Posts tagged ‘travel’

Exploritas: Learning Adventures

Globe_Sep09Having attended an orientation to Elderhostel travel programs fairly recently, as well as picking up their literature at our own LINK Travel Fair and Expo, I was surprised to receive an attractive magazine style catalog in the mail this week entitled Exploritas.  The publication had “inaugural edition” stamped across the front of the issue and it took me a few minutes to realize that the catalog was produced by Elderhostel and that the well known organization had changed its program name!

Elderhostel, a nonprofit travel and educational organization that arranges guided and individual tours for seniors in both the United States and overseas has been around since 1975.  Typically, their age requirement for participation is 55 or older.  However, with the number of active Boomers reaching retirement age and having different perceptions about their needs and abilities, it’s obvious that calling the organization “Elderhostel” might affect the number of individuals signing up for their offerings. The new Exploritas programs will be opening enrollment to all adults 21 years of age and older. 

As President Jim Moses so eloquently states on the Exploritas website, ” Our mission is to empower adults to explore the world’s places, peoples, cultures and ideas, and in so doing to discover more about themselves. A fellowship of learning and the joy of discovery are the hallmarks of the Exploritas experience.”  Exploritas, is a word created by brand consultants to combine “explore” and “veritas,” which is Latin for truth. The organization’s leaders hope the new name will evoke the idea of “exploring the world and your mind, and searching for truth,” Moses said in an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal.

The educational focus and content of Exploritas programs is what differentiates them from commercial travel tours. Exploritas programs offer educational experiences in all their infinite varieties, answering the what’s, the why’s and the how-to’s.   They’ve made connections with educators and other local “insiders” all around the world and they make an effort to show the world’s landmarks, natural wonders and myriad cultures in a way that enhances the experience and gives the traveler a deeper appreciation  for the lands and peoples they are visiting.

Start talking among your friends and acquaintences and, if you are a Boomer, you will probably find someone who has taken a trip through the Elderhostel program. I know several people who have and they highly recommend the experience. Don’t be put off by the new name, it’s a great way to travel and make new friends. In fact, one of the new positive changes is that the website is now offering a social networking section where participants in the programs can connect and stay in touch with people they have traveled with.

Check out the Exploritas website and browse through the thousands of adventure and travel opportunities listed. And if you sign up for a trip, please post a comment and let us know about your experience.

October 28, 2009 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

Can You Say…? Learning a New Language

logoOn a recent trip to Spain, I needed to call upon the Spanish I learned many moons ago to help me get around.  My little Berlitz phrasebook saved the day many times, especially when I needed to explain that I was a vegetarian – “Soy vegetariana. No como carne, pollo, o pescado.”  Listening to Michel Thomas and his unconventional, highly effective teaching style en route to Granada was also very helpful (and entertaining!).

At hundreds of dollars a pop, the very reputable and popular Rosetta Stone software is probably a stretch for most during these difficult economic times.  Visit the Library and stock up on free resources instead.  The Torrance Public Library is an excellent place to learn new languages, whether you are motivated by an upcoming trip or just want to flex your brain muscles in a different way.

  • Check out a book to learn a language or get acquainted with the destination of your choice – we have dictionaries, grammar books, phrasebooks, travel books, and more!
  • Check out a book in the language you are trying to learn. We currently carry books in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Farsi, Urdu, Spanish, French, Russian, and German.
  • Check out a magazine in the language you are trying to learn. Branch libraries allow their foreign language magazines to circulate. Periodicals include Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Spanish language titles.
  • Check out an instructional CD to listen to in your car or while you work out.
  • Use our new Mango Languages database. Mango is an online language-learning system teaching actual conversation skills for all the languages mentioned above plus Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Greek, and English as a Second Language for Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Polish speakers.
  • Find a conversation partner and have a conversation in one of our study rooms.
  • Use our computers to browse the many free resources online.

If you do better working with an instructor, you may also want to look into language classes offered through Torrance Adult School.  The current catalog lists classes to learn Italian and Spanish.  You may also check neighboring cities’ adult education catalogs (e.g. South Bay Adult School) as well.  Priority is often given to residents, but if there is still space available non-residents are usually allowed to enroll for a small additional fee.

If you are aware of any other local language learning resources and/or you are interested in starting and/or participating in a language club, please leave a comment and let us hear from you.

