Elderhostel Notebook #63 April 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
The program reports have been coming in at a rate that has
shortened intervals between reports and filled my reserve file.

Notebook #64, therefore, will probably follow this one within a

This doesn't really create a problem for me except that the web
site will probably lag behind the current e-mail newsletters  a
week or so as integrating the Notebooks into the past review
section of the web site is more time consuming than editing the
e-mail Notebooks.

One of our fellow hostelers from Apache Lake, Joy Rising, is now
living in Maine and  has turned Elderhostel host. She has revived
a U of Maine program at Campobello Island which has become very
popular (Sept. program has a wailting list). Knowing her, we can
understand how that would happen.

She will have another in fall catalog (Oct) at Marine Technical
Center in Eastport Maine.

You might want to check them out.

    Program Reviews

       Historic Savannah, Savannah State University
       Berkshire Community College-Lenox,  Massachusetts
       Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City
       Passage Between the Seas, Panama Canal
       Austrailia and New Zealand Antipodean Train Trek
       Lake Mohave Houseboat trip- Arizona

Historic Savannah, Savannah State University


Four Elderhostels now offer Historic Savannah. I chose Savannah
State Univ's because its downtown motel let me stroll historic
areas during 'free times' (meals/lectures at nearby SSU campus).
Also, SSU's two other courses, Jazz   Phonetics, interested me.
But 'downtown' meant $480 (vs $395, further out).

SSU's cafeteria and lecture halls don't resemble those shabby
college facilities from our yesteryears. Buffet-style contracted
food is served in a large, airy hall with various food-type lines
of all-you-care-to-eat quality food: soups to nuts, hominy grits
to pe-kahn pie--even tree-ripened oranges! Our lectures were in
SSU's theatre and ballroom--not in classrooms.

Tours were by chartered bus service. Our 3 course leaders brought
academic credentials, experience, depth of material, fun
presentations. Historic Savannah was one lecture on Savannah's
history and two afternoon bus/walk tours past most historic sites
with time for stops at Bonaventure Cemetery, Civil Rights Museum,
Marshall House, several park "Squares," Victory Row, and a
souvenirs shop. Our leader, W. W. Law, is a venerable black
77-yrs-young lifelong civics leader: WW II vet, SSU grad, headed
Savannah NAACP 26 years, founded Black Heritage Society, Beach
Institute African-American Cultural Center, Kings Tisdell Museum
of Black History, Savannah Civil Rights Museum. A life well
lived--with his chimney still smoking!

The Jazz course by Teddy Adams, professor of music and
professional trombonist, traced jazz's evolution, and how to
better hear and enjoy this complex music artform. His six
lectures often employed his solo 'bone as examples, and one jazz
combo 'concert' (Teddy on 'bone, a keyboardist simulating
pianist, drummer, and bass). At one lecture he performed songs
he'd composed and recorded. I bought one of his two CDs, and
later spotted him entertaining at a local jazz club. The
Phonetics course by Dr. George O'Neill taught the physiology of
speech sounds in many world cultures. Now I know how to shape my
mouth to articulate those French vowels, oriental tones, and
Bantu clicks. George is a white professor teaching black
students--by choice. He'd achieved upper-management before
returning to his area of training and expertise: working with
real people at less pay, but with an occasional impact. His fun
Elderhostel courses alternate Phonetics and Southern Lit.

SSU's optional evening extracurriculars were a concert by
Wesleyan Gospel Choir (12-to-60 voices full of charm and Grace);
a Marshall House's Chadwick Lounge date with pianist/songstress
octogenarian Emma Kelly of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and
Evil," a non-fictional book and movie we viewed on video another
evening; a "meet my new friends" mixer; and a graduation dinner.
SSU produces a 8-page newsletter at each of their Elderhostels,
with group and candid photos--a neat class souvenir.

At end of Elderhostel I opted to enjoy Savannah's southern
hospitality 4 more days. I did Old-Trolley's tour; walked all 21
Squares; toured more historic houses and an art museum; strolled
River Street early on a foggy Sunday morning; sat in Colonial,
Forsyth, and Emmet Parks photographing camellia blooms and
Spanish moss on Live Oaks (massive evergreens 50 feet high   3
times wider). I bought a Savannah floppy hat; savored soulfood at
'Nita's Place (a WW Law tip I'll second); nodded "How do?" to
passers-by (when in Savannah, do as...); and heard some Gullah
(an islands olde English-Sierra Leon cross). Gullah is more--but
here's 3 examples: "Ketch ob de Day"; "Come Jine We"; "Lok Ya
wantem Shrimps?".

Elderhostels bring together folks with similar interests and ages
in vacation-fun moods; so camaraderie can sometimes blossom. And
that happened for me in Savannah--thanks to 38 new Elderhostel

-- Jim Fleming; Falls Church, VA USA.


