xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Elderhostel Notebook #87 May 18, 2001 oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox 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 EN has a WWW site at http://members.aol.com/EHnotebook To subscribe to the e-mail edition and/or to submit reviews of 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. ################################################ Comments and Queries ################################################ From: "Selman, Rae"
I would like to hear from anyone who took the recent EH health/education trip to Cuba. I have some logistical concerns I would like to discuss. Please correspond directly to me. Thanks email@example.com _____________________ From: Judie Brown Has anyone done an EH Afloat to Egypt? We're going in October would like info on the trip weather.... Judie ___________ Subj: elderhostel Sicily trip From: Glocurran@aol.com I am interested in hearing from Elderhostelers who have taken this trip. Please let me know how the weather was, what time of year you visited, your thoughts on the program and the length of time spent at the various locations. Thank youin advance for your help. _______________________ From: Ronarizona@aol.com Please share your experiences attending Elderhostels in Japan. Thanks. Ron Weintraub, Ronarizona@aol.com ____________ Subj: Nutsshell review From: RWi501@aol.com On the Signature City, Washington DC program in April 2001. This is a product of the Close-Up Foundation and was a great experience. Good speakers, good accommodations and terrific explorations of the city. I would recommend it highly. Romaine ___________________ From: PNestor I would appreciate any information about the EH program on Spanish Painting which includes Madrid, Toledo, Cuenca, Bilbao, and Barcelona. Has any reader attended this program? Please email me at PNestor@aol.com. Thanks. Pat Nestor _______________ From: firstname.lastname@example.org "Has anyone been to an Eldehostel at Geneva Point Conference Center near Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire? How was it? We plan to go in September." "We just returned from a great Elderhostel program No. 05023-0422-01 at The Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, California. The site is lovely, food and rooms were fine and the program -- mostly about wine and the wine country - was delightful.. A fine experience. The McCoys _________________ From: email@example.com We would like information from anyone who has attended the HISTORY, CULTURE and ARCHAEOLOGY OF PERU and the MEXICO'S ORIGINS Elderhostels. Thanks. firstname.lastname@example.org _____________ Subj: Turkey From: Norm15640@aol.com We're interested in the Jewish Heritage in Turkey Elderhostel and would appreciate comments from anyone who has been there. Thanks Barbara and Norman Wolff email@example.com ################################################ Program Reviews ################################################ History and Culture in Greater Cincinnati COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY- birding Americans in France: from Franklin to Roosevelt New Mexico State University at Grants Richmond, Virginia - Signature City SF Giants Spring training Scottsdale, AZ Columbia Gorge Community College- skiing ________________________ History and Culture in Greater Cincinnati Treasures to Savor + First Ladies Program 17501-0408-01 firstname.lastname@example.org This program was terrific in every way. The printed program doesn't begin to describe the quality of the organization, content, and interest of the week. The program was filled with informative, entertaining lectures and field trips to local sites of interest. Accomodations at the Comfort Inn were very nice. Catered meals were varied and delicious. Restaurant meals were at intesting and scenic places. (By the way, Cincinnati is WAY more interesting they originally thought!) We strongly recommend this program. Ann and Bill Carter ____________________ BIRDING FIELD STUDIES - GROUSE COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY APRIL 12 TO 19, 2001 BY: Charles Carruthers, Madison, WI, JCCARRU@AOL.COM We drove to Ft. Collins, CO to attend this program, braving a late-spring snowstorm in Nebraska en route. It was well worth it. This was the first Birding Elderhostel I have attended where the participants were all birders, a refreshing change. Instructor Kevin Cook was excellent. The first night and last 2 nights were held at the Holiday Inn University Park in Ft. Collins. Very nice accomodations. Four days and nights were spent on the road, traveling in 2 vans (19 elderhostelers). Kevin and co-driver John Barber were both very competent in both driving and birding. We first drove to the grasslands (steppes) of Eastern Colorado where an evening visit to a lek produced views of Greater Prairie Chickens. Our stay at a motel in the town of Yuma was highlighted by a nice home-cooked dinner at the community center. Next day we traveled to the southeastern corner of the state to the town of Springfield, stopping at state parks and other areas en route for more birding. A walk in the town produced several Eurasian Collared-doves, a rarity for many of us. We departed early the next morning to reach a lek before sunrise, where we observed several Lesser Prairie Chickens displaying. Later, a long drive west and up into the mountains at Gunnison with stops along the way for more birds. Next day, early departure again to reach a lek before sunrise to see displaying Gunnison Sage Grouse. Then, travel higher into the mountains where, at Guanella Pass we hiked up a snowfield to see a flock of White-tailed Ptarmigan, still in white winter plumage. A side trip to Loveland Pass in the afternoon produced all three Rosy-finch