own transportation to international elderhostels.

Most of these are covered very well by the FAQ (frequently asked
questions) section at the elderhostel web site, but I'll try to
add comments from readers who occasionally give some input to
augment the official Elderhostel perspective.

   Elderhostel Reviews

Copper Canyon Elderhostel
Marian Leach 

>From sea level to 8,000 feet, the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad
climbs up the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains through 86
tunnels and across 37 bridges. The views from the train were
spectacular for the 42 elderhostelers and four guides from
Geronimo Educational Travel Service who traveled for an
unforgettable week on a comfortable private car.

Begun in 1871 and not completed until 196l at a cost of $90
million, the railroad is an engineering marvel. In one place it
makes a complete loop as it crosses over itself. For much of the
distance the road bed is carved into the side of the canyon

The Copper Canyon area is really a series of interconnected
canyons, more extensive and deeper than the Grand Canyon of
Arizona. We were surprised to see how heavily wooded most of the
area is, not principally rocky like the Grand Canyon.

We flew to Los Mochis near the Sea of Cortez coast where we spent
the first night at the Hotel Santa Anita.
(Don't-drink-the-water-don't- even-brush-your-teeth-with-it, here
or anywhere else in Mexico.) Up early the next morning, we
boarded the train for a six-hour ride to Bahuichivo, a small town
where our car was put on a siding, and we got on a bus for a
bumpy ride to Cerocahui where we spent the next two nights. This
small town, located in a pretty valley, is the site of an old
Spanish mission dating from 1592. The hotel rooms here were
heated by wood stoves, and we had electricity only from 6:00 to
10:00 p.m and 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., but we managed nicely. The other
hotels were fully modern with private rooms and private baths.

The next day we were taken to a dramatic overlook above the
Urique Valley for a picnic lunch. T-bone steaks were served with
plenty of vegetables. Generally the food was good during the week
except we got a little tired of the ubiquitous flan for dessert.
Another day in Cerocahui we visited the Tarahumara Indian girls'
boarding school.

Back on the train we journeyed to Creel, just beyond the highest
elevation on the railroad, where we spent another two nights. We
took trips to visit Tarahumara Indian families on a small rancho
and in a cave home. They live a very primitive existence. A nice
little museum displayed Tarahumara craft work. The women are
adept at weaving all sorts of beautiful baskets of pine needles
and split rushes, and elderhostelers availed themselves of the
opportunity to purchase these.

Then it was back again on the train to begin the journey down.
The next night was spent at the Posada Barrancas Hotel near
Divisadero. Built right on the cliff overlooking the spot where
three canyons converge, each room had a balcony with a
breath-taking view.

Here we were given a demonstration of the Tarahumara method of
men's foot-racing where they must kick a wooden ball ahead of
them. The women race with a stick and small hoops.

The last night was spent in a colonial governor's former home in
El Fuerte, now remodeled into a fine hotel with beautifully
blooming gardens and colorful bougainvillea.

What did we learn? We had lectures on the spiritual beliefs and
culture of the Tarahumaras, the history and building of the
railroad, the geology of the canyon, all very interesting. We
learned about the flora from the beautiful pink-blooming Amara,
white-flowering morning glory, and kapok trees to the cordon
cacti (similar to organ pipe)and others. We were entertained by
young people doing Spanish dances, by guitar music and singing.

We couldn't have asked for nicer, more knowledgeable and helpful
guides. They were great and took very good care of us! It was
probably the most unique elderhostel we have attended.

Art and Marian Leach

-editor's note: Photos of this elderhostel are included in  the
photo page at the notebook web site.


American Foreign Service Association Elderhostel
Arlington, Va.

"Far and away the best we have attended" was my evaluation as
well as that of many of my fellow Elderhostelers in reacting to
the extremely well organized March 29-April 3, 1998 program
sponsored by the American Foreign Service Association.

