Rotary Trips Emails

Western Trip 

Eastern Trip

Rotary Eastern Trip Emails

 

April 17 - Many of you still owe money on the Rotary Trip.   Please get this to me as soon as possible.  Really need this because we are paying for things on the trip.

Many of you are paying with wire transfers & PayPal.  When you do this they charge fees and we can't absorb those fees so you will find when you look at the who owes what page that you owe small amounts of money.  That are these fees.  Just an explanation. You do need to pay those before the trip.  A check is the best way (no more fees), maybe you can give the cash to your host family and they can send the check. Check to see what you owe.  If you still owe the entire price of the tour we cannot issue your ticket. http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestmoneyowed18.html

Looking forward to showing you one of my favorite cities, San Francisco.  Sitting on San Francisco Bay, the weather in San Francisco can be surprising. It is surrounded by a very hot, desert-like area, but San Francisco is usually quite chilly and is one of the times you will need a hoodie or jacket. The water in the bay comes directly from the Bering Sea and brings cool weather in.  It also brings many sea lions and seals.  At Pier 39 there are normally many sea lions lounging on platforms.  You can see them close up.  Pier 39 is a wonderful touristy area with shops, restaurants, a Hard Rock Cafe and next door is the Aquarium.  Pier 39 is right next to world famous Fisherman's Wharf.  The city is amazing. It has one of American's largest China-towns, incredible views, great shopping, world class museums, and more.  You'll have some free time to explore the city. Of course you have to stay in groups of 4.

We will he giving you neck wallet name tags.  In those will be your itinerary, with all the phone numbers for all the chaperones, hotels and more. It also has all the addresses of the hotels, and a detailed schedule.   Schedule is extremely important.  We need you to stay on time or we might have to take items out of the itinerary. Never be late.  Try to get to the meeting point at least 15 minutes before the departure time. 

One thing we chaperones are tough on is students who are out of their rooms after 10pm. If you were on the Eastern trip you know this. We are strict on this because our hotels are strict with us.  Also you need to sleep on this trip.  It's long, the days are long and it can be exhausting.  Students who don't sleep 7 or 8 hours are the ones who get sick.  This is the first mention to all of you about 2 liters of water.  Our biggest problem is dehydration, not drinking enough water.  We require you to carry at least two-liters of water on the trip and you will need it.  We spend a lot of time in desert areas and people get sick very quickly from this. It resembles the flu. Just sip on water all day and you'll be fine.

 

April 11 - Make sure you have paid at least your deposit this week.  We are getting ready to issue tickets next weeks and we need money to write the tickets.  Also remember tickets are non-refundable so when we write the tickets you own them from that time on.  
I have been updating the website http://rotarytrip.org/Rotwestairflights2018.html.   Make sure you are leaving from the right airport and your name is spelled correctly.   THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. 
Several of the Chaperones on the rotary trip are former long term exchange students through RYE.  A lot of them are fluent in your language.   Dustin Chan, who has done the trip before studied in South Korea (he is half Korean and half Chinese), India and many other places. 
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities.  We will take you on a tour of the city so you know what to see.  San Francisco is built on 7 hills and is surrounded on 3 side by water.  It is in South California but is normally cold.  The Alaska current goes right into the Harbor.  In San Francisco it can be 10 degrees C and all the cities around it can be 40C.   The other place we go where it can be cold is Yellowstone NP.  It has snowed while we were there.   
On the other hand it can be  50C in a lot of the places we go to and very dry.  One of the reasons we are a non-smoking trip is because that is a leading cause of forest fires.  One year we saw 26 forest fires.

April 9 - Sorry I've been off line last week as I took my granddaughter and daughter on spring break to more historical stuff in Virginia.  It was actually a lot of fun.
Been working on the trip today and we are getting ready to issue airline tickets next week.   Make sure you have paid at least a deposit or your tickets won't be issued and it may cost you more money if the price of the tickets goes up.
Make sure you are happy with what cities I'm flying you from. Check out http://rotarytrip.org/Rotwestairflights2018.html and let me know if it isn't OK.
There are still places on the trip.  Make sure you tell your RYE inbound friends.  The trip is going to be fantastic.
After we issue tickets I'll be working on  rooming list.  As I've said we are splitting people up so you will meet new friends.
Also let me know if you want to be a team leader.  I've assigned a few already and would like some new kids on the list.


