Elderhostel Notebook #28 June 1, 1998

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    From the Editors Notebook

    Elderhostel Reviews

           Tibet   the Border Kingdoms
           STE.GENEVIEVE - Missouri  April l998
           Hilton Head College Center ElderHostel
           Skagway Museum/Alaska Marine Highway/Trail of '98


    Editor's Notebook

No comments this issue- I'll save them for next issue in

   Elderhostel Reviews

 Tibet   the Border Kingdoms

   -  Pat Westerdale   patwest1@netins.net

Lyon Travel, (the designated travel agency for Elderhostel) in
their infinite wisdom, chose to fly me from Chi. to Toronto,
(then 5 hour wait) before I set off west toward HongKong. We flew
by way of Anchorage (with a 2 hours layover for
fueling). Arriving at last in HongKong at 6:30 AM 4/28, we flew
on to Shanghai, where we met our Tour Guide and remaining group.

Did not see much of Shanghai, since it was just an overnight for
the orientation meeting.. The next morning, we were off flying
again (by Dragonaire, a good Chinese domestic line) to Kunming in
the southern province, Hunnan. We attended lectures at Hunnan
University (for 3 mornings) on traditions and cultures of the
Minorities in China, of which there are 75. Then we went
sightseeing the afternoons, and had English conversations with
Univ. students in the evenings (to help them with their English).
The Han people make up 90+% of the population. The Chinese gov't
wanted to emphasize to us that they were giving much support to
the minorities.

This first week also included trips to the different markets
where bartering was the 'call of the day.' At the end of the
first week, I found that the Chinese people were most friendly
and greatly honored us since we represented the older
generation. I was very impressed with the Hotel, The Green Lake
in Kunming. But found out later it is designated for overseas
travelers only. We were the only Americans there, the rest being

At 7:00 am, we met for the trip to airport for the Flight to
Dali. We flew low enough so we could see the good agricultural
practices , like terracing and gravity irrigation, rice, cabbage,
soybeans, wheat and many other truck crops growing.  They farmed
every available flat piece of land, even on top of the hills and
mountains, since this area was close to the tropics, got good
rainfall and had a 3 crop growing season.  Their crops are very
labor intensive, and very little mechanization of farming is
seen.  I'm a retired farmer and found this flight quite

In Dali we studied the life and culture of the Bai people.  They
have their own form of Buddhism.  We stayed at Dali House in the
old part of Dali: the new section was every bit as modern, tall
buildings and all, as any city here in the US.  Their population
was 2.5 - 3 million, a smaller population center.  We were close
to the local market and had fun bartering for all sorts of
trinkets, bottled water and fresh fruit. It was here that I found
my only E-mail outlet.  The charge was 15 yuan, about $1.80 US for
1 email.  Halfway thru the first message I wanted to send the
power went off, and the young fellow operating it said he would
finish sending it later.  (Power outages were quite common)

We had been having Chinese conversation lessons every morning
before breakfast, and I could now say Hello, pleasant day, thank
you, and how much, in Mandarin, but very often I was not
understood since this area also spoke other dialects.

We visited an inland fishing village, where we found salt-water
sea shells that had been dredged from the bottom of the river
channel going thru the lake..  Very antiquated fishing boats, but
quite efficient.  We watched them unload the catches for the day
at 11:00 in the morning.  Every small village had its own temple
or shrine to the Buddha and they were elaborately decorated and
quite beautiful in typical Chinese architecture.

We made a pilgrimage to the Three Pagodas there in Dali, a place
that is often seen in pictures of China.  Originally built in the
3rd or 4th century, they have been rebuilt and maintained
carefully since then.  Many of such structures were destroyed
during the Cultural Revolution.

After three days in Dali, we took a 4 hour bus ride to Lijiang
even closer to the Burma border.  Lijiang was about 9000 feet and
we went higher with each new city, to get us ready for Lhasa,
Tibet which was 12,000 to 13,000 feet.

In Lijiang we had lectures (by our guide, Mr. Li) at the hotel on
the Naxi people and the differences in their life style,
religions and economy. We visited museums and temples and visited
with the local people.. Language did not seem to be a barrier, we
grinned at each other, and hugged the children.

