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FNG Story – Hal “Grumpy” DePuy

My name is Harold DePuy road name “Grumpy”.  I am a retired Army Sergeant First Class and VietNam veteran. It was a dream of mine to do Run For The Wall some day. Funds were always short and Patriot Guard missions were a priority. In 2013 I was told to get off the Harley due to health problems. So I sold the Harley and prepared to spend my time at home doing not much of anything.

I was talking to some friends one day, and they suggested I get a trike. Well I knew I could never afford a Harley trike, and didn’t really see myself on a Can-Am. So I figured I would look around for parts and build a VW trike. I thought it would take about two-years to build. One day I drug a transaxle into my garage, and the build was on.  Eight months later the trike was finished and registered. Over the next couple years changes were made to upgrade the trike including a new 1776cc engine.

The 2016 RFTW was coming into Las Cruces, NM, and I went to Barnett Harley Davidson to greet them as I had always done for several years before. But that day I told myself I had to go with them, no matter what. The trike was ready, and I felt I definitely was, too. So that evening I packed with the help of my wife and son. At 4:00AM I was headed back to Las Cruces, NM. I registered and was welcomed as never before by several riders, and was assigned to the 9th platoon.  Eventually I ended up at the back of the pack because the performance cam and big carburator put out a high amount of exhaust fumes. I didn’t care, I was doing the Run For The Wall!

I was actually living my dream. I had no rooms reserved, and saw the Southern Route itinerary booklet for the first time that morning. I was as fresh as an FNG, as you could get. I learned real quick what I needed to do, with Road Guards encouraging me along the way. The tail gunners were tolerating the gas fumes. My wife downloaded the itinerary from the RFTW website, so she was booking rooms for me the whole way.

We made it to Monroe, LA to the City Hall Wreath Laying.  When it was time to leave, the trike would not start. The ignition and starter burned up. Bill from the Shriners came to my rescue. We had the trike back on the road by 6:00PM. Thinking that I was good to go for the rest of the mission was only the beginning of many challenges that lay ahead of me. Coming into Chattanooga, TN the number 3 spark plug blew out of the engine. And forgetting to put the trike in gear caused it to get away from me and roll down the steep bank. I had to dune buggy the thing back up the embankment with three cylinders. The support truck hauled the trike to Thunder Creek Harley Davidson where the service manager called for help, since they didn’t work on VWs. Stateline Wagons came to the rescue. They hauled the trike to their shop and had me on the road again the next day.

Coming into Roanoke, VA, just short of the D-Day Memorial, I broke an exhaust valve spring. After making the repair, I missed the D-Day Memorial. I pressed on to Lynchburg, VA. By this time several riders were commenting on how determined I was to make it to DC. Well we rolled into Arlington, VA on schedule. I stayed in DC for three days before heading back home.

On my return trip back home to El Paso, TX. I burned a hole in the number 3 piston. I was dead in the water. I called the guys at State Line, and Nick said to get a room and that he would send a truck to get me and the trike. The next day the truck showed up, and we went to Chattanooga, TN where they pulled the engine out and replaced it with a brand new engine. I wanted to cry. How could these guys be so kind to someone they barely met? What true Americans! They kicked me out without charging me a dime.

The rest of the trip home was great. No problems. I missed a lot of stops due to all of the break downs, but the bottom line is, I made it!!!

Plans are in place to make The Run again in 2017… This time on a Harley Street Glide. I plan to see the guys at State Line again, and Thank them. And next year I will start the run in Ontario, CA. The trike will have to sit this one out. Is it May yet?

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FNG Story – Elizabeth “Ducky” Picray

I had heard about Run For The Wall from my fellow Legion Riders, but for nearly three years after leaving the Navy I could barely walk, much less ride any significant distance. In 2014, I followed my brother John “Opie” Picray, Paul “Bugle Boy” Hobbs and David “Duke” Bentley west, in my sedan with my civilian sister in the passenger seat, as we all headed for California. We promptly became the group baggage wagon.