Berkshire Community College-Lenox,  Massachusetts
Program No. 21161-0312-01

From: 	bankstons@mediaone.net

During the week of March 12-18th, we attended a 6-night
Elderhostel program in nearby Lenox.  The program cost was $593
plus $15 supplement for a single room if needed.  The program
topics were twofold: (1)Revolution and The National Question in
Ireland (1798-1998) and (2) Giants of the Irish Theater. While
the first topic was abbreviated to cover the period to 1937, it
was probably a plus because we did receive a very scholarly
treatment of the subject matter...and the modern day Irish
problem is so complex that it might be best to leave it for
another time and program.

Kevin Cahill, the speaker on each of the five mornings, did a
superb indepth job of presenting such a vast span of Irish
history.  He is a scholar (PhD in history, Trinity College,
Dublin) in the field and showed a depth of subject matter and had
a conceptual level of thinking usually not found in most
Elderhostel programs.

Linda Austin, the presenter of Irish drama is very conscientious
but not a teacher by training and has worked in the field of
drama, and her presentation reflects these two characteristics.
She brought in some superb actors to present portions of the
play.  However, her presentation suffered because she tried to
present too much for the time available.  Her presentation will
be much better if she edits out a lot of the material to present
less history on the Abbey theater and playwrights, and more focus
on fewer plays.

So, my scores for the two presenters:  A+ for Kevin; about  B for
Linda There were no afternoon activities (but evening activities
at the motel) except for one school bus trip to the Clark
Institute in Williamstown, MA which was for an optional $8.  The
museum is free so this was for the bus trip and the docent.

Several of the attendees commute from nearby Berkshire
communities (Spring commuter rates:  $200).  For these people,
the programs can be very worthwhile.  However, for those of us
who would take in the full program, my comment is: forget it. The
accommodations and meals (which will be the same for the new
Summer program at fees of $759 and $808) are below average.  The
motel is an older rather delapidated motel with pealing wallpaper
in our room, but it was clean and could be considered average for
a lot of Elderhostel programs...at the lower rates we used to
see.  The food was entirely unacceptable.  This old Quality Inn
no longer serves meals; and so, Berkshire Community College
brings in people to 'fix' it...from frozen pastas with leftovers
served at the next meal.

For the higher prices we paid and the exorbitant prices to be
charged this Summer, we would go to the Berkshires in the Summer
and book the new Super 8 down the street reserving our own
tickets to the events included.  I don't know if this would work
if one didn't drive, but the Lenox chamber of commerce contact
listed under the Berkshire Community College facilities on the
Elderhostel.org website provides an email address might be able
to provide this information.

In summary, the upcoming programs sponsored by Berkshire
Community College illustrate that just because prices have risen
to $800 for domestic programs, doesn't necessarily mean that
accommodations and meal quality changes.  In this case, the claim
is that the extra is needed because of inclusion to events and
because of the high season.


Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

From: 	bankstons@mediaone.net

In November 1999, we attended a superb Elderhostel program where
we stayed and took all of our meals at Quebec City's famed hotel,
the Chateau Frontenac.  To our surprise, the program was not even
fully booked...probable reasons being that the weather can be
unpredictable in Quebec City in November and lack of name
recognition for the Chateau by those who have never visited
Quebec City.

Staying at the hotel, even without the Elderhostel experience,
would have been a great experience with superb rooms, with lunch
and dinner buffets served to Elderhostelers as well as other
hotel guests , and a newly built indoor spa including a large
pool, exercise room, showers, etc.  Our classes were held in the
semi-circular rose room overlooking the St. Lawrence River (we
were told this added luxury could be taken away from us and we
might be given a lesser room.

Needless to say, these hotel and food arrangements  were far
better than we have had other Elderhostels either here or in
Europe, a way to experience international Elderhostel at domestic
prices...but even these have gone up approximately $80 in the
Spring catalog, still at bargain for $583 for the three programs
being offered this April.  (So far, these programs are only
offered off season  in Spring and Fall.)

Now to the program titled Quebec:  World Heritage City We had a
full day program and some evenings were left unscheduled, so we
could enjoy good conversation and leisurely candlelit dinner. On
most mornings, we had lectures on the history of Quebec and
Quebec City relative to the French, English, religious, Indian,
and even the part the Chateau played in history.  Most but not
all of our walking tours were in the afternoon.

