Elderhostel Notebook #62 March 25, 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 have caught up on the backlog of program reports and invite
readers to submit more to keep the interactive index of reports
on the web page up to date. The first reports there now go back
almost five years and lots of things have changed since then, but
I will keep them all active since in some cases the old reports
are the only ones I have for some programs.

I have cut the web site down to its bare bones to concentrate on
Elderhostel programs, eliminating some features and combining
others. The Going to Learn section dealing with non-Elderhostel
travel/learning was taken down, and the photo pages and virtual
Elderhostel pages are now just "Readers' Web Sites" limited to
links to the extended reports with photos that many of you have
set up on pages of your own.

The main page (http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook) will remain at
its present location on my AOL account, but the index to archived
program reviews will be moving around as I scout out free web
site hosts to accommodate the growing size of the program
archive. This means that you should access that interactive index
through the link to it on  main page and not through any previous
bookmarks you may have made to the index site alone.

    Program Reviews

    Trip to New Orleans, Miss.Queen   Natchez
    University of South Alabama: Gulf Shores
    Beaufort SC Elderhostel
    Costa Rica - History   Cultural Program
    Canterbury Retreat Conference Center Ovideo,FL
    San Diego St. University Animals from A to Z
    Mission Springs Conference Center, California
Trip to New Orleans, Miss.Queen   Natchez


What an exciting adventure awaits those taking the 11 day
combination land and boat trip through Mississippi   Louisiana.
Fifty of us gathered at Landmark Hotel (New Orleans) on Jan. 25th
to meet each other and our outstanding coordinator Josephine
Patterson.  An artist also was present and made humorous
caricatures of each couple.  We enjoyed the exposure to Cajun
cooking, visit to French Quarters and  the Culinary School of New
Orleans operated by the grandson of Progresso Foods, Mark Uddo.

On the 28th we boarded the Mississippi Queen and were royally
treated with delicious food, outstanding entertainment and fun
activities like a putting area and flying kites off the stern of
the paddlewheeler.  We took side trips to Homas Plantation and
Vicksburg  during these 4 days. On Feb. 1st we arrived in Natchez
and viewed some of the numerous pre Civil War buildings.  We
ended our tour with a dinner in the Burns Bed   Breakfast; the
new owner had been there only two weeks. Adventure, historical
information and excellent instructors made this Elderhostel

Mary Bissonette  MBisson928@aol.com



Island Sampler; Birds, Geology Bays, Beaches, Buccaneers

We were housed at a very sumptuous condominium complex,
overlooking the beach, and very good meals were at various
different local restaurants.

The most memorable instructors to me were the two PHD candidates,
maybe because of their youthful enthusiasm.  Jason Turner told of
their program of raising sea turtles for reintroduction to the
sea, and he took us on a tour of the Turtle Hatchery.  Patrick
Rice spoke of Mariculture, then acted as our guide when we had a
short tour on their research vessel.  They were both very
knowledgeable and  sharing.

An entertaining speaker was Dr. Steve Curley who gave us a
reprise of Jean LaFitte's time on that island with appropriate
folk songs on his guitar.  At our final meeting, he gave us
another presentation, of sea-going folklore and sea chanties.
Dr. Sammy Ray addressed the ecological problems of Galveston Bay,
then shared fresh oysters with all takers.  Some birding and a
too-long bus tour of the city rounded out the week.

It was a good program, and I would recommend it to others.


History, Marine Life, Architecture, And Cultural Traditions

We stayed in a standard Best Western with the same beautiful view
of the beach.  Meals were at various different restaurants, and
excellent.  Some of the restaurants were very colorful, one being
the "oldest continuously operating restaurant in Galveston",
another a tiny mama-papa restaurant serving a number of different
southern specialties.

The history of the island was well-explored by excellent
speakers, and we toured not only the streets but the interiors of
some of the Victorian gems.  We visited the Seaport Museum and a
beautifully restored 19th Century square-rigger.  We saw the
movie of the terrible hurricane of 1900 and heard about the
subsequent recovery and rebuilding of the city.  A visit to the
Lonestar Flight Museum was especially interesting to one of our
group, who was a World War II pilot.  A tour of neighboring
Bolivar Peninsula was outstanding.