We joined the Run in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and I proudly pinned my FNG button on my vest. The next ten days were emotionally turbulent, to say the least. I left every Run stop either ahead of the pack (preferably), or way behind it so as not to get fouled in the following traffic. Consequently, I missed a lot of the experience of the Run that year. I swore I would never “cage it” again. Two crucial parts of my experience were great, however. We camped nearly the entire trip, and I made several friends! And Rick “Dragger” Behymer proudly carried me into Arlington on his passenger seat.

After physical therapy, I realized riding my motorcycle worked out the same muscles, and I embarked on a personal mission to avoid having to do those nasty exercises again. As a result, I was able to ride further than ever before. I made plans to redo my FNG experience on two wheels in 2015 with a Navy sister, who would be going for her FNG Run. We were so excited! We rolled out half a day behind schedule, headed for Ontario, CA. That last day of travel was brutal! We rolled for nearly 18 hours, from Gallup to Ontario. Finally, we arrived just in time for a few hours’ sleep Tuesday morning.

My friend was on a trike, so she was in a different platoon than I was. Electing for a staggered platoon, Eamon “Boomer” Tansey put me in Platoon 7 under Brush’s capable leadership. I would learn later that all my friends from 2014 were in Platoon 8. Day Six from Wentzville, MO to Corydon, IN, I tapped out because I was too sleepy to safely ride with others. Leaving the ramp in Evansville, IN, I was trailing the pack when we rolled past a trike flipped into the median. Don’t Stop! Keep rolling, get out of the way! I spent the next 82 miles praying it wasn’t my friend, and that whoever it was would be ok.

When I got to Corydon, IN, I had a voicemail from my friend’s husband that it had been her, and that she was in the hospital and he was on his way there. The chaplains mobbed me the second I got off the phone, and my camping friends (especially “Bounce”) took it from there. I put on my best military bearing, ate my dinner as quickly as I could, and set up camp. The next morning, it hit me hard. I was a basket case. Everybody says they have problems with “darned allergies” on the Run; not me. I was crying my eyes out inside my helmet at 65mph. Again, not safe for others to ride with, so I trailed the Pack again.

When Platoon 7 (consisting mostly of HD’s) went 2 up, and decided to become a side-by-side platoon, my little Honda Shadow 750 couldn’t quite manage it due to the difference in gearing, so I transferred to Platoon 8, the “Crazy 8’s” with my camping friends. What a difference! 7 was good to me, but 8 was like family! Thanks to Brush’s daily instruction, I had no problems at all keeping my intervals in a group of mostly metric bikes. We rode proudly into DC at a 2 foot interval, shifting like mad several times per minute! I learned the hard way not to ever again buy gloves that had a seam across the thumb pad.

When we got to the host hotel, one of the bartenders kindly let me bury my left hand in an ice pan.
I’m glad I went in the sedan in 2014, since it taught me what to expect, but I probably won’t cage it again, if I can help it. I much prefer being part of the Pack! By the end of the 2015 Run I was living on 5 hour energy shots and Black Black caffeine gum, but it was glorious agony. I came home and slept for a week. It took another week to get most of the feeling back in my hands!

My brother has described the Run as a pilgrimage, and that’s exactly what it is: it is sacrificing the comfort of normal life, enduring sometimes harsh weather, and jumping out into The Unknown. It is also a Mission: learning to trust yourself and your machine, covering the flank of the rider next to you against traffic, and trusting the riders around you to do the same.

When it all comes together, seeing your platoon stretching out in front of you, sweeping through curves in that one gloriously perfect moment of synchronized harmony. It is a sight that will imprint itself directly on your heart.  It will also put the biggest grin on your face to remember it when you get home, show up in sweatpants around other motorcyclists, and get asked, “Do you ride?”

I don’t just ride anymore, I Run!
~ Ducky

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President’s Message Oct 2016

Well, I haven’t had a very good start this year at keeping riders and potential riders aware of the latest news by way of my President’s messages.  I was waiting for this new website to get up and running.  As these sorts of things go, we didn’t get it online quite as quickly as we would have liked.  It seems like that is the way the world operates these days.  But now we have it and I hope that everyone is becoming aware of the change and then is then finding the change to be a positive one.  I have been asked several times as to why the change, since to the average user the old site worked just fine, and my answer is that we are just trying to stay current and use more up to date technology.  I really does allow us more flexibility on the back end and works very well with our Registration and Merchandise modules.