 – rs

September 11, 2009 at 7:04 am Leave a comment

A Fine Walk Along the Coast

surf at terraneaThis past weekend I was fortunate to spend some quality time outdoors. I had been looking for a local venue where I could get moderate exercise while at the same time have pleasant viewing and, if possible, not tax my pocketbook in the process. I was delighted to discover the coastal access hiking trail at the Terranea Resort. Located in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes, this $480 million dollar property’s appropriately named Discovery Trail includes six interpretive areas with spectacular ocean views. The trail snakes along the bluffs and takes hikers past hotel accommodations including luxury casitas, several swimming pools, restaurants, a 9-hole golf course, and even a sandy beach and mysterious rocky cave. The trail is so new (completed in June of this year) that when checking on a well-known hiking website,, it was not yet listed. If you’re a looking for a lovely way to spend several hours, the Discovery Trail is a mild hike sure to please all members of your family. And do check out Sea Beans, the resort’s coffee bar – the two Boomers in my party shared a $5.00 gelato that was tasty and refreshing! We found free parking in the first public parking lot we turned into off Palos Verdes Drive South; however, the other hotel lots which are closer to the hiking trail charge parking fees.

While Terranea is new, there are many other excellent free or inexpensive well established hiking destinations available in the South Bay. You may want to take advantage of the excellent docent led nature walks offered by the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy. Los Serenos de Point Vicente is another Palos Verdes based volunteer organization that supports the Point Vicente Interpretive Center and its docents and volunteers also provide a full schedule of free hiking tours. And while Los Serenos offers a docent-led tour of the Ocean Trails at Trump National Golf Course (just down the way from Terranea), there is public access through the golf course and my family has also enjoyed walking those trails on our own.

Closer to Torrance we have the South Coast Botanic Garden. This 87-acre “jewel of the Peninsula” doesn’t afford ocean views but it does have a small lake, rose garden, a “garden of the senses” and a Japanese Garden among others. There are entrance fees for adults and children (under 4 free) but parking (located off Crenshaw Blvd.) is free.

While you won’t get as much exercise walking at the Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center, operated by the Torrance Community Services Department, this vernal marsh located within the Torrance city limits has an amazing array of activities for adults and children including free 2-hour nature walks on the 4th weekend of the month. Check the calendar of events to verify date and time of all activities.

For those of you who want to hike or walk with others, the Palos Verdes – South Bay Group of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club organizes many activities and adventure outings. A quick look on their website showed 6 local hikes in August alone; they also maintain a calendar of events.

Do you have a favorite spot for walking or hiking in Torrance or the surrounding South Bay area? We’d love to hear from you. Please share a comment below.

August 21, 2009 at 9:21 am 2 comments

An Historic Trip Down Route 66

indexThis week the Library will be hosting Russell Olsen, author of several books on U.S. Route 66 (Route 66 Lost & Found: Ruins and Relics Revisited, The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found). Mr. Olsen has been exploring and photographing Route 66 since 1995. After collecting postcards and archival photos of its landmarks in their heyday, he traveled the historic road recording what is there now. His presentation will take place in the Meeting Room of the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library, Wednesday, August 12, at 7:00 p.m. Please join us for what should be an interesting and unique program and learn how folks got their “kicks on Route 66.”

Route 66 certainly has a fascinating history. The numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route back in 1926, just a few years after legislation for public highways was enacted. Unlike the typical linear highways of its time, it followed a diagonal course linking hundreds of rural communities across America. It served as the “Mother Road” during the depression carrying more than 200,000 people from Dust Bowl states to California. It also was instrumental in aiding the country’s mobilization of manpower during World War II.

If you are interested in learning more about historic Route 66, there are several websites you can explore:
National Historic Route 66 Federation
Historic Route 66: Where the Mother Road meets the Internet
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior)
California Historic Route 66 Association
Route 66 Magazine

Of course, many Boomers such as myself can’t think about Route 66 without being reminded of the ultimate (TV) road show of the same name. Every week I would eagerly watch the CBS series to see Tod and Buz’s adventures along the highway. I thought those guys were the coolest, after all they drove a corvette! And the theme music (composed by Nelson Riddle) for the program was perfect. If you ever get a chance to catch the show, don’t pass it up – it’s a classic.

Do any of you have an interesting story about a trip across Route 66? Fond memories of the TV show? Please add a comment below and share with us!

August 10, 2009 at 6:38 am Leave a comment

Doing Good

387828In a previous post, Create a Wave of Good Feeling, we talked about the pleasure of doing something nice or showing a special kindness for another person. We recently received a book, 1001 Ways to Do Good, that is filled with ideas for performing small acts with great consequences. The author, Meera Lester, points out it doesn’t always take a lot to make a difference and there are many things individuals can give that require little or no expenditure of time or money.

