Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I regret that due to the sad passing of a key member, the incomparable Don Nylin, and the relocation of our president, our little group has ceased operations. This site will remain as a memoir of our activities in tribute to Don who taught us how to write memoirs (a craft he learned through Elderhostel classes.)

In Memorium: Don Nylin

Donald W. Nylin, 82, of Lincolnshire passed away March 7, 2011.  He was born Dec. 16, 1928 in Decatur, IL.  For the last four years,  Don was a resident at Sedgebrook Retirement Community after thirty-seven years in West Aurora.

Following a distinguished career as educator and administrator, Don remained an avid student and teacher in all of his endeavors. Seventy-plus classes from Elderhostel proved the former, and teaching others the memoir writing skills he had learned in Elderhostel demonstrate the latter. Furthermore, The Executive Service Corps of Chicago recognized his many years and over 3000 hours of service assisting non-profit organizations in the Chicago area.

I was privileged to know Don the last six years of his life and quickly learned to love this multi-talented and compassionate gentle man.  Briefly, here are two of his many talents:

A skilled wordsmith with a wonderful sense of humor, Don penned this gem he entitled "Ain't Grammar Fun" (here's an except)

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichÈs like the plague. (They're old hat).
6. Always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.

He was similarly skilled as a woodworker and loved the woodshop at Sedgebrook where he created this rocking horse which he sunsequently donated to Executive Service Corps for a silent auction

(At the ESC silent auction, the winning bid on the rocking horse was $175, which was a steal. He says that he hopes children in the Chicago area are enjoying the ride as much as he enjoyed making it in Sedgebrook’s wood shop.)

Thanks for everything, Don.  (See you later, friend.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bill Hinchcliff's Presentation

Bill Hinchcliff returned for a second visit to present his program, "Travel through Chicago and See The World: Celebrating Chicago's Amazing Ethnic Diversity." Bill is well known for his architectural tours and presentations in and about Chicago and has given many architectural tours for the Art Institute, as well as numerous other well known institutions and educational groups.

The first part of the title is a quotation from Mayor Daley, reminding us that Chicago is one of the world's most diverse cities, right up there with New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and Paris.

With slides and engaging commentary, Bill took us on a journey through the city, highlighting along the way a dozen or so of Chicago's 77 neighborhoods, stretching from the Far North Side to the South Side, including Ukrainian, Polish, Swedish, Bohemian, German, Irish, Mexican, Chinese, Lithuanian, and Orthodox (Russian) Jewish Chicago. He touched on topics such as history, culture, religion, and food, and took us on slideshow journeys through Chinatown, Bridgeport, Pilsen, Rogers Park, Noble Square, Back of the Yards, Lawndale, Lincoln Square, and Andersonville.

Thanks, Bill, for another stirring and educational presentation!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bill Hinchcliff presents again on August 14, 2010

The meeting will be at the State Bank of the Lakes in Grayslake, Illinois, at 10:00 AM
to 12:00 on Saturday, August 14, 2010. Please let Pete Clark know if you are coming. peterobertclark@aol.com . Also you can refer to the map on this site for directions. There is no charge for the presentation.

Pete's telephone number is 847-970-8700

Bill Hinchcliff will present an hour program on "Travel through Chicago and See The World: Celebrating Chicago's Amazing Ethnic Diversity."

That's a quotation from Mayor Daley (first part of the title), reminding us that Chicago is one of the world's most diverse cities, right up there with New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and Paris.

In the photo below, Pete is on the left and Bill on the right...

With slides accompanied by commentary, Bill will take us on a journey through the city, highlighting along the way some 10 different neighborhoods, stretching from the Far North Side to the South Side. Included in the list are Ukrainian, Polish, Swedish, German, Irish, Mexican, Chinese, and Orthodox (Russian) Jewish Chicago.

Bill is well known for his architectural tours and presentations in and about Chicago. He has given many architectural tours for the Art Institute, among many will known institutes and educational groups. He gave a presentation for NICE and the Lake Forest Senior Center several years ago. He has just returned to Chicago and we are lucky that he was available for our next meeting.

Bring as many guests as you want, but please reserve places by sending their names to Pete. peterobertclark@aol.com

Monday, June 14, 2010

Name Change

Beginning now, as we celebrate our 35th anniversary year, Elderhostel has extended the Road Scholar name to all of our learning adventures across the globe. We will no longer use the Exploritas name.

A number of you have written to ask why this is happening so soon after the first change.

