Elderhostel Notebook #32 Sept 3, 1998

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    From the Editors Notebook

    Elderhostel News and  Reviews

       Ocean Kayaking
       Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Va.


    Editor's Notebook

I made an error in addressing the last e-mail notebook as #32.
This issue is #32 and #33 will follow in a few days as I continue
to work my way through the backlog of reports and keep each issue
down to about 20k to fit minimum  size mail boxes and printer

The web site will undergo some changes in the next few months,
including an index to back issues supplied by Frank Jablonski,
that will make referencing past reports easier. I will also keep
several of the most recent issues at the site as well as having
all past issues continue to be archived at the Boulder Community
Net Senior Web page:

   Elderhostel News and Reviews

Ocean Kayaking at Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Week of 6/21/98


Our kayaking adventure started out the first day in a swimming
pool, learning how to do a "wet exit." This consisted of flipping
the kayak over and then pushing yourself out of it, to the
accompanying cheers of the rest of the group. We did it first
without a spray skirt, and then with one on, learning how to pull
the spray skirt off while upside-down in the water underneath the
kayak. The guides, professionals from Sealeg Kayaks and Marine
Adventures, stayed close to assist anyone who might panic or need
help, but there were no problems.

Next, members of the group awkwardly tried various ways to climb
out of the water and back into the kayak. The guides first gave
demonstrations of the techniques, making them look deceptively
easy and effortless. However, we quickly discovered that there
was no way an Elderhosteller could accomplish this feat without
flopping around clumsily, appearing to do an imitation of a
beached whale. As it turned out, the most difficult part for some
of the men was attempting to keep their swimsuits from sliding
down as they were climbing up.

The second day, we went to a nearby beach in a calm cove where we
practiced various paddling strokes and learned how to use the
rudders. We got to try various models of single and double
kayaks. The guides were reassuring and gave excellent
instructions. They were likable and entertaining as well as being
knowledgeable. Throughout the week, they really worked hard and
taught us a great deal. We had not realized all the things they
needed to know and check in preparation for taking a group out on
the water, such as weather forecasts, times for high and low
tides, navigation charts, ships that would be in the area, first
aid, radio and rescue equipment to take, and emergency contact
numbers to call. The water in that area was described in
brochures as the warmest north of San Francisco. We were
skeptical at first, but the water temperature was actually quite
comfortable. It was good to know that we would not freeze if we
flipped over.

In the days that followed, our kayaking skills improved as we
paddled to various locations on nearby islands. A naturalist
accompanied us to describe the plants, wildlife and geological
features of the area. The weather did not always cooperate, and
we had to cancel or shorten some of the expeditions, substituting
others. Only one Elderhosteller actually flipped her kayak over,
but witnessing the event made the rest of us glad that we had
received the preliminary pool instruction after all, knowing that
it could easily have been any one of us. As soon as she flipped,
the group cried out "Swimmer" (the appropriate call for
man-overboard, or in this case, woman-overboard). Our capable
guides appeared at her side almost immediately and got her back
up into the kayak, encouraged by applause from the crowd.

They had planned to take us kayaking in calm waters only, but one
day we ran into a sudden unexpected change in weather and had to
reverse our course, paddling hurriedly across an open channel
with choppy waves in order to get back to shore. That was the
only real challenge we encountered during the week, paddling as
hard as we could while the waves grew larger and the shoreline
seemed to keep receding in the distance. To our experienced young
guides, it was probably just a routine channel crossing, but in
our active imaginations it seemed as though we were paddling
across the Pacific Ocean. To our relief, everyone eventually made
it across safely and nobody flipped. It was actually quite an
exhilarating adventure that boosted our confidence, giving us an
adrenaline rush along with aching arms and shoulders.

We had quite a wide range of physical abilities in our group,
from flabby out- of-shape arthritic 9-5 desk jockey weaklings
like us to muscular, physically- fit weight-lifter types--the
kind who regularly go mountain hiking, biking, camping and
skiing. Some were experienced kayakers who already owned their
own kayaks while others had never been in a kayak before. The
discrepancies in strength and endurance created some problems as
the guides tried to keep the entire group together. We suggested
that for next year, they consider offering a slow, easy week for
beginners and the "kayakly-challenged" as well as a faster-paced
week for experienced kayakers and the adventurous Rambo types.