So, here we are and with a latest edition of the Newsletter also being released about now, it will be hard to make this a message that will have any sort of impact, if any ever do.  My message in the Newsletter covers the latest workings of the BOD, as well as some of our committee endeavors, so I will not repeat those., except to say that – One – Work on the SOP and Guidelines continues to be a major focus of the Board and – two – Committee work to provide winter outer apparel for the less fortunate children in Rainelle, WV promises to be a big success when the coats are delivered later this month.

We are informed by our Route Coordinators that the itineraries and hotel lists are well on their way to being completed.  The Hotel lists should be ready and posted to the website on the first or second of January, as is always our goal.  The more detailed itineraries will be finalized in time for publication somewhat closer to the actual Run date (which is May 17) at the same time that they are sent to the printer.  I have, in recent years found it handy to download the itineraries to my cell phone so that I don’t have to keep dragging out my hard copy, which always seems to get lost at some point anyway.

I believe that most of the volunteer spots have been filled for this year’s run, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to hear from you if you are interested in helping out.  There is always next year and the Route Coordinators and other leadership are always on the lookout for good people to fill much needed slots.  I have heard some FNGs stating that they want to get involved and help out along the way this year.  We don’t really encourage that.  FNGs will have their hearts and minds filled to capacity from the moment that we gather in Ontario until we place the “Mission Complete” plaque at the Wall – and beyond.  We would prefer that you focus on the events and in getting yourself and your passenger, should you have one, across this great nation safely.  At times the rigor of riding in the pack can be somewhat overwhelming, not to mention the emotional stress that can catch up with you as we share stories and meet the fantastic people that greet us and take care of us along the way.  BRING TISSUES!  There may be some isolated needs along the way, but please, focus on the Run.  And we do encourage everyone to ride in the pack, you really are safer there. This is not an individual effort; we depend on each other.  This is a healing experience for many of our veterans and if you fall into that category, you know that healing does not come easy.  Leadership and fellow riders are there to support each other every turn of the wheel.  Regardless of your motivation to join us on our pilgrimage to the “Wall”, you are in for the experience of a lifetime.  In the quite likely event that you should consider going “All The Way”, or do it again, your FNG year will always remain your most memorable Run.  Make the most of it.  Pay attention in the morning meetings, and listen to your leaders and Road Guards.  They have done this many times, and, although they may not have all the answers , and some of the answers that they do have may not be what you want to hear, they absolutely know what they are doing and will not steer you wrong.  You can depend on them to see you to Arlington!

 

That’s all for now,

Have a Happy Halloween,

And BE SAFE!

Harry “Attitude” Steelman

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President’s Message Apr 2016

Greetings RFTW!

April. The clock is ticking. Are you ready? No, I mean Really Ready?

All over the country the RFTW Family is “Getting Ready to Get Ready.” I would like to take this opportunity to challenge You to take a hard look at Your readiness. To participate in the 10 day journey across our great country you need degrees of Determination AND Preparation. The Route Coordinators and their teams have created excellent Mission Focused routes and supporting activities but you have to do your part too.

It is pretty obvious that if you are riding your bike or trike has to be as mechanically sound as possible before you leave. If you do your own mechanic work have you taken the time to do a detailed check on everything? If you take your ride to the shop did you tell them about what you are going to do and ask them to take that extra little bit of time to poke, prod and look at your ride? Have your insurance papers? State Inspection good? Registration up to date? Have you done a test pack yet? Does everything fit SECURELY when you’re loaded to roll out? Have you ridden a few miles fully loaded as you would be when in a platoon rolling down the highway?

Are you Physically Ready? Have you been riding more? Brushed up on those skills that may have become a little rusty over the winter? We all have aches and pains but the better you prepare the better the daily ride will be for you. Are you carrying a passenger? Are THEY prepared to sit on that back seat hour after hour, day after day? Riding for 6 to 8 hours a day, day after day, in weather that could be sunny and 100 degrees plus or rain and freezing temps is a different animal from the HOG Chapter lunch ride or a poker run. There will be times when it is a grind — not fun or pretty. That is when you have to remember that it is a Mission – we Push On.

