HI John! Welcome to the Articulate community. (I see you are a fellow cheese-head.) Go Packers!
I haven't attended any of the paid trainings. However, if you are new to Articulate I would recommend buying the book "E-Learning Uncovered: Articulate Studio '09" (by Tanya Coomes, Diane Elkins and Desiree Ward). That will get you past the beginner stage very very quickly - and then you might be ready to take the advanced training courses you would need to travel for later on.
Also, if you are new to Articulate, please be sure to review the information in the tutorials section of this community page. Start with any tutorials and information on how to organize your project files. The Powerpoint files (*.ppta and *.pptx) MUST be kept on your hard drive, and you must NOT move them unless you use the Articulate Package function. Also, you will want to review the list of supported Powerpoint animations to see what cannot be used in Articulate.
Good luck and welcome!