With the start of classes came the end of the fun and games.  Mostly.  I still took the time to go to homecoming and went to AAIV’s fall retreat for the first time since freshman year.  And I also had to take the GRE, which was the most fun I’ve had since taking the SAT.  By which I mean, it wasn’t very fun at all (okay, fine, I admit it; the math was kind of fun).

I have to confess that I’ve never seen an entire homecoming game.  Freshman year, I didn’t go to homecoming at all.  Sophomore year, a friend and I sat through half the game while the sky cried at the awful portrayal of football being demonstrated at Schoellkopf.  Actually, we won that year, and we got to witness the start of Cornell’s comeback after going down early.  Junior year, a different friend and I sat through half the game while the sky cried at us and winter decided to start edging out pre-winter.  This year, I sat through half the game with a whole group of friends and then had to leave after halftime to go grocery shopping.  We were hanging in the game, but it turns out we lost on a last minute touchdown, which I didn’t see because I was busy buying broccoli and milk.  I have, however, seen the halftime show all three years.

Homecoming.  People in the stands, because it wasn't raining or freezing.

Homecoming. People in the stands, because it wasn’t raining or freezing.


Right after homecoming, I took the GRE.  I guess I thought I had studied enough in the previous week to go to homecoming?  (I hadn’t.)  I didn’t study a lot, but I did review more than I had for the SAT, which I showed up to take having skimmed through a single practice test the night before*.  What I found useful was doing practice problems from a review book just to get back in the habit of answering multiple choice questions and reading and pick up a couple tips.  Then, I did a couple tests from the GRE test program that you can download from their website.  When you launch the test, it looks exactly like it’ll appear on the computer screen at the testing center.  Anyway, it turned out okay this time.  I didn’t fail, and now my scores are valid for the next five years.

No cameras allowed in the testing center, so here's a picture from the arboretum.

No cameras allowed in the testing center, so here’s a picture from the arboretum.


In terms of classes, our capstone lab class was starting to get intense.  The first full week, we just had to go into lab for a safety orientation, which, while important, only took about twenty minutes.  The next couple weeks, we had quick labs that we only needed to write a 1-2 page memo about.  After that, we moved into a schedule of lab, prelab, lab reports, and sometimes additional memos just for the heck of it for the rest of the semester.  And that’s where my life went for the next two months.

*I had also taken the PLAN test twice by then so I wasn’t completely clueless.


Which one is not like the others?  1) Hiking at Six Mile Creek, 2) Blueberry picking, 3) Biking to the Lab of Ornithology, 4) Hiking at Buttermilk Falls, and 5) Studying for the GRE.

Obviously, the answer is 2) Blueberry picking, for not starting with an –ing word.  But actually, the story behind studying for the GRE at the end of the summer, right before classes, instead of at the beginning of summer, when I had lots of time at home, is that I had finally decided to apply for grad school.  Yeah, that happened.

But when I wasn’t trying to remember how to read and write, I managed to get in some final adventures of the summer.  My last hike with my summer roommate before she went home for a few weeks was at Six Mile Creek.  I’d forgotten, but I’d been there before with my hiking class.  We extended that hike in both directions, having to walk to get to the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, then going farther than I had in my hiking class.  (Ironically(?) more than a couple of my summer hikes were longer than I’d walked in my class that was supposed to be devoted to hiking.)  Most of the falls at Six Mile Creek are formed by dams, but it’s still nice.

Businessman's Lunch Falls, near the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve

Businessman’s Lunch Falls, near the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve


A couple weeks after that, I was looking for trouble to get into by myself another fun summer activity and decided to bike to and walk around the Lab of Ornithology.  It’s not a bad bike ride, just a lot of uphill, like so much of Ithaca.  I didn’t have a bad walk around either, though I can identify maybe a dozen birds.

Like this one.  Chinstrap penguin.

Like this one. Chinstrap penguin.


The blueberry picking occurred after my roommate for the year moved in and we decided that we should do something before I moved into Olin and she started having ten meetings a day.  The year before, we’d been peach picking with a bunch of other people, but this year we settled on blueberry picking with only one other person.  I discovered the difference between farm grown and wild blueberries, then got to eat lots of blueberries and bake blueberry pie.

What was truly the last adventure of the summer happened one or two days before classes started.  My (summer) roommate and I wanted to take our former suitemate for a hike because she hadn’t hiked at any of the state parks yet.  To remedy this egregious situation, we decided on Buttermilk Falls.  Because you can walk there from Walmart.  During the summer, a bus services the nearest state parks, but it had stopped running by the time classes rolled around.  The nearest bus stop/state park combination is Walmart and Buttermilk.  So that’s what we picked.  Let’s just say that our suitemate had quite the experience hiking with my roommate and me for the first time.

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park



Our only full month of summer.  Our only full month of ridiculous adventures, which this month included hiking, biking, hockey, a play, and klezmer music.

I found out that biking to my church was actually not too far, and proceeded to bike to church on and off for the rest of the summer.  It was nice to use my bike for transportation instead of just recreation.  Not having a car easily available for the summer meant my roommate and I did a lot of biking, as well as bus riding and walking.  Our latest record is just over 13 miles, which we hiked near the end of the month on the Cayuga Trail.  I take responsibility for coming up with the idea, but my roommate agreed to it.

We set out early on a Saturday morning because we weren’t sure how long it would take us to hike the 8.5 mile trail and get back to our apartment.  The first part of the trail winds through campus and the Plantations before continuing on its journey up Fall Creek.  We picked a horribly humid, hot, and mosquito-ridden day to hike, and I had a wonderful time.  If you’re looking for scenic vistas and thundering waterfalls, you’re not going to get them on the Cayuga Trail.  If you’re interested in a nice walk through forests next to a creek in the Finger Lakes region, hike the Cayuga Trail.

Bluffs along the Cayuga Trail

Bluffs along the Cayuga Trail

We had been at the Plantations (the Arboretum) earlier in the summer for Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, put on by the Ithaca Shakespeare Company.  Student tickets on a Thursday night were only five dollars.  (If I remember correctly, the only two activities my roommate and I paid for all summer, excepting a couple meals out, were the Museum of the Earth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)  I’ve read A Midsummer Night’s Dream before so I could follow the play.  It was fun and entertaining, and the only complaint I have is against the sound.  Having experience working sound as well as having spent over a decade in band, I can probably hear funny noises in the system and out of tune notes better than the average person, but this wasn’t even a fine tuning problem.  The system was just flat out not picking up the actors’ voices very well.  Not a deal breaker, but it was definitely distracting to the performance.

One of our other performances of the month was a (free) concert by the Klez Project at the Schwartz Center.  My roommate, friend, and I were in the, shall we say, younger portion of the audience.  I happen to enjoy klezmer music, but I can also sit through hour-long classical epics and country music, so judge my musical taste as you see fit.

Finally, hockey in summer?  Indeed.  For one weekend only, the pep band appeared at summer hockey games – an alumni game and a charity game.  It was disconcerting to leave Lynah in shorts when it was still bright, but we coped.  Because hockey.