Classes were conducted mostly by former U.S. Ambassadors at the
Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia where we were quartered in
clean and comfortable rooms albeit with few amenities.
Concentration was on the operations of the U.S. Foreign Service
as well as on current broad issues such as terriorism, selective
morality, etc.

Each program has an area of specialization; ours was Southeast
Europe. In the course of exploring in depth the Greek, Turkish
and Cyprian political climates we visited the Greek Embassy and
had the opportunity to discuss his country's politics with the

Other field trips took us to the State Department, the Foreign
Service Institute (where we observed Consular Officers in
training) and a delightful lunch (with wine, no less) at the
Bacon House.

Food at the Comfort Inn started out as being very institutional
but improved noticeably as the week went on. Despite a full
schedule of classes and field trips, the convenience of the Metro
(10 minute walk) provided quick access to our Nation's Capital
for those interested in sightseeing.


SENIORNET ELDERHOSTEL, Friday Harbor, WA, April 5-11, 1998
Joy Rising 

Ruth McCormick, representing SeniorNet*, and Marilyn Campbell,
Program Director of Elderhostel programs for Skagit Valley
College, working together, agreed to sponsor a 6 night
Elderhostel program in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands of
Washington. The sponsoring of a program by a nonprofit
organization through an existing Elderhostel institution is one
of the ways that Elderhostel is experimenting with new types of
programs, and such programs are not listed in the catalog.
SeniorNet had sponsored its first Elderhostel program two years
ago through the Center for Studies of the Future in southern
California. It was oversubscribed! Such success called for
another program.

This SeniorNet program was held April 5-11 in a superb location,
Friday Harbor, in the beautiful San Juan Islands. Just getting to
the town is worth the trip as you take an hour and a half ferry
ride through the scenery of green islands with the possibility of
seeing eagles, seals, porpoises, and Orca whales. Or you can fly
over Puget Sound in a float plane from Seattle to land right
beside the dock at Friday Harbor as my roommate did.

Those of us who like to daydream about taking boats to far away
places can stand on the docks and watch boats coming and going
all day. But if you are interested in the classes, you don't have
to go far. We spent one morning on the docks with our excellent
teacher of "San Juan Island Marine History", examining the
colored algae, anemones, barnacles, and other marine life. Some
of us were able to feed and pat a so-smooth harbor seal who swims
in when the fish store on the dock opens up.

The outstanding parts of this Elderhostel were the
Elderhostelers, the staff, the accommodations, and the bus day
trip around the Island. There were 14 Elderhostelers and
surprisingly, 3 were not even on the Internet, and several were
not part of SeniorNet. I, myself, am not part of SeniorNet, but
was very pleased that Jim Olson mentioned the Elderhostel in an
issue of this newsletter. The type of people who like to work
with computers and who are interested enough to be on the
Internet, are a bright, inquisitive group. One of the married
couples had met through SeniorNet, a story in itself. Some of our
group had physical problems, but the Skagit Valley College staff
handled whatever came up with aplomb.

In our free time Elderhostelers took advantage of Friday Harbor's
Whaling Museum, enjoyed a boat tour to see the marine animals,
rode the free ferry to nearby islands, or walked around town
looking in the many galleries, 5 bookstores, and interesting
tourist shops. Warner Brothers is filming the movie, "Practical
Magic" on the Island, and we peeked down onto the set in the
County Park where a huge house was being built and 20 foot fake
trees being planted.

The Inn at Friday Harbor, a two story motel, is particularly well
set up for Elderhostel programs and the Elderhostel staff has
years of experience. This location is a supersite (running more
than 20 Elderhostel programs a year) so any bugs have long ago
been worked out. The pre-program written materials and the
handouts are excellent. There is a variety of classes offered.
The Inn provides large, attractive double rooms on the ground
floor, (singles are possible), with TV, 2 queen beds, local phone
and a nice bath. The Inn had an indoor swimming pool, hot tub,
and tourist shop. Primarily for Elderhostel the owners had built
a classroom, an adjacent dining room, and a small Elderhostel
office on the second floor. An outdoor elevator was provided that
sometimes took teamwork to operate.

