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> April 24, 2006 - TREC Training, Preparing for the Field Experience
Jason_Petula
post Apr 25 2006, 05:03 AM
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Finally, after a difficult and lengthy journey I have arrived in the great white north – Alaska. Many said an over land journey by foot from Pennsylvania to the ‘Final Frontier’ would be foolhardy. But I had a simple reply, “I must travel to Alaska for TREC training.” The many months traversing the North American continent prepared me well for what I encountered at the conclusion of my journey.

Using the hypnotizing Northern Lights as a visual compass, my journey reached a dramatic end near Fairbanks – the second largest city in Alaska. Slightly disoriented, I was guided to my final destination by a burly Alaskan native locally known as Ben. Ben is representative of many Alaskans – kind, intelligent, and tougher than stale beef jerky.

Ben is so tough that he once bet NASA that he could survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere unaided. On March 15, 2006 a naked Ben was observed streaking across the lower forty-eight states as his body became more luminous than a full moon. Although NASA has yet to acknowledge Ben’s accomplishment, he has been featured on numerous talk shows, i.e. – Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc. Of course, Ben deserves more attention, but I must get on with my tale.

Ben guided me to the most fabled of all cities on Earth – the North Pole. As a child I had suspicions of the validity of such a place. I even argued with Ben as we walked down a path littered with white Birch and black Spruce branches. When we came out of the forest I could only utter, “Holy Moly!” There, before my eyes, was a sign welcoming me to the North Pole.

Between the sign and what appeared to be Santa’s dwelling was a reindeer pen. In disbelief I snapped a quick picture of one of these magnificent beasts before a small, childlike man dressed in green leotards waved a candy-cane shaped wand. Although I swear there must be some logical explanation, the reindeer disappeared – as did the peculiar man.

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Overcome with confusion and doubt, I turned to Ben for some sort of explanation. My confusion turned to fear when I realized Ben was gone. My instincts kicked in and I ran back to the forest. The tree branches burned as they slapped my wind chapped skin. The cool sub-artic air burned in my lungs as I continued to flee. The long shadows cast by the midnight sun distorted my depth perception and I tripped. The frozen ground offered no cushion and what little air remaining in my lungs was expelled violently. The world around me grew dark.

A loud ring jerked me from my slumber and instinctive I answered…a phone? Yes, a phone, “hello I said.” The voice on the other end replied, “Good morning Mr. Petula. Welcome to Fairbanks. This is the wake up call you requested.” As my mind took hold of the situation I realized I had been dreaming. Now, I had to get ready for the reality of the TREC orientation commencing in less than an hour.
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