  April: 2
- Check out http://rotarytrip.org/Rotwestairflights2018.html to make sure I've assigned you to fly out of the right city.   Email me if there is a problem.  We will be doing flights later next week.   We allot a certain amount of money for the airline tickets, if the price of tickets is significantly over $500 there may be a surcharge for the difference.
We can not issue your air tickets if we haven't received money from you. If you miss our ticketing and the price of the ticket goes up over what we got the rest of your flight group, you may have a surcharge, so please get money to us.  Also I'm starting to think about the rooming list.  You can request to room with one person, I can't guarantee buses (presently they aren't at all locked in).  If at all possible I want to room each room with kids from different countries.  So the only language in the room is English.  Also I want assist you in making new friends.
One thing we have always told kids who go on this trip is to sleep at night, not during the day.  Every 10 minutes of this trip for 2 weeks there is a complete change of scenery and the scenery is always interesting and in most cases spectacular.    The scenery is so different everyday and every few minutes, from beautiful deserts, urban landscapes, to ocean beaches, to mountain beaches to high mountain to stunning high desert views.
You will need spending money on this trip. We do not include most dinners and lunches, because we would have to charge you a lot more for these meals than most of you would spend yourself. Group meals cost about $10-20 a day and they are time consuming and take away from the fun stuff we do.  That would put the price of the tour to almost $2800.  I prefer to include airline tickets and keep the prices as cheap as possible. You usually need about $400 to cover that and souvenirs so start gathering that for the trip.  You control how much you spend, because we do stop places where there are supermarkets where you can save a lot of money by sharing it with your room mates. 
A good suggestion is to get hold of a good map of the American west.  Bring a highlighter and follow along where we are going everyday.  Also take lots of pictures with you and your friends in them (Landscape pictures get trashed, it's the people in the places which will always remind you of this wonderful trip.  I am the selfie king and love taking them with you kids in the backgrounds so I'll remember you. 

March 8 - Know the rules.  We strictly enforce the rules and there are punishments if you break them.  They range from missing parts of the tour to being sent home.  We will do it and have done it before.  WE HATE DOING IT, BUT WILL DO IT.  Listen to us and follow instructions and you won't meet Grizzly Bill.  You don't want to meet Grizzly Bill.
Remember the chaperones really like exchange students and want you to have an amazing time.  If we yell at you it is because you are endangering yourself and the trip.
Don't stand on the bus. It's dangerous, makes the driver and chaperones mad and will get you in trouble.
Be in your rooms and don't come out after 10 pm.  We are in big city hotels and there are dangers everywhere we go.  It will also get you in a lot of trouble.
Make sure you have about $300 spending money YOU NEED IT.
During free time remember to stay in groups of  4 or more.  It really makes you safer.
DON'T BE LATE... EVER. If we are late we can lose events on the itinerary.  It's a very tight schedule.

 

March 3 - Please make sure your host families are familiar with the Trip Websites.   The main website is http://rotarytrip.org/rotarytrip.html .  That links to both trips.  These web pages have all the information they will need.  PLEASE LET THEM KNOW.  It will make their lives and your life so much easier.
YOU DO NOT NEED YOUR ROTARY JACKET.  The dress for this entire trip is casual. 
You do need a winter coat, winter shoes, gloves, a warm hat, warm hoodie.   It will probably be really cold a least a few days.  Last year was every day.  
Don't bring a huge suitcase.  Bring a duffel bag or smaller suitcase.   YOU DON'T NEED 3 outfits a day..... One a day and reusing things like pants and shoes and sweatshirts etc...  PACK LIGHT.

Rule of 4  -  When you have free time you have to stay in groups of 4 or more at all times.  If we see people walking around individually or in smaller than 4, we will stop free time and stay together as a groupl.  Not nearly as much fun. 

The Hallways of Hotels:  DO NOT BE LOUD, ROWDY or Run in hotel hallways.  don't allow doors to slam.  Stay out of the hallways.  You are allowed during freetime to be in the hotel rooms together.  We do ask that you have at least 3 or 4 people in rooms if it is boys and girls.  No more than 12 people are allowed in rooms (the furniture can't take it).
You MUST BE IN YOUR ROOMS and you can't leave at 10PM.   Get everything you need before that.  Chaperones get really angry about that.
 

February  27 - We will be meeting on Saturday March 10 at the Best Western Port Columbus, 1450 Airpointe Dr., Columbus OH, which is right off I-670, the Cassady Avenue exit.  Please be  there between 11am and 6pm, (if possible, please don't be late).
If you driving please let me know who you are driving with. 
If flying let me know your flights (Please include Airline, flight number and connecting flight and times).
PACKING:  Remember to pack a duffel bag if possible. We are very tight on luggage space.We recommend you bring a backpack for riding on the bus.  I keep snacks, my music (and headphones...NO SPEAKERS), a warm sweater, gloves, a warm hat, something to write in, pens, (if you have a laptop of tablet computer bring it at your own risk).
I would put my name on your phone, computer, or anything of value.  STUDENTS ON THESE TRIPS LOSE AN AVERAGE OF ONE EXPENSIVE ITEM A DAY.  Watch your stuff and keep it stowed away in your backpack and don't leave your backpack anywhere. 
We will be seeing some amazing historical sights on the trip.  At the Air and Space Annex we will see the plane which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and the space shuttle.  We will visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where many immigrants arrived.  In Boston we'll see where the USA was born.  One thing we urge you to join us on is walking the Freedom Trail which is a walk around American's earliest days. The American Revolution started in Boston.  We will also see Gettysburg, the most important Battle in American History.   If you like history (my degree is in History) you'll have an amazing experience.  If you don't like history, you'll enjoy everything also.

