Elderhostel Notebook #59 January 9, 2000

Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers
compare notes on elderhostel programs.

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    From the Editor's Notebook
I am now up to date with the reports that have been sent in and
the reserve folder is empty again so keep those reports coming

The next issue of the Dialogue will be out next week.

I may find it necessary in another month or so to archive the
interactive index in one of those "free" web sites as the AOL web
space I borrow from my brother is being filled as I help him
build his own web page, http://members.aol.com/alintucson. As we
start adding many photos to his page it will fill up quickly.
Fortunately there are many free sites for web pages on the net
now and I have found a couple that seem to work out well.

    Program Reviews

   University of South Alabama, Brookley Conference Center
   Savannah - Armstrong Atlantic University
   Colonial Williamsburg: Creating the Illusion
   Atlanta Center for Arts   History/Pandean Players
   Bay Area Classic Learning, Napa, California
   Hampton Univ. in Hampton,Va
   DAYSPRING  Ellenton Florida
   Whispering Pines Conference Center R.I
   "Art and Nature on Cape Cod"
   Expedition Antarctica


University of South Alabama, Brookley Conference Center


We just returned from an enjoyable Elderhostel at the Brookley
Conference Center in Mobile, AL, sponsored by the University of
South Alabama. The subjects were: (1) architecture of Mobile, (2)
Bellingrath Gardens, and (3) gospel music. The first two were
taught by experienced professionals who presented polished and
well organized lectures with slides. Gospel music was taught by a
young lady who was unfamiliar with Elderhostel, but was full of
charisma and enthusiasm. Her first class included a loosely
organized presentation of the history of gospel music and a few
songs she sang with her parents.

The following evening we were invited to her church where she had
assembled members of the adult church choir, several soloists,
and a youth choir from the magnet school where she was a teacher.
It was a wonderful concert. Her remaining class with us at
Brookley was nothing more than a question and answer period;
nevertheless, the group was so impressed with her and her work
with young people that it took up a collection for a scholarship

Field trips included a visit to a cemetery, a tour of historic
houses decorated for Christmas, and enough time at Bellingrath
Gardens to see the house and magnificent gardens by daylight and
then again at night when the gardens were decorated with 2.5
million lights. It was quite an impressive sight.

Brookley Conference Center is located near the Bay of Mobile.
Originally it was part of an Air Force base and backs up to an
airfield now used by FedEx, etc. The accommodations were
spacious: most people (even singles) had a suite with two
bedrooms, a living room, and a sink and refrigerator. The grounds
include a mediocre golf course, but not much else. There was
really no way for people without a car to go anywhere during free
time. (In response to a request, the coordinators did invite
someone from Gray Line to come in and arrange some special tours
at the expense of the participating Elderhostelers.)

Meals and classes were held in buildings about a block from the
apartments. All meals were buffet style with an abundance of
Southern style dishes. My husband is on a low fat diet, and most
of the food was loaded with fat; however, there were always
plenty of vegetables and a wonderful salad bar at noon.

We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of a couple of
added attractions. Mobile was one of two US cities to get the
Nicholas and Alexandra exhibit comprised of previously unseen
treasures from St. Petersburg and the archives in Moscow. It was
supposed to close in early November, but had been extended
through our stay. The coordinators arranged for a docent from the
museum to give us some background, and many of us visited this
extraordinary exhibit in free time. We also had a chance to
attend a Christmas concert in the Cathedral.

Despite a few organizational glitches, I'd give this program high

Dee Barstow DEEEBAR@aol.com


Savannah - Armstrong Atlantic University
  Oct. 31 - Nov. 5. 1999

This course was located in Pooler, GA 10 miles west of Savannah
and near the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum. We stayed and ate in
the Country Hearth Motel - very good accommodations. The
coordinators, Dean and Betsy, were thorough and helpful, but
somehow they scheduled our free afternoon and evening in Savannah
BEFORE our tour of the city. It would have been better to have
the tour first and get the feel of the city and its attractions
before we were turned loose on our own. The only way into
Savannah was by car, but those who had flown in were gladly given
rides by those who had driven. Our program for Friday morning did
not show up and a film was substituted (a very good film on
Savannah, fortunately).

Four of the 36 EHers had served in the Mighty 8th during WWII, a
pilot, a bombardier, a medic and a navigator, one of whom had
been shot down and spent time as a German POW. This is the group
that did the daylight bombing of Germany and suffered 26,000
killed and 28,000 prisoners of war. Classes for this part of the
week were held at their museum and were so meaningful to those of
us who lived through that era. We also had a gal who had been a
WREN in the Royal Navy, and those five participants made this
class extra-special.