Quebec, built up long before the automobile, is a truly walking
city, but also a City of uneven terrain.  There was a lot of
walking along the streets of Quebec City both on tours and to
sites.  (Our weather was good, and I'm not sure if there were
alternative arrangements had it not been.)After preliminary
lectures, usually, in the morning, we walked to and were given
tours at the following sites and a few others not mentioned:
parliament, the Inuit Indian Museum, the City Museum of Quebec,
the Episcopalian and Roman Catholic cathedrals, the upper and
lower Cities and their neighborhoods, and the Ursaline Convent,
now a religious and cultural history museum (although some
elderly Ursalines appear to still live there as they were peeping
at us through their upstairs windows and, obviously, delighted to
have us oldsters come to visit).

There was one bus trip around the periphery of Quebec City which
included guided tours to the St. Sophia Cathedral and the nearby
Falls (for those of us who wished to venture on the guided
pathways). Anyway, we were all a very satisfied group.  So highly
recommended.  We'll return as it can be reached from our home
base in Boston easily...just hoping that when the word gets
around, we can get in again.  Hope some of you can enjoy it. Mary


Passage Between the Seas, Panama Canal
(Jan. 11 to Jan. 21, 2000)
Program 12335-0111

A good program in most respects with one, rather important,
exception.  The Program Coordinator and Travel Coordinator was
Holbrook Travel, Gainesville, FL.  The advance literature they
provided promised a daylight transit of the Panama Canal.
Nothing was said to the contrary, until the day we were scheduled
to make the transit.  Then we were told it would be a night time
transit.  I found this very disappointing since this was a major
reason for enrolling for this program.  Other than that, all
aspects of the program were very satisfactory.  In the future, I
will be very careful and ask more questions concerning any
program that involves Holbrook Travel.


Austrailia and New Zealand Antipodean Train Trek and Barrier Reef


Ruth MacCormick suggested I write to you about our Elderhostel
trip to Australia and New Zealand.  It was Antipodean Train Trek
and Barrier Reef Cruise.  Listed in the catalogue under Train
Treks.    We found it to be the best organized and most
interesting of all Elderhostels we have attended, and we have had
many good ones. Each site had a coordinator who had planned
fascinating experiences in their areas. The program was 31 days
long and each day had some delightful surprise.

We began the trip with 3 days independently in Fiji before the
program began, allowing us to rest up a bit from the flight.  The
program started in Auckland including a city tour, harbor cruise
and lectures by a very interesting biologist. From there we
visited Rotorua with its volcanic landscapes and the Maori tribal
centers.  There were two short train trips included.  I very much
liked the small city of Christchurch. It is open with wide parks
and a comfortable ambiance.  Out of many outstanding experiences,
I remember most having dinner with a family in Christchurch on
their farm where they raised exotic animals such as llamas,
alpacas, and unusual breeds of cattle and goats.  They were very
delightful people.

 From Christchurch we flew to Sydney, a cosmopolitan and inviting
city.  While there another highlight was the performance of
musician Rob Smith and his wife. They were outstanding.  From
Sydney we took the Indian Pacific to Adelaide, another of my
favorite cities.  It is surrounded by a wide band of park land
and has an ambiance half European and half  the southern
California I knew 50 years ago. We visited the Barossa Wine
valley and surrounding areas.  Again, a super coordinator who was
very proud and excited about her city. From there we took the
Ghan to the outback in Australia.  The trains were a marvelous
experience in themselves.  They have first class compartments
with a bath and excellent food served splendidly in the dining
car.   It had been raining in the outback and the desert was
green and blooming rather than dry and brown. We were privileged
to see it as it happens only once in 10 or 12 years.   Again
interesting speakers.  I didn't expect to be much interested in
cattle raising in the outback, but it was fascinating.

 From there we flew to Cairns where we visited the rainforest and
rode the skyrail back down.  We had breakfast with the birds one
morning and viewed the other animals in the wildlife park.  We
petted a kangaroo and koala.

The highlight of the trip, after many superb days, was a 3 day
cruise on the Barrier Reef.  The weather was beautiful and the
sea tranquil following a week in which a typhoon hit the center
of Cairns. We had the ship, a large catamaran, to ourselves and
were taken care of by a delightful young crew which included a
superb chef.  We snorkeled in three different places, the last
being an island which the company had leased.  They fed the fish
there and they were very used to people and swam all around us. A
very relaxing finale to the trip.

I cannot say enough about the capabilities of each of our
coordinators.  They were extremely knowledgeable and had
carefully planned programs of great interest.  They had to make
adjustments to plans at the last minute because of flooding
caused by storms, but they were able to make all available to us.
  I have only written of the highlights in my memory, but each
excursion and lecture and the people we met were of enormous

Gloria Millikin

Lake Mohave Houseboat trip- Arizona

Our 5-day Elderhostel houseboat program on Lake Mohave turned
into quite an adventure.

