The Explorers Club, Northern California Chapter

Alzada Carlisle Kistner, MN-87

Safaris Always Bugged Us,

An Affair with Africa

DINNER MEETING - Friday, September 25, 1998, The Lafayette Park Hotel, 3287 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette.

(see map)

  • 6:00 PM, Business meeting
  • 6:30 PM, Cocktails
  • 7:30 PM, Dinner
  • 8:30 PM, Speaker
  • $40.00 each ($45 after April 17, and at the door)


    As a young couple fresh from graduate school, my husband David Kistner, FN-80 and I embarked on a series of expeditions in Africa to investigate the rare beetles which live with ants and termites. It was a time of great political upheaval as independence spread like wildfire and colonial research stations slammed their doors shut. In addition to braving the perils of collecting insects that lived among ants with jaws like vice grips in a setting that harbored poisonous snakes, charging rhinos, and hungry lions, as well as newly independent Africans. However, it was our only chance to collect and record specimens previously unknown.

    An Affair with Africa chronicles the adventures, triumphs, and set backs, we and our two small children experienced during five major African expeditions from 1960 and 1973. We learned how to cook hippo, bathe in a river filled with crocodiles, deal with a rifle pointed at our chests, and cope with each other for months on end.

    It is my sincere hope that, in the pages of this book, someone else will gain the courage to take a risk, fulfill a dream, learn to laugh in the face of the unexpected, and to always carry chewing gum to fix the car.

    Scholarly, driven, world authorities like Dave are not just species-describing, paper-writing machines. They are species-describing, paper-writing machines with a life. This is an account of a period in that life..


    Alzada has a B.A. from Occidental College, met David during graduate school at the University of Chicago. She has collected more myremecophilous and termitophilous insects than any woman in the world - more than 100,000. She was invited to join The Explorers Club in 1987. Her Affair... book just received a great review in the Aug. 27,1998 Christian Science Monitor Book Section - front page.


    Plans well underway for the Golden GateAway on October 16-17, 1998. Attending this gala event means you don't have to wait two more years for another one. Remember:
  • We are nearing the last chance to purchase tickets.
  • This event is for your friends as well as for Explorers; so bring them along. Bring Patrons, friends, and YOU.
  • We would like to sign on more Patrons. If you know of a company who can support Exploration/education and finance a table, boldly go to them for their support and contact Jerry Athearn (who's address and phone are at the bottom of this newsletter).
  • We need volunteers throughout the event to help with all aspects of putting on this weekend's activities. Contact Jerry Athearn and volunteer to lead a foray or pass out name tags at the Exotics evening or anything in between.

    The speakers for the Golden GateAway are:

  • Eugenie Clark, World-famous ichthyologist
  • Wally Schirra, Original astronaut
  • Gisela Dreschoff, Antarctic scientist and explorer
  • Norman Vaughan, Polar explorer and adventurer
  • Don Johanson, Discoverer of Mankind's earliest ancestor
  • Ralph White, Photographer of the Titanic
  • Jim Fowler, Hose of Wild Kingdom, with his wild animals
  • The Illa Tiki Expedition


    On the same evening as the September meeting of the Chapter, there will be a grand opening ceremony of the newly constructed Earl Elementary School in Turlock, California. They will be calling themselves the Earl Explorers. Each of their classrooms will be named after a famous explorer and they have named their computers Exploration Stations. They contacted Webmaster Mike and we have been building an association between the Northern California Chapter of The Explorers Club and the Earl Explorers. This "association" is still in the formative stages but the first thing we ought to do as a Chapter is "adopt" these students. Bill Isherwood will bring it up as a point of business (one of the very few per year) while Mike will be attending the Earl opening on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey. Among the ideas we have for what it means to adopt an elementary school are:
  • gather Explorers Club members who are willing to email back and forth to the students about field-based science in general and their fields of expertise in particular
  • provide a column in the Chapter newsletter each month for the students to publish their ideas, work, or questions
  • Chapter members could be guest lecturers at the school occasionally
  • each Explorers Web page could link to the other's
  • invite the students to one of our events or field trips
  • provide a prize for a science-project accomplishment to an Earl Explorer
    Please contact Mike Diggles with ideas, comments, and help.


