Elderhostel Notebook #65 April 26, 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 next Dialogue will be out next week if you have queries or
comments to submit send them to me at EHnotebook@aol.com.

There appears to be a continuing concern about  program
cancellations in terms of timing and the minimum enrollment
needed for a program to be viable. What are your
thoughts/experiences in this area?

There is also some concern dealing with enrollment with multiple
section programs and the ability of some host institutions to
service multiple sections of 50 enrollees. Past reviews indicate
satisfaction, for example, with the way the  New Orleans sponsors
handle this- but some concerns about other sponsors in other

    Program Reviews
      Foreign Service EH  Washington, D.C.
      Armstrong Atlantic State University/Historic Savannah
      Lourds College Toledo, OH
      The Natural Bridge State Park Elderhostel, Kentucky
      Ethnic Houston-A Signature City Program

Foreign Service EH  Washington, D.C.
Program # 51008-0402-01   04/02 - 04/07/00  Washington, D.C.

This interesting course is concerned with the personnel and
workings of our American Foreign Service.  It adheres closely to
the catalog description and all aspects were delivered as
promised.  The major part of the program was a series of lectures
and discussions concerning the foreign service and given by both
retired and active members.  Retirees included former
ambassadors, heads of departments, far and desk heads and other
personnel.  The country studied in depth for the week was Viet
Nam. A visit to the Vietnamese Embassy and meeting with the
Vietnamese Ambassador  to the United States was included.
Presentations were informative and both question -- answer
sessions and discussions were lively and entertaining.

Field trips included a visit to the beautiful state department
formal reception and dining facilities for visiting foreign
dignitaries and the lovely Foreign Service Association
headquarters where we enjoyed an elegant luncheon.

The program coordinator, a former state department member
herself, was efficient, caring and extremely well organized.  It
was obvious that the success of the program was due in great part
to her past extensive experience in supervision and

Room accommodations were quite satisfactory.  Only  meal service
left some things to be desired.  While the food was adequate in
both quantity and quality of preparation, organization was very
poor resulting in sometimes unsettling situations.  However,
Elderhostelers are known for their flexibility in otherwise
stressful situations and know how-to go with the flow.

For those interested in how our state department and consulates
operate in both good times and bad, how we affect and make
foreign policy, who the faceless members who perform the
innumerable chores required in some of the most remote and
difficult areas of the world are, this will be a week very well
spent. Matt and Sylvia Schwartz


Armstrong Atlantic State University/Historic Savannah
program #10110-0305 Mar 5-10,2000--
"Savannah On Stage-a Festival of Music,Culture and History"


Excellent,so much fun-wonderful vocal competition. Motel-Best
Western 412 Bay St-2 blocks from river walk.nothing fancy but
good location.breakfast at motel ,all dinners at Moon River
Brewery about 2 blocks walk.good meals and walk did us good.
Lunch on days we were at the church listening to the 1/4 finals
and semi finals it was the quick grab and eat fast with the
sandwiches put out. After the first day complaints heard they did
better but everyone was so anxious to get back and listen to the
competition-who cared if we even ate. nice tour of Savannah(such
a clean city with beautiful parks every 2 blocks)plus another
perk was going to the restored Lucas Theater grand opening and
hear a wonderful program and attend a reception at the
Hilton.(this might have been a one time thing?)Suggestion if you
do this program-try early to get tickets to the finals and stay
over the last Sat night. It is always a sell out. I was mailed
the result of who won($10,000 first place)but also asked at
Charleston EH to find out. Everyone is so helpful.taxi from
airport $18.00 I rented a car in Savannah after the program was
over and drove to Brunswich,Ga to see the Golden Isles and
returned car in Charleston.S.C. where I did another Elderhostel.I
like doing back to back EH programs as I am a west coast resident
and feel i want to get the most our of the air flight.

College of Charleston, Charleston,S.C.#40316-0312  Mar 12-17
Super hotel-The Weston Francis Marion. lovely lobby,rooms and
meeting rooms adjacent and entrance thru hotel lobby. All meals
at college cafeteria about 3 blocks away-a lovely walk and good
meals-above average cafeteria-separate section for us EH .
interesting history of Charleston, college,walking tour of
churches,houses, special bus tour of Charleston and bus and boat
to Ft Sumpter(on our own but well coordinated) time to go to
Market place and historic homes.Hotel is easy walk(or bus at
door) to every place. Highlight was Gullah origin conducted by a
wonderful couple. Frank and Sharon Murray. Special thanks to the
best coordinator I have had the privilege of knowing CLAIRE
ROBINSON. Everyone kept on time, in line and on their toes. She
knows how to run a program. gave us wine reception 2 evenings.
shuttle service from airport $9.00.you must get this on your own


Lourds College Toledo, OH


The elderhostel hosted by Lourds College in Toledo, was held at
the Maumee Bay State Park. The facility was wonderful. The lodge
had swimming pool, game rooms, exercise rooms, and oodles of
sitting space with large fire places. There is a wildlife refuge
on the grounds with over two miles of boardwalk trails and also
an outdoor swimming area about the size of a small lake as well
as beaches on Lake Erie (Maumee Bay). There is a paved path all
around the swimming area and all around the lodge for lots more
walking. They rent bikes, boats etc in the summer.