Our evenings were often taken with music or dance concerts of the
traditional cultures.  They were very beautiful and the dancers
quite intent and graceful.

Saturday turned into an interesting day for me.. I developed a
urinary infection, and knowing we were headed for Tibet, where
access to a hospital might be difficult, I conferred with Helen,
one of our Kunming guides as to the best procedure.  She made
arrangements for me to visit a hospital close by with the hotel
assistant manager as an interpreter.

The hospital lacked our standards of sanitation, to say the
least.  But all were very kind to me.  (I was old and they take
good care of the old people.)    The doctor prescribed a medicine
to be mixed with water; brown and evil tasting.  But I was game
and had no better solution, drank the stuff 3 times a day and by
the second day, symptoms were gone and I felt much better.
Continued medicine for two more days and was really cured.

There is so much to tell, but I've tried to hit the highlights...

Think I'd go again if I had a chance. 

Pat / IL

editors note- this report has been abridged. For the full report
including the final week go to the Seniornet Elderhostel forum at


CO. 17-22 May 1998
    Charlie Dolson  cdolson@ipa.net

Active Elderhostelers with a scientific bent and who like
extensive, participative field trips will do no better than this
superior program.

LODGING: In dorm rooms at Mesa State College in Grand Junction,
CO. Our building was almost brand new so everything was still in
first class condition. Each two bedrooms share a common bath.
There is a large screen TV on the third floor. The building has
an elevator. Single supplement was $50.

MEALS: Our program occurred during the semester break. Food
service is contracted to Marriott and, with relatively few to
feed, they did very, very well by us. Full breakfast every
morning. Two meat entrees every night. The field trip box lunches
were far above standard Elderhostel fare. All in all - both
quality and quantity were surprising good. In all honesty, it is
unlikely that future Elderhostels will do as well unless also
scheduled when there is almost nobody else on campus.

COURSES: Super! An all day geology tour of the Colorado National
Monument. A day at 10,000 feet collecting fossils (yes, you get
to keep what you find - unless they are of museum quality in
which case you will probably be encouraged to make a gift to
science). A day at an excavation site where you actively
participate in digging out dinosaur bones (this got suspiciously
close to hard work - but great fun nevertheless!). A day in a
paleontology lab cleaning bones older than your own and trying to
figure out how they fit together (with only partial success in my

The Friday morning program was the only weak point. The drive to
see dinosaur footprints in a stream bed was overly long for the
(to me) only barely discernible prints.

Lectures delivered during the field trips were superior to those
I've had at other Elderhostels. The instructors were excellent
and the content, while not overly technical, was well above the
superficial level.

The Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science was meeting at the
school during our program. We were invited to attend their
evening lectures. Mostly very good but, as with the meal
situation, not typical of Elderhostel programs.

SUMMARY: As good as it was I don't think ours was the everyday
program. Were I going again, I think I'd call beforehand to
determine the planned field trips and evening activities. But if
you like what you hear, by all means go! The Mesa State people
know how to run a program that has substantive content but is
also just plain good fun!

Charlie (cdolson@ipa.net)


STE.GENEVIEVE - Missouri  April l998
BAHamm@webtv.net (Billie A. Hamm)

Program:  History and Mystery

Lodging:   Participants (23 of us) stayed at three different B  
B's. Lots of steps-some were on the third floor.  You had to
handle your own luggage  and unfortunately, my roommate and i
ended up on the third floor.  these were long flights of steps as
they were in old houses that had high ceilings.  Also marjority
of the rooms had only one double bed .  it was suggested to them
this should be included in info in catalog as there were some
that would not have attended because of this.  Rooms nice-usual B
  B decor. ( shades of laura ashley !)

