On August 27th, 2017, I sat on a bench seat, in a giant black and grey converted school bus, covering my face from exhaust fumes. Slowly, in front of us, drove a Subaru, and I wondered why its bumper sticker was spelled incorrectly.
“Ithaca is Gorges.”
I knew it to be a hippy town; maybe it was some inside joke, probably a witty play on words as I knew Ithaca to be centered around some higher idea of intellect. Those who I knew attending Cornell were always on a much greater plane of intelligence.
Though I’d travelled to NYC quite a bit, upstate NY was always the interstellar space of the United States.
Less dense, I reconed. Way less cosmopolitan. Cordial. The cradle of folk.
In Ithaca, we passed a house with a giant papier-mache animal, perched high on its porch. Raised above their roof by a pulley system, floated a giant papier-mache Dracula head.
There was a tacky motel next to the only Walmart, reminiscent of a much lower budget, alpine chalet, filled with aged granola types, and priced like a 5 star hotel in a wanna-be, major urban center.
And then there was Shortstop, a 50’s style car hop on the outside, a greasy, big city bodega inside, with a full staff on line to belt out hoagie after hoagie: the mascot of the Poconos.
I ordered a hoagie salad, with a pound of unseasoned seitan dumped on a head of iceburg lettuce.
It was terrible.
But it was the thought that counted.