>       Elderhostel Notebook #74 Oct 9, 2000
>Welcome to Elderhostel Notebook, the e-zine where hostelers
>compare notes on elderhostel programs.
>EN is an independent project, appreciative of but not associated
>with Elderhostel Inc.          http://www.elderhostel.org
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>programs taken send an e-mail to the editor, Jim
>Olson, at                      EHnotebook@aol.com
>Please keep all correspondence in simple e-mail text format.
>    From the Editor's Notebook
>Carol and Art Krakowsky have sent in a number of narrative style
>reports on programs they have attended in the past few years. I
>have included one, their Biking in the Loire Valley report
>(abridged) in this issue and have  archived the others
>(unabridged) directly in the clickable archive at
>They are all interesting and informative and good examples of the
>virtual elderhostel report. You may wish to check some out in the
>archive index. They will be coded by being in #xx or #xy numbered
>reports rather than notebook issue numbers.
>I use alphabetic codes for files used to  put reports directly in
>the archives rather than getting there by the normal  e-mail
>notebook version route.
>This issue will not be sent to anyone with a  Microsoft Hotmail
>address. For some reason all of my Hotmail addresses now bounce.
>I don't know the nature of the problem- just that I can no longer
>send mass  mailings of the notebook to Hotmail addresses. Maybe
>because the notebooks are too "cool."
>I was not able to include all of the reports sent in to date but
>will put the ones I didn't have space for in the reserve file and
>in upcoming notebooks.
>One of the reports in this issue is for a "Signatures City"
>program. These are usually programs that are similar to
>other programs in a particular city but feature upscale
>accommodations and generally cost about double the cost of
>the regular program. They are becoming quite popular and appear
>to be the way to go if you would like to experience a particular
>city like New Orleans in high style.
>I think in most cases you  can select a program that best suits
>your budget and mood at the moment, but I would not like to see
>Elderhostel convert to this type of program at the expense of the
>others and trust that this won't happen.
>    Program Reviews
>        Biking in the Loire Valley
>        Arizona State University's White Mountain
>        Bermuda Bioresearch Station
>        Signature City New Orleans Program
>I attended the above Elderhostel program which took place in
>Rockport, Texas on Sept. 13 to 19/2000. The first thing to note
>is the title of the program. The topics covered extend beyond the
>hummingbirds that are there in abundance as they get ready for
>their long migration across the Gulf of Mexico. Raptors are also
>in migration through the area at the same time while a wide
>variety of shore birds are moving in to stay for the winter.
>Gulls, terns and other pelagic species are also present in large
>numbers. So, this program is for birders to enjoy with some
>attention being given to all categories during the program.
>If you live in an area like mine, it is a big event to see one
>hummingbird but Rockport is alive with them this time of year.
>Many of the homes and parks set up many feeders in their yard for
>them. It is not unusual to see a hundred of them feeding at one
>time. Visits to several homes with multiple feeders and lots of
>hummers was part of the program. We even watched the birds being
>captured and banded at one of them.
>This is also hawk migration time. One day was spent on a trip to
>Hazel Basemore State Park which serves as a raptor counting
>station from Aug 15th thru November. It was amazing to see the
>birds spiraling upward with the aid of thermal currents and then
>peeling off as they reached the top of the ride to head south in
>search of the next free ride to higher altitude. If you have a
>scope, it is well worth bringing along not only to watch the
>kettles of hawks over this location but also for the best views
>of shore birds. The Elderhostel program also includes several
>trips to observe shore birds including one on a boat on part of
>the Intercoastal waterway.
>The other main feature of this particular program is
>participation in a large birding festival put together by local
>birders. Total attendance over the 3 days it is on is of the
>order of 2 to 2 thousand. It consists of a series of lectures and
>demonstration covering a wide variety of birding topics. Speakers
>can be local but are often invited from distant locations to
>present topics they have specialized in. So, you can expect to
>spend some time in auditorium presentations as well as out in the
>I would classify the program as only moderately physically
>demanding. It can be hot in Texas this time of year but we were
>never far from an airconditioned room or bus. There were no walks
>of any significant duration or difficulty and there are a number
>of alternatives available most of the time to work with. If you
>really can't tolerate heat at all, this may not be the place for
>you to go.
