My educational journey began on July 6th of this year. My parents and I traveled from Johnstown, Pennsylvania to the small town of Bluff City, Tennessee. My goal was to graduate from the Paintball Training Institute after ten days of rigorous training, learning to repair and service paintball markers.
We traveled south on Interstate 219, crossing into Maryland on I-68 west. Continuing into West Virginia we advanced to I-79 south. Our stop over was Tamarack (tamarackwv.com). In addition to food and fuel, Tamarack offers an outstanding market for local West Virginia artists and crafts people. I was very impressed by their quality of workmanship and complete attention to detail.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Continuing south on US-19, I-77 south, and I-81 south, we arrived at our first destination after a seven hour road trip. Unlike past travels where we would always stay at a hotel, this time we tried something new to us. We rented a small farm house through Vacation Rentals by Owner (vrbo.com). The small two bedroom house had a full kitchen with all the necessary items for great home cooked meals for my parents. The farm house was also pet friendly. Our constant travel companion, my dog Lightning, felt right at home.
As I helped my parents unload their suitcases into the bedroom, I felt something very strange above my head. As it turns out, this vintage farm house had seven foot tall walls to the ceiling. Since I am on the tall side, the ceiling fan was almost touching the hair on the top of my head. We all laughed when my Dad said that I probably needed a haircut anyway.
Next, it was my turn to check in at the Paintball Training Institute (PTI.com) for my certification classes. I lived on site at PTI for ten days, sharing a dorm room with a nice man from Houston, Texas. I cooked my own food in the shared kitchen and relaxed in the evening in a shared living room. If this is what a college dorm will be like, then I have already completed ten days of practice. I plan to attend college in the fall of 2013, majoring in engineering.
My classes were very challenging. We worked from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. The instructors taught us theory on high pressure air, mechanics, and electronics every morning. Afternoons and early evenings were spent taking apart and repairing non-working paintball markers.
I phoned my parents once a day, and every three days they would meet me at the school. They would take my laundry and hand me something special. I would pet the dog, exchange conversation quickly, and then hurry back to the classroom. I was learning much about paintball, and I was also learning how to live more independently.
The ten days went by quickly. At the end, I had achieved factory authorized certifications in all major brands of paintball markers. I had become a Master Air Smith.
The next morning, my parents and I began the trip home. My head was swimming with all that I had learned, and all of my fingers were aching from replacing so many small parts in paintball markers. As we traveled north through West Virginia, my parents stopped at the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, WV.
As we ate our sandwiches, I stared out at the great suspension bridge. For the first time on a long time, I felt that I knew where I was, and I knew where I was going.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.