21 February 2008

Washington DC March via the "Ozarks Express"

Ron Paul's "Grand March" on D.C. is still in the planning stages at this time, so we are also just starting to plan our trip. Here's what we have so far...

The plan:

A fun, inexpensive, and quick group bus trip
to the D.C. March & Rally

We have an opportunity to plan some very low-cost travel options, but we need to know how many are interested right now...

We've been given a very affordable option to use standard shuttle buses with W/C lifts, that seat 18-20 adults comfortably.

We plan to offer "fare & rooms" as a package deal and sell advance tickets. A PAIR of tickets (for a couple sharing a room) could be as low as $390 (only $195 per person). This would include all transportation and lodging costs, plus simple refreshments during the trip. Anyone needing a single ticket (not sharing a room) could buy one for approx. $280. We will also likely offer discounts for minors/children sharing rooms with their parents.

Because of the travel time (approx. 20 hours including scheduled rest stops approx. every 2 hours), we will likely be leaving Springdale, Arkansas very early in the morning the day before the rally - and make a quick pickup of passengers in Missouri along the way. Then we travel all day and arrive on the outskirts of D.C. late that evening and check in to a hotel. We bus to the rally the next morning and have plenty of time the remainder of the day for everyone to sightsee and have dinner. The bus can make return trips during this time to the motel for anyone tired and wanting to rest, then come back to the rally parking area for a final pickup later that evening. We all return to the hotel that night and get a good sleep before heading back home very early the next morning.

For cost comparisons: Airfare prices on Expedia show that the prices currently range from $300-$400 per person - not counting the taxi or car rental to get you back and forth from the airport and the rally, overnight parking, or your hotel costs ($100+ per night for rooms in the DC area). Amtrak costs are about the same, and require several extra days travel time. Greyhound bus rates are nearly the same as our "bus travel expense" (actually slightly higher), but the trip is much longer, with numerous stops along the way, and you still have to get to the Rally and hotels from the bus stations.

This is all just a rough estimate, as it is too early to set costs in stone (we will need to know the exact date of the March to be certain). But it gives us all something to work with and talk about among all our local Ron Paul Meetup groups.

It would be helpful if we knew now about how many folks are interested, given the above information and approximate costs. To make this as easy as possible for everyone in all the different Meetup groups in our area, There is a simple signup "pledge" here:

If you're serious about making this trip, please take a minute to add your name and email address to the pledge at the link above.

If you're not ready to pledge just yet, but want to get updates, the easiest way to do this is to subscribe to the "Ozarks Voters For Ron Paul" email digest. (Enter your email address in the box provided on the left.)

Because this is a "low-cost whirlwind non-stop trip" We're calling it "The Ozarks Express" - perfect for those of us on a budget that want to take part in this historic rally but can't afford a more luxurious and/or time-consuming option.

If there is enough interest we will also plan a second bus that will take an extra couple of days with a more relaxed schedule and some extra perks - but the cost will of course be a bit higher - primarily because of the additional hotel expenses. Once the date for the D.C. Rally is set in stone, we'll need to see exactly how much interest there is in each option.

But if you pledge for the "Ozark Express" trip but later decide to go on the longer trip, that will be perfectly fine. Right now we are still in the early planning stages so all things are possible. We just need to start finding out what our people want to do at this point.

Your comments and suggestions to this post are encouraged!

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