Victor Lang, a professional entertainer, presented us with the
seamy history of the community, a session called "Sin City."  He
was highly entertaining, and does a similar show on a commercial
basis during the tourist season.

The history Galveston is fascinating, and it was exceptionally
well presented during the entire program.

This facility is involved in some very exciting marine research,
which was clearly explained to us.  Live creatures were brought
to the lecture for us to see, then we visited the aquarium at
Moody Gardens to see still more.  We also had lunch there, and
visited the Rain Forest exhibition.

This was an outstanding Elderhostel, and I would highly recommend

University of South Alabama: Gulf Shores
January 23 - 28
Quality Inn - Beachside Gulf Shores, AL

Thanks to good people, dynamic instructors and a great facility,
my first EH experience was sensational!  I had an absolutely
fabulous time and fear I'll exhaust my supply of superlatives in
telling about my week at Gulf Shores.

We were a congenial group of 50, including 14 couples, which
immediately allayed my concerns about possibly being the only
solo.  I'm not sure if I got a true perspective on EH groups, as
so many people commented that our group was the friendliest and
most congenial EH group they'd ever been with.  Perhaps our
personalities just meshed well.  On the other hand much of the
credit for the success of this week goes to Bev Snyder, our
on-site coordinator.  Bev exuded warmth, charm and personality
making everyone feel at home, and she used just the right amount
of friendly persuasion to keep things, and people, moving along
on schedule.

Sticking to the schedule was imperative as we covered three
classes which were coordinated to work together to help us trace
our family histories and then to write the story.

(1) Basic Tools for Genealogy: Research Your Family Tree for Fun
and Posterity was taught by Berdine Rittenhouse.  This
complicated subject deals with researching historic records and
could easily become bogged down in minutiae.  However, Berdine
generosly shared her experiences, photos and family heirlooms,
thereby bringing a warm personal touch to a difficult subject.

(2) The Life and times of..."Moi?" was ably taught by Susie
Glickman, a warm and vital gal who shared ideas about gathering
information from family members. The primary focus was the
interview process.  Susie has worked, for many years, with Dolly
Parton and Fannie Flagg.  We saw tapes of interviews she'd
conducted with these two famous ladies, to give us insights into
the types of questions that encourage people to talk, about
themselves, rather than give one-word answers.  We later polished
these skills by taking turns, in front of a video camera,
interviewing each other.

(3) Humor, Characterization and Conflict: The Art of Writing and
Telling Stories.  Terry Cline's writing classes are among the
most enjoyable classes I've ever attended.  He's the published
author of several suspense novels, but has also done a lot of
comedy writing.  He's so funny and weaves so much humor into his
lectures, that you feel more as if you're being entertained than
educated.   I was genuinely surprised when I realized the volume
of useful information I'd picked up along with the laughs.

Our field trip was to Fort Morgan, an Army fort built to defend
Mobile Bay.  It first saw action in the war of 1812.  In the
hands of the Confederacy during the Civil War, it is the site
where Admiral Faragut uttered that immortal command, "Damn the
torpedoes; full speed ahead!"  Because it was a cold, blustery
day, the museum curator led us on a tour that kept us mostly
indoors.  We were taken inside the casements to observe barracks
as well as civilian living quarters, which had been  occupied by
women and children,  the dependents of enlisted men.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the facility -- The Quality Inn
Beachside -- at 8 or 9.  Elevators were available to access the
classroom located on the second floor of the main building, where
most of us were housed.  My 'room' was a generous suite of two
sleeping rooms -- one overlooking the indoor pool, the other with
a terrace and a view of the beach.  It's my understanding that
the few folks who were housed outside the main building were in
apartment or condo settings, which included complete kitchen
facilities.  Fresh towels were provided daily, with complete maid
service at midweek.