The tour of Savannah was led by Susan Albu, who has written an
excellent guidebook to the area. We walked around several of the
squares and inside an historic home and the John Wesley United
Methodist Church. Susan made this lovely old city come alive for
us, and spent time on the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and
Evil" sites. I would recommend that EH's read this book before
going, as the book and its characters were constantly being
referred to.

The third study area was the Civil War in Savannah. The city
fathers surrendered the city to Sherman rather than have it
burned, and his headquarters for the next month was visited. We
also toured three forts: Pulaski, Jackson and McAllister, each
with a knowledgeable park ranger who explained the historical
significance of the various designs and sites.

There are several Savannah EH's, some of which are based in the
historic district. But if you would like to also learn more about
the Air Force in WWII, I would highly recommend this one.


Colonial Williamsburg: Creating the Illusion
November 7-12, 1999
Marty Scearce  marthalee31@hotmail.com

This was our 15th EH and one of the very best. We "piggy-backed"
this with one in Savannah, and if you haven't tried doing two
together while you're in the area, we really recommend it. Our
coordinators, Marilyn Jennings and Aly Yarnall, planned a
well-organized week full of excellent speakers and great field
trips. We stayed at the Williamsburg Woodlands, very nice motel
type rooms near the Visitor Center. Meals were at the Cascades
Restaurant nearby, excellent food. We were told the Woodlands is
being torn down in January to make room for a large new hotel, so
EH will have to use different housing than we had. But Colonial
Williamsburg does everything so well that whatever they plan will
be fine.

We went "behind the scenes", being led through the following
sites by the head of each department: the meat and bakery
commissaries, the stables and wagon barns, the fife and drum
corps rehearsal room, the theater (where we were given a
30-minute 18th C. play), the preservation labs for furniture,
metal and paper, the cabinetmaker shop, the wheelwright shop, the
costume design center where they outfit and care for period
clothing of the re-enactors, and Carter's Grove, (a nearby
plantation owned by Colonial Williamsburg which includes slave
quarters). We also had lectures by the head of security, the
master wig maker, the master weaver, the head of the re-enactors,
and the head fabric designer.

We were given private tours of the Peyton Randolph and St. George
Tucker houses, including a talk about the latter given by the
direct descendant of the original owner. We had three free
afternoons and one evening to explore the Duke of Gloucester
Street and activities on our own. Our pass enabled us to use the
CW bus system, which is fast and efficient, to get to and between
sites. But there is a lot of walking and standing involved, and
where a few chairs were available they were always occupied
during tour stops.

Veterans Day was celebrated on the field behind the Court House
while we were there, with musket salutes to the original thirteen
colonies and a cannon salute to all veterans, who were invited to
assemble near the massed fife and drums corps. It was a ceremony
to be remembered, as was the entire week. Colonial Williamsburg:
Creating the Illusion gets a resounding 10!

Don and Marty Scearce

Atlanta Center for Arts   History/Pandean Players
A Special New Year's Eve Elderhostel in Atlanta

My wife and I recently returned from Atlanta after attending the
best Elderhostel of our 40 Elderhostel experiences. We really had
a great time. Our accommodations were in a two-bedded suite which
included a sitting room with television, refrigerator and coffee
maker. The meals were served buffet style. All the dishes served
were delicious with no quantity restrictions. For example, the
breakfast meal always consisted of juice, coffee, bacon,
sausages, grits, potatoes and scrambled eggs. Hot and Cold cereal
was also available.

The courses were outstanding. The first course related to present
Atlanta after the 1996 Olympics and past Atlanta during the Civil
War era when Sherman destroyed Atlanta. The course was
highlighted with a visit to Cyclorama with showed all the Civil
War battles around Atlanta in a pictorial presentation which was
shown with diatribe effects. Also, a historian dressed as a
Confederate soldier told us his experiences during the war.

The second course dealt with theater. I now know all about
"upstaging." The course was highlighted by attending a very fine
performance of a two-person play called Love Letters.

The third course dealt with music. I now know all about how
orchestras are organized and work. The course was highlighted by
a chamber music concert given by a wind quintet. Our Elderhostel
week ended after we attended a New Year's Eve concert of
twentieth century music given by the Atlanta Symphony.

Besides all that, we were afforded the opportunity to visit the
Carter Presidential Library.

Clara and Leonard Dinner


Bay Area Classic Learning, Napa, California
November 8 - December 3, 1999

This time in the Napa Valley of California turned out to be a
good respite between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.  A
little rain, some fog and sunshine is what is to be expected this
time of year.  Staying in the Napa valley gives one time to
really learn about the making and tasting of wine, visit the
little towns and really get a feel for why this is one of the
loveliest places to visit in California.  We live only an hours
drive from Napa but really enjoyed this week.

