One of my rules when I started writing this blog was that I was going to keep it work free. Not that I don’t like my job or want you to know what I do. It’s specifically because I do like my job – especially the part where I get paid. But, you guys, just this once, I’m breaking my own rule because this story is too awesome not to tell (or at least I think it is, and therefore the five people who read this blog will be subjected to it).

For those of you that don’t know, part of what I do is provide content for, the website of the Military Health System. A couple of weeks ago, my coworker Emily and I went to Fort Indiantown Gap, PA to cover a training exercise being conducted by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. You can read my official coverage of the exercise here. Basically it was one of the final exams for first and third year medical students, and included an array of training from a simulated mass casualty exercise to media training.

Emily and I were asked to participate in the latter, posing as “persistent” reporters who had a lead on a story.  The whole exercise was taking place in a fictionalized country that had an entire backstory that we were briefed on. Our objective was pretty much to just keep hounding the students so their advisers could see how they responded. I’d say by the end we had a pretty solid Good Cop/Bad Cop routine down – and contrary to what many of you are thinking, I was not the bad cop. I watched one student literally take a step back from Emily while she was questioning him, and that’s not a reflection on the student. Emily was persistent. I was about to break down and tell her whatever she wanted to know and I was in on the game. Whatever fictional news outlet she was representing is sure to get a Fauxlitzer Prize for investigative journalism. I, on the other hand, am volunteering to be the official historian for the fictional country.

BUT, that’s not even all. The actual drive up to Fort Indiantown Gap, PA ( a town that, in my opinion, has too many locational descriptors in the name. Choose! Be a town or a gap, but not both) was, in a word, amazing. I’m not even talking about the scenery, which was the very definition of pastoral. I’m talking about the random billboard on the side of the road that read “Show us the REAL birth certificate!” That’s it. No pictures, nothing. Hardcore birthers are nothing if not persistent.Then there was this:

York Barbell

Why? Why NOT?

This spins around and around on the side of the freeway. I’m assuming that, as the sign advertises, this place sells barbells. Otherwise that’s shoddy advertising.

And finally, the best part of the trip:

Cracker Barrel!

Emily loves the Cracker Barrel!

After a late lunch/early dinner of fat, grease and lard, we made our way to the gift shop, I’m sorry “Country Store,” to pick something up for our coworker who has never experienced the wonder that is The Cracker Barrel. We also grabbed a map of locations. Basically, the entire East Coast is made up of Cracker Barrels and rocking chairs. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

All in all, a good time, it’s hard for it not to be when it concludes with five servings of starch.