As we all get ready for next month’s Mission it would behoove us to remember the reason we ride: “For Those Who Can’t.” We are all ambassadors of not only ourselves and RFTW, but most importantly the message of Why We Ride. The message that there are those that did not come home. The message that We Will Not Forget…

Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper (sometimes Yoda)” Smith

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President’s Message Jan 2016

Greetings RFTW!

I hope you all had a joyous holiday season and your New Year is starting off Great!

As most of you know all plans for RFTW 2016 are well down the action path. Registration is open, hotels are set, fuel stops identified, leadership teams are being fine-tuned, and all over the country the RFTW Family is making plans to participate in some if not all of the activities. The Route Coordinators have been working diligently with their teams to create the best Mission Focused routes and supporting activities for several months, but now is when the old adage “the devil is in the details” comes into play!

A key part of each Route is the State Coordinator for each state. These are the key contact points for every fuel stop, lunch, breakfast, supper, school visit, memorial and hospital visitation, camping resource, hotel room block, and a myriad of other details. Their work for the next Run begins as we go through their area of responsibility the current year. Always keep in mind that they, like the rest of the leadership, are Volunteers. We all do our best but since nothing in Life is always perfect there are bound to be hiccups. Also keep in mind that when we arrive at a location we are not “business as usual” for many spots. When you are standing in line at some hotel, tired and ready for a hot shower after a long day on the Run and the line doesnt seem to move — just take a breath. Imagine if YOU were at work and (even though you knew they were coming) 200+ people showed up at your counter/desk/door and all wanted service at the same time.

As we all begin preparations for May it would behoove us to remember the reason we ride: The Mission. We are all ambassadors of not only ourselves and RFTW, but most importantly the message of Why We Ride. The message that there are those that did not come home. The message that there are Those We Do Not Forget.

Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper (sometimes Yoda)” Smith

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President’s Message Oct 2015

Greetings RFTW Riders and Friends!

Well, here we are well down the path to 2016 Runs! The Route Coordinators have been hard at work arranging their teams to create Safe, Healing, and Mission-Aligned Runs along the three Routes.

The RFTW Board or Directors has been meeting regularly (both in person and via monthly conference calls) to assist the Route Coordinators as needed, and to conduct the affairs of the corporation. We on the BoD often receive questions or comments on things that that we should change about the different Routes to make them Safer, Better, etc. Sometimes these issues are event-driven and sometimes they are process driven. To give you all a little insight I am going to share some of how RFTW works.

As many of you know, RFTW, Inc., the corporation, is a 501 c-3 non- profit. As such it is governed by its Bylaws relative to conducting its business affairs in alignment with its mission statement. However, the Bylaws do not specifically cover the operations of the annual Run For The Wall Event. This is covered by the Standard Operating Procedures. This is a control document that outlines the framework of much of how the annual event will be conducted. I say “much” because there has to be some degree of leeway for the cultures of the different Routes, and for the Route Coordinators to actually manage their respective Routes. To assist in the efforts there are also Guidelines for some of the Leadership Team positions such as State Coordinators, Road Guards, etc. When the BoD reviews the After Action Reports (AARs) post-Run each year we look for discrepancies between the SOPs, the Guidelines, and the events described in the AARs. If the SOPs or Guidelines are not covering a situation described in an AAR that they could reasonably be expected to affect, we take action to revise the appropriate document. If the AAR describes a situation that was driven by events “in the moment” we use the AAR as a “Teaching Tool” to share with the next Route Coordinators so they can plan for contingencies if the same or a similar event occurs again. The BoD takes the AARs very seriously. These are our windows to things that we can’t be there to see. As such they are an important part of concluding the business of each year’s events and are a line item on the agenda for both our face-to-face meetings and our conference calls.

To close this particular posting: We are always interested in hearing the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of the participants each year. All of the BoD members are listed on the web page with our contact info. If you have something to say we would like to hear it. Just remember that Communication is between a Sender and a Receiver, and the roles constantly reverse as dialog continues. Reach out to us, but make sure we can contact you in return. You may have emailed a Fine idea but we need more of your thoughts to get the full picture. Make sure we can reach you – include a valid email address and/or phone number!!