Here’s what happened …

Not long after the first Exploritas publications were mailed last fall, Elderhostel was sued for trademark infringement by a commercial tour company that thought the name Exploritas was similar to theirs. Elderhostel scrupulously followed federal law in registering the Exploritas trademark and was legally granted ownership of it by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and we were shocked by the complaint. We were further surprised when it was decided in court that use of the name Exploritas created “confusion."

We believe the impact we have in people’s lives is far more critical than the name we call our learning adventures, and the pursuit of our mission is much more important than the pursuit of an appeal. As a result, we have closed our brief Exploritas chapter and we have extended the Road Scholar name to all of Elderhostel’s educational experiences.

I have dedicated my professional life to Elderhostel since 1979 and I am proud to say that Elderhostel today is the same organization that has earned your trust and respect throughout the years. As we celebrate our 35th anniversary year, we remain dedicated to you and to our educational mission. You can count on that.

We believe Road Scholar best captures the vitality and excitement of our educational experiences and we know that all of our participants are energized by the Road Scholar program name, from the new generation of 50-year-olds to our seasoned lifelong learners in their 80s.

“Road” connotes a journey and real-world experience, and “Scholar” reflects a deep appreciation for learning. Together the words capture the heart of our program experience: learning from expert instructors, enhanced by direct discovery of an idea, issue, subject or place. Our educational experiences range from snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef with a marine biologist to immersion in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with a noted professor.

Elderhostel’s co-founder, David Bianco, and I think Road Scholar is a great name and we are excited to extend its embrace to all Elderhostel programs. Elderhostel will, of course, proudly continue to be the name of our organization, and we will continue to offer a great variety of programs and activity levels across North America and around the world.

All of us at Elderhostel are dedicated to you and to our not-for-profit mission — creating innovative educational adventures. Caring staff members are eager to assist you, expert instructors have a world of knowledge to share, and the warmth and camaraderie of fellow lifelong learners await you!

We look forward to welcoming you on a Road Scholar learning adventure very soon.

Sincerely yours,

James Moses
Elderhostel President

Saturday, June 12, 2010

NICE Meeting

I led off the meeting with a brief movie of our active, outdoor Exploritas program, Florida's Fragile Coastal Treasure: Snorkel the Coral Reefs

I was followed by Joe who showed photos and described their experiences on Art History in Belgium and Holland...

Next Les showed photos and talked of their program in Albuquerque New Mexico’s Conversos and Crypto-Jews detailing the Jews who fled to New Spain in the New World and secretly practiced their religion after being driven out of Spain in 1492...

The meeting ended with Bob's movie showing his adventures in Arizona Hiking the Slick Rock, Slot Canyons and Red Rocks of Lake Powell, as well as his beautiful photos of his independent guided hike of Upper Antelope Canyon's magnificent slot canyon...

As usual, the group then adjourned to nearby Hillside Family Restaurant for lunch and more conversation...

Our next meeting will be Saturday, August 14th at 10am. If you have an Exploritas program you'd like to share with the group, call Pete at 847-549-1659.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 10th meeting cancelled

The April 10 meeting has been called off due to sickness. Our next meeting is June 12.

If you have n Exploritas program trip or something else to share, please e-mail peterobertclark@aol.com.

The next meeting will be June 12th at 10am.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Next Meeting is Saturday, April 10, 2010...

...at the State Bank of the Lakes in Grayslake, 50 Commerce Drive, from 10am to Noon.

The meeting is in the Community Room in the basement (there is an elevator).

(Click on map to enlarge)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NICE Meeting of 12/12/09

The holiday season cut our attendance to just 5 regulars, but we had an enjoyable get-together, as Phyllis showed us her photos from her Adventures Afloat Elderhostel trip to seven Grecian Islands in August...

Then I showed movies of our two New England Elderhostel trips in August and September, both of which are available online: Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains...

...and sailing on the windjammer Angelique on Penobscot Bay out of Camden, Maine...

We then adjourned to Hillcrest Restaurant for a tasty meal...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Writer's Group Meeting

A number of our Elderhostel alumni group members gather together regularly to create memoirs (also known as lifestories) under the tutelage of Don Nylin of our group, who has taken several Elderhostel courses on this subject. We have been meeting for nearly five years now, and some of us have a couple dozen of these memoirs finished. In essence, we are each writing our autobiographies, one chapter/ incident at a time, attempting to leave to our descendants our own words in order to allow them to know who we were and how we got to be these people we are.

Today we met at my place, and, since we hadn't met in quite some time due to scheduling problems, we spent some time getting caught up with each others latest doings, and then after a nice lunch, Phyllis, Pete, Don (clockwise around the table)...

...and I shared our latest stories for several hours.

Getting together with good friends and sharing our written words is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. And new members are always welcomed!