The book is divided into four major sections, Do Good Globally, Do Good Locally, Do Good Around You, and Do Good for Yourself. Since it’s the heart of summer and many folks are on vacation, I turned to Chapter 15 to get some tips on Having an Impact While Traveling. One of the author’s suggestions is to help a young family off a plane. She points out that parents traveling with small children frequently have many items to carry including their children, diaper bags, toys, a stroller or baby carrier, extra clothing, etc. They are allowed to board first but when a plane lands, they have to disembark in the order they are sitting on the plane. Ms. Lester suggests that if you are seated near such a family, you “do what you can to help them get off.” I certainly would have appreciated assistance when my two daughters were younger. Another tip is to stay at an environmentally conscious hotel or inn and she provides a link to the website Greenhotels.

In the chapter on Protecting Your Environment, Ms. Lester provides 101 good ideas for taking positive actions to preserve and conserve resources. She covers one of my pet peeves, store bags, and recommends saying no to using the paper or plastic bags that are used at bookstores, hardware stores, etc., since so many of the products sold there can be hand carried or dropped into a purse or pocket. My own personal suggestion is to always have a few bags in your car (paper, plastic, or my favorite, canvas) and bring them with you whenever you shop. And if you’re like me and you occasionally forget to carry them with you, don’t be too lazy to go back to your car -you’ll be doing the Earth a favor!

The book has a helpful appendix that includes Internet sites and resources organized by chapter topics, such as keeping the planet healthy, helping those in need, supporting a worthy cause, standing up for your beliefs, providing worldwide medical aid, helping local business thrive, protecting your environment, seeing what you can do for medicine and science, and many others.

It may seem silly to check out a book from the Library to get ideas about how to be nice or how to do the right thing, but during these troubled times why not get some inspiration and encouragement for helping others? And for Boomers with grandchildren, the book is simple enough to read and pick out some activities to do together. As the author says, “If each of us tried to do good deeds every day, we can make our neighborhood, our country, and our world a better place. And, at the same time, create some good karma.”

August 6, 2009 at 5:21 am Leave a comment

Beach Reads

Like many of you, I would rather be on the beach reading a book these hot summer days than spending my days working. (Although, I must add, working in libraries is great!)

So, what should you take to read at the beach?  There is no consensus on what characterizes a good beach read, but I would argue a story that keeps you occupied (riveted enough so that you don’t fall asleep under the hot sun), is not so emotionally heavy as to dampen the light mood of summer, and small enough to stash in your beach bag are essential qualities.

See the results of what 16,000 National Public Radio audience members had to say.

Books by Barbara Kingsolver are popular, as are writer’s of women’s fiction or “chick-lit” such as Jennifer Weiner and Helen Fielding. Many of the titles are on the Torrance high school summer reading lists and are located in our ‘Must Reads’ area upstairs.

Here are the first ten titles on the list as a teaser:

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Just in case you don’t want to limit yourself to reading “best beach reads” recommended by thousands of NPR listeners, you can also check out NPR’s recommended list of books set on beaches!

NPR is not the only publisher of summer reading recommendations. You will not be underwhelmed by this grand summer reading list of lists.

– rs

August 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

Turning Hobbies Into Vacations

090528-vacation-reading_hmediumIn addition to the recommendations posted below on library resources for planning service and volunteer based vacations, MSNBC’s travel channel posted an item yesterday on how to turn your favorite hobbies into your next vacation. Our favorite, of course, was #1 Reading! Click here to connect to the article.

June 12, 2009 at 3:10 am 1 comment

Travel, Relax, Contribute, Grow

This post is the first in a series highlighting books from the library’s collections.  All of these books have a sticker noting that they are part of the LINK project – look for this logo while you are browsing the stacks!


With summer just beginning  (not quite in full swing yet with the strange weather!), many of you may be pondering your vacation plans. The Torrance Public Library has a vast collection of travel books for locales both near and distant, from all of your favorite publishers – Rick Steves’, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, DK, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, and more!

