Sunday, March 31, 2013

Back at Muscatatuck

I'm back at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, helping to train a group of mostly military guys who are heading to Afghanistan.  We've been at it a couple of days now.  I'm in a different role than last time.  Now I'm a mentor to one of the student teams, trying to guide them along the training process.  This is a fun role: I'm directly involved with the same students every day, helping them gel as a team, and preparing them for both the upcoming events this week and for what they'll encounter downrange.  These guys are sharp, too, which makes my role easier in some respects and harder in others.  A good thing, all around.  America, you should still be proud of the people you're sending in harm's way.

When I came up here last month, I flew from Asheville to Indianapolis, and then hooked up with a couple of other trainers for the drive down to Muscatatuck.  This time, I rented a car in Asheville and drove up.  I figured that the total travel time would be about the same, driving is more fun (to me, anyway), and this would ensure that I had wheels for the entire week.  Good call.  The drive was, indeed, fun, especially the first half, which wound through the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  It's a beautiful area, really spectacular.  Once past the mountains, I-75 rolled along through Kentucky horse country, which was beautiful in different way.  Great drive. 

I wound up with a Nissan Altima for a rental car.  It's a pretty good machine.  The styling is kinda generic, the seats are comfortable, the interior controls easy to learn, and the sound system is strong.  The best feature is the handling, by far.  It's really impressive, with great response and great grip.  The first leg of my trip was on two-lane roads through the mountains and the Altima was a hoot to drive on those twisty roads.  On the negative side, the sound isolation could be better as there was a bit of rumbling coming out of the rear end over different road surfaces.  The steering and brakes are both way too light - Nissan should dial some of the power assistance out.  And I'm not a fan of the continuously-variable transmission (CVT).  It works fine, but I felt like it made too many choices for me, isolating me from much of the driving experience.  If Nissan would give the car a manual transmission, tweak the suspension to get some of that rumble out, tweak the exhaust to put a little rumble in, and make a few other minor changes, they'd have a killer sports sedan.

So now it's back to work.  Gotta do a few things to get ready for tomorrow.  

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