A Walk on The Wild Side

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something to do outside before the snow hit. Just about an hour away from campus is the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. A friend and I decided to jump in the car and take the trip. I’ve seen a few zoos in my life, but this, by far was the best. It was a perfect fall day filled with exotic animals and great times.

On the top of my priority list was to see the Asian Elephants. We started at the back of the zoo and made our way to the front. There were four large adult elephants and newborn baby elephant fresh to the zoo family last March. Unfortunately, when I was there the baby was being held indoors because he was sick. It was amazing how close we were able to get to see them running round and playing. Just as we were about to move on to another exhibit, five zoo workers dropped a dozen bails of hay into the elephants’ play area. All of the elephants ran to the hay and began to eat their lunch. It was an amazing site to see them use their trunks like hands to bring the hay up to their mouths!elephants

Then we moved our way to see the Snow Leopard. Half of the exhibit was incased in glass and the other half was open but protected by netting. Within the leopard’s habitat there were trees and logs everywhere where it would climb and jump on. The Snow Leopard was not the friendliest animal, once it saw us it ran to the highest tree and glared at us from above.cat

On our way out, we stopped to see the bird unit. There was a pond filled with ducks, swans, and other birds. As we crossed a small storybook-looking bridge, there was a gathering of bright pink flamingos. Standing on one leg and bending their long necks down to drink the water, I was amazed by them.flamingo

In a small green house-like structure there was a display of rainforest birds. We were able to walk through this display and be up close and personal – there were literally no barriers between us and the birds. They were free to fly right by us! Needless to say, I used my zoo map as a hat to protect my head just in case!bird

This was definitely a trip I would recommend taking. It took us about 2 hours to do the entire zoo and each exhibit was better then the last – especially the gift store!

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Being an RA is really, really fun sometimes.

They told me I was crazy.

When I mentioned to friends and coworkers what I was planning on doing, they called me a looney. Told me it was madness. I must be ill!

What exactly did I do, you ask?
I, voluntarily, took 16 18-year-olds on a six-hour trip to the mall. And it was AWESOME.

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m an RA for a themed community for first-year students. Whereas the zoo trip went along with the ULive floor theme for biology majors, this trip was for my own community: UBalance. In UBalance, we focus on healthy living from head-to-toe.

So when my partner-in-crime and fellow UBalance RA Sam came to me with an idea to take our floors to Destiny USA for the ropes course, WonderWorks and shopping (in the name of mental health and learning, of course), I was all for it.

On Wednesday, we loaded up two 12-passenger vans and set out for Syracuse.

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Destiny USA is pretty overwhelming. It’s basically four thousand stories and has every store/restaurant you could ever need (except a Chipotle. I am still sad about this.)

But even the open-plan, enormous, fully Christmas-ified interior of the mall didn’t make me half as hysterical as this did:
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This is where the fun begins.

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WonderWorks is probably the coolest place I’ve ever been. I don’t want to ruin the surprises, but they have a lot of neat things like anti-gravity space machines, roller coaster simulators, a BUBBLE LAB and lots of other exhibits. But, in order to get to the WonderWorks exhibits, I had to conquer a few fears.

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If you’ve been to Destiny USA, you’ve no doubt noticed the 7-year-olds sprinting from obstacle to obstacle above your head while parents cling to support ropes and mutter obscenities. Kidding. Kinda. If you’ve never been, you’re walking across various rope and beam obstacle while suspended over anywhere between 1-3 floors of the mall, depending on the part of the course.

We were all very excited. Especially these two.
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This is George and Kelsey showing off their “very-excited”/”we-are-totally-not-about-to-die” faces.

It was a lot of fun! You never actually unclip from the beam your harness is attached to like with some ropes courses, so after exploring for a bit, everyone gets daring. I did a few obstacles with no hands!

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Picture included because this girl looks eerily just like me. But it’s not me. But it could be. So that’s weird. 
Also, pro tip: Don’t wear converse when attempting the course. I almost slipped to my doom a few times.

Everyone pretty much had free reign, which is part of the reason I thought this trip went so well! You could spend a little time on the ropes course, browse WonderWorks, eat, shop–whatever!

Or, you could do what me and Cody did, which was get froyo and then scour the mall to find his face. Success.
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He is so cool.

Overall, it was a great trip! Living on campus can have drawbacks (I still miss/talk to my mom basically everyday), but I’ve been able to do a lot of awesome things that I never would’ve been able to do otherwise! Exploring the area has expanded my knowledge on a lot of things, too! Like, for instance, I now think ropes courses should be mandatory in all malls. All of them. It is our RIGHT. Well, not really, but I want it.

The great thing about this trip was that everyone that attended is part of the UBalance community. In a themed community, you have the opportunity to do things you’re really, truly interested in with people you connect with outside of the fact you attend the same school. It’s like forcing people to be your friend!!! Except significantly more successful than when I try to do it.

Living at UC, you’re really close to a lot of great places. It would be a shame to never see them, right?

Ok, it’s your turn!
Are you a fan of ropes courses? If you’ve never tried one, would you?
Have you ever visited WonderWorks before?
Do you like Cody’s glamour shot on that banner?!? Because I do.

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