Elderhostel Notebook #61 March 13, 2000

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

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    From the Editor's Notebook
Congratulations, Elderhostel, on your 25th Anniversary.

Let's see, 50th in 2025. Dexter Donhan, Marketing Director will
be busy working on sales strategy to the first Elderhostel on the

Peter Arbesch will be planning this 38th Jim Dandy Eldehostel
murder mystery, "Moon Shot."

Meanwhile, back here at the Notebook things are a little jammed
up. We had more reports than we could use in this issue and so
have placed the ones we coulddn't get to in the reserve file,

They will appear next month.

The web page is not up to date but later for that.

    Program Reviews

      Adventures Afloat" program--Galvaston, Tx to Mexico
      Black Rock Retreat Center. Quarryville,PA
      Egypt program  sponsored by American University Cairo
      Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center - Fla
      St. Petersburg Junior College
      CSUSM Elderhostel January 9, 2000, Del Mar
      San Diego, Balboa Park
      Catalina Island (CSU)

"Adventures Afloat" program--Galvaston, Tx to Mexico--Program on
"Whooping Cranes--and Bird Watching in General (River Barge
Excursion Line) Jan. 2000 BAHamm@webtv.net (Billie A. Hamm)

We arrived in Galvaston around noon, Friday Jan 7th, after
transferring from Houston Hobby Airport. ( about a 45 min. drive)
The van took us directly to boat, where we left our things after
checking in, as we could not get into rooms until 3pm. Our badge
from the boat (name tag for the week) got us into several things
around the dock area, museums, movies, etc free. We did take a
horse and buggy ride through the historical district which was

We left that night heading down the intercostal water way towards
Mexico. The next day was spent on the boat (which by the way
traveled night and day using radar to navigate.) Some classes and
lots of time to bird watch from sky deck.

Sunday we were going by the Whooping Cranes winter home. ( they
live in Canada in the summer) and spotted around 80 of them. (
according to ornithologists -there are around 180 of them at this
time) That night we tied up at Aransas Pass, Tx. and the mayor
and other dignitaries came to the barge and welcomed us and took
us into town (on school buses) for a shrimp boil (shrimp,
potatoes, corn etc all boiled together in a big pot.) Aransas
Pass is the shrimp capital of the world. They opened shops, had a
band etc and in general entertained the group in grand fashion.

Next day was an all day sightseeing day ( on luxury motor
coaches) to the town of Rockport, the beaches and museums.

We were supposed to leave that night and tie up at Corpus Christi
( only 20 mi away) but something was wrong with the thrusters on
the barge and we stayed at Aransas Pass an extra night. ( Only
problem is that we were parked by a junk yard and a diesel
fuelling station---those of us lucky enough to have our rooms on
shore side had lots of activity and smells for two days !!

Tuesday we were bussed to Corpus Christi for our sight seeing
--the Texas State Aquarium, U.S.S. Lexington, and the Corpus
Christi History museum. Again our badges got us into all of this
without an additional charge. We left Aransas Pass that afternoon
and barged to Port Isabel and tied up there for duration of trip.
We arrived there late Wed. afternoon.

Thursday we again got on bused and went over the border to Neuvo
Progresso, Mx-a typical border town, but a little cleaner than
most I have been to. We had lunch there and came back across
border and then visited the Santa Ana Wildlife refuge on way back
to barge in time for supper.

Friday was disembarkation day and we were bussed to airport in
Harligen, Tx. We scheduled for a museum stop on way to airport,
but our driver opted (because it was raining pretty hard) to skip
the museum so we were at the airport WAY ahead of time for our
flights! (the other three buses stopped at the museum-we are the
only ones that missed out !) Harligen is a small airport so we
took SW air back to Houston, had to pick up luggage and recheck
on Delta for flight home.