Food:  advertized that we would "eat arouond" but actually ended
up having majority of our meals (dinner) at same Inn.  food was
good-no choices-served to us at table.  Breakfast was at your own
B   B--mostly cold fare (cereal, bagles, fruit, coffee etc.)
except at one place and the people there got a choice of a hot
breakfast. (Inn St. Gemme Beauvais) (We did have quiche one
morning at our Inn (Main St. Inn.)--Lunches were at different
places, even one box lunch eaten at the Fort in Illinois)

Program:  Mainly field trips.  Visited lots of old houses (Ste.
Genevieve is the oldest settlement in Mi.) Learned history of
Ste. Gen and also about the last flood. Took field trip across
Mississippi river ( we were supposed to take a ferry, but water
too high) to Illinois to Ft. de Chartres and Ft Kaskaskia
(overlooking miss river)-also visited home of Pierre Menard
(first governor of Ill.)  after returning to Ste Gen , that night
did a candle light tour of homes there.

The Mystery part of program was put on by local persons at our
Graduation Dinner. It was ok, but I felt like the majority of
persons did not participate or like this program.  it was just a
troupe of people interacting as if one of them was the killer of
one of their husbands.  not very professionally done and dont
really see why this was included in title of program.

All in All  and interesting week, nice lodging , better than
usual food (if you liked what you were served).  You definitely
do NOT want to do this program if you have problems with your
legs ( all rooms up stairs) and if you do not want to sleep with
anyone.  Not much planned at night -this was a complaint I heard
from some of the participitants.  STe. Gen is a little town of
4000 persons.  (We drove up interstate about 30 mi. one night
just to do a movie !)


 -Editors note- there are photos to accompany this report at the
 notebook web site.


Hilton Head College Center ElderHostel
May 10-15 ,1998
falconbird@webtv.net (william falconer)

This has to be one of the best ! A well-prepared and enthusiastic
faculty taught three interesting courses.

Fiction of Pat Conroy -All the books of this lowcounty author
plus two movies-The Great Santini and Conrack.

Gullah - The Africa-based language and culture of the local

American Composers- Kern,Gershwin,Porter,Rodgers and Berlin
taught from the keyboard by Al Balkin,music professor ,songwriter
and cabaret entertainer (and a good one )

Meals were light but well-prepared .Continental breakfast
,sandwich/salad lunch,supper entrees mainly fish. No choice
except for vegetarians.

I like "free time " and the use of evening classes opened up two
afternoons so hostelers could visit Beaufort ,Savannnah or simply
enjoy Hilton Head .

As for the accomodations, our many first-timers may have been
spoiled ! An oceanside Holiday Inn with newly-renovated rooms ,a
pool and all kinds of amenities.

editors's note- This is the second enthusiastic report on this
elderhostel this year- sounds like a keeper.


Skagway Museum/Alaska Marine Highway/Trail of '98
      Dick Monaghan (richardm@worldaccessnet.com)

                              ALASKA-YUKON II


Ketchikan is the first port of call on the Inside Passage, a
fishing, mining, tourist town of 8,000 or so, more than 180
inches of rain (five times what we get in the Portland area,) and
a one-third alcoholism rate (according to our guide.) We did a
bus tour, where the "husband's path" through the woods to the old
Red Light District was pointed out.

We visited a totem-pole carver's workshop, where the smell of
cedar was so sharp it made me sneeze. The artist, Lee Wallace,
explained that totem poles were not worshipped. They told who
(and how rich) the owners were (heraldry poles), or they told
stories, or they were put up to spite somebody. William Henry
Seward, the Secretary of State who successfully urged Congress to
buy Alaska for $7,200,000, was the target of one these, now on
display in Ketchikan.

Seward visited the area and was invited to a potlatch by a chief
who lavished presents on him, as was the custom. Seward,
unfortunately, didn't understand ALL of the custom; he returned
to Washington and never invited the chief to a potlatch. The
chief erected a pole with a wooden figure at the top seated on a
carved box (a typical potlatch gift) and wearing a potlatch hat
that looks like an inverted funnel with rings around the narrow
part to indicate the number of potlatches given by the person
represented. The pole is maybe 40 feet high - with nothing carved
on it below the figure. A big insult to Seward, who probably
never heard about it.