>Our accommodations were one of the nicest things about this trip.
>We stayed at a Best Western motel in Rockport that was
>constructed to have a large inner courtyard. It was filled with a
>grove of liveoak trees with beautiful plantings growing under
>their canopy. Hummingbird feeders were set up in large numbers
>and the place was alive with them. We had all our meals there as
>well. Breakfast is served to all of their customers but only  the
>Elderhostel group took lunch and diner there. The food was fine,
>and the meal expedited since we weren't cued up with large
>numbers of others as we would be in restaurants. A choice of a
>fish or meat main course was offered for the evening meals.
>If you are a birder, this program should certainly contain many
>interesting events for you. Bring your binoculars and scope if
>you have one and don't forget a bathing suit for a dip in the
>pool at the end of the day.
>Carl Fogelin
>Biking in the Loire Valley
>May 6-June 7, 2000.
>At the end of our Paris time (see reprt on Art in Parisin
>archives), we proceeded by fast train (TGV) to our next
>destination (Nantes) to start our bicycling Elderhostel. The TGV
>is a wonderful train. All electric. 168 mph and smooth as silk.
>The US is way behind on trains. In Nantes we caught a bus to the
>airport and immediately found our leader (Garrit) for the bike
>We met up with others in our group on two incoming flights and
>proceed to the hotel in Chinon where we met Garrit's two helpers,
>Francois, who maintained bicycles, and Henk, who drove the van
>with our luggage and spare parts. 9 other bikers (making 23
>total) straggled in much later due to a missed flight.
>Next morning we get our bikes and they are adjusted to fit. They
>are all the same-very sturdy. Drum brakes. 5-speed totally
>enclosed gearing in the rear hub. All bearings are totally
>enclosed, as is the chain. The seats are very comfortable. We are
>all tested as to getting on and off (their way!), riding with one
>hand, looking back, shifting, and signaling. Everyone passed.
>For the next 9 days we ride every day. We go between 10 and 35
>miles per day for a total of 185 miles. We stop every half hour
>or so and Garrit explains something about the building, town,
>tree, store, etc. We stay in nice hotels, get very good breakfast
>and dinner, and usually have lunch on the road. We shop in one of
>the small towns we pass through and put our lunch fixings in the
>van till we get to where we have a picnic lunch. If it's raining,
>we eat in a restaurant. We ride, rain or shine, but it's never
>too cold for bike shorts. Occasionally we have to layer up under
>our rain jackets. Some of the group have very fancy biking
>clothing, packs, water packs, and cases to mount on the back
>rack. Others ride in Levis or regular shorts. We all get along
>fine, and are in good spirits. There is much story telling and
>laughter. It was during this time that Carol had a birthday that
>I completely forgot. She was very forgiving, and I bought her a
>nice bottle of wine.
>We have lectures along the way about the chateaus, the life of
>the kings that lived in them, and French culture. The travel is
>mostly on country roads with occasional dirt roads along a river
>or through a wood. The pavement of the roads is smooth and there
>aren't any potholes. We pass through many tiny quaint villages
>and visit many chateaus. There are, more or less depending on how
>you count, 3000 chateaus, keeps, old mansions, etc. in the Loire
>valley. 120 can be visited. We will only see half a dozen of the
>We turn in our bicycles in Chitenay and take a bus to Chartres.
>There we visit the wonderful cathedral and have a talk by Malcolm
>Miller, the man who wrote the book interpreting the many stained
>glass windows which are the only complete set not destroyed by
>war or revolution. He is an expert on stained glass windows
>Observations and some things we learned:
>The kings kept doves in large dovecotes. Wealth determined how
>many doves they had. Doves were used for food and were cheaper
>than chickens because they fed themselves-on the farmers' grain,
>of course. The farmers were forbidden to bother them-of course.