February 20 - It's only a couple more weeks until we leave on our big adventure.
We are preparing everything you'll need for the trip.  We have neck wallets which double as name-tags and contain maps you'll need, the itinerary timeline of the tour so you know where you need to be at any time.  It also has all our contact information so you can call us at anytime should you need to on the trip.  
You do need money on the trip.  We provide breakfast everything but not lunches and dinners.  That's because it would be much cheaper for you to do it than us.  I would bring about $300 for food and souvenirs.  You can use credit cards but I would include a few dollars in cash as often foreign credit cards might be rejected more often than domestic ones.
If you have a phone (and I think almost all of you have one), put my number in the phone 614-517-7702 and when you get your neck wallets the numbers of the other chaperones. 
The other chaperones are Larry Jenkins, Heidi Geller, Tod Knott, and Julie Barker.  Larry and Julie have done this trip many times and have lots of good ideas of where to go and what to see on the trip.  Heidi has done the Western trip (and will do it again this year) and knows about our tour.  Tod works with me and is a former exchange student (to Colombia) and knows the tour very well. 
As for luggage.... please pack light as we are very tight on luggage space because we only have one bus and a van.  I recommend bringing a duffel bag which is crush-able. 
We also need some volunteer helpers on the trip.  We need someone to help us count students on the bus. It's a good way to get to know everyone.   We also need students to help us load and unload the bus.  The benefit here is you are the last ones on the bus (and the first ones to put your stuff on the bus.... great seat selection).  

February  11 - We are locking in the rooming list and it is going out to the hotels and can't be changed.  Just letting you know.
Let me know if you had any questions or things I needed to know.  Please email or message me on Facebook if you need anything on the trip.  I need to know if you are asthmatic, have diabetes or some other physical problem.  

On our most recent trip there were a couple of problems which really upset the chaperones.  One was standing up on the bus.  This is dangerous and will not be tolerated on the this trip in Washington, NY and Boston where the traffic is terrible.  Our drivers have asked us to be hard on this problem.   The other problem is  noise in the hallways and around the hotels.  You have to be quiet in the hallways and lobbies of hotels.  You also have to not let doors slam in hotels.  We got a lot of complaints about these things and want to avoid it on this trip.    This is a non-smoking trip.  In the places we are going none of you are of legal age to smoke. You can be arrested for smoking.   Please don't smoke around the bus or the chaperones.  Also DO NOT smoke in the rooms.  If you smoke in the rooms the hotels will charge YOU anywhere from $100 to $500 to clean the rooms.

Rule of 4 - Remember during free time you HAVE to stay in groups of 4 or more.   

Trip Fact:  Washington DC was originally a square which was made up of land from Virginia and Maryland.  There is a National Park on an island in the Potomac River in Washington DC dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt.   The stones the Iwo Jima Monument statue sits on come from Iwo Jima which is part of Japan.   The Washington Monument was once the tallest building in the world.  The first occupant of the White House was the 2nd President, John Adams.   The Oval Office (the president's office) is not in the White House proper, but in the West Wing which extends out from the house. 

February 7 - I have to send in rooming lists to the hotels this Friday so after that I can't make any changes.  Check it at http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.

We have named team leaders for the Eastern Trip and the list is below.  How we select team leaders is interesting.  Your district chair's make recommendations, you indicate a desire to be a team leaders.  I will ask certain students we have contact with to be team leaders.  We ask team leaders to give us feed back on how the trip is going in meetings every other day.  We also ask team leaders to look for kids who might need help on the trip.  It has been extremely successful in the previous 40+ trips we have done, even saving a couple of lives and many many trips for kids.  All students are welcome to come to team leader meetings. I announce them on the bus before we do them.  The meetings last about 20 minutes and are very helpful to us.
Here is the list.  Give us your feedback.
First  Last  Country Dist. Sex Team Leader
MaŽlys  Baracand France 6630 Female Team Leader
Pauline Bottequin Belgium 6600 Female Team Leader
Chae Hyun Lee MS. Korea 6380 Female Team Leader
Marta Quiroga Rey  Spain  6690 Female Team Leader
Azaad Canaan Althir Mexico 6000 Male Team Leader
Gauthier Huchet France 6690 Male Team Leader
Parishrut Kanhe India 6690 Male Team Leader
Paul Lorenz Strickling Germany 6380 Male Team Leader
Rodrigo  Yudi Kagueama Brazil  7530 Male Team Leader
Maximilano Becerra Barriga Chile 6780 Male Team Leader