    SEPTEMBER 24 -- U.S. Geological Survey Public Lecture in Menlo Park: James G. Moore will speak on EXPLORING AND MAPPING THE HIGHEST SIERRA -- History and Geology from Mammoth Pass to Mt. Whitney on Thursday, September 4, 1998 at 7:00 p.m. in USGS Conference Room A, Building 3. Jim is one of those retired scientists who still comes in every day. This recent work of his will come out in book form from Stanford Press soon. Jim did his dissertation on the Mt. Pinchot quad so he's been around the Sierra for a career's worth. Mike Diggles has been watching Jim's progress on the illustrations which were done in his publications shop at USGS. Of personal interest are etchings of surveying instruments from an 1800s text bought new by Henry Jonas Diggles.

    Thank You to Charlie and Louise Geraci

    Charlie (MN-92) and Louise Geraci have spent the last couple years putting out the Chapter Newsletter and, as planned, Charlie finished his last term as Chapter Secretary last Spring. We want to thank them both for all their hard work and wish them more sleep those Wednesday nights that used to be spent getting the newsletter to press. The Chapter is currently without a Secretary and if you or anybody you know would like to have some fun with interesting text and grand photographs, let Bob Schmieder, FN-96 know and we'll turn you into a page-layout artist/editor/information Tzar.

    Last June's Picnic

    The lecture year ended last June as usual with a picnic instead of a lecture. We returned to Angel Island for yet another wonderful get-together that was planned and executed by Martha Schmieder and Skipper Bob. Many of us showed up at the Berkeley Marina and hitched a ride on Bob Schmieder's research vessel, the Cordell Explorer. We got to Angel Island before the first ferry boat from Tiburon so we were able to stake out the best picnic spot. The weather was perfect for sitting on the lawn, hiking the trails, mountain-bike rides, and a grand view from the summit of Mt. Livermore.

    Fellowship on the fantail of the Cordell Explorer

    Bob at the helm

    Deckhand Martha

    Jerry putting out the fenders

    We put out quite a wake

    Murat Armbruster, FR-94, and Amy Morris from GlobaLearn, visiting from the East Coast

    Mike Diggles, FN-92 and Scot Medbury, FN-97 with their forest-ecology T-shirts. Mike's shows late-stage succession/old-growth forest ratings in the Sierra and Scot's shows forest climatic zones changing with elevation on the moist west side and the arid east side of the Sierra.

    Mike Diggles on the Cordell Explorer (Photo by Joe Rychetnik, E-67)


    From SF: Over GG Bridge, staying right, follow signs to I-580 and #24. Take 24 off from 580, toward Walnut Creek. Through Caldecott tunnel, pass Orinda, take exit Pleasant Hill South. Left at 1st signal, and again left at next, on to Mt. Diablo Blvd. Continue west approximately 1/4 mile. to Hotel on left. Hotel is visible from #24 freeway before going off at Pleasant Hill Rd.

    From Concord and Walnut Creek: Take I-680 south to #24, west. Off at Pleasant Hill exit South, loop under Freeway, turn rt. on Mt. Diablo Blvd. Continue west. about 1/4 mile to Hotel on left.

    From SJ: I-680 North, past San Ramon, connect to #24 West, toward Oakland. Take Pleasant Hill exit South, loop under freeway, right onto Mt. Diablo Blvd. Continue west about one fourth mile to Hotel on left.

    Jerry Athearn
    The Explorers Club
    Northern California Chapter.
    7037 Chabot Rd.
    Oakland, CA 94618
    Jerry's phone: (510) 653-2572 (h)

    Please reserve spaces for the Alzada Kisner talk, at the Lafayette Park Hotel on Friday, September 25, 1998.

    $40/person... $45 if postmarked after September 18. Cocktails, 6:30 PM, Dinner, 7:30 PM, Speaker, 8:30 PM.

    Your Name: _______________________________________

    Your Address: _____________________________________


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    Date created: 08/31/1998, Last modified: 06/21/2015, Content from Mike Diggles and Dave Kisner, Web page by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster, Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club