You need to be an avid birder for this trip. All the lectured
were more or less bird oriented ( was hoping for more history of
Jacques Lafitte etc.and other settlers in this area) Not much
planned at night-barge had no activities during the day like you
get on a regular cruise-so you were pretty much on your own for
entertainment. A couple of nights they had some things planned
for group, a talent night and a local band.

All food and drinks (soft) were included--at bar up on sundeck,
they kept hot dogs and all the trimmings, popcorn and soft drink
machine. Also drink machine in lobby of main barge. The meals
were open seating--with a two hour span--which was nice.. The
food was great ! Buffet for breakfast and lunch and for dinner, a
choice of three entrees served at your table. Breakfast was
tremendous !! Always had some special something like quiche or
eggs in a basket etc. , made to order omelets ---No complaint
about the food thats for sure. No dress code either-you could eat
in shorts, jeans or what ever for ALL meals.

Rooms were spacious, lots of drawers and closets and large bath
room with a bath tub, shower combination. Each had a large
picture window or that plus a balcony (top deck)

There were two barges attached together-back one contained
sleeping quarters and front one had meeting rooms, dining room
,lobby etc.

The coordinator had the lectures set up to duplicate in the AM
and again in the PM-gave you some flexability you usually don't
have with your time. Also, the barge provided a nice pair of
binoculars in each room for your personal use during the day.
These were both nice touches.

Was a nice laid back trip. I personally don't like that much time
"cruising"-not even on a cruise ship where they keep you
entertained all day ! I usually pick the more active EH's.
Weather was perfect--we were in shorts by end of week. Was in the
70s to 90s during our trip.There was always a strong breeze on
top deck so felt colder that it actually was. A nice respite to
our winter weather here in Ky.

Would i do it again ?? Maybe on a different route where they stop
daily, get off and do field trips. I understand the barge does
one around new orleans that does this. Price of trip was $2000.
This is almost the same price that the barge company charges for
their regular literary and you would have a selection of
different areas and states to choose from.


Black Rock Retreat Center. Quarryville,PA


We attended an Elderhostel program at Black Rock a few years ago.
Quarryville is near Lancaster, in Amish and Mennonite country.
Appropriately, two of the three courses dealt with the history
and culture of these two groups. The excellent classroom lectures
were augmented by field trips to an Amish home and to a quilt

Our hosts were very hospitable, and an atmosphere of tranquility
and inward reflection prevailed throughout the week. Black Rock
continues to offer similar programs to the one we attended, and
is highly recommended to anyone desiring an in-depth look at the
Amish and Mennonites.


Egypt program  sponsored by American University Cairo arranged by
International Study Tours Feb 12-27,2000. Mapsofantq@aol.com

I just got back from a two week Elderhostel in Egypt and I must
say it was wonderful. We stayed in First Class hotels, ate plenty
of good food, saw awesome sites and had great guides. It was a
relaxing, stress free way to travel. They took us to see all of
the most famous sites and when we left I felt like I had really
seen Egypt. It more than met my expectations.

The lecturers were first rate. The lectures were an important
part of the program. I had done a lot of reading about Egypt
before I went, so for me the lectures answered a lot of
questions. In Cairo they gave me the overall historical picture I
needed to put together all the pieces I had read. In Luxor and
Aswan we had a different guide who taught us how to examine
ancient monuments. We became more observant as we saw the
temples, hieroglyphs and statues.

In Egypt you rarely see begging, however you may be approached by
a lot of children. School children want to practice their
English. Several of them may come up to you  and say, Hello, and
ask where you are from. In the streets they come up to you and
ask for ball-point pens. I wished I had known that before I went
because I would have brought a few dozen to distribute. When we
went to the carpet factory, where you see children making rugs,
our guide told us we could give them candy, but not money, but I
would rather have given them ball point pens.

I recommend this trip to anyone and suggest you read as much as
possible before you go.

Lynn Vigeant, mapsofantq@aol.com


February 27- March3 , 2000

Site:  Excellent for ALL participants with special consideration
for handicapped.

