Tuesday, September 7, 2010

revisiting my childhood stomping grounds: upstate new york

Saturday we went shopping at the giant famous outlet place in Waterloo, New York (not to be confused with my Canadian birthplace of the same name). I don't know how my family knows about these things; I guess Asians know how to sniff out a bargain. It was huge, and at 11AM the gigantic parking lots were full, absolutely full. Everyone came out. Even the Amish came out. I saw a couple of Amish ladies pop into the lingerie store. Bras have snaps, not zippers. Lots of shopping to be had.

In the evening we headed out to the New York State Fair which was a crazy experience - one of the biggest fairs my parents had ever been to. When we lived in New York, we used to go to the Ulster County Fair every year and I guess that's what my parents expected but the place turned out to be huge - basically everyone had driven there from everywhere in the state. there was a lot of awesomeness. sheep. sheep wearing bathing suits. llamas. cows. butter sculptures made from the milk of the cows. rainbows.

my parents wanted to go to the International Tent (or rather, Barn), and i suspected it wasn't out of multicultural curiosity, but rather because they hadn't eaten any Asian food for nearly forty-eight hours and were probably dying inside. can't say we were totally impressed by the international choices though; we had German, Italian, Mexican, and Tim Horton's (Canadian!). we did try some American beer (it was not that good).

Sunday morning we went to downtown Syracuse, solely for the purpose of getting my dad a Starbucks. we actually saw more Tim Hortons in upstate New York than Starbucks. it was weird. Downtown was really nice. much larger and happening than i expected for a city only a bit larger than St John's, Newfoundland. I put it on my list of "Places I should try visiting for a weekend to go drinking".

Dad says seriously what's with the lack of Starbucks

You can't visit Syracuse with a shopaholic family without hitting up the Carousel Center. I have fond memories of this mall, even if no one else in my family remembers shopping here. I was sixteeen. There was an Old Navy. There were 50 cent bikinis. It was instant love. These were the times before Ottawa got its first Old Navy, you see. And Ottawa still doesn't have a Forever 21, or H&M or Victoria's Secret.

i vaguely remember the carousel. but i definitely remembered the fifty cent bikinis.

My parents made attempt #2 to have asian food at the food court. They decided to go for Chinese. We went for Japanese. Turns out the food came out the same.

some days, you take what you can get

afterwards we drove up to Alexandria Bay, which is so close to Canada that you get reception from Rogers. AND THEN WE WENT ON A BOAT.

That boathouse...is not doing so well.

it was a pretty good way to spend a Sunday afternoon, cruising through the many islands on the St. Lawrence. it would have been even better if there had been a working toilet on the boat (too much watery American beer)

we went to the castle on Boldt Island. I usually have a lot of cynicism for North American castles (ooh, Casa Loma is ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS OLD) because historically they are nothing compared to some of the European castles i've seen. but this one was pretty cool, mainly because it was unfinished. Go find out the story sometime. it's kind of neat. People find it romantic. Me, it definitely made me feel like I should try to go and make friends with some rich people so they could invite me to their castles in the summer.


and unfinished

after a sweet dinner at a diner-pubby kind of place that America is great for, that we drove back up to Ottawa, where I realized that I had eaten nothing but junk food all weekend. Good old American fried junk food. McDonalds' burgers, pizza, beef stroganoff, ships, fish and chips. my body is still struggling to recover.

eating a sausage breakfast wrap from Dunkin Donuts

Saturday, September 4, 2010

in small town USA, feeling like a Bruce Springsteen song

We've been staying at a roadside inn off the highway on the outskirts of the tiny town Galeville, New York. I'm not sure why we chose this particular spot on the map, but it suits my taste for adventure and love of small towns. Plus when you work your 12 hour days, you're just glad to get out of the office to travel anywhere.

What I've always appreciated about the United States is that there are little towns like this all over the country, like the ones I grew up in, in Upstate New York. When you drive through enough of them, the names of places start to melt together...Watertown...Waterloo...or they start sounding familiar in a way they shouldn't be...Mexico...Liverpool...

It's the minor cultural differences that amuse me whenever I visit the states. The pharmacies open 24 hours, selling beer. All the toll charges. Really bad infomercials. No French. Things sponsored by Senators (like Canadian Senators would ever sponsor anything).

I've always marveled at the way you could only be a couple of hours from home and be in another country where things look like they should be familiar (there's actually a Tim Hortons here) but just aren't. I love subs, for example, but I've never heard of Blimpie's. Or to add to the confusion, realizing all the things are not big in Canada, like Twinkies, Yoplait, or Friendly's Restaurant, but because I grew up with them in New York, I didn't quite realize I was missing out with them in Canada.

More driving today. Today's destination is going to have some sweet outlets

Friday, September 3, 2010

labour day weekend

you haven't heard from me in a while because i've been working. a lot. but it's illegal to work on Labour Day (i work at the courts, i can say so) so i'm looking forward to some time off doing some traveling. This weekend we're getting into the car and driving to some American cities I've never heard of. I've been told what cities they were; I just don't remember. It doesn't matter to me. long weekend adventures!

stay posted.