February 5 - When you meet us in Columbus at the Best Western Port Columbus on March 10 we will be checking you in and then you have free time.  We ask that you all arrive before 6:00 PM but you can arrive as early 11:00 AM as we will have chaperones there then.  You will have plenty of time to get to know each others.
We include breakfasts everyday on the trip, but we don't include dinners and lunches.  The reason is it would cost us (and then you) if we arranged group meals which usually run over $10 per person).  It's much less expensive for you.  We stop at a couple of supermarkets and always look for place for meals which are inexpensive and have choices.  Also if you have special needs this offers you more options.  I'm a vegan and very few restaurants offer vegan meals, so supermarkets are a much better choice.
A couple of things about how we need you to act.   We have kept doing these trips because students are been very well behaved over the last 20 years.  There are some things which are very important for you to understand. 
You must get up in the mornings.  If you are late you will probably cause the group to miss something on our itinerary.  Be early, not late.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM AFTER 10:00 PM.  If you are out of your room after 10PM you will not be able to do what the groups is doing next.  This is a hotel rule and one the chaperones take very seriously.  If is not safe to be wandering the halls of hotels in these large cities late at night.
Listen to the chaperones:  Our chaperones know what they are doing.  When they tell you something it's because doing something different can be very dangerous for you.  Your safety is our most important job.
When you have free time, you must stay in groups of 4 people or more.  This is absolutely important.  Without it we can't allow you to have free time.
If you consistently break rules it will be reported back to your districts and you won't be permitted on the Western Trip.

January 24 - I have been working on the rooming list and you can see my preliminary rooming list at http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.html.  I will be locking in the rooming in by February 1.
Please look at it and make suggestions.  I want to make sure you all understand that I will put one friend in a room and do not want to have a room from one country.   The idea of these trips is to make new friends from around the world. We have one place left on the Eastern Trip.  We will take a waiting list if any of your friends who want to join the trip once we are filled, which should happen in a day.  The other important thing is luggage.  We will have very little luggage space.  If you have a duffle bag please use it as if everyone brings a large suitcase we won't have enough space for all the luggage and you may find yourself carrying your bag on your lap.  In other words, please pack light.
  

January 15, Sorry I haven't answered any of your request sooner, I was knocked down by the flu.  Feeling a little better today.

There are about 8 more places available on the Rotary Eastern Trip so make sure your friends get their applications in. 
Remember to take the earliest flight available to Columbus Ohio (CMH) on March 10th.  Try to arrive well before 6pm if possible.   Return flights leave as early as possible on March 20. People driving to meet the trip (from Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky) try to be here before 6pm on March 10.  We will have someone at the hotel from 11am. You need to be picked up 6:00pm on March 19. Most of you have sent your money, please send it if you haven't.  The tour price is $1030, if you sent the deposit earlier you probably owe $500. Packing for this trip should include lots of warm and weather proof clothing, including a good winter coat and comfortable warm hoodie.

The rooms in our hotels are generally comfortable and nice with Cable TV, full baths with showers, hairdryers, and shampoo, conditioner etc...   The hotels are popular so there are a lot of people staying there when we stay there.  It is the main reason we need to stay quiet and be out of the hallways.  Hotels all have rules for student groups and 10pm is one of those rules.  At least two of our hotels have indoor pools so bring your swimming suit.

There is strict security in a number of places.  Don't put pen knives or sharp scissors in your carry-on.  If you are going into high security areas (Capitol, Statue of Liberty etc...) just leave your backpack on the bus.  Carry your camera in your jacket. (you can carry a purse)   If you decided to go into the Holocaust Museum, make sure you take nothing as they have the strictest security in Washington DC.  A few years ago a crazy old man killed one of the security guards at that museum.

One problem which really upsets the chaperones is standing up on the bus.  This is dangerous and will not be tolerated on the this trip in Washington, NY and Boston where the traffic is terrible.  Our drivers have asked us to be hard on this problem.   The other problem is  noise in the hallways and around the hotels.  You have to be quiet in the hallways and lobbies of hotels.  You also have to not let doors slam in hotels.

January 3: Applications are rolling in.  We hope to have a full trip.  The more the merrier.
Final payment deadline is January 5, which is Friday.  Don't freak out, just get payment into me as quick as you can.  I start paying for things the end of January.
We are getting so many applications in it's hard to get everything put into our database.  Once we get that fixed, we will be contacting people who might have forgotten to send us their parent's permission, passport copies, and other things we might need.
You can check our two rooming pages to see if I have you on the right page.  http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.html   for the Eastern Trip and http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestroom18.html for the Western Trip.   REMEMBER I HAVE NOT ASSIGNED ROOMS YET, WILL DO THAT TOWARDS THE END OF JANUARY FOR EASTERN AND TOWARDS END OF APRIL FOR WESTERN.
A big part of the fun for students and chaperones is getting to know each other. We have fun traditions among the chaperones and you are happy to make you part of those.  The important part is we treat each other with respect and try to make friends with everyone.  Don't wait to the trip.  Contact each other.  I use Facebook for this. Each chaperone is on Facebook and you can all talk back and forth that way.  I'm alway following everyone on Instagram and Snapchat when I can .  Contact me on those and we can exchange photos.
For our Brazilian students, our sleeping place in Boston is in Fall River, Massachusetts which has been settled by Portuguese and Brazilians (most of them were fishermen). 