Accommodations:  Very elegant with very convenient 3 separate
sections for shower, toilet, and spacious well-light vanity  with
hair dryer; beds are freshened daily; towels are fluffy; view
from rooms - pleasantly rustic

Food:  Nutritiuos, generous buffet for every meal served in a
gorgeous window- inclosed cozy dining room table clean up
performed by staff

Classroom:  Comfortable well equipped with audio-visual
equipment; large tables, comfortable chairs,windows looking out
to beautiful outdoors Coordinator:  The best on the circuit--Toni
Joos makes every effort to be present and accommodates all

Instructors:  Very well qualified and sensitive to senior mind
set--Linda Bachand is especially effective with her musical
talent and personality;  Bud (humorist)   Glen (choral lecturer)
were very audience orientated during the week of February 27
session      Field trips and exercise periods were perfectly
executed and most appropriate

OVERALL EVALUATION:  Of the 20 plus that I attended this site is
the best for ALL seniors.


Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center Jan 20000

My wife and I attended an Elderhostel at the Montgomery
Presbyterian Conference Center (MPCC) in January.  MPCC is
located near Starke, Florida.  The MPCC is located in a wooded
setting but has very modern facilities.  This was one of the
better Elderhostels out of 25 for us.  One day was spent in
Silver Springs with access to all facilities.  We were
transported in a modern motor coach.  Another day was spent in
St. Augustine where we were treated to many sites and had
excellent presentations on St. Augustine history.

The remainder of the course was devoted to Pulitzer Prize winning
author Majorie Kinnan Rawlings and Cross Creek, FL, where she
lived.  This presentation was made by JT Glisson, who grew up in
Cross Creek next door to Mrs. Rawlings.  Mr. Glisson's
presentation was excellent.  Mr. Glisson is an author, painter,
entrepreneur, and a superb story teller.  On Friday we had
another excellent presentation by Dr. Dana Griffin from the Univ.
of Florida on Ethnobotany.  By the way, food was excellent and
the staff and coordinators could not have been more helpful.  If
you get the impression that we enjoyed this Elderhostel, you are

Bob Royle


St. Petersburg Junior College
Holiday Inn program

A pleasant and comfortable place to stay right on Tampa Bay.  The
room and setting were A-1.

CLASSES Rosewood: The Massacre of a Community All Aboard: The
Underground Railroad Colonization and the North American Native
American Culture

The class schedule was strange to say the least.  Classes were
held on Monday, Tuesday   Wednesday only, even though this was
supposed to be a 5 day program.  Classes started at 10:45 AM
after an 8:00 AM breakfast.  There were only 3 classes on
Underground Railroad   Native Americans, Rosewood had only 2
classes and a luncheon at the Jr. College where the instructor
spoke for about 30 minutes but it was a repeat of what she told
us the day before. The second class started at 3:15 PM and the
last class at 6:45 PM in the evening.  This really didn't allow
enough time to visit points of interest in St. Pete.

There was a field trip scheduled for Thurs., which I guess they
felt substituted for the classes normally held that day, but it
was scheduled for 8 AM to 4:30 PM.  It was to visit Ft. Mose in
St. Augustine.  Can you imagine a 450 mile field trip from St.
Pete to St. Augustine!  There were 50 people in our group - 2
went home, 16 took the bus trip and 32 remained at the program
site.  The program director was a little off on the timing and
the bus didn't return until 9:12 PM, a 13 hour field trip!  Our
dinner was scheduled for 6:30 that evening (later changed to
7:00) and they didn't want to serve the 32 people there until the
bus returned.  After an uprising   protest we finally got
something to eat at about 7:15.  And this was supposed to be the
farewell dinner.

Of the 3 classes the best, in my opinion, was the Native American
one.  A good learning experience.  But, all in all, I feel we
were shortchanged on classroom instruction on all 3 subjects.