>Flowers abound in France. Paris has multitudes of geranium window
>boxes, park plantings, and plant stores with huge varieties of
>flowers. And in the country no dwelling exists without at least
>one source of color. Rose bushes are everywhere, their scent
>often teasing us as we cycled through country lanes. Fields of
>red poppies dazzle among other crops, borders of purple campanula
>enhance mighty chateaus and humble cottages alike, and walls of
>white callas in vegetable gardens surprise the casual bypasser.
>The hotel bathrooms usually have a separate room for the toilet.
>While there is always a showerhead on a hose, there is never a
>place to hang it, or a shower curtain. You have to sit down in
>the tub to shower. There is, however, plenty of hot water.
>Our return flight on Air France is pleasant. The food is
>excellent, and the wine is free.
>Art and Carol
>Arizona State University's White Mountain
>Richard and Pam Duchaine 
>We attended Arizona State University's White Mountain Elderhostel
>Sept. 17-22. The two areas of study were White Mt. Apache Life,
>Traditions, and Native American Art and Birds, Plants, Wildlife
>and Astronomy of the White Mts.
>The lodging was not at Hon-Dah casino as planned, but rather at
>the Sunrise Ski Lodge, another 25 miles away and 2000 feet
>higher. We had been advised of this change prior to the program.
>The Ski Lodge was acceptable but the casino would have had many
>more amenities. The food was very good, well presented and
>plentiful and served by an efficient cheerful staff. Four
>straight meals of chicken was too much though.
>Our coordinator, Clara Gilmore, was excellent. She kept things
>running on time and had brought many of her own pieces of
>resource material for us to browse at our leisure.
>The primary Apache lecturer, Michael LaCapa, was witty and
>entertaining, but not too informative. He is an
>author/illustrator and had brought his published materials and
>offered them for sale and also accompanied us on a bus tour of
>the reservation. The other Apache lecturer, who was to tell us
>about Apache life, was a friendly spiritual person but imparted
>little information. Overall we came away feeling that we didn't
>know much much more about the tribe than we knew when we came.
>For example, a class member asked how many Apaches live on the
>reservation or we still wouldn't know the answer. We had hoped to
>learn more about tribal government, customs, schooling,
>employment, issues, etc.
>The nature side was mixed. The man who led the birding section
>was excellent, well prepared and specific. Several class members
>said they were now interested in taking up the hobby! The natural
>history lecturer was good and we learned a lot about history of
>the area. The astronomy lecturer was enthusiastic, almost manic,
>but unfortunately it was cloudy the night we were to look at
>Finally, there was a trophy elk hunt going on and the dead elk
>were hung on a hill outside our classroom. Most of us did not
>appreciate this activity of killing the biggest and best of the
>herd mostly for the head to mount. One morning a pick up truck
>parked outside the lodge had a dead bear in it, also something I
>could have lived without.
>Overall, I would not recommend this program.
>Pam Duchaine
>Green Valley, AZ
># 10315 Coral Reefs of Bermuda, September 11-17 and # 10317
>Exploring the Sea: Oceanography Today, September 18-24 Bermuda
>Biological Station for Research
>Cathie Lauzon
>I recently attended two outstanding Elderhostels at the Bermuda
>Biological Station for Research. Both programs included almost-
>daily snorkeling trips over Bermuda's pristine reefs. Some trips
>were from BBSR boats, others were from shore. (There is an
>amazing amount of marine life even in shallow water close to
>shore in Bermuda.)
>Both programs featured an informative bus tour of the island and
>a plankton tow. The oceanography program also included a trip to
>the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo and a visit to the Bermuda
>Underwater Research Institute and the weather station.
>The lectures were exciting, with resident scientists and graduate
>students sharing their enthusiasm for their fields of interest.
>Meals were served cafeteria style and they were excellent, with
>both fresh fruit and salads at lunch and supper as well as a
>choice of two main courses and dessert. On days when we were away
>from the Station at lunchtime we packed our own lunches.
>Accommodations were comfortable, although air conditioning would
>have been a nice touch in mid-September.
