Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Drive to Indiana

I'm in Indiana again to train another batch of people heading to Afghanistan.  Our presence there is shrinking fast and I don't know how many more of these training sessions we'll do.  Pretty soon, there will be no US government civilians outside the Embassy and a few of the main bases.  All we know right now is that things are changing fast.

As with last time, I chose to drive up here rather than fly.  The total time in transit is about the same, but driving is, for me, so much more enjoyable.  Passengers on airlines these days are just cattle in a cattle car.  Airlines don't give a hoot about you, your bags, or anything else besides how many bodies they can shoe-horn into a Boeing.  Since the company I'm with was happy for me to rent a car (it's cheaper than a plane ticket), I made a reservation with Avis.

And I hit the jackpot.  This time, through the luck of the draw, I wound up with a Volvo S60 T5.  This is a small sedan with outstanding handling, lots of power thanks to a turbocharged engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, great handling, leather seats, taut but smooth ride, bluetooth, great handling, sun/moonroof, and lots of other features.  And it had great handling.  We have a Volvo and so we like the brand already, but this S60 is a sweet bit of machinery.  You should never buy a used car from a rental agency, but I'd buy this particular Volvo in a heartbeat.

I put it to good use during my drive north.  Rather than hop on the interstate and do a roundabout loop to the south, west, and then north, I headed straight northwest on 2-lane roads through the Appalachian mountains.  The Volvo was the perfect car for the trip.  We romped up and down the valleys, along rivers lined with fisherman and parked pickups, snaked through mountain passes, and generally had a great time.  We went through Cumberland Gap, which a spectacular area.  The mountains there are like a vertical wall between Tennessee and Virginia to the south and Kentucky to the north.  Then the Gap is a narrow slice through the wall.  Easy to see why it was such a strategically important spot during the Civil War and why it changed hands several times.  I finally hit I75 in Corbin and headed north.

In Lexington, I ran right into a nasty rainstorm.  Great place to do it, huh?  Heavy traffic and heavy rain, which forced everybody to slow way down because we just couldn't see anything.  The heavy rain lasted for about an hour while I headed west to Louisville.  Definitely not fun.  But it finally cleared when I got north of Louisville - still gray and occasionally drizzly, but not the dangerous drenching from earlier.

So now I'm at Camp Atterbury, which is a pretty large training base a bit south of Indianapolis.  We've done our preparations and are now just waiting for our new crop of students to be finished with their check-in.  Then we'll have at it for the rest of this week.  It's going to be fun!

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