Photos Of Secret Training Location

Back on January 13th I posted this necessarily cryptic mobile blog entry using my new Blackberry. While I still cannot disclose specifics about where I was or, as usual, what it was for, I can share some information and photos.

I flew into Reagan National Airport Sunday afternoon and joined about 20 other attendees on a comfortable shuttle bus with padded seats and a bathroom that would take us on a 90 minute drive through the outskirts of the nation’s capitol and the Maryland countryside. We joined many others in the registration area getting our room assignments and eating dinner in the dining hall. I then hit the sack because I was still sick from the flu I had picked up in Lake Charles and was very tired. I wanted to start the next day as well-rested as possible

Training began on Monday morning, January 14th and lasted through Thursday night, January 17th at a location that I can only describe as a former Catholic College in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of extremely rural Maryland, near the Pennsylvania state line. The dormitory rooms were very reminiscent of their former boarders. Mattresses that felt like slabs of concrete on single beds that kept making me wake up every time I rolled over because I felt like I was going to go over the edge, pipes that rattled and windows that let in the cold (or let out the heat, not sure which) made the stay almost a survival exercise. At least each room had it’s own bathroom. Internet access in the dorm rooms was of the ancient dial-up type. I didn’t even attempt to get my laptop online, instead using it to listen to music and watch DVD’s during the short amount of “down time” we had each day. Cellphone coverage, even with my new Blackberry, was spotty at best.

Here’s an aerial view of the “campus” from Google Maps. In the lower left hand corner the blue arrow is pointing to the building my dorm room was in, right next to the tennis courts. In the upper right hand area the blue arrow is pointing to the building where all of my training took place, which also happened to house the dining hall.

Speaking of the dining hall; the food was, as one instructor put it, “Ok for institutional food.” There was a wide variety of main courses, side dishes, desserts and beverages, but a lot of us laughed the day we walked in and one of the choices was Chicken Tetrazinni. I haven’t seen that dish on a menu since college, which was apropos.

Now when it comes to the training, that was the best part. We had 3 main instructors and several personal trainers assigned to each group. We went through practices, policies, processes, procedures, individual simulations and finally an all day group simulation that wore all of us out but left us with the confidence to tackle our chosen areas (in other words, my day job). I met several of my colleagues from around the country and found several that I hope I have the opportunity to work with in the future, should the need for our talents and training arise.

I’ve posted photos over at Flickr and you can access them using the link in the right hand column. They were all taken either Thursday night (it began snowing at 10:30 in the morning and I could no longer resist getting the camera out and taking pictures (even though that is NOT encouraged) of the campus being snowed on, or the next morning before our departure to the airport when I got up early to catch the first rays of light bathing the complex’s snow-covered grounds and buildings. Unfortunately, Flickr did not tag/describe all my photos as I directed, but if it’s dark or yellow it was taken Friday night and if it’s light then it was taken Friday morning. Some of the night shots were with flash, some were without and you might see two different versions of the night shots; one that is clear and one that shows snowflakes falling, a result of removing my hand as a cover from above the lens. I really did have a lot of fun playing with light in all of these shots and I think the effects show that.

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