Most meals were served buffet style with a generous variety
offering something for every taste.  For example: Breakfast was
typical Southern fare including: Eggs, potatoes, French toast,
bacon, ham, two varieties of sausage, biscuits and grits, as well
as cold cereals, pastries and a wide selection of fresh fruits.
The wait staff was attentive, promptly refilling coffee cups and
beverage glasses.

EVERYTHING about this Elderhostel was superb!  The only area that
could have been improved was the weather, but Gulf Shores was
still warmer than Nashville.

Micki Nelson

Beaufort SC Elderhostel
Program 40620-0311-01, March 11-16, 2000
History and Cultural Experiences Of Antebellum And Civil War Beaufort
Gullah: African-American Culture in South Carolina Lowcountry
Exploration and Ecology Of Two Pristine Sea Islands
Helen Sternheim, helen@k12s.phast.umass.edu

My husband and I just returned home after attending our twentieth
Elderhostel. This Elderhostel was housed in the Holiday Inn in
Beaufort South Carolina.  Since Beaufort is near Charleston SC,
we arrived two days early and spent that time touring Charleston
and the area nearby. We especially enjoyed Middleton Place, the
grounds of a rice plantation northwest of that city.

The Holiday Inn in Beaufort was very comfortable and the food was
reasonable but not great.

The schedule was very full and there was one partial afternoon of
free time. The program was run on South Carolina time.  That
means that some of the places we visited were expecting us, but
weren't open when we arrived.  It also means that sometimes the
time stated on our program changed and not all the participants
were made aware of the changes.  This program started on Saturday
night and ended after breakfast on the following Thursday.  There
was a brief program scheduled on Thursday, but we had a plane to
catch so we left after breakfast.  Beaufort is near Parris Island
and Marine graduations occur nearly every Friday, so the motels
are usually busy on Thursday and Friday nights.

Our first evening after supper we were entertained with a program
called "The Spirit of Beaufort."  This was done by a man and his
wife and introduced us to Beaufort in the antebellum period.  It
was cleverly done and had early American songs too.  The
presenters also had a walking tour business and a large group of
the elderhostelers went on their tour during our free afternoon.
The next morning, Sunday, most of us attended services at the
Tabernacle Baptist Church.  This is a traditionally black church
in Beaufort and they welcomed our group.  We stayed through most
of the service, but left before the sermon.  The music sung by
the choir and the members was outstanding.

The rest of Sunday was spent at the motel with talks on Beaufort
history and Pritchards Island, and the viewing of a very good
video on Gullah history and heritage.  We also had our group
introductions and a gift exchange in the afternoon.  In the
evening we learned about the shrimp fishing industry in the area
from a local fisherman.

Monday started with a talk on Beaufort history and was followed
by a field trip to the historic district of town. We visited the
local museum and an historic house.  We had lunch at a local
restaurant and then visited the Penn Center museum.  The Center
was originally a school for freed slaves. It is now a museum and
center for community action for the black community.

Tuesday we visited Parris Island and had our best lecture and
slide show on the slave and Civil War eras at the museum.  This
was followed by a trip to the site of the early Spanish and
French forts on the Island.  We also got to see some of the
Marine training sites from our bus.  In the afternoon we had a
lunch prepared by the Port Royal Historical Society and toured
Port Royal.  Our free time was from 3-6:30 that afternoon.

Wednesday was spent on either Pritchards Island or Hunting
Island, learning about the coastal ecology of the area.

The weather was sunny and in the mid sixties all week.  When we
were out on our field trips, we ate a various restaurants in the

Overall this was a very interesting Elderhostel and the
participants all got along well with each other.  Since part of
the program was on the Gullah heritage there were several black
women in our Elderhostel group.


Costa Rica - History   Cultural Program
March 5, 2000

A C C O M M O D A T I O N S :

HOTEL EUROPA - downtown SAN JOSE An old but comfortable hotel
(except some rooms are not air-conditioned).