Juneau and Skagway

It's hard to imagine there's a city anywhere with as spectacular
a setting as Juneau, the capital of Alaska. It's also hard to
imagine there's a capital city somewhere else that can only be
reached by air or sea. There are many cars in Juneau, but they
all got here by ship (unless somebody flew one in.) We took a
quick bus tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, which, like all the
other glaciers in Alaska, has been "retreating." A glacier never
moves backward, but if the front melts off faster than the ice is
flowing, it appears to recede. We were told the glaciers have
retreated some 40 to 60 miles since Captain Vancouver was here
200 years ago.

Skagway (pop. 800) is the end of the Inland Passage, and we bade
farewell to the Matanuska. Traveling aboard her was a pleasure,
even if there were no showgirls wearing three-foot feathered hats
and Kathie Lee Gifford failed to make an appearance in her
bathing suit. Unlike the TV ads, we didn't have a "personal
attendant" who served us "the perfect lobster." Nor did we dine
with the captain, a practice I've always viewed with suspicion;
who's at the helm? The captain in that television spot grins like
he's just ordered a mass flogging. He makes me nervous.

Skagway was founded by a far-sighted man named Moore, who foresaw
the Gold Rush and bought up most of the land in Skagway, planning
to charge everyone to cross it. What he didn't foresee was the
number of gold seekers who simply ignored him. Moore sued the
city and got an award of 25 per cent of the value of all his land
that had been trespassed on, so he became a rich man. (The town
is 23 blocks long and four blocks wide.)
One of the reasons our trip was relatively cheap was that it was
off- season. That meant that when we arrived the place was almost
deserted. We decided the population hibernated during the winter,
and was just now coming out of its caves. Most of the stores
hadn't opened yet, and there were only two restaurants available.
We dined in fraternal splendor at the Skagway Elks Club. The food
was pretty good, but I think we exhausted the cooks' culinary
imagination after four days. By the end of our visit, they were
serving "Quiche of Days Gone By," containing everything that got
left over at the beginning of the week.

It's easy to populate the place with ghosts. Except for
spruced-up paint, Skagway looks a lot like it might have looked
in 1897. In those days, it was a lawless city, one of the worst,
according to reports of the time. For about nine months,
Jefferson R. "Soapy" Smith ran the place. Soapy, who got his
nickname from a con game involving hiding money in a bar of soap,
would take money any illegal way he could get it. His thugs would
simply take it, or his bar and gambling games would cheat it out
of a greenhorn, or he would swindle everybody he could. He built
a "telegraph office" with cables that ran nowhere. He convinced
all he could that he had a connection to Seattle. When people
came in to send telegrams, Soapy's men would pump the customer
for all the information they could get. When he returned the next
day for a reply, they would tell him there was a calamity at
home, and could he send money?

Soapy eventually over-played his hand. Some of his roughnecks
robbed a miner, and the local vigilantes had had enough. They met
on a local pier to decide what to do about him. Soapy heard about
the meeting and tried to attend while armed. He ran into a man
named Frank Reid, a stalwart citizen, and they shot each other.
Soapy died instantly, Reid some 12 days later. The gang
evaporated. Soapy is buried six feet outside the cemetery, while
Reid has a granite shaft inscribed, "He gave his life for
Skagway's honor." (Not far away is the grave of one of the ladies
of "negotiable affection," whose epitaph is "She gave her honor
for Skagway's life.)

NEXT:  Fun Things to Do in Skagway

editors note- This report has been excerpted from the
"Talespinner" an weekly e-zine edited by Jean Sansum. To read
Dick M's Fun Things subscribe to Talespinner by an e-mail to Jean
at Jean_Sansum@mindlink.bc.ca

From: cbuzz@mail.dancris.com

I would like to know if any one has been to Papu New Guinea - I
am slated to go in October.


From: jan vercellino 

Hi.  My husband and I are going on our second EH adventure in
Sept - to Manasetta Conference Center in Virginia.  Has anyone
else been there?  What's the scoop?


From: SantaFe812 

We have been looking at the Texas A   M University/Galveston
Island trip. I just noticed that there is also an
intergenerational week included. Has anyone been on this trip?
How was it either with or without grandchildren? Do you know what
the age limits are for grandchildren? Ours is 7 years old.

Are there other intergeneratinal trips that are recommended by
the Elderhostel Notebook readers?


Bob and Georgia Honeyfiel