Lake Mohave, some 50 miles long, was formed when the Davis Dam
backed up the Colorado River. It lies in a wilderness area south
of the Hoover Dam. The line between the states of Arizona and
Nevada runs down the middle of the lake.

Our Elderhostel program started at a marina at the south end of
the lake, on Sunday at about 2 pm. There were four houseboats,
each with seven hostelers and a captain. The boats were like
rectangular "boxes" on pontoons, each boat powered by two 60 hp
outboard motors. The leaders were in radio contact with each
other and also with the National Park Service and a weather
service. As it was off season, we had the entire lake to
ourselves. Our four boats traveled within eyesight of each other.

We had motored about 11 miles upstream on our first day out when
a HIGH WIND advisory came over the radio. The houseboats are high
profile vessels, underpowered, not designed for high wind or
rough water, and so the skipper of the lead boat turned around
and led us to a sheltered cove that he had seen about two miles
back. The boats were beached, tethered together with ropes
forming a sort of "apartment building"; one could move from one
houseboat to the others while the boats were beached. We went
ashore for a get-acquainted session and supper, and soon it was
time to retire.

Sure enough, around midnight the wind shifted to the north and
reached 35 to 45 miles per hour with gusts of 50 mph. The howling
wind persisted for two days, during which time our four boats
stayed lashed together, tied up on shore.

During these two days when our boats were on shore, we had
excellent lectures by our leaders on geology of the Colorado
River basin, and plate tectonics. Our teachers were adjunct
professors at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ.

Following the lectures, with warm clothing and a willingness to
be blown around a bit, Dorothy and I occasionally left our boat
to hike on the beach and climb the steep sandhills that comprised
our world during that time. The cove and sandhills were on a spit
of land with water on both sides, very pretty, even though it was
so windy. The water was wild with whitecaps.

The time went surprisingly fast. Some of the hostelers played
cards, others (like us) finished off some novels. And of course
there was visiting to do, housekeeping, and meals to prepare. The
leaders had previously planned all the meals and purchased the
food. All of the food and drinking water for the entire week was
on board. Each boat's occupants were responsible for preparing
lunch and supper one day for all four boats. The food was good
and abundant, lots of choices, and the galley facilities were
modern--propane oven and range, microwave. The boat was equipped
with one head, which called for some planning and diplomacy among
the group.

We got to know our shipmates very well. On our boat we had a
retired couple from Toronto, and their friend Kati: a single
lady, 60-ish, epidemiologist from Munich, Germany (she spoke good
English with a delightful accent!) We also had a couple from New
Mexico (in their 70s like Dorothy and me), and our leader, Linne,
50-ish, an art teacher at Yavapai College. Our group got along
very well and there was much humor.

Everyone else on our boat had lower bunks, but Dorothy and I were
on an upper bunk which required some minor gymnastics to climb up
and down. Curiously, the upper bunks on the boats were not
equipped with ladders. Fortunately Dorothy's and my regimen of
swimming and walking has kept us in good enough shape that we had
no problem climbing into the upper bunk.

But a terrible accident occurred on the first night (Sunday) on
one of the boats. A Canadian lady (79 year old retired
anesthesiologist) fell while climbing into her upper bunk for the
first time, and she broke her hip. Our leaders contacted the
National Park Service via radio. The Park Service mobilized a
crew that arrived in a rescue boat about 11 pm. You must remember
that we are in the Middle of Nowhere. They took the lady via boat
to a location nearby that was flat enough for a helicopter to
land, and they airlifted her to Bullhead City (nearest town)
where she was given emergency treatment to stabilize her. The
next day she was transported to a larger city via ambulance. We
have not yet learned the outcome. It was fortunate that the
helicopter was able to fly in and pick her up before the wind
whipped up, as it would not have been able to land otherwise.

The wind kept up for two days, then abated on the 3rd day, and
our convoy of 4 houseboats proceeded up Lake Mohave across
beautiful placid water. We landed at several coves and explored
the terrain. Lake Mohave, like Lake Powell, has a very long and
crenulated shoreline with numerous canyons and sheer cliffs. The
climate is desert but there is a surprising amount of plant and
animal life. Coyotes howled at night. There were lots of
sidewinder tracks in the sand. Waterfowl, mostly geese and coots,
were abundant. It was disconcerting to find that several turkey
vultures followed the boats and circled us when we landed.

On Thursday morning we had to turn around and head back so we
never got as far north as originally planned. There is a wide
area of the lake which was especially choppy and we were faced
with a rather rough wet ride. We landed at a cove six or eight
miles upstream from the marina and spent the night there. The
next day our flotilla made it back to the marina. Since Dorothy
and I are OLD SALTS none of the rough water bothered us and we
now have an adventure to talk about. --Glenn