December 21 - Hope you have a very Happy Holiday.  American Christmas Holidays are crazy busy with way too much food and calories.  Don't worry about it, because I have it on good authority that calories don't count during religious holidays.
Someone called and told me the incorrect rumor the Eastern Trip had been canceled.  That IS NOT TRUE.  We have just filled our first bus and are starting on the 2nd.  Please tell your friends to send in their applications. 
I have been updating the rooming list (which really means who is on the trip, as I haven't yet decided which room you will be in).  Take a look at it and make sure your name is on it.  If there is no picture next to your name, please send me a picture.  http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.html
The Eastern Trip is pretty high energy and because of this our primary duty as tour leaders is to keep you healthy and then happy.  So we have a couple interesting rules to help that.  We want you to drink plenty of water. We have a force curfew of 10pm (can't leave the rooms after 10pm) because we get up really early and go all day.  The hotels also enforce that rule with student groups. 
Boston is an amazing city.  The most European city in the USA, it has tight little streets and lots of old buildings.  Boston was one of the USA's first cities being founded in 1630.  We will be there on St. Patrick's Day which is the city's favorite holidays.  A large Irish population lives in Boston.  It is also the home of some of our finest universities. Harvard, MIT, Boston College, University of Massachusetts, Wellesley College, Andover College, Boston University, Tufts University and Northeastern University are just some of the local education institutions found in and around Boston. The North End of Boston holds a large amount of the USA's Revolutionary history.  The first shots of the revolutions took place there, as well as the Battle of Bunker Hill which started the American Revolution.  It also has a great cultural history including music, (Berkley College is considered the best music college in the USA), Art (terrific museums) and one of the best aquariums in the USA.  While there we urge you to take the Freedom Trail.  You can join me or one of the other chaperones.  It's a great walk through all Boston has to offer.
About 90 percent of the people who go on the Eastern Trip end up taking the Western Trip. Consider it if you aren't on it already.  It's 14 days of great fun driving around the entire Western USA visiting places like LA, San Francisco, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and much much more.

December  6 - Please tell your friends to sign up for the trip.  In a month of so we have to make a decision on whether or not we are going to run two buses.  Right now we only have 34 students signed up on the trip.  Not enough to run a 2nd bus.  That might mean they will miss the Eastern trip.
The Eastern trip is intense and we do see a lot in a relatively short period of time.  It can also be very cold.  Last year we had a snow storm and an ice storm. A lot of students weren't prepared and suffered from the cold.  You need a very warm coat, waterproof, warm shoes or boots, and gloves.  Keep that in mind.  If we are lucky we will have great weather, but often we don't have good weather.
Have a fun holiday season and remember to eat too much.  It's part of the exchange.  If you don't gain 10 kilos your aren't trying.
We have added something really cool to this year's trip.  We are going to the top of the new World Trade Center.  The tallest building in the USA in New York City.  That is one of everyone's favorite days on the trip.
I have been working on the rooming list.  It isn't the final list and by having your name of it, doesn't mean you are rooming with the people I have in your room.  I will finalize that in early February.  You can find it at http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.html
Our chaperones are coming together.  One of our regular's, Dave Saho can't join us because he is having a health crisis.  He should be up and ready to go on the Western Trip.  We'll miss him.
Take a good look at the rules.  We are pretty strict with them.  Especially the 4 Ds, being out of your rooms after 10pm and not listening to the chaperones.  We are also a non-smoking trip.  Smoking in a hotel room may get your sent home and have you pay a couple hundred dollars to the hotel to clean the room.  All our hotels are non-smoking.
Please check to make sure I have you on the right trip.  My assistant, Todd Knott, and I have been working really hard on re-arranging the office and something might have fallen through the cracks.  Please let me know if you are missing. 

November 27 - We are getting closer to the trip so you will see more emails in the next few weeks. Remember you aren't confirmed until you are under deposit. 
The Rotary Eastern Adventure Website has all the information you'll need to enjoy the trip. It's http://rotarytrip.org/roteast18.html
What you'll find on the website is when your final payment is due; how much is required, where to send you money, my contact information and much more.
You can see all the emails I've sent at : http://rotarytrip.org/rotemails.html   This is for all three trips.On there you will find who else is on the trip. http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom18.html
This isn't your exact room mate.  You can ask to room with one other person, the other people in you room will be strangers so you can make new friends.  This also shows if you are confirmed or note.
What hotels are we staying in and when: Click Here.
We stay in the same hotels year after year (you do have a lovely new hotel in Fall River MA this year). We live by the hotel rules, which means in the room at 10pm.
The Trip rules and what you need to know to stay out of trouble:  http://rotarytrip.org/rules.html
Rules are basically Rotary, bus, hotel and rules suggested by past exchange students to make everyone have a great time.
What to pack (it's generic, don't think you'll need hiking shoes, but it does snow often on the Eastern Trip.  Remember it often gets very very cold on this trip, especially in New England and New York.  Take warm clothes.  http://rotarytrip.org/rotpacking.html
A little early to think about this, but if you need something it's a good Xmas present idea.

