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Its been just about a week since I boarded a plane bound for Washington state to begin my summer training.  Flying Southwest into Seattle, the only instructions I was given stated to meet at the US Airways baggage claim — no mention of inside, outside, or to look for anyone in particular.  Somehow after some wandering, though, I saw through the doors a guy standing by a van in a red Pi Kappa Phi jersey.  Walking outside, I realized thats where I needed to be.

Upon introducing myself I found I was one of three Andrews; together we rode about an hour east towards Easton / Cle Elem.  We arrived early afternoon at the Double K Ranch and began our introductions.  The first couple of hours was somewhat awkward (as expected), but we quickly began to loosen up and feel comfortable around one another.

Training lasted for the rest of the week — spanning how to establish routes and crew stops, general policies and procedures, discipline, and crew specific duties.  Somehow, though, Dave and Josh overheard that I’m very particular so they asked me to help apply van decals.  Along with Jared, Drayton, and Ryan, I spent two entire days applying decals to our crew vans — insuring that all the air bubbles were pushed out and decals were level.  Much easier said than done; by the end I don’t think I had feeling in my fingers.  Still, it was a great bonding experience.

On another exciting note, I have a beautiful new Dodge Grand Caravan to sport all summer.  The van includes XM Radio, power doors, mood lighting, and stow and go seating — talk about seeing the country in style.

Yesterday evening, we were treated to an incredible dinner by the Kelly family and even had some free time to explore Seattle.  As our last night all together, we celebrated with roast prime rib, baked potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, and fresh cherries (to name a few of the items).  Afterwards, we roamed past the Space Needle to the waterfront before ending up by Pikes Place.  There one of my dreams came true, as I peered through the window of the first Starbucks Coffee House.  We ended up on an alley filled with several bars — one of which we stopped in for a little while to celebrate a crew members 21st birthday (don’t worry though we were all well behaved).

Sadly, though, we had to part ways with the Trans-America team this morning as we left Seattle for Portland, Oregon.  Even though it had only been a few days since we met, I felt like I had gotten to know at least some of them very well.  As for now, I don’t have any obligations until we drive from Portland to San Francisco — something like a 10 hour drive.  Luckily, I have another passenger to keep me company.

Our plans are to drive through the Redwood forest and explore a little before the cyclists arrive.  In all, though, I’m having a blast.  I  just can’t believe that the Journey of Hope is about to start.

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