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While her loyal sons are marching,
Onward to victory!
As I wrote earlier, we just returned from our first trip to the University of Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish, the greatest and most stories college football program. I have been a fan of the Fighting Irish since I was a young lad, but I have never had the opportunity to even visit the campus, let alone see the football team play in person, anywhere. Thanks to a generous Christmas gift from Vayapaso, that changed this weekend ... but not until we had to drive eleven hours to get out there.
We originally planned to fly, but that plan didn't work out. Since it was only 500 miles (499.7, according to Mapquest), I thought we could drive it in about eight hours. That plan held up really nicely -- up to the outskirts of Chicago, on Friday about 2 in the afternoon. By the time we made it across the Chicago Skyway, it was three hours later, which shot my schedule all to hell.
I rolled into South Bend in the early evening, and checked into the Econo Lodge, the only place in town I could find a room four weeks ago when I started looking for reservations. I didn't expect much, and it still managed to fall below my expectations. The staff was very nice, but the place was a dump, simply put. At least it was clean, but it lacked the one thing I really wanted -- an internet connection.
However, that's all the bad news. South Bend itself was delightful, if a bit confusing to drive around in. It's an older college town, but the downtown area has been largely renovated and is a very attractive blend of old-fashioned small town and modern small city. My uncle, who is also my godfather, met us on Friday night as he traveled to South Bend and Elkhart on business. We had a great dinner at the Steak and Ale with his friend Tom, and breakfast this morning with him before we left.
On Saturday, we spent the entire day at Notre Dame. We decided to get down to the campus right after breakfast (at Le Peep) and get a few pictures. Okay ... a few dozen. We made sure we saw all the normal highlights, like this one of "Touchdown Jesus", which faces the stadium. Before the recent stadium renovation, you could see this mural out the north
goal zone, but the expansion blocks it. Of course we saw the Golden Dome, which pictures don't really do justice. We also went through the Basilica, even though we later missed the Mass that Notre Dame traditionally holds after the game. You can't see it in this
picture, but the Basilica only holds a few hundred people, at best. That means that only the fastest 500 Catholics can make it to Mass, and unfortunately we don't even qualify in the top 10,000.
The game itself was terrific, a tough contest with Stanford. The Cardinal suffered its first loss in a close contest with USC the previous week, while Notre Dame lost their second in a blowout with Purdue. It looked like a tough game, and for the first half it was. Both defenses played scrappy football, but Notre Dame seemed to have more bend to it than Stanford. But in the second half, Notre Dame found its offense, while the defense only toughened up even more. The game went to the wire, but Notre Dame prevailed, 23-15. The visit would have been wonderful regardless of the outcome -- but the win made it even more so!
After spending a small fortune on souvenirs and another couple of hours walking the campus, we ate a quick dinner and returned, exhausted, to our five-star digs. We left early this morning, but both of us have sworn to return next season for another game. One of the best aspects of this trip, and one that we think made us want to come back as soon as possible, was all of the genuinely nice people we met in South Bend. If you can find that many people who went out of their way to help total strangers in one spot, you are fortunate indeed!
I'm exhausted, and after going over all my e-mail, I will have my work cut out for me tomorrow when I pick the blogging back up. Hopefully, I will be somewhat more coherent as well. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures!Sphere It View blog reactions
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