It all comes together very well, and I would highly recommend
this Elderhostel, with or without SeniorNet.

*Many thanks to Ruth McCormick, a volunteer for SeniorNet, for
all the work she did. If you want to know more about SeniorNet,
look at their Web site at .

Joy Rising  jrising@citcom.net


Elderhostel Review - Armstrong Atlantic State University,
Savannah, Ga. - Course No. 10112-04055-1, Week of April 5



1. The Art of Communications
2. Savannah's Historical Splendor
3. Chamber Music Made Less Challenging

The program included a half-day visit to nearby Tybee Island and
its Marine Sciences Museum.

We took the program with friends George and Marian of Cocoa
Beach, Fla., and we all found this to be one of our most pleasant
and well-organized Elderhostel experiences to date.

Program participants are housed in a new Days Inn just off
Abercorn Street - one of the city's main drags - approximately .8
of a mile from AASU's 250-acre, heavily-wooded campus in
Savannah's southern outskirts. Breakfast is available at the
motel or - along with lunch and dinner - at the cafeteria in the
AASU Memorial College Center's basement. Classes are held in the
comfortable Faculty Dining Room on the first floor.

Katie Brooks is the coordinator and we found her to be bright,
efficient and pleasantly effervescent. The EH operation is under
the department of student affairs and its honcho - Dr. Joe Buck -
is the teacher of "The Art of Communications," a how-to course on
how to survive personal and group relationships. AASU also
operates an Elderhostel at its branch on Tybee Island and Dr.
Buck spoke of extending the program to a location in the historic
downtown area and at the nearby "Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum"
in west Savannah. AASU has been hosting Elderhostel programs for
eight years but did not achieve university status until 1996.
According to Dr. Buck, the university sees Elderhosteling as a
major public relations tool and a way of reaching large audiences
unfamiliar with the school and with the Savannah area.

Michael Grose, a member of the Savannah Symphony Orchestry,
provided an entertaining and informative review of chamber music
history and techniques and concluded the program's closing
session with a live and deftly performed rendition of Mozart's
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by a chamber ensemble from the Savannah

A day-long bus and walking tour of historical Savannah's
riverfront, grand houses and magnificent squares was guided by
Paul Blatner, who blended precise information with great wit and
a wry sense of perspective.

Savannah has managed to preserve the finer points of its past and
it's a real pleasure to drive or walk down streets lined with
stately homes through green tunnels provided by stately oaks
trailing pale wisps of spanish moss. Those who dislike modern
vertical cities with their steel, concrete and glass towers
eclipsing human scales will revel in the city - it's a keeper.
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" - the book and the
movie - is still a major selling point but don't go there
expecting to view the Lady Chablis. According to the Savannah
locals, she's left town. And - sure enough - when we got home,
the good Lady Chablis was booked for a one-night stand at a night
club in nearby Daytona Beach.

College cafeteria food is college cafeteria food from sea to
shining sea but the city offers scores of good restaurants
specializing in the local "low country" and many ethnic cuisines.

We found this Elderhostel to be a winner!

Dick Young

ed note: Lady Chablis is the female impersonator who plays a
major role in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"


From: "Jule G. Poirier" 

I just returned from an Elderhostel near Fairhope, Alabama. This
elderhostel  belongs in the "outstanding" category. It was
administered by the University of South Alabama and held on
Mobile Bay in an Episcopal church camp called "Beckwith
Conference Center." We had outstanding teachers with interesting
subjects, great food, super location, good accommodations in a
quiet, scenic location. In my estimation the only drawback was
that attendees need their own transportation as it was about an
hour's drive from the Mobile airport, right through the center of
the city, and no shuttle was provided.