Thanks and Ride Safe!

Greg “Pied Piper” Smith
President 2015-2016 RFTW, Inc.

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President’s Message May 2015

MAY 7TH A WEEK AWAY—AND A WAKE UP.

MISSION FIRST

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — six simple words with a very deep and wide meaning. You first-timers, or “FNG’s” as you will be known until reaching The Wall, should be prepared to laugh, to cry, to have your breath taken away and to be humbled.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride for the veteran who is unable to make the ride himself, when doing so we are responsible for carrying their need for healing cross-country to The Wall.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride for our fellow riders who are in need of healing and in need of support as they are welcomed home, many for the first time ever.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride to bring awareness of the POW/MIA issues and the thousands of our brethren who have yet to be brought back home and to shine a light on the government’s lack of attention to this solemn commitment to leave no one behind.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride out of respect and support for our current serving military who are in harm’s way and who are at the beck and call of our nation’s needs.

Sunday is mainly ‘overhead’ meetings…and camaraderie

Monday is leadership meetings, logistical coordination…and camaraderie

Tuesday is orientation, coordination, registration…and camaraderie

Wednesday is EARLY – staging, ceremony and begin MISSION…

Ken “WISH” Hargrove

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President’s Message Apr 2015

Whoa! 30 days to kickstand up…

Take a minute and go over these “do’s” and “don’ts”:

  • DO be prepared to laugh, to cry, to have your breath taken away and to be humbled.
  • DO pack and re-pack your bikes at least twice over the next 4 weeks.
  • DO start hydrating NOW.
  • DO realize that there are volunteers ALL THE WAY across country who are anxiously awaiting and preparing for YOUR appearance and participation in the venues, honors and tributes that they have worked diligently to provide YOU.
  • DO give them the RESPECT to partake and pay attention to THEM. Thank you’s are highly appreciated.
  • DON’T forget to ‘ride your ride’ be safe. Not only during, but ‘to’ and ‘from’ the Run…
  • DON’T be late to any scheduled event (such as morning meetings)
  • DON’T forget The Mission, this is not about YOU, this is about THEM

More DONTS:

  • “No Politics” = means no political speeches, arguments or debates, doesn’t mean you cannot have a political point of view, we don’t want to know about it!
  • “No Guns”= means no one ‘displays’ – we don’t want to see one, doesn’t mean you cannot have one!
  • “No Attitudes” = if you don’t know what this means, you probably have one and need to check it at the door, doesn’t mean you cannot have an attitude, just means we don’t want to see it or hear it!

A note to any FORUM MEMBERS who may receive an ‘anonymous’ email related to your participation on this Forum and Run. Yes, as others have identified we have an anonymous emailer who has been ‘working’ our website for a couple of months now. He/she is an internet ‘bottom-feeder’ who puts out garbage and then watches to see what effect/reaction it may have. This is a puppet-master sickness, attempting to demonstrate ‘control’ to themselves…. probably does not live in a real world with any control over his/her surroundings. “Pull on a string here, watch the legs move there.” I have been averaging a couple per week for months now.

Don’t let it bother you, that is the point. Don’t attempt to reply to these emails, the anonymous re-mail program has no capability to get it back to them even if they wanted it. Which she doesn’t really want direct interaction, she wants to show control.

After you receive your first it will be easy to ID future one(s), look at it this way, if you haven’t received an email from her, she doesn’t think she can ‘use’ you to react or act on her behalf. If you have got one from her, she is hoping to ‘use’ your reaction to feed the need.

We have discussed blocking ALL email addresses from being shown between Forum members in an attempt to effectively block him/her, but have come down on the side of open communication for all members and are just ignoring this person with the illness.

I apologize for this interruption in the rider camaraderie/repartee and warn all to be aware the he/she will probably be around for a while watching for success in her/his actions.

IS IT MAY YET?