FOOD Served in private dining room at the motel.  Good seating
arrangement and the food was good.  There was no choice of
entrees however, you got what they fixed for lunch and dinner
with no special requests.  Breakfast was served buffet style with
a good selection.

TO SUM UP: There were no classes on Friday.  They scheduled a
brunch at 9:30 AM.  Can you believe a brunch at this time of day!
  We ate breakfast in the hotel dining room earlier (and paid for
it) and left for home after eating. Program was very
disorganized.  Thank goodness we had nice surroundings and
accomodations; on Thursday we were on our own and most visited
museums and points of interest in St. Pete and Tampa. I would
suggest checking the scheduling in the event you decide to enroll
at St. Pete Jr. College.

Best regard, Larry Saxon


CSUSM Elderhostel January 9, 2000, Del Mar

Accommodations ==============

Very good.

The Stratford Inn is nicely located and manicured, and we had,
what appeared to us, just about the best room in the hotel:
number 212, way at the end, overlooking the beach.

NOT so good: When we asked about hotel policy on placing
800-calls or using our charge card, we were told there was a
50-cent fee for doing so. Chintzy. (Compare with our subsequent
stay at Inn Suites in San Diego: free local calls, free
hospitality hour (beer, wine, snacks), free cable TV, free
full-bore breakfast, free transport to Balboa Park, free use of
computer and Internet connection.)

Food ====

NOT so good: Catering service. Chicken seemed to be the mainstay,
and twice in a row oily macaroni salad for lunch. The soups (for
lunch) were VERY good. However, the fruit plates for lunch and
dinner were inadequate. ONE PINEAPPLE sliced up for FORTY people;
which meant, about THIRTY didn't get any.

Program content and management ==============================

Overall management: ranging from lackadaisical to bored. Course
content: one part very POOR, two parts very GOOD, one part very
good but improperly timed.

Broadway: Joe Corso knows his subject matter, but there is no
fire or enthusiasm in his presentation. Unfortunately, the
subject (Broadway musicals) was of very little interest to us to
begin with, and his uninspired and dry presentation only made it

Verdi/Shakespeare: Totally redeemed our sour mood!!! Professor
Ridgely Muller not only knows operas and Shakespeare, but loves
both and makes them come alive for his audience. He has a keen
sense of humor which, coupled with a sincere and lively
presentation, made the time he spent with us disappear in a cloud
of satisfaction.

Broadway: Donna Cory is a one-woman whirlwind ! Funny,
enthusiastic, knowledgeable, the original "Unsinkable Molly
Brown." She had us totally enthralled by her recounting of her
experiences, and gave us a totally new and worthwhile insight
into the life of a dancer. (Not a career choice for ME! ~Smile~)

Tai Chi: Robert Nations is a VERY good teacher, and my wife was
much impressed by his talent to teach the group. (I did not
participate; I'm the original couch potato; no heavy lifting
greater than a cup of coffee.) There WAS, however, one consistent
complaint by ALL participants: WHY SCHEDULE the Tai Chi ALL FOR
ONE DAY???? Everyone had assumed, and this seemed logical to all,
that there would be SOME exercise EACH DAY. Why this foolish
shoe-horning into one (almost entir) day?

Another universal complaint: NO FIELD TRIPS, ANYWHERE. One
lackadaisical walk toward the Torey Pines, and another to Town
Center. Big deal. One attempt at games in the evening, and
another at a talent show, both unsuccessful. It all felt like the
planning effort was minimal, and very little effort was made by
the program leaders to get INVOLVED with the group.

Would we do it again? Not.

Lucien and Ellen Greif Chappaqua, NY 10514

San Diego, Balboa Park, January 16-21

In a word: EXCELLENT !
In two words: highly satisfactory.
In five words: we would do it again!

Accommodations ==============

Superior. One of the nicest places we have EVER stayed in. A
first rate hotel, superviseded by a manager who CARES and a staff
that is attentive and gracious.