Jule Poirier


From: RLilburn 

We are enrolled to go on the Alaska Cruise on July 7th. Would
like to hear from anyone else who is going. Looking forward to a
great trip, and meeting new friends. This is out of Canada, B.C.
You can email me at RLilburn@aol.com - Thanks Jim

editor's note- Elderhostel has inagurated a series of shipboard
elderhostels. They are not listed in the printed catalog. For
deatils go to the elderhostel home page at


Subject: Cape May, New Jersey
From: WKosl@aol.com

I'm interested in an Elderhostel trip to Cape May this September.
My interest is in birding, among other things, and this is a
place I've always wanted to go to.

Has anyone any experience with this particular trip? Please


Subject: Costa Rica

I received my "Elderhostel Notebook #25" and enjoyed it very
much. I would like to be on the mailing list.


I had the pleasure of attending the Naturalist Study in Costa
Rica with Elderhostel. It was wonderful and I would recommend it
for any active Elderhosteler. Our guide and bus driver were both
with us the entire trip. They were very entertaining and
informed. They met us at the airport and returned with us when
the trip ended. We toured several sections of the country and I
thought the accomodations were great. The bathroom situation at
"Los Inocentes" was a little unusual but It was worth the
inconveinience to stay at the lovely old plantation. Tabacon Hot
Springs at the base of Arenal Volcanoe is a must if you go to
Costa Rica. The local people were wonderful as were the people in
the group I was with.

Marlene Brown


From: "wcarter" 

Has anyone else remarked on the fact that for all Elderhostel's
(fully justified, in my opinion) restrictions on smoking around
any of their activities, if you sign up for an overseas program,
you are at the mercy of Lyons and their choice of airlines?
Presumably for the sake of maximizing profits, their airline
choice seems always to be "National" airlines which do not follow
the US policy on smoke free flights, so that we are cooped up for
hours on end with chain smokers. I have just returned from a
program in Portugal (of which more later) and a friend sat TWO
rows forward of the poison air set, on TAP, and five days later
is still sick. I for one will never again submit myself to this -
if I can't go POO (Program Only), I'll go with Interhostel or
Saga or whatever.

editor's note:

Elderhostel uses a number of travel agencies to arrange for
transportation to and from international elderhostels, but you do
not have to use that transportation in most cases.

The POO acronym that the reader refers to is the Program Only
Option for international elderhostels where the hosteler arranges
for his/her own transportation. It is not always available but
would be a possible solution to this problem, although a very
inconvenient one in some cases.

Here is an excerpt from our March 97 issue discussing this

" You can enroll in an International Elderhostel with the Program
Only Option (available on all but a few overseas programs) and
arrange your own travel to and from the elderhostel. Sometimes
International Elderhostels do not terminate from their point of
origin so you will need to know both the site to travel to and
the one you will depart from if you are on your own making travel
arrangements.  The Program Only Option fee is not listed in the
catalog so you will need to call 617-426-8056 with the number of
your elderhostel program handy and inquire about the Program Only
fee for that program. it will vary according to the travel that
elderhostel has contracted for that program and you will get a
quick courteous response."

See the notebook site for links to both Interhostel and Saga


from: kzwisler@fvcc.cc.mt.us

I would like to highlight a new Elderhostel Program I am offering
this August. It is an outdoor adventure with mountain bike
riding, hiking in Glacier National Park, Tai Chi, Journaling etc.
This particular week is for women only due to the facilities. I
do offer 25 other program weeks each year between May and
October. I am out of Flathead Valley Community College in
Kalipsell, Montana which is 35 miles from Glacier National Park.
Most of my programs have classes on "The Park" and we do two
field trips each week to "The Park". If you would like more info
email me at kzwisler@fvcc.cc.mt.us.


From: Gaoxing@aol.com

Anyone have comments about length and content of the EH extension
to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg?  Was it three days or five?
What time of year did you go and what was weather like?  Also,
any comments on the main trip would be appreciated.  Thanks.