We had our breakfasts at the restauant in the Lodge and they
served a couple of lunches and dinners for us too. We had a box
lunch one day on a field trip, and stopped at a very nice
restaurant in Toledo for lunch one day. We had dinner at Tony
Packo's one night and another meal at the Island House in Port
Clinton Oh on our way home from the afternoon field trip. They
food was generally good, but we had way too much.

The program was excellent. We had speakers on the history of
shipping on the Lakes, Shipwrecks, the Indians of the area, the
Ohio Canal system and the state of the Lakes in 2000. David
Trotter who did the shipwrecks is a diver who has discovered many
of the wrecks and has extensive underwater photos. He did a multi
media slide show that was excellent. Fred Folger went with us on
a tour of Toledo and spoke and had slides on the canals. We could
have listened to him much longer too. One day we went into Toledo
and toured the RTM center where the boat crews train. They have a
marvelous simulation there where pilots train for taking boats
into harbor. We were allowed to pilot a ship in.....good thing it
was a simulation! We had a long time Lake Captain, Capt. Wolfe
speak to us. It was very interesting hearing him talk about
people in pleasure boats who get too near their boats. They can't
see them and it takes 3 miles to stop!

Another day we traveled to the Inland Seas Museum in Vermillion,
OH. and stopped at Marblehead Lighthouse on our way home. The
program was the first they have done and they are evaluating it
to see if they will continue. We encouraged them to do so. The
cost was a little more than many elderhostels, but accommodations
were first class. I think they will have to trim their expenses a
bit but can still do an excellent elderhostel.

Northern Joan


The Natural Bridge State Park Elderhostel, Kentucky
March l9 to 24, 2000..

My 50th Adventure with Elderhostel.


Which State in the USA, being also a state of mind, makes a lot
of bourbon, but not one royal Bourbon, a Derby, but not many
derbies, considers itself neither North nor South but remained in
the Union during the Civil War, yet is known for its Colonels,
sends forth to its fickle skies a great deal of grass, blue,
banjo-picking and otherwise, whose farmers speak about tobacco as
"the largest legal crop" and is known for KFC?

Well, if you guessed KFC meant Kentucky Fine Coordinators, step
to the head of the class, and receive as your reward a double
dose of K rations, or maybe fried chicken!!

I have personally maintained, throughout my Elderhostel
adventures that the Coordinator is the key element in a
successful experience. I have confirmed this two times previously
during my Elderhostels in Kentucky at Lexington, Louisville,
(that is Lou-ville) and now a third time at the beautiful Natural
Bridge State Park. This was the second time that Eileen O'Connor
was my Coordinator. She is always well organized, a lot of fun
and interesting, and dedicated to the cause of adult education
and Elderhostelers. If you have followed my reports of last year,
Eileen is the exact opposite of the ghost coordinators at
Colby-Sawyer College, NH who displayed indifference, if not
contempt for us. Eileen even arranged, somehow, for a few flowers
to emerge in the mountains for our aesthetic delight. She had
some strange influence with the rain, which occurred only at
night, and while being transported in a van. As soon as Eileen
stepped out of the vehicle, the sun peeked out through the clouds
as though to greet her.

Eileen would be an excellent model for Coordinators of the
future, wherever they may be. In my considered opinion, she ranks
high in the pantheon of Coordinators along with Rene Hurwitz of
St. George School, Newport, RI, Betty Goins of Bramwell, WV, and
John La Plante of Ivoryton, CT as people worthy of reward and
appreciation for their devotion to us as Elderhostelers.

It says a lot about this state-run resort lodge when a three-year
advance reservation is required for non-Elderhostelers. Could
this be age discrimination in reverse? The lodge itself is
located off a picturesque mountain highway, which can be located
quite easily from I-64, east, or west. The directions to get
there were perfect. The resort is on the side of a mountain
overlooking a deep gorge. Many rooms had an outside balcony,
looking over the gorge to another mountain. The rooms were
spotless, with color cable television and all the amenities of a
luxury hotel. Many times the food was selected from a menu that
is offered to the other guests, with no limit as to price. This
included breakfast, which offered special amenities such as
western omelets made without yolks. Salad bars were frequent. I
could not take notes on all the great food as I was busy eating,
and I am gaining a few ounces just thinking about it. A long
special table was set out for us. Since there were only 25
Elderhostelers, the dining table was a very delightful place of
casual conversation and sociability. The food was an important
part of the atmosphere of luxury. I would never have come to this
splendid resort without Elderhostel!! Dieters beware!!