SELVA VERDE LODGE - A rain forest environment on the Caribbean
lowlands. You feel like you are deep in a rain forest. There is
an abundance of tropical birds, lizards and other critters. The
sound of heavy trucks slowing to avoid the potholes in the road
in front of the lodge reminds you that you are not very far from
the edge of this rain forest. On organized walks across river,
you can really immerse yourself in the rain forest.

ARENAL VISTA LODGE - Viewing an active volcano. This lodge is
located on a long dirt road. Your bus fords a small river and
negotiates its way over some boulders. It is worth it. You have a
beautiful view of Arenal Volcano from across a lake. It is kind
of reassuring to have a few miles between you and that volcano
when you hear it rumble. There is also a forest here with more
birds, howler monkeys, a coatimundi and a sloth.

DUNDEE RANCH - Near the Pacific Shore A good base from which to
explore this drier side of the country. More birds and iguanas
abound here. Comfortable, except that our room sometimes had only
a small dribble of hot water.

S E L E C T E D   F I E L D   T R I P S :

University for PEACE: This is a unique place in the world. There
are many institutions for studying the techniques of war (or
defense). Where else do they study the technique of achieving and
maintaining peace. For more information, visit www.upeace.org.

We had a two hour visit with Mr. Rodrigo Carazo, a former
president of Costa Rica at his home.

A city tour, the National Theater Museum, the Children's Museum

Visited Bio-Planet, a huge collection of butterflies and other
exotic arthropods. For more info, visit www.biophotos.com.

Foggy conditions caused us to bypass a visit to the Poas Volcano
National Park.

We had three separate boat tours in different parts of the
country. Birds, birds and more birds. Howler monkeys, white faced
monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, iguanas and other critters.

We visited a banana plantation, a sugar processing plant and a
coffee processing plant.

We had time to soak in the beautiful Tabacon Hot Springs on the
lower slopes of Arenal Volcano.

We spent a full afternoon at a beautiful Pacific beach resort.

S U M M A R Y :

We had many classes to familiarize us with the history and
culture of the country. We always felt secure. Costa Rica is very
stable politically. It is a developing nation, but is more highly
developed than its neighboring countries.

Our program coordinator / guide, Sigrid Martinez, was the
greatest. She watched over us constantly and gave us many
insights into her country. Also, she was like an adopted grand
daughter for us. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

We heartily recommend this program for people who are considering
an international program.

Bob and Grace McAllester Santa Fe, NM


Canterbury Retreat Conference Center Ovideo,FL
Feb. 6-11-00.
Re: Program # 09-140-0206-01

We attended the Elderhostel at the
The subjects were : Florida's Flora and Fauna, Writing your Memoirs and
Religious  Movements in America.  Our lodging was on campus and consisted
of motel-type rooms, which were adequate. The meals were excellent and
plentiful.( the best of our EH's). The program leaders were knowledgeable
and made the subjects meaningful. Ovideo is a suburb of Orlando. There are
many tourist attractions in the area. We recommend this program.

Jim Jacob


San Diego St. University Animals from A to Z

I attended the elder hostel program Animals for A to Z in San
Diego from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4.  It was an excellent program.  I am
a zoo docent here in Fresno, and found the information very
helpful to what I am doing. However, most of the people were not
zoo people, but were so excited with the excellent speakers and
what we learned.

It was held at the Holiday Inn Old Town San Diego.  The
accomendations were excellent.  All lectures and meals where held
here.   It was titiled Aardvarks to Zebras: Ethics on the Ark.
Linda Lindburg was the coodinator.  Her husband Don Lindberg head
of the panda and cheetah programs was one of the speakers along
with six other noted speakers who came from the San Diego Zoo and
Wild Animal Park.  We had two field trips, one to the zoo and the
other to the wild animal park.