The hotel accommodations were in a historic inn located in the
center of town. The old building had steep, narrow flights of
stairs and no elevator. All the guest rooms were on upper floors.
We were assigned to a small, plain, sparsely furnished room with
one double bed for two of us. There was no closet, only 3 hooks
for hanging clothes. We did not spend much time in the room, so
it was adequate for our needs, but a letdown after the spacious,
attractive and comfortable hotel room we had at the New Orleans
Elderhostel only a few months previously. I guess we expect hotel
accommodations to be nicer than dormitory accommodations at
Elderhostels, but that is not always the case.

The food ranged from satisfactory to quite good. Breakfast was
"serve yourself" cold cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, coffee and
juices in the caf adjoining the hotel. We had a packed lunch
(your choice of sandwich, cookie and beverage) at one of the
kayaking stops each day. A seated dinner was served to us each
evening at large tables in the hotel bar. The quality of the food
was generally fine, but there were no choices. Only one entree
and dessert were offered at each dinner. This was no problem for
us (we eat just about everything), but it was rather limiting for
dieters, picky eaters or those with food restrictions. The hotel
staff was very accommodating and willing to provide substitutions
upon request. However, most people were naturally reluctant to
ask for special favors.

For those of us who came from the hot parts of the US, the cool
Canadian Pacific temperatures provided a delightful treat. We
picked up a rental car for the week when we landed at the
Vancouver Airport, but it is possible to take busses all the way
from Vancouver Airport to Ladysmith. (Yes, there are even busses
that go across the ferry. ) We especially enjoyed the beautiful
scenery and fresh, clean, unpolluted air that surrounded us
wherever we went.

The Elderhostel coordinator was wonderful, a very caring and
concerned person. She tried her best to make everyone comfortable
and was very open to suggestions for improvements as this was
only the second time they have offered the kayaking Elderhostel.
She was having car problems and told us that those who sign up
for her Elderhostels seem to be lawyers, teachers, doctors,
accountants and such -- people who know nothing about repairing
cars. So, if there are any good auto mechanics out there, please
enroll for the Ladysmith Elderhostel. You will make Vivian very




The Elderhostel program "England and France: Friend or Foe?" we
attended is a 3-week program. (It's listed in Elderhostel's
online catalog.)

In France (10 days), accomodation is in Le Moulin Rochard, which
is a privately owned and operated conference center deep in the
country in Anjou, south of the Loire. Nearest village (tiny!) is
St. Laurent du le Plaine. Le Moulin is a reconstructed old grain
mill with modernized interior. Most rooms are on 2nd floor, a few
on 3rd floor (one of which was ours), up a narrow, steep winding
staircase. We had new thigh muscles after 10 days! Rooms in that
building have small baths en suite. In the main building, rooms
were on the 2nd floor and I believe mostly shared baths. Bedrooms
small but comfortable. We had no closet -- only a couple of hooks
on the wall and a few shelves. The common rooms are spacious,
attractive, light and airy, comfortable. There is an enclosed
swimming pool. Grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained.
If you are a walker, this is great locale for long country walks!
The two sisters who run Le Moulin, Marie-Claire and Bernadette
Grelier, are a joy to behold. Marie-Claire is local site
coordinator. Very friendly, warm, welcoming, funny, limited
English. The food here is excellent; they take great pride in
their top-notch chef.

Field excursions in France included the Royal Abbey at Fontevraud
(burial site of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and King John and
his queen); the castle of Angers where is housed the Apocalypse
Tapestry commissioned by Louis I in late 1300's; three other
castle/chateaux of Langeais, Azay le Rideau and Villandry (famous
for its gardens); a troglodyte farm (fascinating!); market day in
the market town of Chalonnes; a private chateau near Le Moulin
where we were escorted by the owner, a member of royalty; a boat
ride on the Sarthe River; and a few other lesser trips. Although
all the field trips were interesting and/or entertaining, some of
us felt they were not sufficiently history oriented.

