Friday, August 15, 2014

Syracuse, The Better Part

We woke up on Monday, took some Chocolate Chex down to breakfast for Jacob while the rest of us squeezed into a table and sampled the continental breakfast, then headed out to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.  We'd never been there, which seems silly considering how much we enjoy zoos and how close this one is to home!  But then again, that was sort of the point of this trip.  Since Carter's not at a good place to tolerate long drives (he's too old to sleep through, but too young to enjoy a movie), we figured we'd just stay close to home this year and do something more exciting next year.  We'd talked about doing a couple things in Syracuse recently, so this trip just sort of fell into place once we confirmed that we could hit up a couple baseball games, too.

The entrance to the zoo was much grander than our zoo in Rochester, which sort of surprised me.  The first part of the zoo is inside, which was another surprise.  The first indoor section was a miniature aquarium, including an octopus.  I think they're so cool, and when we came back through on our way out, he was even moving a bit more.  They're so weird, but awesome.

I just love little poison dart frogs.  Their colors are so amazing.  I loved this shot with four different ones...yellow, orange, black and blue, and white, blue, and black. 

The second indoor section was an aviary.  I get nervous about exotic bird poop, but I love funky birds...

There was a set of nocturnal animals, including the most active sloth I've ever seen!  This picture does not do it justice (though I did take some video that I hope to upload one of these days), but you can see the sloth's arms and legs as he crawled down the branches.  I swear, I thought sloths were just a ball of fur for the first couple decades of my life.  I never saw them move!

One of my favorite parts of this trip was seeing Carter react to the animals.  He still doesn't entirely get it, but he genuinely responded and it was fun to see.  Here he is checking out the lions...

He also loved the meerkats and loved when one kept running toward us...

We saw some monkeys and finally headed outside to a giant monkey enclosure.  The best part was that one of the monkeys had a baby clinging to it!  Later on the baby popped off, which was pretty cute, too.

The whole first part of the zoo was spent listening to Jacob demand to see the penguins.  He loves his stuffed penguins, and a recent viewing of Mr. Popper's Penguins refreshed his interest.  When we got there, the penguins were swimming and looking cute.  We walked over to the dry land portion of the enclosure, and suddenly one penguin took an interest in us.  Then he was joined by two others, and the original one was totally digging me.
Never had a staring contest with a penguin, but this one was totally game!
And I don't think it gets any better than these penguins...

The picture of the day was actually taken by Craig.  They had this photo op tiger, and Carter wouldn't go on it without me, so I had to be in the picture.  I didn't realize until after Craig took the picture that Jacob was pulling on the tiger's tail.  Awesome!

When we got to the wolves, we hoped Carter would like them because he loves dogs right now.  He did get a kick out of them, and apparently Jacob liked them enough to base his souvenir choice on them. 
Really pretty!  After this picture he walked over to another one and they both took a snooze in the sun.
They had this strange breed of deer.  They were huge, and there were two that liked the mud pit directly below us!  There was another one sitting in a different spot that had a giant antler.  I swear it was a good three feet high!  His other antler was broken off at less than a foot.  He looked like he had a tree branch growing out of his head.

They also had Asian elephants, and the trainers had this one walking back and forth across the enclosure for food.  So cool.  Carter liked him, especially when I reminded him of my elephant sound!

Here is Jacob with an elephant skull...

And here he is "milking a cow" in the farm section.  Craig has a hidden talent, by the way :)

It had been a hot morning and we were all ready for a break by the time we finished at the zoo.  Unfortunately, we couldn't eat there so we had to find somewhere else...only the kids fell asleep almost instantly in the car.  We ended up picking up some Arby's while the kids slept and eventually found a spot to eat it until the naps were sufficiently long enough.  Next on our agenda: the Syracuse University campus!

Craig went to SU for his master's degree, so it holds a special place in his heart, despite the fact that those years were pretty tough for him.  We've been to the campus before for lacrosse games, but we hadn't really had a chance to wander around.  We parked on Marshall Street just off the main part of the campus and found a spot for the boys to eat their lunches.  We walked back down Marshall St. and stopped in a couple SU apparel stores.  One store was buy one get one free on most stuff, so when Jacob got a pair of lacrosse shorts, I got a free long sleeved t-shirt, my first SU apparel!

The first building we saw was Newhouse, the Communications school that Craig graduated from.  He spent a lot of time in the brown building in the back, but the fancy modern part in the front is newer.

The architecture on the campus is really interesting.  Lots of different eras and styles, presumably from lots of different benefactors.  Here's a sampling...


In the one courtyard, there was a statue that I recognized right away.  There is a picture of Craig and his brother (I believe from Craig's graduation day) where Craig is next to it, Brad is up on Abraham Lincoln, and some random Chinese kid is sitting on the opposite side.  It's just a funny picture and I remember it sitting on Craig's desk for years.  The guys posed for their own version...

We were all pretty hot by this point, so we wandered back over to Marshall St. in search of some sort of slushie.  There were yogurt places and a cookie shop, but nothing that seemed safe for Jacob or appealing for what we really wanted.  We walked up to Starbucks at the far end of the view below, just to see if they had anything, but then gave up and headed back to the car. 
We made our way back to the hotel, and had an accidental, fortunate detour that dropped us off at a Taco Bell during their drink happy three slushies later (Dr Pepper Vanilla for the boys, Mountain Dew Baja Blast for me), we were back at our hotel to cool off and get ready for that night's baseball game.  We also had to figure out our dinner plans, which we were hoping would include my college roommate Mary.  We had to work around Jacob's issues, her work schedule, and trying to get to the stadium easily, but we finally worked out a plan--Jacob ate a peanut butter sandwich at the hotel (he was OK with it, I swear), and the rest of us ate at Quizno's, where he could also snack on some chips while we ate.  It actually turned out pretty good and it was great to see Mary.  She's so fun to hang out with, and it's so awesome to have a friend like her, where no matter how much time passes, we're still fine (I'm actually blessed to have two--my oldest friend Heather is the other, and I desperately owe her an email!!).  And...I get to see Mary again in a month!  For an entire 24 hours!  Without kids!  For a concert!  That is the only redeeming quality of September at this point, actually.
So...after dinner we headed off to the Syracuse Chiefs game.  And it was right about then that things went downhill a bit.  We'd had a good, productive day without any major issues...but that was about to change...

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