The courses were taught by very knowledgeable people:

Kerrin Meis - "The Art of Eternal Rome" -  She showed us how art
evolved from Ancient Rome to Baroque Rome, by way of slides, to
her wonderful interpretation. She made what we had seen in Rome
earlier in the year really come to life.

Lionel Ashcroft - "History of Napa" -  A native of England, used
his great humor to keep us really interested in what he was
saying.  This was not a plug for the wine industry as such but
it did bring us up to date as  to how the wine industry started
and how big it has grown in the last 100 years.  Over 250
wineries in this small valley and more to come.

Phillip Eaton - "Fabulous Opera Voices" -  Each of three mornings
we had three hours of dialogue and listening to opera and its'
very old and very new opera voices. Little antidotes from his
many years of  his love of opera to his teaching voice, kept us
very interested.  He surely has a great love of  this medium.

Accommodations were at the Chateau Hotel in Napa.  Don't let the
French name fool you to thinking this is a grand Hotel; it is
getting a much needed make over. This forced us to have all of
our meals catered in because the restaurant, which usually
prepares the food, is also getting a makeover.  We were
comfortable, the food for the most part was tasty. We did have an
afternoon bus trip through the Valley to Sterling and Beringer
wineries for tasting.

We had two free afternoons to site-see in the Valley on our own,
shop, and taste; whether it was the food at different restaurants
or the wine at all those 250+ wineries. The only negative  side
of this Elderhostel was the resident coordinators serving "WINE
IN A BOX"  which they told us was dictated by the Directors, Pat
and David Kleinberg, who we never saw nor heard about the whole
week we were there.

Carol and Donald Harting,   harting@dcn.davis.ca.us


  Hampton Univ. in Hampton,Va

We attended an Elderhostel at Hampton Univ. in Hampton,Va.in
Oct.1999. We were housed at a very comfortable Holiday Inn and
were served dinner and helped ourselves to large very adequate
breakfasts and lunches. The co-ordinators were friendly and
helpful. HOWEVER, the major subject, The Jury Process, was
cancelled and there was no substitute program.

The Music Through the Ages was misleading because it was
predominantly soul music and jazz. It consumed most of the
classes on every day. We had expected a true diversified musical
experience with the famous composers from the 17th, 18th and 19th
centuries, but that never materialized. Since there were only 2
subjects on this program, we and all the others were sorely
disappointed. One couple left when they learned that the jury
section was cancelled.


DAYSPRING  Ellenton Florida

Hi all, Here I am in Ellenton Florida at the Dayspring EH on
Theater. We have a marvelous instructor who has helped us look at
plays from a variety of viewpoints. We are script reading and
suggesting what we would like an audience to see,feel during the
performance. Last night we saw a moving performance of"The
Kentucky Cycles-part 1" Tonight we see part 2. However this am we
met with one of the star players and she shared much of her
preparation and enthusiasm with us. Later today we will tour the
Asolo theatre and have dinner there prior to the show. Tomorrow
evening we see "Visiting Mr. Green"

We have been privileged to be sharing this experience with
these many talented folk. The food is outstanding and home made.
The accommodations are fine, simple but pleasant bungalows with a
private bath for each room. I recommend this to all.



Whispering Pines Conference Center R.I
Jacquie Van Haelst jacquiev@mediaone.net

I just returned from Whispering Pines Conference Center in West
Greenwich, R.I. where I spent a wonderful Elderhostel experience
from December 26th to December 31st.

The food was outstanding prepared by a gourmet chef who had 20
years experience and our meals consisted of all fresh vegetables,
fresh fruits, all types of meats and dare I mention the luscious
desserts. The accommodations were ultra special and the classes
included a day trip to Providence with a gifted architect who
presented a detailed tour of this interesting historical and
growing city and many interesting classes, lectures and
entertainment; a most enriching few days spent by all.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like more information.

   Jacquie Van Haelst-jacquiev@mediaone.net

"Art and Nature on Cape Cod": Cape Cod Natural History Museum
Program 21201-1031-01
October 31-November 5, 1999

My husband and I just returned from another very good Elderhostel

This program was housed at the "Old Sea Pines Inn" in Brewster MA
on Cape Cod.  This is a very comfortable bed and breakfast inn.
We started out on Sunday evening with a reception with veggies
and dip, hot hors d'oeuvres and drinks supplied by the innkeeper.
  This was followed by a buffet supper with either a fish or
chicken main course.  The breakfast always had fruit and cold
cereals available and a daily hot dish too.  Every lunch was a
box lunch with a choice of three sandwich types and included a
fruit, cookies and a beverage. The suppers were all served and
there was a choice of either fish or chicken or beef.