In England, accomodation is at Wansfell Hall near the town of
Epping in County Essex. Wansfell is a member of England's Adult
Residential College System. The president of Wansfell, Marilyn
Taylor, is the site coordinator, and she runs a very tight ship.
A warm, friendly woman, but definitely more proper and reserved
than the Grelier sisters. (It IS England, after all!) Wansfell
was build in mid-1800's and has been added on to and remodeled
several times. About half the rooms are on 3rd floor. A few baths
en suite; most shared, but there seemed to be more than enough
baths. We never had to wait. Rooms here were slightly larger than
at Le Moulin.

Meals in the dining hall were wholesome and adequate, but nothing
like the gourmet meals at Le Moulin. (This IS England, after
all!) A few of the meals were actually excellent. There is a
small washer and dryer in the laundry room that you can use
yourself. Marilyn is extremely well informed about the history
and local culture, and will, at the drop of a hat, provide you
with books, maps, other reference materials on any subject you
may be curious about. Weather in June this year was mostly
miserable. Temperature cool for June and serious rain most of the
day on all but 2 days. Even the locals were complaining. Wansfell
is in the middle of Epping Forest and there are lots of walking
trails around, but because the weather was so wet and the trails
so muddy, our walking was limited to village streets.

The field excursions in England were more closely aligned to the
program subject matter.  Overall, the excursions in England were
more interesting than those in France. In addition, we were
treated to a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It by a
local theater group. It was very well done and quite delightful.

The group leader for this trip, Richard Beaton, was absolutely
wonderful. He teaches history at a private prep school in
Florida, speaks fluent French, and was a witty, charming delight.
He far surpassed the group leader requirements. One night in
France he delivered a 1 1/2 hour lecture in which he covered 1000
years of French and English history. It was amazing -- and NO ONE
fell asleep! Unfortunately, he probably will not be leading the
1999 trip because it starts a week earlier, and his school will
not have let out by then.

If you should decide to take this trip, beware of one thing. The
arrivals from US into Charles de Gaulle were very confused.
People were coming from all over - some on organized tour flights
and others on their own, and Lyons Travel did a really poor job
of getting people together. Our arrival was fine, and we were met
as expected, by Marie-Claire and Michelle. But other people got
conflicting instructions from Lyons as to where they should meet,
and ended up wandering all over CDG's two huge terminals. It was
many hours before all the wanderers were rounded up. Another
issue was that our flight was on Northwest Airlines, and Lyons
never did manage to get us confirmed group seat assignments
(although we were told several times we had seats, when we
arrived at the airport, there were no assigned seats. One couple
in the group were the very last people to get seats on the plane,
even though the reservations had been made many months earlier.

Not sure whether the blame lay with Northwest or with Lyons or
both. Hopefully, before the next trip, Elderhostel and Lyons will
get this mess cleared up!

I strongly recommend this program for anyone with an interest in
medieval history.


Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Va.

Janet W Crampton, janet.crampton@tcs.wap.org

Like historic sites? museums and mansions? field trips? strolling
and shopping? Fredericksburg satisfies. In a radius of 20 miles
you can go from Colonial port to Civil War battlefield to FBI
training center at Quantico to quaint town center and surrounding
modern development. 	Mary Washington College offers many
different Elderhostel programs, some history-oriented, some not.
We selected "English to Virginian: Life in Colonial and Early
Republican Virginia" in early June. The program was good, and so
were the college dorm and cafeteria. Hostelers who hesitate when
"residence hall" appears in the site description will be happy at
Mary Washington College.