species. Lodging this night at Snow Mountain Ranch, near Fraser. Once again, an early check-out and departure for the North Park area near Walden where we were treated to the unbelievable sight of over 100 Greater Sage Grouse displaying on a lek. Back into Ft. Collins in time for lunch, then a free afternoon. On our last full day we (what else?) depart before dawn and drive north to Cheyenne, Wyoming, then east to the grasslands and displaying Sharp-tailed Grouse. Birded our way back to Ft. Collins thru the grasslands of both states. _________________ Americans in France: from Franklin to Roosevelt Paris (5 nights), Reims (3 nights), and Bayeux (4 nights) email@example.com We consider this program one of our best trips to Europe, particularly in regard to staffing (leader, guides) and planning. In Paris, we stayed at Hotel les Jardins de Paris Gobelins, near Place d'Italie, a safe neighborhood of convenient services. The program emphasized the American writers of the 1920's, but also included a superb guide to the Musee d'Orsay and Giverny. On route to Reims, we visited Compiegne, site of the 1918 Armistice. In Reims, Beatrice Ducroix presented convincing insights into the liturgical and regal history of the Cathedral, and effectively described the other urban sites, far better than any guidebook. Leaving Reims, we passed through Chateau Thierry on our way to the American cemetery and battlefield of Belleau Wood. At Bayeux, we learned why Andre Heintz is praised by so many Elderhostel groups. Having served in the French Resistance, his narration of the 1944 invasion sites (three days of tours and lectures) deserves the highest praise. It was a privilege to meet him. Several in our group became ill; our group leader expended energetic care in assisting them. I praise Experiment France (the not-for-profit Program Coordinator) and its staff highly. ____________________ New Mexico State University at Grants firstname.lastname@example.org There was a previous report on this Elderhostel location that appeared in Notebook #60. I completely concur with that report and its praise of coordinator Barbara Wesley. Barbara adds a different twist to each program that she runs. For the program of April 24, 2001, the big feature was the "Gathering of Nations" Powwow at the UNM PIT (basketball stadium) in Albuquerque. There was a steady stream of very colorful Indian dances. Also a Grand Entry when they crowded many hundreds of dancers on the stadium floor, each dressed in an exciting costume. The aura of the swirling colors was overwhelming. There are other trips that Barbara manages to include in many of her programs. Chaco Canyon: This very remote prehistoric site can only be reached by driving over at least twenty miles of primitive roads. Here we find the remains of five story buildings that were engineered and built out of stone by people who had no written language, no steel tools and no wheeled conveyances. There is evidence that they had some advanced astronomical knowledge. The time period was 900 - 1150 AD. Acoma Sky City: This ancient Pueblo is built high on a mesa. This collection of residences is built of mud and stone but at one time Spanish conquistadors believed it to be one of the fabled seven cities of gold. Hear stories of how they were conquered by the Spanish and how in 1680, they and the other Indian Pueblos rebelled and drove the Spanish out. Zuni Pueblo: Visit another old Spanish Mission, this one has beautiful Kachina murals painted high on the cathedral walls. Sample some fresh baked Indian bread from their special ovens. Visit Zuni artists. We had attended this same site in 1997 so a lot of it was a repeat for us, but in the mean time we had moved from California to New Mexico so the repeated visits to locations of important New Mexican history had a new meaning. There is also always a new group of Elderhostelers to get acquainted with. The hotel houses all of the Elderhostelers on the second floor and there is no elevator so you have to be able to negotiate the stairs. It's all right to do the stairs slowly. If you have trouble moving your luggage up and down the stairs, you will find someone to help you. The same hotel is used all week so you only need to move it up and down once. This is a busy program with a bus outing packed into every day. I recommend it highly. Bob Grace McAllester ________________ Virginia Commonwealth University "Sincerely Richmond" Program #46891-0422 Richmond, Virginia April 22-27, 2001 This excellent 5-night Elderhostel is one of EH's "Signature City" programs and I think it likely that all those that concentrate on Richmond and are sponsored by the same organization probably follow the same curriculum even though they may have a different title (example -- "Richmond Then and Now: A Capital City" was given in March). The entire experience was of very high quality, in accommodations, instruction and field trips. We took our most recent domestic Elderhostel more than 3 years ago so I do not know if all may have "upgraded" in the interim, but I would say this hotel and the food we had were at least one or two notches above the level we have experienced in most of our other 6 EH's across the U.S. The instruction was some of the best we have experienced from EH. Of course it also helps that we were there during Richmond's gorgeous spring. We stayed at the Radisson Hotel on West Franklin Street in downtown Richmond, where all the staff and management were cheery and eager to please. The hotel had previously been a Holiday Inn but was completely redecorated and updated before opening last year as a Radisson. Rooms were large, comfortable, attractive and clean. Despite the "city" location it was very quiet. The elevators worked quickly, and underground parking was free. Our meals