October 18 - We are filling up pretty quickly on the trip.The big news is we have added something special to the trip. After our half day sightseeing tour in New York, we are going to the top of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the USA. A almost new building, it's something we are all excited about.Make sure you read website carefully so you understand everything that is going on.  The URL is  http://rotarytrip.org/roteast18.html Remember the trip leaves from Columbus Ohio.  It's not too early to start thinking about how you are going to get to Columbus.  If you live far away start looking for good airfare bargains.  Fly to Columbus OH Airport code CMH, March 10, returning on the earliest flight available March 20.   If you are driving you need to arrive in Columbus at our Airport Hotel before 6pm on March 10 and make sure someone can pick you up March 19th.   The fliers will be staying an extra night at the same hotel we are leaving from.  Our coach leaves the next morning March 11 and heads off to Washington DC. 
If you haven't sent your deposit please do so soon.  Also tell your friends to get their applications in.  We want to run 2 buses, but if we don't get 80 students we will stop at one (50 students).  The first 50 to get their deposit in are locked on the tour.  Just saying. 
We have a great bunch of chaperones .
Please feel free to contact me either by email, FB Messengers, or text me at 614-517-7702.   We are really looking forward to meeting you.  If you haven't signed up for the Florida adventure reconsider it.  It's a great way to get to know all the kids on the trip early and it's such a fun way to get rid of the holiday homesickness blues.

September 8 - The trip is filling up faster than it ever has. We are  6 months away from the Eastern Trip, but it comes much faster than you think it might. Make sure you read website carefully so you understand everything that is going on.  The URL is  http://rotarytrip.org/roteast18.html  
Friend me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bill.mcmurray   We do a lot of communication on facebook.   Also I'm on Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/wsmcm           and  Snapchat  bill.mcmurray .  Fun to get to know each other and share pictures. 
Remember the trip leaves from Columbus Ohio.  It's not too early to start thinking about how you are going to get to Columbus.  If you live far away start looking for good airfare bargains.  Fly to Columbus OH Airport code CMH, March 10, returning on the earliest flight available March 20.   If you are driving you need to arrive in Columbus at our Airport Hotel before 6pm on March 10 and make sure someone can pick you up March 19th.   The fliers will be staying an extra night at the same hotel we are leaving from.  Our coach leaves the next morning March 11 and heads off to Washington DC.  If you haven't sent your deposit please do so soon. Also tell your friends to get their applications in.  We have a great bunch of chaperones.   Please feel free to contact me either by email, FB Messenger, or text me at 614-517-7702.   We are really looking forward to meeting you.

Rotary Western Trip Emails

March 7 - Make sure you get our payments in soon, as when we get back from the Eastern trip we will be doing all the airline tickets.  We need to know your closest major airport,  We try to have several students fly together.  For example, students in South Ontario and Michigan fly together from Detroit.  Central Ohio students from Columbus OH.
There are still a number of places left of the Western Trip. Make sure you tell your friends about the trip and have them contact me to join it.
This is an intense, amazing and fun trip.  Make sure you look at the website and itinerary to get excited...... YOU WILL.  http://rotarytrip.org/rotwest18.htmlWe have two buses schedule for this trip. We also have 8 chaperones.  Several of our chaperones are very experiences on this trip.  Some are former exchange students and most have a RYE connection.  I was a RYE chair both club and district. Alyson Hollobough was an exchange student to Germany.  Tod Knott was an exchange student to Colombia.
Will talk to you more after the Eastern Trip, have fun.

February 20: Please send at least your deposit.  We need to purchase your airline tickets as soon as we can but we don't do so unless you have paid your deposit. Your flights will be the first flight we can get you on so be ready to get up EARLY.

When you arrive in Phoenix it's your job to get your bags and make your way over Terminal 4 Baggage claim, where you will find the chaperones waiting for you at the Northeast corner of the terminal near the information booth.  It's also called the Barry Goldwater Terminal.  Once we gather everyone we will call the buses, pick up and head for Blythe CA.

Virginia City is one of our best discoveries.  The wild west has not left Virginia City.  It still is a wide open crazy town in the mountains of West Central Nevada.  There are beautiful hills, but the fun part is it draws fun strange people.  The wooden sidewalks, 100+ year old saloons (included the most haunted saloon in the world), wild west shows, and fun gift shops are awesome.  You can go down into old mine, learn a little western history and just enjoy yourself.  

That evening we stay in Fallon, located on the loneliest road in the USA.  US50 is in the middle of nowhere.  Fallon, though is a nice little town with stores, restaurants and more.  It's also the home of the US Navy's Top Gun School where our Navy Fighter Pilots learn how to flight in combat. That morning you were in San Francisco and the next day you are in the desert. 

Fun Fact:  Virginia City was named for a guy called "Old Virginia" who had to leave the state of Virginia after he killed a man.  During it's peak, the city was the richest city in America and had 30,000 residents.  It was formed overnight by the Comstock Lode silver strike.  Writer Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) first used his pen name while a reporter in Virginia City.  The city has been made famous by staring in an Old Errol Flynn movie "Virginia City"; was featured in "Back to the Future 3'; and was the location for famous American TV show, "Ponderosa".