The program was a sampler about nature and art.  On day one we
were introduced to landscape painting using pastels by a local
artist.  This was followed by a hike to Wing Island led by
naturalists from the museum.  In the afternoon we learned about
duck decoys and weaving with natural materials.   We had lectures
every evening after supper.  The program included a modern
pottery demonstration and looking at pottery shards from the
Native Americans  on the Cape.   We took a bus tour looking at
Cape Cod architecture and toured an historic house.  A visit to
the Cape Museum of Fine Arts, a lecture on theatre and attending
the opening of an interesting play by William Sayoran rounded out
the program.  As you can see this was a very full program and all
of the presenters knew their subjects well.

On Thursday we had from 10:30 AM till supper on our own.  We and
two other participants spent our time touring many of the light
houses on the Cape. We also got to see whales spouting near the
Cape Cod Light on Highland Road, a nice bonus.  We ended our day
at Provincetown so the newcomers with us could experience both
the landscape and the crowded buildings and alleys that exist
there.  We even managed to do a bit of gift shopping in a few of
the stores that had not closed for the season.

Cape Cod in October and November can be very pleasant and pretty
and was quite enjoyable without the crowds of summer.  I think
everyone had a good time at this program.  The coordinator and
her volunteer assistants did a superior job of making sure
everything ran smoothly.

Helen Sternheim

Expedition Antarctica
December 11-24, 1999

Although sponsored by Elderhostel, this trip is run by Marine
Expeditions of Toronto.  About three months before departure, a
complete packet of information, including tentative overseas
flights, information about Antarctica and a suggested clothing
list, arrives.  Travelers from cold climates or skiers probably
have most of the gear.  I was able to find everything here in San
Diego at sporting goods stores or REI.

The trip is 13 nights: 3 in hotels, 2 on overseas flights and 8
on the ship.  Single rooms are available at the hotels for
considerable extra cost (approximately $150 per night).  Cabins
on the ship are usually shared, but since we were not a full
group (60 rather than 80),  single travellers lucked out and got
their own cabins.

This was an exceptionally well-run trip.  We were met at the
airport in Buenos Aires and accompanied by various staff from
Marine Expeditions until our departure 11 days later.  Everyone
was very helpful and accommodating.  The luggage of one
participant never arrived and they were able to find enough gear
to enable her to stay and enjoy the trips ashore.

Our first night was spent at the Hotel Presidente in Buenos
Aires.  Breakfast was a very good buffet at the hotel and lunch
and dinner were at various restaurants in the city.  After a city
tour, we flew to Ushuaia (ush-shwi-eia'), the southernmost town
in Argentina, and stayed at the Albatross Hotel for our second
night. After a good breakfast at the hotel, we toured the
National Park of Tierra del Fuego before boarding our ship,
Akademik Ioffe.  The cabins are small, but very clean, and there
is daily housekeeping service.  The food on the ship was
excellent and the crew were very friendly.  We were allowed
access to the bridge and the officers on watch spoke reasonably
good English.

I came prepared for seasickness but the weather was so good that
I stopped taking Meclizine after the first day.  Several others
had the patches and used them for the whole trip.  Once we
arrived in Antarctica, we went ashore in Zodiacs.  They warn you
in advance that all the landings are wet and suggest high rubber
boots or waders.

The ship stops at various spots each day, although there is a
sameness to the scenery after awhile.  Among the stops we made
were an abandoned whaling station on Deception Island, a Chilean
naval base on Robert Island and a British research station at
Port Lockroy. We also took a Zodiak tour of Paradise Bay.

We saw lots of penguins nesting on the rocky shoreline.  Their
favorite pastime seems to be stealing rocks from other nests and
running in and out of the water. A few chicks were seen, but this
is not yet the height of the season.

Lectures on the ship ranged from geography and history to the
wildlife of Antarctica, bird identification, tourist conduct and
Zodiac safety.  All of the instructors were very knowledgable and
well informed.

We returned to Ushuaia, had a bus tour of the countryside and
lunch at a hotel in town before flying to Buenos Aires for
another night at the El Presidente.  The next day we toured and
had lunch at an Argentine estancia.  From there, we went directly
to the airport to wait for our late night flight to the U.S.

If anyone  has any questions about day-to-day activities or the
trip in general, feel free to contact Carl.

ed note- for information about Marine Expeditions go to