>Diana Lynn, the co-ordinator, did a fantastic job juggling
>schedules during the coral reefs program when Hurricane Florence
>was approaching. Boat and snorkeling trips were pushed up to the
>earlier part of the week so that we could get out when the seas
>were calm. This required the cooperation of lecturers who
>willingly rearranged their own schedules. Diana's assistants were
>also very helpful and knowledgeable.
>The two Elderhostels fit together nicely. The coral reef program
>tended to look at the smaller picture, with a video on coral
>reefs, lectures on coral symbiosis and bleaching, Bermuda's
>marine life and plankton migration, but it also included a
>discussion of global warming. The oceanography program was the
>more challenging, but even the lecture on physical oceanography
>was understandable and fascinating. The only overlap between the
>two programs was part of the bus tour, the plankton tow and a
>brief tour of the labs. Both programs provided two half days of
>free time so that we could explore Bermuda on our own.
>They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but if you sign
>up for two Elderhostels in succession at BBSR, you get a free
>night's lodging and a free breakfast between programs. Another
>reason to consider signing up for two programs rather than just
>I have read reports in the Notebook about singles feeling
>isolated at some Elderhostels. This was definitely not a problem
>in Bermuda.
>One final comment. The oceanography program is offered several
>times a year, but snorkeling is a part of the program only in
>September and October. I'm sure other interesting activities are
>planned during the cooler months.
>  9/24-10/1/2000
>This program met at two sites.  The first four nights were spent
>in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Then the group moved to Kings Ranch, in
>the Sonoran Desert, 30 miles east of Phoenix for the last three
>Most of the Elderhostelers had selected this program because it
>afforded them the chance to see the Grand Canyon and, indeed, it
>is an excellent way to see the Grand Canyon for the first time.
>We were first given an introduction to the geology of the
>Colorado Plateau, by Jack Pennington and another introduction to
>the Canyon by a former park ranger who had spent many years
>living at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.
>We spent a full day on a field trip to the Canyon.  Jack came
>with us on the field trip to help us see the features of the
>Canyon.  We visited the South Rim, viewing it from several
>vistas.  Those who chose to, took a short walk along the rim and
>another short venture just a little way down the Bright Angel
>Trail so that we could get a little feel of what it is like below
>the rim.
>Those of us, who had been to the Canyon before, knew that there
>are always new experiences to be had, and this day did give us
>some new perspectives.  There were light rain showers moving
>across the Canyon and we were treated to some spectacular
>rainbows, a photographer's paradise.
>Another afternoon, we had a field trip to Walnut Canyon National
>Monument where there are prehistoric shelters built into the
>cliffs. Most of us hiked down a trail with 275 steps to visit
>some of these dwellings and marvel at the people who ventured
>into this environment and built these cliff dwellings hundreds of
>feet above the canyon floor.  People who did not want to attempt
>those steps were offered an alternative walk on the rim of the
>canyon.  They also saw the cliff dwellings; they just couldn't
>step into them.
>During that same field trip, we also visited the Museum of
>Northern Arizona, an excellent collection of the native art and
>natural history of the area.
>On another day, we had a presentation by Ramson Lomatewama, A
>Hopi artist who lives in Flagstaff.  The Hopis are a very
>distinctive group and Ramson gave us a very good but brief
>introduction to the culture.  He discussed the Hopi Kachinas and
>their meanings.  He showed us pictures of old Kachina Dolls that
>were made before Kachina Dolls became an art form.  He also
>showed us slides of his newest art form, glass. He does stained
>glass and glass blowing, bringing his Hopi culture to this art
>For my wife and I, Ramson's presentation reinforced and expanded
>on our very first Elderhostel, five years ago, on the Hopi mesas.
>At Flagstaff, we were housed in the Hampton Inn; these room
>accommodations were about as upscale as you get with Elderhostel.
>  It was an easy walk to our meeting rooms on the campus.