January 19, Remember that the preferred email address to send me information is bill.mcmurray@gmail.com. Some of you have been using an old address, which although it works, is not looked at that often.   Make sure you check your email often.  If you are new to the trip but want to check all the emails I've sent check out he webpage  http://mcmurraytravelservice.com/rotemails.html

All information on this trip is sent by email and you are responsible for the information sent.
You should be preparing yourself for this trip with a little research.  There is a good documentary from Ken Burns, The National Parks, America's Best Idea.  You can learn about a lot of the places we are going.  Many places we are going are almost empty of people. We spend a day driving about 500 miles (about 800 km) and we drive through only 3 small towns.  It scenery is amazing, but it is pretty much empty of people. For a country having 300 million people, the USA is mostly wide open fairly empty spaces.  Especially in the west.   We do spend time around people,  Los Angeles has almost 18 million people. San Francisco Bay Area has almost 8 million people.   The City of San Francisco itself has only about 700 thousand, but it's really a large area .  Another city we visit is Salt Lake city, which is really beautiful, sitting in some of the high mountains in the USA.   It is very long, taking over 90 minutes to drive from one part to another.  Salt Lake has some of the most unique characteristics.  Most people in the valley are members of the Mormon religion. It also has a large salt lake which is so salty there is nothing living in it except brine shrimp.  We used to visit the lake, but it is so smelly and disgusting some of the students got a little ill.  It is impressive though.  
The small towns we visit include Virginia City, an old cowboy mining town, which has changed little; Twin Falls, which is pretty, clean and very scenic;  Jackson WY, which is incredibly beautiful and fun to visit. Surrounded by alpine mountains, Jackson Hole is a world class ski resort and vacation spot.  We also stay in Moab (one of the most interesting places on the trip) and Flagstaff AZ, another ski resort and stop point on world famous Route 66, the famous highway.

January 3 - The Western trip is long but so entertaining.  There are so many new sights and sounds you can't keep track of them.  Every 10 minutes of so the scenery changes and we encounter people from really different places.  Los Angeles is hip, shallow and very much Hollywood.  San Francisco is international, smart and has an old world feel.  The desert towns like Fallon, Virginia City and others are very wild west like.  Jackson Hole is very sophisticated and is know as an international playground for the rich and famous.  Salt Lake City is a different world. clean, very techie, with a strong moral center from the Mormons. Twin Falls is a farm community with vast fields and incredible beauty. Moab is desert, adventure centered, and very much laid back. Cortez is basically a Native American (Indian) community.  Flagstaff is a ski resort and wild west like place.   It really is an adventure.  
One top of the traveling we are trying to get you one with nature.  Our white water rafting trip is in one of the most beautiful places  in the USA.  We hope to have a healthy hike in Grand Teton National Park on a paved trail along Jenny Lake.  In the past we have encountered bear and elk in this area.  We'll get out and check out different things all along the trip.  It's a great deal of fun.
Remember to make sure you have sent everything.  We definitely need copies of your passport; parental permission.  As for District recommendation I can get though much closer to the trip (say around mid April).  Usually they will email me and tell me what they thing about you.  Be nice to them. 
Handling between 80-92 exchange students is difficult (but we have more experience with it than anyone in the world).  We need your help.  If you haven't signed on to be a team leader, think about it.  Team leaders are like student government.  If we are unhappy about something we always run it by the team leaders and use your suggestions to make the trip better for everyone. 

December 21 - Want to wish you all a very happy holiday season.  Hope you all eat too much.  Remember that food eaten away from home doesn't have any calories. 
I have been updating the Email list and the rooming list.  Make sure you check out the rooming list and make sure you are on the list.  You can find it at http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestroom18.html.   The list doesn't show what room you are going to be in and won't until about a month before the trip.  My helper Todd and I have been working on it, but there is a lot of paperwork involved and we go over it several times to make sure it is all correct.  Please keep looking at it from time to time.
If I was you, I would be constantly checking the Rotary Trip website for more information.  We are constantly trying to improve the trip so you will have an amazing time. 
I have been doing this trip for 19 years and it is always fun for me. The best fun is getting to know you.  I've been really lucky to have befriended hundreds of great people from all over the world on this trip.  I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you.  I have worked doing international and American tours for over 35 years, as well as traveling myself since I was 2 years old.  I'm friends with most of your Rotary Youth Exchange District Chairs.  I've been a Rotarian for 27 years and am an active member of the Rotary Club of Westerville Sunrise which has had an exchange student every year since it was founded in 1990. Before that I was in another Rotary Club which had and still has exchange students. 
I'm amazing at how many of you have had relatives on the trips before. Many brothers, sisters, cousins or school friends have done the trip.  
If you have special food needs or,  like me, you are a vegan or vegetarian (I'm a vegan) you can find food to eat.  We stop frequently at supermarkets and I always stock up on things i can eat.  Last year I discovered a lot of restaurants would create vegan dishes for me.
Weirdest thing we often see on this trip:  Over the past few years we have had the privilege to watch base-jumpers  (people who jump off bridges with parachutes) in Twin Falls Idaho, which has one of the best Base Jumping bridges in the world. It's also legal there.  Unfortunately jumpers often die performing their hobby, although we have been fortunate to have never seen that.    Another weird sight is watching crop-dusting airplanes dropping chemicals on fields in Idaho.  They are about 5 meters off the ground at about 200 kph and it's also incredibly dangerous. 