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 10th NICE Meeting Cancelled..

...due to a conflict at our meeting place. The next meeting will be December 12, 2009.

The Writer's Group will still meet in Wauconda as planned.

Exploritas/Elderhostel "Relaxes" Age Limit of Participants

A Message from President James Moses

Dear Friends,

Since our new program name was recently unveiled, I have fielded many questions and concerns about the age eligibility for Exploritas programs.

The widely circulated and erroneous idea that we will be seeking new participants as young as 21 has become a lightning rod, and has led to a false fear that our programs will be overrun with overly energetic 20- and 30-year-olds. The simple message is that we won’t be actively seeking any participants younger than Baby Boomers, but neither will we be turning away any adult who loves lifelong learning.

Elderhostel has been, and Exploritas will continue to be, a program created for and attractive to older, primarily retired adults.

Before 1975, older adults had very few organized ways to learn, grow, and experience adventure. When Elderhostel was founded, it was exclusively an organization for adults 60 and over. It was something special, almost a rite of passage, because it provided opportunities that weren’t previously available. Later the age limit was changed to 55, and this change had no impact on the average age of participants. When we launched Road Scholar in 2004, those programs had no age limit (other than the requirement of being legally an adult), yet the average age of participants was still over 60. For years we've allowed, even encouraged, people over 55 to bring along their younger spouse or partner, or for that matter, their adult children.

As we considered the decision to apply the Road Scholar standard generally to all of our programs, our thought process was this: Why should we bar a 54-year-old (or a 53-year-old, or a 52-year-old) from coming on a program if they have a sincere interest in the destination or the subject matter? Why should we turn away a 32-year-old who wants to go on a program with her 60-year-old mother? Once you start unraveling this thread of questions, you quickly realize that any formal age limit is totally arbitrary. Does that mean that our programs will suddenly be flooded with 20-somethings? Nothing in our past experience suggests that will happen because, for the most part, people in that age range choose to do other things with their available time.

There’s a related concern about how a broader range of ages might affect the activity level of a program. Once you understand that there won’t be a flood of younger participants, this concern should mostly go away, but there’s still a point that needs to be made. While it’s certainly true that, in general, people become less active as they age, there are lots of exceptions, particularly among our participants, who we know are atypically hale and hearty for their age. I've seen many, many people 70-plus who can out-hike people decades younger. If people are honest with themselves (and with us) about enrolling in programs at the right activity level, a mix of ages should not be a problem.

In summary, we all need to remember and remind others that there is a huge difference between "actively seeking" and "not turning away." Our goal as we relax the 55 age limit is not to change the atmosphere of our programs, but to adopt an open, welcoming posture. We don’t want to turn away any adult who has a genuine thirst for learning, affiliation and meaning, and I believe that anyone who looks beyond the sound bite will agree that this is our proper position and the right decision.

If you have any comments or concerns you’d like to share, please send me an e-mail to comments@exploritas.org.


James Moses
Elderhostel President

Saturday, August 8, 2009

NICE Meeting of August 8, 2008

Today was the bi-monthly meeting of our Northern Illinois Chapter of Elderhostel. Pete opened the meeting with information about the much-anticipated name change for Elderhostel. The change to a new name has been much ballyhooed for many months and will soon be revealed. Elderhostel has a short video explaining its 35 year history and the need, now, for a name change...

Bob spoke of his latest 3 1/2 week trip to South Africa's Kruger National Park and his adventures there with his wife and son. This was his third trip and he really knows his stuff!

Then I presented a movie I made showing our two Elderhostel programs in Florida a few months ago -- canoeing in the Ocala National Forest and the mystery behind the magic in Disney World.

Don was next, with a slideshow of his intergenerational Elderhostel program learning to sail a 19' sloop in Maine's Booth Bay with his adopted grandson.

Don then related his duties and the experiences he's had as an Elderhostel Ambassador for the last decade-plus.

Finally, we all conversed a bit about our varied experiences with programs before dismissing and heading to lunch at Hillside Restaurant. Our next meeting will be 10/10 at 10 am.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June meeting cancelled

The Northern Illinois Chapter of Elderhostel Alumni will not meet in June (over half of our regulars have health concerns or other commitments).

Please save Saturday, August 8, 2009 for our next meeting. We will meet at the State Bank of the Lakes in Grayslake, Illinois at 10 AM until 12 PM

Our program will be a sharing of recent Elderhostel experiences. Please e-mail or call Pete if you have one you want to share: peterobertclark@aol.com or call 847-549-1659.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NICE Meeting of April 11, 2009 featured...

... Anette Isaacs, German historian and leader of German Elderhostels, speaking on the events that led to the "Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall."