were taken at the hotel, sometimes in its lobby-level restaurant (all breakfasts and a few lunches) and sometimes in a private meeting room on the second floor (most lunches and all dinners). All meals were buffet style with a good choice of fruits, juices, milks, salads and/or cooked vegetables -- at the appropriate mealtimes for each. Water and iced tea were both automatically provided at all lunches and dinners. In the evening there were always at least two entrees -- and enough of each so most of us had a little of both! The coordinator, Catherine Dodson, was a soft-spoken native Richmond charmer who worked hard behind the scenes to make it all seem effortless. When the AC in our first meeting room conked out she got the hotel to transfer everything to another room where the AC did work, and then quietly arranged modifications in the seating arrangement several times til everyone could see and hear. The delightful group of students -- 38 in all -- were from California, Georgia, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and Virginia. At least 3 couples were newbies and partway through the week one of them took me aside after a particularly excellent presentation, by history professor Lynn Sims, to say, "This is wonderful! Are ALL Elderhostels like this?" I replied that this was indeed typical, although that particular instructor was in the top ranks.) We had class plus a field trip most days and another brief evening class after dinner. There were no long blocks of free time but we fitted in walks in the attractive historic neighborhood including a chance to scope out the beautifully restored Jefferson Hotel, a 5-star gem just a block and a half away. (My husband and I had lunch there on our way out of town and it was superb.) Our curriculum covered events from the founding of the Virginia Colony to the present, with, of course, special reference to Richmond. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War were given in-depth treatment. The class enjoyed expertly guided, un-rushed visits to the State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, St. Paul's Church, St. John's Church, John Marshall House, Wickham House, Valentine Museum, Museum of the Confederacy, Confederate White House, Tredegar Iron Works (now also the National Park Service center for Richmond's Civil War battles), and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. On the way by bus to and from these destinations we were shown many examples of different architectural types, Monument Avenue, Shockoe Slip, Church Hill, the VCU campuses, the financial district, the James River waterfront, "The Fan" historic district and many other remarkable sites, all with commentary by our coordinator. We also learned all about the new "Canal Walk" project and even were visited one evening by General Robert E. Lee himself, in full uniform. Excellent planning was evident throughout. I think anyone could take an EH at any of Virginia Commonwealth University's 3 locations and receive similarly high quality accommodations, curriculum and instruction. Cherry Carnell mailto:email@example.com ___________________ SF Giants Spring training Scottsdale, AZ week of March 18th. Travel31@aol.com The weather was grand, the motel was excellent (Comfort Inn) and we were able to see our National League Champion Giants in three games. The catered food was good, the El Torito buffet was poor and the barbeque in the desert was disappointing. Overcooked food and no coffee! (A cowboy cookout without coffee, unthinkable.) The programs were ok but not specific to the Giants, which we considered odd as this was a program tailored to them. Strangest of all was the last night where our experience with EH (11) was usually a final nice dinner. Instead we went to a local theatre and were given ten dollars worth of coupons to spend at the counter for hot dogs and popcorn?? Then there was a program where the local ALS foundation was given a check from EH. Our coordinator knew nothing of this and we all wondered why we were there. This was followed by a showing of 'The Pride of the Yankees,' which I believe has been seen by more people than The Wizard of OZ and The Sound of Music put together. So, it was a week of contrasts and I would be interested in hearing from others who attended Spring Training Baseball to compare experiences. If the coordination from EH to this program was greater and more specific to the teams it would be a much better week. Sincerely, Ken Anne Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org _____________ Alpine Skiing at Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood Meadows Columbia Gorge Community College Program # 37087-0304001 "Barbara Fay" This EH program is inaptly named! It should be A Dining Adventure and Alpine Skiing at Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood Meadows. What a treat this program was in all ways! The Setting: The beautiful Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Building set on Oregon^Òs scenic Mt. Hood. Built in 1937 by the WPA the lodge has been carefully restored and maintained in its original state. Accommodations: The rooms were quite small but very adequate. Closet space was limited and held an ironing board and fan which took up some of the room. The rooms could be very noisy as the lodge was built before sound proofing was available but the lodge thoughtfully provided ear plugs! Lockers were provided on the ground floor for skis, etc. Ski boots were not allowed outside of the main lobby entrance because of damage to wooden floors and the sound factor. The Skiing: Left a little to be desired for upper intermediate/expert skiers. Part of this was due to the low snow pack (only half the usual amount in 2001) and warm temperatures. Many of the black diamond