December 6, The Western Trip is coming up quicker than you think.  Remember to tell all your Exchange friends about it.  It's open to any RYE student in the USA and Canada.  We often have kids from all over the country.      A little bad news, our regular chaperone Dave Saho is going through a health crisis and will miss our Eastern Trip, but we think he'll be up the for the Western.  Cross your fingers, he's a terrific person.    Our goal is to run 2 buses, we ran 2 with 90 students last year.  If we don't get to 80 by April may cause us to cut back to one bus of 50.  Get your application and deposit in as soon as possible.

You can check who is on the trip at http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestroom18.html .  I have not assigned rooms yet, so this is just people I've received applications (or partial applications on the trip).  When we get closer to the trip I'll show who is confirmed.

As you know, if you read the website, we are going to fly from a city near you to Phoenix for this trip and the airline tickets are included.  Be sure to keep that in mind.  We do require you fly from a larger international airport.  Small commuter cities don't work because they don't have enough reliable flights.  

There are some horrible forest fires in Los Angeles right now.  That isn't uncommon and one year we saw over 25 major fires.  Last year we saw 4.  We keep you from harms way, but they sometime cause us to change our route slightly.  It is both sad and exciting at the same time.  There are hundreds of fires each year in the Western USA.  Some are gigantic and some are small by their standards.  A fire a number of years ago in Yellowstone destroyed an area the size of Belgium.  Don't worry, we will take care of you.

Feel free to contact me anytime you like.  I'm on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bill.mcmurray (I urge you to join FB is you aren't now, we do contact and share pictures on it); Instagram - wsmcm;  Snapchat: bill.mcmurray.   Also Twitter: @billmcmurray.   Whatsapp: 614-517-7702.    I really enjoy social media and am on it way too much. 

Use bill.mcmurray@gmail.com as my email.  We will be upgrading our trip website in the near future.  You may be asked to register, please do, it will help a great deal and make communicating together easier.

November 27 -  There are a couple of things we need to talk about on the Western Trip.  The worst medical problem we have is dehydration and we have had to take numerous students to the hospital because they didn't listen to us and didn't drink enough water.  Where we are going is very dry and by the time you start to feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Students complain about headaches, flu like symptoms and fever and it's always dehydration.  Start to look around for a good 2 liter water bottle you can bring on the trip and always keep it filled up and ways sip on it so you don't get sick.  A Great Xmas gift for you is a camel-back hydration system, water and a backpack at the same time. 

The trip is long but one thing you'll notice is that every 10 minutes the scenery changes completely.  During a day you might see three different types of deserts, mountain passes, prairie or beautiful farm land.  There are really no ugly places we drive through and we plan on showing you the the most beautiful and interesting places in the USA.  A couple of years ago a boy put a video together (it's not in order) but it's the best view of what you'll see.  It's linked on the western webpage.  http://rotarytrip.org/rotwest18.html

Please tell your friends to sign up on the trip.  To see who is on the trip check out http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestroom18.html

October 18 - The trip comes faster than you can believe.  Time to start thinking about it.

This will be the 19th Western Trip I've led and every one has been an amazing experience.  Make sure you look at the website and read it and all the links carefully.  They have a tremendous amount of information. http://rotarytrip.org/rotwest18.html.   The trip is from June 14 to the 28th and we cover a lot of territory and spectacular sights and scenery.  This year we are doing two full days in San Francisco.  We are looking forward to  time in Hollywood, as well as some of the most spectacular and beautiful national parks in the world.  The West is big, amazing and you are going to see the best parts.

We are going to a lot of states on this trip:  Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and back to Arizona.  It's a large trip circling the most beautiful places in a beautiful place.
If you miss a couple of emails (I try to do updates regularly on news about the trips and what you need to do to enjoy it more), check out http://rotarytrip.org/rotemails.html
for information on all the emails I've sent on all the trips.

Hope you join us on the Eastern Adventure where we really explore Washington DC, New York, and Boston.  Part of that trip is a journey to Gettysburg as well as Hershey's Chocolate World.  There is space available on all three trips right now.  Make sure you tell your friends to get their applications in.   We are running one bus on the Florida trip, and plan on running two on the Eastern and Western but if we don't reach 80 students on those trips we will limit it to one bus with the first 56 deposits guaranteed a spot.  The trip is half filled.  Looking forward to meeting all of you. You can see you is on the trip already but clicking http://rotarytrip.org/rotwestroom2018.html