Would you consider spending time away from home that is a bit out of the ordinary – for example, volunteering your time to have an impact, or a semi-permanent jaunt abroad? Many people, and especially Boomers, are rethinking the purpose of a vacation – rather than solely a time to relax, time away may be an opportunity to contribute your passion and skills to communities beyond your hometown.  Check out these titles hand-selected just for you!

indexCA27DDE4 Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World

Always user-friendly and full of information, this Lonely Planet volume gives you the 411 on how to volunteer abroad and provides tips on everything from practicalities, to the pros and cons of different types of programs, including guidance on coming home. The amazing, enviable bios of the authors and personal stories of volunteers interspersed throughout are sure to inspire.indexCAEVW1Y9

Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others

This book is a great resource for learning more about dozens of organizations to volunteer with, both within the United States and abroad. Among the volunteer opportunities described include rehabilitating sick and injured animals in South Africa, organizing community health events with indigenous communities in the United States, and teaching English in Nepal.

indexCAUOY1ZCThe Grown-Up’s Guide to Running Away From Home

If you have ever dreamed of giving up your life here and moving far, far away, this guide walks you through everything you need to know.  The author, Rosanne Knorr, is a seasoned traveler and expatriate, and includes helpful anecdotes, budgets, checklists, and timelines to make your move abroad successful.


June 11, 2009 at 10:00 am 1 comment

Generations Go to Disneyland

250px-DisneyETicket_wbelfThree different Boomer friends visited Disneyland this week and mentioned how much fun they had. If there was one key experience of my growing up in Los Angeles, it was my family’s bi-annual pilgrimages to “the happiest place on earth.” A fabulous treat and an all-day experience, I wanted to ride all my favorites again and again, and although I loved the new rides and attractions I never wanted the old stuff to change.

Of course the old stuff had to change, and some of it vanished. Anyone remember The Adventure Through Inner Space? That was one of my favorites and an attraction that many were sad to see go, but the space was needed for Star Tours. I never rode Flight to the Moon in Tomorrowland, but my father remembers it as fondly as I remember the Mission to Mars that replaced it. (Neither of us was too fond of Captain EO which followed, but the 3-D feature was pretty cool).

There are many resources for generating Disneyland memories. My favorite is Yesterland which catalogs every element that has vanished from the park. Did you know Disneyland had a Main Street attraction on the history of underwear? While there was a Dumbo ride in 1955, it wasn’t what you ride with your kids or grandkids today. Does anyone remember the movie elements added to the People Mover to make it “through the land of Tron?” Who actually rode a Rainbow Ridge Pack Mule? I was speaking about Disneyland to a young patron in our library and said “Did you go to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse?” Um, it hasn’t been that for a while (it’s now Tarzan’s Treehouse) and this eight-year-old had never seen or heard of Swiss Family Robinson (the book or the movie). It’s a good test of your generation to see what you remember about the Disneyland of your childhood; also what you mourn the loss of when you take the next generation.

On Doug’s Disneyland Trivia webpage, he captures the sentiments between the generations perfectly in describing how the original Toad Hall in Storybookland disappeared to make way for Aladdin’s Palace, but then was brought back:

“The 1983 remodel of Fantasyland added the present facade to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, built to resemble Toad Hall itself. Thus, like Toad Hall in Storybookland, it has a multitude of chimneys (and supposedly only one fireplace) which actually produce smoke. Toad Hall disappeared from Storybookland a couple of years ago, to make way for the Palace of Agrabah from “Aladdin.” But there was a bit of a fuss, and now, in a new location in Storybookland, Toad Hall has returned. As Tony Baxter, one of the lead folks at Walt Disney Imagineering recently said, (paraphrasing) ‘it’s important that Disneyland speak to each generation. Thus, while we old boomers miss the removal or relocation of something like Toad Hall, Disney tries also to connect to that seven-year old who says, ‘Look Mommy! It’s Jasmine’s house!’ “

Discussions about Disneyland at my house always set off a course of fond remembering … E Tickets, Country Bear Jamboree, Main Street Electrical Parade … and inevitably someone says “Why did they take that away?”

I think Walt Disney, creator of Disneyland, the home of Tomorrowland, and the host of the House of the Future and the Carousel of Progress would approve.


June 9, 2009 at 8:23 am 1 comment

Travel Concern – Is it Safe to Travel Right Now?

In light of the Library’s upcoming Boomer Travel Fair and Expo, we’ve fielded several questions about traveling during the current Swine Flu outbreak. The New York Times published a helpful article today Is It Safe to Fly During The Swine Flu Outbreak? that addresses travelers’ concerns. Dr. Mark Gendreau, a travel health expert, offers advice for anyone needing to travel during this uncertain time.

April 29, 2009 at 6:17 am Leave a comment

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