runs were not open. The green and blue runs were well groomed and quite gentle. These were a fine training ground for the two hours of instruction we received each morning in basic techniques and for practicing and fine tuning these techniques during the free ski in the afternoon, but they lacked any challenge and excitement for an advanced skier. Several skiers took advantage of a snow tractor ride, which was generously offered free of charge by the Timberline Area, to the Palmer Run which was not serviced at this time of the year by a lift and was not groomed. Though we were warned that conditions would be difficult and they would be skiing at their own risk, several skiers skied down and reported it was not difficult. Others took the ride for the spectacular view from the top of the run and rode down in the tractor. The day trip to Hood Meadows for free skiing offered more challenge but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. The new snow that fell during the night was great but fog and snowstorms enshrouded most of the mountain for most of the day and we were confined to skiing the lower lifts. Ski hosts eased the situation by shepherding us around the mountain but the groups were large and much time was spent standing around. We were transported from Timberline to Hood Meadows and back in small, comfortable vans. Skiers were placed in groups according to their abilities for the ski instruction. None of the groups was larger than eight. Ski rentals were available for an extra charge. The rentals included parabolic skis and many who did not already have them took advantage of the opportunity to try them out. The Food: Was one of the highlights of the program and made up for the less than exciting skiing. It was by far the best food of any of the 12 Elderhostels I have attended previously, including one to a cooking school in Lyon, France. Timberline^Òs head chef, is world class and no effort was spared by the lodge in giving Elderhostelers a memorable dining experience. Breakfast each morning was a bountiful buffet served in the Cascade Room, the main dining room, and shared with regular Timberline guests. Beautifully laid out, the choices were many including special Timberline scrambled eggs, potatoes in a delicious sauce, cold and hot cereal or special Timberline granola and freshly baked pastries made in-house. Yogurt appeared in a large shallow bowl with raspberry sauce knifed into a lattice pattern. For lunch we were given an $8.00 coupon for each day which we could use in the Day Lodge for usual day lodge fare (chili, hamburgers, or a special Timberline Burrito etc.), or in the ^Óski in café^Ô which served a hot lunch for $7.95. We opted to use them in the Cascade Dining Room for a relaxing white tablecloth, fine china lunch. Entrees here were more than $8.00 but were HUGE and came with a salad and fragrant rosemary bread. Three of us shared one entrée and the bread and bought two extra salads. We still had enough of our $24 pool to buy one of the decadent Timberline desserts. A buffet lunch (construct your own sandwich from a wide variety of ingredients and/or chili and fruit) was served one day on the mountain in Silcox Lodge, the original Timberline Wheelhouse, now a facility for small group accommodations. Elderhostlers who were non-skiers or who did not have the skills to ski down were transported by snow tractor. Another very tasty and more than generous buffet lunch was served in the Sahallie Room in the South Lodge on the day we skied at Hood Meadows. Dinners were private Elderhostel affairs served in a different dining room each evening. In the Ramshead Bar and in the 60^Òs Room they were served buffet style. In the Raven^Òs Nest, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood Rooms they were elegant sit-down dinners with white tablecloths, fine china and glassware and very attentive service. Each of these rooms offered a different view of the mountain. The menus were haute cuisine, featuring Northwest food specialties, beautifully plated. More fabulous Timberline desserts and coffee were served in the Barlow Room as a prelude to the evening presentations. Presentations: The History of Timberline Lodge WPA Projects and a walking tour of the lodge was given by Linny Adamson, Curator of the Timberline Lodge the first afternoon from 4:00-5:30. Linny^Òs love for the lodge and its preservation as a National Historical Site was very evident in her very excellent presentation. A film on the 10th Mountain Division whose members eventually started many of the ski areas in US was given one night and a talk, with slides on Northwest Volcanoes by Ed Klimasauskas of the USGA were interesting and informative. A unique, living history presentation on the Barlow Road, a part of the Oregon Trail, done by Beth Kirschofer of the USFS, was great fun. With some props the Elderhostelers assumed the roles of pioneers traveling the Oregon trail and had to solve problems that came up during their journey. A Fireside Chat and Quiz with Michelle Franulovich of the USFS also required audience participation and was a fine review of the information presented during the week. The pre program information sent was very complete: our coordinator, Susan Burd, very friendly and efficient. An unfortunate accident (a broken arm) suffered by a participant on her first run was very expeditiously handled by sending her by van to Portland where she was taken care of and back at Timberline within a few hours. Unless you are particularly looking for a skiing challenge I would highly recommend this program. Staying at Timberline Lodge is a unique experience, the staff could not have been more helpful and accommodating, the presentations interesting and informative and the food, outstanding! email@example.com