The program can only be described in two words; wonderful and
wonderful!! It included guided hikes by two of Kentucky's most
knowledgeable and friendly park rangers who were experts in
botany, wildlife, trees and Kentucky humor, which is a separate
social science. The hikes were on the up and up and over and
beyond many rocks, but always within reason and always carefully
guided by the caring rangers. They were quite worthwhile from a
scenic as well as an educational point of view. This week offered
something physical, social, intellectual, and, in a way, a
spiritual contact with nature. Featured in this excellent
Elderhostel were also concerts by local artists that included
folk music and stories, videos of famous singers such as Jean
Ritchie, lectures on "Appalachian Ways" and a live demonstration
of birds of prey. In addition, there was a slide lecture on the
Civilian Conservation Corps of the thirties and its contributions
to the beautiful environment we all enjoyed. Eileen O'Connor, our
Coordinator, planned for an interesting very worthwhile program
that included evening activities.

As you may have guessed by now, this was one of my best
Elderhostels, and I can excuse my enthusiasm by saying that
Kentucky bit me.and I went mad!! From now on, as soon as the
catalogue comes in the mail.Kentucky, I will look for you!!

My mistake was to schedule another Elderhostel right after this
one, in Terre Haute, IN. This was sure to be a letdown after
Natural Bridge Resort Park, KY, and it was. But that is another
chapter in another story..

Sid Kessler, your friendly Elderholic at:


Jewish Community Center, Houston, Texas
Topic: Ethnic Houston-A Signature City Program

March 19-24, 2000

Lodging: Hilton Southwest-Very Good

Breakfast in the hotel restaurant-Excellent Sunday night we were
bussed to the Jewish Community Center for dinner and
entertainment by a Jewish Klezmer band.

Monday was devoted to the Indian Culture.We visited the Enormous
Meenakshi Temple in nearby Pearland. This structure was built by
special Indian temple construction specialist imported from
India.  Our host at the temple was Beth Kulkarni who gave us an
informative lecture on the Hindu religion and after removing our
shoes escorted us through the temple. It was cool enough for a
light jacket, but the three priest in the temple were bare
footed, bare legged, and bare wasted.  They spent their
apprenticeship and advanced training in India.

Lunch was at the Jewish Community Center followed by Discussions
by Dr. Israeli, Dr Paul Mehta, and Dr. Saroj Bahl. Afterwards we
did some shopping in the Indian markets.  There are seventy
thousand Indians in Houston. We had a several course dinner at
the Bombay Palace, one of three in the US.

Tuesday was devoted to the  African/American culture. We started
off on a bus tour of the very poorest section in the
predominately black section of the city known as the "bottom"
gradually working  up to the affluent black neighborhood.  We
spent some time at Texas Southern University, a predominately
black school, followed by lunch for some sole food at the "Family
Cafe".  This was an excellent meal.  The mayor and his group eat
here every Friday.  The mayor and police chief of Houston are
black. Dinner was at another black restaurant in the area.

Wednesday was devoted to the Hispanic Culture. In the Hispanic
section we visited the Community Center where we enjoyed a panel
discussion by prominent  hispanic leaders on the history of the
Hispanic population of  Houston. lunch was at Irmas, a popular
Mexican  restaurant in the warehouse district of  Houston. In the
afternoon we had a bus tour of the traditionally Hispanic
sections of the city with a well qualified hispanic tour
director.   Afterward we  took in the Fiesta Market- a shopping
adventure.  Dinner was at the EL Tiempo Restaurant for another
traditionally Mexican meal.  That evening we were back at the
Hispanic Community Center for a performance of Hispanic Dances by

Thursday was the Asian Culture Day. It started out at the Dynasty
Market.  We toured a very large 100% Chinese supermarket.There
was not a single morsel of American food in the place except for
some  fresh fish. some of which I had never seen are heard of
before. At the Community Center we were given a presentation by a
Chinese councilman  We had a Dim Sum lunch at Ai Hoa, an upscale
chinese restaurant. There wasn't a word od English in the place
including the menu. Chop sticks were a part of the place
settings.  Seeing the difficulty most of us were having they came
to our rescue with some forks.  The afternoon was spent touring
the Forbidden Gardens, a difficult place to describe. It covers
several acres and has a full scale replica of the hundreds of
terra-cotta soldiers recently uncovered in China.  The gardens
were financed by a wealthy man living in Hong Kong. Dinner was at
Tau Bay Vietnamese Restaurant.A lengthy several course dinner of
traditional Vietanamese food. There are a large number of Chinese
and Vietnamese natives living in Houston.

