at some point last night, as i was trying to fall asleep, i realized i’d forgotten to write about syracuse. syracuse was the last school that t and i visited together. it was another rental car trip, right after i got back from boston. we took the path train to new jersey and rented our car in the mall, after eating sbarro, because that’s what you do when you are in a mall.
the drive up was nice. hurray for lots of trees. the most notable part of the drive was that, when hunting for a starbucks, the gps took us to “great wolf lodge.” we followed this road that looked like it was going to take us nowhere, and then suddenly, there was a giant lodge with wolves “carved” into the front. we went into the building, and first i thought there was a cotton candy maker and hat shop at the front, but really it was a build-a-bear. or rather a build-a-raccoon-wolf-or-dragon. further in, we discovered a fake nature scene with cartoony characters and a native american woman statue in the middle. there was also a photobooth, and as we got closer to that, we peered out the window and saw that there was a giant, indoor waterpark. it was crazy. i asked t if this was what most americans expect out of vacations now and if this was normal. t didn’t think so.
when we got to the hotel, we discovered that they were having a car show, because some people from the syracuse nationals were staying there, and there was a live band. that was entertaining, and t wanted to get photos, but she was too hungry to do it right away. we checked the internet and found out we had multiple vegetarian options, and decided on an all-vegan cafe, strong hearts. the food was good and there were a million vegan milkshake options, named after lefty (politically, not handedness) heroes.
the next day, i visited the school. none of the professors i’ve been in touch with were going to be around, and the student who i’d been corresponding with also couldn’t be there, but he suggested i get in touch with some folks in different offices, and i wound up getting to hang out and talk in the disability cultural center, which was awesome and the person who runs it was awesome and had all those “for every girl who doesn’t want her e-z-bake oven, there’s a boy who wishes he’d got one” types of posters all over the place. the administrative assistant for the cultural foundations program, which is what i’m interested in, got me hooked up with a student, one of the more burned out students i’ve met on my trip. i also got a tour and a chat and a TON of syllabi from the administrative assistant, who was wonderfully friendly.
i didn’t know what to expect from syracuse and i’m still not entirely sure what i think of it as a place. we’d heard it was very cold, and a friend of ours talked about race and class strife, another friend called it “kind of a sh*thole,” but all the tourism stuff makes it sound like an artistic destination spot. in some ways it sort of reminded me of olympia– the grimy, punkishness of a place where there aren’t enough jobs but people are somehow making it work and where there are lots of non-normative types. it was a grey day, which is probably what it’s like a lot, but it was odd to be in a town that felt so bleak in the middle of summer. i liked it, but it’s also very spread-out and strip mally.
on the drive out, we stopped at another of the vegetarian-suggested places, an indian restaurant called dosa grill. t debated the lunch buffet vs. ordering chana masala off the menu, since it wasn’t on the buffet, and decided on chana masala. as we waited, we were given complimentary mango lassis, and the people there were ridiculously friendly. the chana masala became an actual massive amount of food with tons of rice, a poppadum, and 2 chutneys, in addition to a very full container of chana masala. we both ate enough to be very happily full and there was still a lot left over.
we were driving along and traffic slowed down, and we creeped under a underpass. suddenly, the most horrible old onions smell filled the car. first we thought it was from the underpass, but it didn’t go away. after 5 minutes of appalled giddiness, i looked in the bag, and one of the chutneys had leaked all over the inside and was starting to creep outside of the bag as well. “the smell is coming from inside the car.” i put the free paper we’d gotten in syracuse underneath and tried to seal the bag as much as possible. and then we got in the middle of a ridiculous traffic jam where we went 2 miles in about half an hour, all with this horrific stench in the car. it was horrible, but it also kept us giggling.
so that was syracuse.