Travel Club


Meeting Archive


January, 2006:

Western Australia & the Northern Territory:
The Bungle Bungles, Uluru...and a lot more
by Drinda Preston and Gordon Battaile

Join us for a three-week adventure in the more remote areas of the Northern Territory and of Western Australia. We start in the northern dry season of Darwin and end in the southern spring of Perth, covering 4800 miles. The show features five areas in particular, including the Bungle Bungles (Purnululu National Park), Marble Bar, Karijini National Park, and The Pinnacles of Nambung National Park. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayres Rock and the Olgas) will be included from a previous Australian excursion. Please come and enjoy the natural history and scenic photography of rural Australia.


February, 2006:

The Mayan Civilization:
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

by Bob & Nancy Lorain

For about l,500 years, from 500 BC to 1,000 AD, the Mayan civilization flourished in the tropical forests of Central America as one of the greatest civilizations of the world.

No one knows for sure where they came from or why they later abandoned such major city-states throughout the region as Copan, Caracol, Tikal, Tulum and Chichen Itza. They left behind majestic pyramids, elaborate palaces, tall temples, sculptured monuments and thousands of limestone buildings in what is now El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

They independently mastered mathematics and astronomical calendars of amazing accuracy, predicted lunar and solar eclipses, developed an elaborate hieroglyphic writing system, practiced advanced agricultural methods along with elegant arts and vicious sports. They had many gods, worshipped animals, shaped children's skulls and practiced human sacrifice. There are still lost cities in the jungle with undeciphered inscriptions, and tombs with treasures for someone to discover.

We will explore some of the more accessible ruins of this civilization, in addition to visiting other scenic places, such as the colonial city of Antigua, the beautiful volcanic Lake Atitlan, and the Mayan market at Chichicastenango.

Join us on this adventure into the past Mayan civilization and meet some of their colorful 6 million descendants as they live today in this unique part of the world.

Bob and Nancy Lorain are among the most widely traveled members of the Mid-Valley Travel Club. Their previous presentations have included "Wonders of Western Canada", "From Patagonia to Iguassu Falls", "Himalayan Adventure - Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan", and "A Taste of Thailand". Bob is also an enthusiastic amateur photographer.


March, 2006:

Ireland: Around the Emerald Isle Clockwise
(the Republic and N. Ireland)

by Gary Schultz and Carol Howard

Gary and Carol spent 3 weeks in August & September 2003, driving all the way around Ireland through County Cork, the Dingle Peninsula, County Clare with its Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, County Mayo, and up through Northern Ireland, perhaps the most exciting part of their trip in terms of sights and history. They saw and will illustrate high-crosses, round towers, dolmens, castles (including Kilkenny, The Rock of Cashel, Charles Fort and Dunluce), beautiful villages and cities (including Dublin, Waterford, Kinsale, Killarney, Dingle, Galway, Derry, Belfast), drank more than a little Guinness and Irish coffees, and met the wonderful people of this lush green land.

Gary Schultz and Carol Howard are enthusiastic independent travelers, averaging two international trips a year. Their previous presentation to the MVTC was, "First Time in Paris"; they have also made presentations to meetings of the British Travel Fans.


April, 2006:

Antarctica: The Ultimate Destination
by Julia Pinnix

Having spent many years living as a naturalist in bush Alaska, Julia Pinnix at last was able to make the trip south and see for herself the largest internationally protected wilderness on earth: Antarctica. Explorers like Shackleton claimed the Antarctic was far more beautiful than the Arctic. Come see for yourself in a slide presentation that contrasts the north with the south.

Learn about the largest land creature living in Antarctica's harsh environment. Find out more about the many varieties of penguins. Discover why the local animals have so little fear of humans. What do the world's polar regions have in common? What makes them different? Experience the beauty of some of the world's wildest places through stories and photographs.

You may have heard rumblings in the news about global warming and its effects on both poles. Julia will share with you some of the possibilities for the future as well as exploring the past and present.

Julia is a professional naturalist who worked seasonally for many years, which allowed her ample time to travel and learn firsthand about natural and cultural history around the world. Since Julia has moved to Salem relatively recently, this will be her first illustrated destination talk to the MVTC, but she has already introduced two Travel Skills Topics, "Malaria Prophylaxis " and "Gastrointestinal Health for Travelers", both of which stimulated lively discussions.


May, 2006:

The Loire Valley – and April in Paris!
by Richard & Vickie Axenty

Come with us to lovely Amboise, whose small town charm and relaxed lifestyle appeal to almost everyone (including Mick Jagger). We'll stroll along the river Loire, tour the magnificent Chateau Amboise, and browse for bargains at the huge, Sunday outdoor market. We'll visit Leonardo da Vinci's French home and try out the life-size replicas of his inventions (including a helicopter and tank!) in the shade of the trees at DaVinci Park. Amboise is also home to amazing, modern troglodyte dwellings, complete with satellite dishes.