The enthusiastic audience enjoyed the presentation...

...as well as the door prize, a $100 certificate towards any of the many Elderhostel programs in Germany.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall" at NICE Meeting on April 11, 2009...

...10 a.m. to Noon, at the STATE BANK OF THE LAKES (847-548-2700) in Grayslake, 50 Commerce Drive, located east of Illinois Route 83, off Center Street, on Industrial Drive, across from the Post Office.

The meeting is in the Community Room in the basement (there is an elevator).

(Click on map to enlarge)

German Historian Anette Isaacs recounts the events that led to the
"Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall".

The event is free! Everyone over 21 is welcomed!

Anette will also describe the Elderhostel programs available in Germany AND there will be a $100 certificate to one winner for an Elderhostel program held in Germany.

For More Information:Call Pete Clark, 1-847-549-1659
or e-mail Pete at peteropbertclark@aol.com

On the day of this program, you can call 1-847-970-8700 (cell phone) for directions or other questions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Elderhostel is...

...an organization with which you should familiarize yourself if you 55 or better IF:
  • You like to travel.
  • You enjoy spending time with people who share your passions.
  • You want to learn while engaged in an enjoyable activity.
  • You want an affordable trip.

I joined 7 years ago, have participated in 21 programs, and highly recommend their offerings. Here are posts about the canoeing program ...

...and the Behind the scenes at Disney program, both from last month...

A love of learning, and a love of being in the company of exceptional people while visiting new locales, and a love of participating in engaging environments -- all create extraordinary experiences -- which is what Elderhostel has been providing for more than a quarter-century. "Exceptional learning opportunities for adults at a remarkable value" is their motto, but in a nutshell, Elderhostel is older folks going to school without homework, without tests or quizzes, with long recesses, with nice people from all over the country, and with really good food service.

Elderhostel was founded in 1975 on five New Hampshire college campuses, based on the idea of inexpensive lodging and non-credit classes. As it evolved, Elderhostel programs left college dorm housing and moved to quality motels/hotels, and the meals similarly improved. In fact, many programs provide local, cultural cuisine to add to the "educational component" required of all programs. Our Mexico/Copper Canyon trip included local restaurants and even featured a "home visit" where we were served a traditional home-cooked meal by the matriarch of the home. Another program in Florida took us to local black churches for delicious home cooked meals.

Today Elderhostel serves 160,000 participants annually, offering nearly 8000 programs in the USA and Canada, with an additional 1251 programs in over 90 countries on 6 continents. Since Elderhostel is a non-profit organization, you eliminate the middle-man fees usually found in travel programs. There are 698,853 Elderhostelers living in 524,568 households with an average age of 71.7 years, of whom 62% are female. Over 4 million people have participated in a trip since Elderhostel began.

Elderhostel strives to offer low-cost, stimulating trips, and you can find a program to match any interest you wish to pursue. Programs can be found that cover one day or several weeks, though most are 5 days long. The average cost for US programs is a bit over $100 a day, a bit over $200 a day for international trips. Everything except transportation to and from the site is included in the advertised fee -- all meals, taxes, lodging, excursions, group shuttles to sites while on the trip, activities, lectures, and even all gratuities. No ups - no extras!

Best of all, perhaps, is the Travel Assistance Plan that is automatically included in the cost of the program. It provides 24-hour coverage in any emergency during the trip, including medical evacuation.

United States & Canada Programs International Programs
Emergency medical evacuation
Motor vehicle return to your home
Baggage delay insurance
Assistance with lost or delayed baggage
Help with travel document replacement
Emergency medical evacuation
Limited medical coverage for an accidental injury or sickness
Baggage delay insurance
Lost, stolen, or damaged baggage insurance
Medical escort

And membership is free. Membership gets you free catalogs of all the offerings, though many use the convenient online search capabilities of the Elderhostel site, which also allows you to sign up online. Or you can call their toll-free number and speak with a live person for answers to questions or to register for for a program.

Many communities such as ours even have "alumni" groups which are local chapters composed of experienced Elderhostelers and those interested in learning about the organizations. I belong to the Northern Illinois Chapter of Elderhostel (NICE) and we meet every other month (photo below) and share our latest Elderhostel adventures, hear guest speakers, and socialize over lunch afterward.

As I mentioned, twenty-one of my adventures have involved active outdoor Elderhostel programs, all of which are listed here and include info and photos on each. Or go here for Elderhostel's description of program categories. It's free and could change your life! And just for fun, go to their website, type in a topic of interest to you, and see what programs are available for that topic. One warning, though -- Elderhostel trips can become addictive!