Wish

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President’s Message Feb 2015

It is just over 100 days until we begin our Mission for 2015. I want to welcome back our many RFTW-experienced riders. You are the glue and the safety net for our many FNG’s each year. You each have your reasons and needs for riding this Run, you each feel the responsibility and the healing and give support to each other, thank you! Those who will be riding with us for the first time this year…button down your collars, you are about to join one of the most sincere missions you can find in this commercial world.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — six simple words with a very deep and wide meaning. You first-timers, or “FNG’s” as you will be known until reaching The Wall, should be prepared to laugh, to cry, to have your breath taken away and to be humbled.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride for the veteran who is unable to make the ride himself, when doing so we are responsible for carrying their need for healing cross-country to The Wall.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride for our fellow riders who are in need of healing and in need of support as they are welcomed home, many for the first time ever.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride to bring awareness of the POW/MIA issues and the thousands of our brethren who have yet to be brought back home and to shine a light on the government’s lack of attention to this solemn commitment to leave no one behind.

“We Ride for Those Who Can’t” — we ride out of respect and support for our current serving military who are in harm’s way and who are at the beck and call of our nation’s needs.

This is a motorcycle ride. Our logistics are devised for and optimized for moving a couple of thousand motorcycles across this country in support of our Mission. That said, we also welcome four-wheeled supporters and veterans who need this healing and support our mission. In doing so we recognize that there are Mission supporters who cannot ride in our midst. Putting four wheels in close proximity with two wheels is a recipe for disaster. We go to great lengths to keep our motorcycle-cade safe from accidents and therefore will set in place some rules of the Run for four-wheel (cagers) interaction.

Basically, it is very important that any four-wheelers on the three routes(except official Chase vehicles) run 15 minutes ahead of us and should expect to meet up with us at the lunch and evening events. There are very few, if any, events at the in-between gas stops for the motorcycles. Fundamentally, motorcycles can run for two hours without needing refueling, while cagers can run for four to six hours without needing a gas station. PLEASE DO NOT USE THE SAME FUEL STOPS AS THE MOTORCYCLES. If you are on 4-wheels and do not have a GPS, invest in one, it is a couple of hundred bucks but will bail you out many times over as we cross this nation. And it will answer many of the questions posed to route leadership on a daily basis.

We will have a meeting in Ontario for all cagers that are not Merchandise trailers or Chase vehicles (you know who you are). It will be important for these drivers to understand the timing and coordination for their vehicles. All cagers are expected to be at the meeting and receive the modified itineraries for cagers at that meeting. It will be on the day before we leave Ontario and posted with the Ontario Itinerary in April.

Speaking of Ontario, the RFTW hotels are currently 60% booked. That means 40% are still available! Oh and Arlington, VA is NOT full! The Host Hotel is full, but there are several other RFTW-hotels which we use every year. Please go to your route’s tab (Central, Southern, Midway) on this website to get the latest information available. I understand that the RC videos are now up and that Southern’s Hotel list (COMPLETE) is up!

GET READY IT IS AROUND THE CORNER!

Wish

Posted on

President’s Message Jan 2015

Happy New Year!

I am writing to communicate the latest info for the Kick-Off and Arrival Hotel Booking info.

You can book your ONTARIO and ARLINGTON rooms NOW!

The Route Coordinators will communicate the Hotel lists for the routes (CENTRAL and MIDWAY already have- thanks Don and Billy!)

STONEY and CJ need to get theirs up yet, I believe they have targeted mid-Month for the full list!

Here is the ‘all-riders’ booking info for Ontario and Arlington:

You can book your rooms now!!
As I see that only Central route has posted their Hotel lists as of Jan. 2nd..I would like to make sure that the Midway and Southern riders also have a fair shot at booking their hotels– at least in Ontario (the kick-off) and Arlington (our target). I cannot control the info for each route’s hotels along the routes but I do have control of the rates and booking info for the launch and arrival locations.

ONTARIO HOTELS –
There are 4 of them listed and The Radisson is the Host Hotel
All 4 hotels can be booked through a single weblink:click on the link, you can exit at anytime

ONTARIO HOTEL BOOKING LINK

There is also a single phone number for all 4 contracted hotels in Ontario if you wish to call instead: 909-937-3026

ARLINGTON HOST HOTEL- HOLIDAY INN AT BALLSTON

Contact info for the Host Hotel is:
4610 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: (703) 243-9800

Again, Happy New Year!

Wish