Elderhostel groups are housed in an air-conditioned building.
(Not all the college's dorms are so equipped, and A/C is a
necessity in this area.) The building has an elevator and a cart
for carrying luggage. Rooms are in suites, with two twin-bed
rooms to a full bathroom that has a big shower. Elderhostel
roommates have one two-bedroom suite and so have a private bath.
Windows open, should weather be cool enough. 	The college
cafeteria served delicious food. Selection ranged from full hot
meals to a deli sandwich section to an extensive soup and salad
bar that included fresh fruit. Breakfast featured make-your-own
waffle machines. The coffee was excellent. If another group is
eating in the same cafeteria section, go to meals early because
the line can be very slow. During our week, about 100 members of
the Virginia Association of Museums ate in our section for two

Distance between dorm and dining hall is about a quarter mile,
from dining hall to lecture hall about a quarter mile, and from
lecture hall to dorm about a quarter mile. Paths are paved, with
some ups and downs. Hostelers who had trouble walking around
campus could ride. A host couple stayed in the dorm with the
group and took people in a college van. 	For our program,
transportation to sites in town was in three 12-passenger college
vans. The full-day field trip to visit two plantations on the
James River was in a commercial tour bus with bathroom.

Elderhostel car parking next to the dorm is limited to
handicapped. Hostelers unload from the small dorm lot, then park
their cars in a large lot a few hundred feet away, down hill from
the dorm. 	Fredericksburg is about 75 miles south of
Washington, D.C., on Interstate 95. An Elderhostel at Mary
Washington College could easily fit with a visit to the Nation's
Capital. Pick your program and go!

Janet W. Crampton   janet.crampton@tcs.wap.org


From: SaulRho@aol.com

We have just returned from our second EH in Tiburon Ca., a
delightful sea-side town 15 miles from San Fran. The views of the
"City by the Bay" from Tiburon are beyond belief!

We had two wonderful Coordinators, Gladice and Arthur, who went
out of their way to make sure everyone was happy and comfortable.
The Tiburon Lodge is lovely, with a pool. A really wonderful
location. The rooms were beautiful, large, newly furnished with
comfortable leather sofas and big King and Queen beds in each
room. The staff at the lodge were helpful. The meals were served
very efficiently, buffet style. Nourishing food was presented,
with plenty of seconds available for those who wished.

We studied and discussed the great Opera voices of this century,
with a fine instructor who was very enthusiastic about his
subject. He currently teaches Opera appreciation courses at
various Ca. universities. "Women in the Movies" was our second
course. It was very interesting to watch the film clips our
instructor, a former film critic on the SF Enquirer, has put
together. We discussed and listened to his comments. Our 3rd
course was on the Constitution and was given at night after
dinner, so that the afternoons were free. This was also
interesting but a bit too heavy for the evening hours when
everyone is tired from a long day. We were given a wonderful bus
tour of all sections of SF on afternoon for 4 hours. On our own
we visited Muir Woods and drove to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais.
You should see SF and the surrounding areas from that height!!
Altogether a delightful experience. a 9 in our book.

Rhoda and Saul Lesser


>From :s.meric@ix.netcom.com

Subject: Air Courier

Someone in Notebook #31 asked about being an air courier. I flew
to Hong Kong as air courier with a West Coast company, ABC
Pacific,  about 10 years ago -- maybe more; they go by so fast.
It worked out fine.  I spent ten days in Hong Kong and  China
(Guanzhou and Guilin).  It cost $300 r/t, which was a pretty good
deal back in those days.

If anyone wants more information on what I did during those ten
days, you can email me at

I will probably be taking more courier trips in the future, but
not sure where.  The "exotic" destinations generally require a
longish flight for a limited stay.  Some companies let you stay
only 10 days, some longer.  They will facilitate couples by
putting one on a flight the day after their partner.

Library reference service and book stores have several books
about courier flights.


From: "Orville D. Menard"  menard@neonramp.com

Subject: Ecully Cooking School

My wife and I will be taking our first Elderhostel trip in March
1999. We will be going to the cooking school at Ecully, France,
and would appreciate any information anyone has who has attended.

O. D. Menard


From: MWLewis989@aol.com
Subject: Hawaii

We are attending the EH at University of Hawaii, Hilo and Waikiki
on Nov. 8-21. Has anyone attended EH there, and any suggestions?
Thanks, MWLewis989@aol.com