I certaintly hope this program continues. Thank you,

Janet Moore


Mission Springs Conference Center, California

This program was outstanding both for experienced, serious
birdwatchers and beginners. Limited to 24 participants, we
identified over 150 species of birds in areas ranging from the
beach north of Santa Cruz to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge
in the Central Valley, from pellagic cormorants to a flock of
5000 sand hill cranes resting on their migration to Oregon. This
involved a lot of traveling around in 14 person Ford vans:
crowded but reasonably comfortable. What made the program really
succeed was the expertise of Mr. Jeff Davis, a natural history
curator and ornithologist at the University of California at
Santa Cruz. We have never seen a birdwatcher who could spot and
identify a bird as quickly. He was unfailingly helpful and
courteous to all participants. We have taken part in several
birdwatching elderhostels--all quite good--but Jeff's skills put
this program in a class by itself.

Mission Springs is a Christian conference center, and the
atmosphere is quite a bit different from a hotel or commercial
resort. Our accomodations were a bit on the Spartan side but
still comfortable. They have a strict prohibition against
alcohol, but this was ameliorated in part at midweek when we were
treated to dinner in a Basque restaurant in Los Banos where the
wine flowed freely. The meals at the center were excellent, and
the people on the staff were uniformly friendly and helpful.

We can recommend this program with enthusiasm to any
elderhosteler with an interest in birds and/or natural history.

Lew and Grace Ward lward@darkwing.uoregon.edu


A "Whodunit" Mystery Week
February 27 - March 03, 2000

The sponsoring organization was the Richard Stockton College of
New Jersey in the persona of Scott Greenberg.  The hotel
accommodations were at the Clarion Hotel in West Atlantic City,
New Jersey, just outside of Atlantic City.  All meals and classes
were at the hotel. The site coordinator, Helen Riso, was a fount
of knowledge about the surrounding area.  In a nut shell this was
an excellent program.

The hotel accommodations were as advertised, clean and with
private baths.  All Elderhostelers were on the first floor and
classes were on the second floor.  An elevator was available.
The food was very tasty with choices each meal.  Served buffet
style so you could pick and choose.  The staff in the restaurant
was extremely nice and very attentive.  They were almost like
part of the group.  In fact the restaurant manager and another
staff member were part of the mystery.

We had the usual three classes.  The first was "Detectives in
Fiction", an overview of the mystery novel from the early days of
Sherlock Holmes to the modern detective novel.  John Pekich is a
mystery play writer, a director and an actor.  He appears to
enjoy his work and in turn I enjoyed his presentation.

The second class was "Sharpening Your Detective Skills", an
introduction to puzzles and logic. A very interesting
presentation of methods to help you think in different ways about
a problem. Dick Noble brought along a bag of tricks to tweak your
mind in all different ways -- cards, logic puzzles, cryptograms
and even some perception "puzzles".

The third class, "Real Detectives", was taught by Richard
Mulvihill who just happens to be a retired police chief.  Only in
his 40's and retired from his first career.  Richard gave us an
insight into modern day crime that ranged from weapons to law to
organized crime.  Most of his class was about modern day crime in
the south Jersey area where he was chief.

All three instructors allowed a free flow of ideas among the
group and themselves.

Because Mr. Mulvihill had changed jobs just before the course
started he was only available to give his presentation in the
evenings. Turned out very nicely because Sunday was orientation
and Thursday was solving the mystery.  A newspaper specific to
the group was put out each day with more clues.  Little scenes
were played out at different times during the week.  Helen Riso
took us on two afternoon bus trips. One to Cape May to visit a
Victorian House.  The other was a visit to the Renault Winery
with stops at Stockton College and Smithville on the way back.
And can you believe we had one afternoon free for ourselves.  You
could go to the casinos in Atlantic City if you choose.   We went
to a craft shop and two book stores.  We even managed a walk on
the boardwalk on Sunday afternoon and another on our free

I would highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys mysteries.
  I don't.  I went on this for my wife because she had gone on a
painting class with me.  The funny thing is that I seem to have
enjoyed it even more than she did.

Of the 18 people who attended the course only three actually
figured out who "killed poor Charlie".  The course had a maximum
of about 40. This was a nice sized group so that you could get to
know everyone

Bill  frog@bedford.net