Generous free services, all designed to make the guest feel
pampered and welcome. Location somewhat out of the way, and not a
high-class neighborhood, but tourist points of interest are
easily reached by San Diego's excellent bus service. 75 cents for
Senior Citizens, with unlimited transfers for two hours!

Food ====

Well catered, and except for one or two instances (dry,
overcooked fish, and mediocre tortilla fixings) highly
satisfactory. Hotel breakfasts were lavish and generous.

Program content and management ==============================

We cannot praise the management of this program highly enough.
Ken Catlin and his assistant, Doris Rhatigan, are REAL "people
persons." They are VERY much involved with the handling of the
program, efficient, caring, good sense of humor, and delightful
to spend time with. Their attention to detail is fastidious,
their anticipation of our needs exemplary, and their guidance and
management of the daily programs leaves nothing to chance.

Only ONE small complaint: we're dog-tired from all those museums,
that incredible San Diego Zoo, and the endless wonders, small and
large, that are incorporated into four packed days. We will need
a week for R  to absorb it all. Thank GOD for the camp stools
that were loaned, and the carry-bags to shlep them in.

Overall rating: A++. By all means, GO. Be sure to ask for Ken and

Lucien and Ellen Greif Chappaqua, NY 10514

Catalina Island (CSU), January 23-28

Accommodations ==============

NOT a luxury hotel with room service and fresh sheets/toiletries
every day, but a college dorm where you do your own thing. If the
bed isn't made up, it's because YOU left it that way.

Room 105 which we were lucky to be assigned was MOST lavish;
actually a 4-room suite; bedroom, bath, kitchen, sitting room.
Neat, clean, tidy, and VERY generous living space. Fully equipped
kitchen. However, the plumbing is questionable, and could use a
bit more water pressure. Then the shower would provide more than
a teasing trickle, and the toilet would not require three
flushings to make things disappear. (We understand some of the
other hostelers were NOT granted such luxurious quarters, but
rather a small room on the second floor.)

Food ====

 From fair to middlin'. Especially during the first half of the
week, when Smitty was on deck, food was generally blah, and
almost always cold. I learned to use the microwave oven in the
dining room before I even sat DOWN to eat my dinner.

After Wednesday morning, when Jose Platas took over, we had the
feeling we now have a "CHEF" in the kitchen. Both his
preparations AND his attitude toward the guests were MUCH more
like those of a professional, rather than someone who is being
imposed upon.

But enough about the food. That isn't the reason we came.

Program content and management ==============================

A rave review is the ONLY way to do this program justice. All the
people involved (Ellen Kelley, Ginny and Bob Odell, Lorraine
Sadler, drivers and college staff) did their UTMOST to make this
a memorable experience. Which is WAS!! Ginny and Bob even
provided all sorts of thoughtful treats and experiences for their
"charges," out of their own pocket, we might add. The fact that
several of the college's computers (with 24-hr access to the
Internet) were placed at our disposal didn't harm the cause.

What is MOST appreciated about this seminar is that it does NOT
consist only of seat-miles ... constantly sitting and listening
to one presenter after another. There were SEVERAL exciting field
trips - and I DO mean "exciting," like riding in a van along a
one-lane dirt road, with cliffs on ONE side, going up - and
almost straight DOWN on the other. More than once, I closed my
eyes; I don' wanna see this!!!!

Lectures on geology, marine life, vegetation were augmented by
field work, including a demonstration that the fruit of the
prickly pear is absolutely delicious to EAT. IFFFFFF you're
careful not to get the spines into your hand while harvesting. We
were shown how to DO that.

Also, Ellen K showed us how to make sushi, create fish and flower
rubbings, and Lorraine Sadler demonstrated how to call eels to
lunch. THEIR lunch, not ours. Fascinating.

Although my wife's interests and mine diverge somewhat, we both
had a completely satisfying and horizon-expanding experience. We
cannot recommend it highly enough.

Lucien and Ellen Greif Chappaqua, NY 10514