As we make our way down the Loire river, share the wonder of the largest hunting lodge in France, Château Chambord, whose extravagance may have triggered the French Revolution! Join us on a heavenly bicycle ride through the French countryside from Amboise to the Château Chenonceau, arguably the prettiest château in the Loire Valley.

For dessert, we'll share a slice of "April in Paris."


September, 2006:

Venice, "La Serenissima"
by Bruce Johnson

"The Most Serene Venetian Republic" has evolved from a major imperial power into what may be the world's most popular living museum. With its labyrinthine system of canals, absence of conventional motor vehicles, and opulent architecture, Venice offers infinite, but pleasurable opportunities to get lost. Helpful street signs seem to point you in opposite directions to the same destination, but these eventually make sense. Whether you are lured by the comprehensive collection of Venetian painting in the Accademia; the modern art in Peggy Guggenheim's mansion; the architectural masterpieces of San Marco's Basilica and the Doge's Palace; or the varied beauty of the canals; there are infinite distractions to any strict schedule. Rather, wander the narrow streets, glide along the placid canals, and get truly lost in your own private version of this cultural wonder.

If you plan your visit to coincide with La Biennale di Venezia, the international exhibition of visual and performance art in the spectacular settings of the old Arsenale and the Giardino delle Sculture, be prepared that the festival could easily consume most of your visit.

Bruce is an avid traveler. His previous presentations to the Travel Club have included, "Southern Turkey by Bus," "Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands," and "The Grand Canyon of the Colorado: Images from Above and Below."


October, 2006:

Iran, Past and Present
by Susan Watkins

Although relations between the Governments of Iran and the USA are less than cordial, Americans can now travel to Iran, usually as part of a group tour, organized through an Iranian travel agency, and can expect a warm welcome. In December 2005, Susan traveled as part of an International Pro-Peace delegation which visited the capital, Tehran; Qom, the center of Shi'i theology; Esfehan, medieval capital of Iran; Shiraz, seat of both classical Islamic culture and Pre-Islamic civilization; and the ruins of Persepolis, capital of the ancient Persian Empire. The group encountered a modern country with a well-developed infrastructure and very warm and open people, as eager to talk with their visitors as vice versa. In addition to official meetings with leaders of Iran's four major religions (Shi'a Islam, Zoroastrianism, Armenian Christianity, and [surprise!] Judaism), as well as with School of Journalism students and with an environmental NGO, the group had plenty of opportunity to meet informally with ordinary Iranians, to shop in the bazaars, and to sample the enticing local cuisine. Susan will illustrate her ground-breaking trip with digital images and, hopefully, inspire us to follow in her footsteps and to see this exciting country for ourselves.


November, 2006:

A Greek Odyssey
by Marcia Hoak and Rob Gould

Marcia and Rob spent 5 weeks in May and early June 2005 traveling by ferry to six Greek islands, including Lesvos and Chios, seldom visited by Americans. In between a week-long stay in Limnes, a traditional Cretan village, and a week on Lesvos, home of the ancient Greek poetess Sappho, they traveled to Santorini, Naxos, Samos & Chios. After spending so much time negotiating travel by ferry, they want to invent a Greek island-hopping board-game!

Forearmed with insights into Greek culture from Rob's relatives who had lived in Greece, they learned to love both Greek yogurt and fava beans; to drive where cars are often parked in the middle of the highway; to say "don't worreeeee" with the proper emphasis; and to not stand out too much as a "xene" (foreigner).


December, 2006:

Bicycles, Beer, and Babushkas:
Moravia and Bohemia by Bike
George Happ and Tom Kruse

Join Tom and George as they pedal through rural Czech Republic in May, 2005. They will tell of the groaning board of pork on their first night in the country, as they hit the road to the Pension Goose House in Mikulov, and how they were "lost in translation" in finding the right train to Telc.

Lost in a vineyard; follies in the forests; castles; iron curtain remnants; sgraffito façades*; cemeteries; medieval walls; moats; a Baroque theatre; and a dash through the border crossing into the smallest town in Austria (learn of their Mexican connection) will all be part of their presentation. Meals of eel; carp; unknown-to-this-day items; and, always, the "other bread" (i.e., beer), that each small town is proud to produce (and consume), will also be featured.

After highlights of their 8 days in the saddle, they'll wrap up the presentation with a brief overview of their trip by car to Poland (they considered making signs saying, "will work for vowels"), and to Hungary, as well as "it's a small world" crossing of paths with Australians they first met in Drnholec.

*See Wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgraffito)

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Mid-Valley Travel Club