I was nervous about the training and the amount of responsibility this job includes in general before I got out here, and being here only made that anxiety increase 100%!
The best way I can sum up the training is, bitter sweet. It included information OVERLOAD on a daily basis. 21 straight days of 4am-6am mornings and 10pm-12pm nights, with rigorous hikes, long drives, and test after test thrown in between-equaling sleep deprivation and brain function failure more often than not. Each one of us was given the task of mission impossible, meaning leading a group of 12 leaders and no followers resulting in FRUSTRATION every day.
We learned to drive a commercial vehicle (a.k.a. a 15 passenger van with a trailer attached) FOR THE FIRST TIME on the California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah interstates and highways or through Las Vegas, San Francisco and LA traffic with 12 back seat drivers and a manager in the passenger seat judging our every move while asking questions like: "What mountain peak is that to the left? How high is it?" followed by "Feet?? What does that mean? How many METERS is it?" and "What kind of bushes are these growing on the side of the road in the desert?"...the worst part (other than having to back the trailer when we screwed up) was we never knew who would be driving when so we had to be prepared AT ALL TIMES!
HOWEVER, all of this stress was, surprisingly, easily masked day after day by the first hand learning experience training style Trek chooses to use :) The first day on the road we swam in the chilled, clear waters of the Colorado River at Lake Havasu in Arizona, instantly making us forget about the stressful first drive and the 104 degree desert heat. The next day I got to drive for the first time and had the honor of crossing the original 1831 LONDON BRIDGE (yes this is the real London Bridge, the one the song is about and yes I did state that we were in Arizona-look it up:) we were on our way to hike the most rewarding trail I have ever hiked! The Blue Angel Trail to
Plateau Point below the rim of the Grand Canyon. It's a 12 mile hike to a central point in the canyon with a 360 degree panoramic view of the canyon walls surrounding you while looking down on the Colorado River!! Amazing! Next thing I knew we were riding horses and shootin' the breeze with cowboys in Utah, near Lake Powell and eating a good 'ol home cooked southern meal. They had to drag me away from the cowboys kicking and screaming. My worries were soon forgotten when we arrived in Vegas at the Rio Hotel for the best buffet I've ever eaten at, soon followed by a Helicopter tour over the Las Vegas strip and then a ride to the Bellagio on a party bus shared by 25 other great individuals to party with! The next day they let us sleep in until 8AM before back tracking a bit to Zion Nat'l Park back in Utah. It was back to a 4am start the next morning to hike up to Angel's Landing-one of the scariest hikes of my life. Chains and cliffs were involved is all I have to say. Next stop YOSEMITE! Yosemite was filled with snow, heat, hiking through waterfalls and rainbows and laying out alongside the Nevada Falls, followed by a root beer float! :) The perfect day. Our training ended in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco where we enjoyed a sunset cruise in the San Fran Bay past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge!
The end of training seemed to drag on a bit. Our last van ride was 13 hours back to Vegas where we ate dinner, showered, slept and then each one of us got to drive a brand new van back to LA by ourselves the next day! I loved this alone time and extra practice!!
I think it's safe to say that this is the most incredible job "training" I will probably ever experience in this life of mine. I LOVED IT!
Now, on to the next challenge...my commercial driver's test on JULY 5TH. However, since our office just recently moved to Northern California and we are "stuck" in LA for two weeks there. is. nothing. for. us. to. do. except hang out at the Hacienda (hotel) all day and go to the hot tub/beach and oh yeah study a bit until we take our test…Love Life!
I arrived in Los Angeles early in the morning on Sunday, June 5th to start training the following day-a very special day in my life this year and every year. June 6th is the day my favorite person in the world, my Nanny (my Dad's Mother) passed away from cancer 11 years ago. I will always appreciate the things she did for me and she will forever be in my heart. This year, this day was made a little more important than usual because it was also the day I started training to be a TrekAmerica Tour Leader.