>The food at this site was a mix of good and not so good. The
>breakfasts were the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby.  No
>hot food, unless, you wait in line to use a toaster. Twice, we
>had bag lunches that filled the bill and twice we had lunch at
>the NAU food service facility, which offered a great variety but
>took some time to learn what was where and how to order what you
>Three of our evening meals were served in the "Sizzler"
>restaurant across the parking lot from the hotel.  The other
>evening meal was the outstanding treat. It was served at "The Inn
>at NAU", a student training facility for hotel science.
>On Thursday, we moved from Flagstaff to the Kings Ranch.  What a
>change!  Flagstaff is at 7000 feet, giving it very moderate
>temperatures.  Kings Ranch is at 2000 feet, a picturesque, we
>might say rustic environment.  The Elderhostel Notebook has
>included three previous reports on the Kings Ranch.  They were in
>issues #5, #43 and #65.  I think that they were each there during
>a cooler period.  When we arrived the daytime temperatures were
>hovering around a hundred.  This is normal.
>When we arrived, there was another Elderhostel group already at
>Kings Ranch.  They were just finishing a golf and computers
>program and were quite enthusiastic.  We overlapped with that
>group just one night, their last and our first at Kings Ranch.
>For that one night, all of the casitas were full.
>When we checked in, we were assigned a casita that had only one
>bed.  Since we prefer not to share a bed, we requested a
>reassignment.  The room manager recalled that one couple from the
>other Elderhostel group had checked out a day early, that room
>was clean and had two beds.  We took it.  We soon discovered that
>the air conditioner in that casita was not working, but the owner
>promised to fix it for us.
>We enjoyed a good, though simple dinner and attended the evening
>program in the air-conditioned classroom.
>The evening program was by David Morris a member of the Choctaw
>tribe.  A light hearted but informative presentation of the
>"Native Culture of the Southwest".
>When we returned to our casita, the air-conditioner had not been
>repaired so we had a warm and restless night.  In the morning
>they promised to move us to another casita as soon as the other
>Elderhostel group left.
>We enjoyed a good, though cold, breakfast - I enjoyed a good
>yogurt.  For the morning program, George Johnston gave us an
>entertaining and informative lecture on the do-s and don't-s of
>the desert.  We had a nice lunch and then had a couple of hours
>of free time to sit and swelter in our casita.
>We revolted.  We looked at the rest of the program.  A geology
>lecture and a field trip to an arboretum (hot) and we decided it
>wasn't worth it.  We checked out, even though we were told that
>another casita was just about ready for us.
>We left, so we can't report on the remainder of the program.  I
>do think that I would recommend this program.  We had the same
>coordinator at both sites.  She was friendly and very helpful.
>Except for the heat, Kings Ranch is an interesting place.  Lots
>of varied desert flora and fauna to be seen.  While we were
>waiting for dinner we saw a coyote trot by the dining hall.
>Early in the morning, I saw a half dozen bats winging their way
>toward the mountains, probably to a cool cave somewhere.
>If you can adjust your mindset into desert mode, you will find it
>a fascinating place.
>Bob and Grace McAllester
>______________________>We have just returned from a delightful September stay in New
>Orleans. We arrived a day ahead of schedule--which we would
>recommend to those who need to arrive by air. The Signature City
>program was very well organized. The coordinator, Joyce Hanks,
>was extremely helpful and well prepared. We had presenters of a
>professional caliber, who gave us a good understanding of the
>French Quarter, as described in the Elderhostel bulletin.
>We did sign up through the lottery and received confirmation as
>described. The hotel accommodations were topnotch. We would never
>have experienced the number of top-drawer restaurants on our own.
>Chances are, that we would have chosen a couple and, missed a
>whole lot. We did walk extensively though the French Quarter,
>although some of our older hostel friends bowed out, due to the
>uneven pavements.
>One needs to be aware that Bourbon Street (where the hotel is
>located) closes to auto traffic early on weekend nights. If you
>don't check this out, be prepared to walk three blocks with
>luggage. We felt that the higher cost of the Signature City
>Program was worth it. We would be happy to answer any questions
>regarding this rewarding program.