Friday: Back to the Jewish Community center for a wrap-up
discussion headed by a Rice University professor. Lunch and
return  to the hotel to check out. You will have no free time at
this Elderhostel. Each  day is a busy one form breakfast until
about 10 PM. The bus was very modern and comfortable. and always
on time.  You will see a great deal of the city during the week.
Houston is very large, over 50 miles across in each directions.
It is the fourth largest city in the US. About four million.

Ruth Nathan, the coordinator, lived with us in the hotel and did
an excellent job. If you have the time, I would recommend you
spend an additional day, and take in the Space Center. Its only a
few miles south of Houston. I would recommend this Elderhostel to
anyone wanting something different and interesting. It was well
planned and run.

Bill Power


MARCH 19 - 24 2000


The Lexington is beached in the Gulf of Mexico just about a
hundred yards offshore from the hostel where we stayed during our
service program. The ship is connected to the beach by a concrete
causeway that leads to the main entrance and the hangar deck. Our
crew spent a week aboard the Lex in a variety of jobs: restoring
the ship's post office, making "props" for an education program,
and most of all, painting. Another fellow and I cleaned and
painted two cut away aircraft engine displays while other groups
painted cabins and passageways. The staff on the ship was great,
very helpful, patient and grateful for our help. They're a small
group trying to care for a big ship.

At this time many parts of the ship have been restored and are
open for touring. We, as working members of the staff, got the
grand tour and, during the course of the week, got to see much of
the ship that is still off limits. There are still many veterans
of the Lex in the immediate area who visit the ship often and
welcome a chance to talk about their service.

For WWII buffs or those who remember it (like me) spending time
on this ship is a great experience.

The description of this course in the Elderhostel catalog states
that the accommodations are "modest" and they certainly are. My
wife and I had a room complete with three double bunk beds, two
small light bulbs and one set of towels for the week. What it
lacked in comfort it made up in convenience, it's a five-minute
walk to the ship.

Our host, Pat Cobb of Del Mar College, was very helpful and
willing to go the extra mile to make sure we enjoyed the program

We spent the weekend after the program touring the area. The
"must see" spots are Padre Island and the Fulton Mansion located
in Rockport just a short drive up the coast.

Try to avoid flying into Corpus Christi on Delta and their
affiliate ASA. We had late and cancelled flights, as well as lost
luggage inbound, on both ends. We wound up being placed on
Continental after delays and little help from Delta or ASA.


Program  #  51300 - 0409 - 01

FACILITIES - Trinity College is a century old, venerable
institution with an all female student body.  Most buildings
reflect their age. Housing for Elderhostelers is in a renovated
five story dormitory. Each room has private bath facilities.  No
housekeeping is provided. While the campus grounds are pretty
they are also hilly.  To walk from the dormitory to the dining
room includes a hundred and six steps up and down each way.  In
addition to the physical challenge maneuvering in cold, windy and
or rain provides an uncomfortable challenge.  In addition to
Elderhostel programs the dormitory building also houses teen --
aged groups who come to the college for one week programs also.
The college hosts these programs on a year -- round basis for
what is apparently much needed supplemental income.

Rooms are typical dormitory size and layout.  Even the once per
week housekeeping between sessions left some to be desired.  (We
found material in desk drawers dating back to January and
February.  We were here in April.)

All meals are taken in the college dining room.  This requires
six walks a day.  The cafeteria style service provided more than
ample choice of foods, all of which were well prepared and in
abundance. However, the dining room was shared at each meal by
the permanent college students, the teenage tour groups and
Elderhostelers.  The noise level created by the young and most
exuberant students was more often than not nerve shattering.
Little attention was given to spills on tables and floors during
meal service.

ADMINISTRATION to AND SUPERVISION - Neither the coordinator nor
the assistant coordinator resided in the dormitory building.  In
the event of an emergency situation it would have been necessary
to call upon and depend upon campus security.  Supervision of the
group was at best perfunctory.  It was mechanical, distant and
minimal.  Even during the day when the office should have been
open and at least one coordinator available the office door was
too often closed.

PROGRAM -  The the program consisted of morning and afternoon bus
trips to buildings and monuments in the D.C. area.  Although the
program description indicated visits to the Supreme Court and to
the Library of Congress, neither was visited.  Instead sites of
minor interest were scheduled.  That was unfortunate as these two
buildings are "must sees" for any visitors to Washington.  The
bus always returned to campus for lunch.  This meant additional
riding time in congested traffic rather than having lunch out.
Nor was there an opportunity to dine in a restaurant off campus
on an evening.

CONCLUSIONS  - We would have serious reservations about
recommending this Elderhostel except for first time visitors to
Washington D.C. who would be willing to accept the drawbacks
mentioned above.  It seemed to us that every effort was made to
minimize costs.  Only because Elderhostelers are unique travelers
did all of us make the best of what could have been a most
rewarding experience.

Matt and Sylvia Schwartz