Monday, June 30, 2008

A Visit to Notre Dame University, an Unexpected Adventure and Dinner

I had signed up for the ladies' tour on Saturday and eagerly anticipated touring part of the Notre Dame University campus before having lunch and then touring the Oliver Mansion. Well, that is how it was supposed to go...
But first: Notre Dame. Can you believe that the university doesn't spend one dime on erecting buildings? No, it seems that grateful and generous benefactors pay for that privilege, with the caveat that the building be named after them. What a deal.

We arrive.

I must say that I like this Gothic inspired architecture.

This is Rockne Memorial. Named for Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame University football coach, this is now a recreational facility for the university.

This is one of the older buildings on campus. The bricks were made from mud that was recovered from one of the two lakes on campus.

Unlike commercially made bricks, these are smooth and do indeed look like dried mud.

The main spire of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is undergoing structural work to ensure it endures the years and the weather.

This log cabin is a replica of the original building on campus that was built after the university was founded in 1842. The original structure burned to the ground in 1879.

The Grotto. Shh, Mass will be starting soon.

The Grotto and the lit votive candles.

The statue of Chaplain William Corby.

And his story.

And now we have entered the Basilica. I apologize for the poor quality of some of these photos, but it can be difficult to take good pictures when traveling in a large group of people.

The baptismal font has been moved to the entrance of the Basilica.

The ceiling over the Altar of Sacrifice.

The Original Altar/Tabernacle.

The painted, domed ceiling at the rear of the Basilica.

Beneath it is the Baroque Altar.

The Reliquary Chapel.

"The famed Ivan Metrovic Pieta (1942) made of Carara marble, first shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was then loaned to Notre Dame by the former Croatian artist-in-residence. A replica of this Pieta is in the Vatican Art Museum.*

*Taken directly from Notre Dame's brochure for the Basilica.

The gilded dome on top of the Admissions (or Main) Building. The statue on top is 19 feet tall. We were informed that this is all re-gilded every 25 years.

The tile mosaic on the main floor underneath the rotunda.

Looking up three stories to the mural on the domed ceiling.

Statue in the gardens.

The World of Life mural, better know as "Touchdown Jesus", faces the football stadium. My husband informed me that I had to take this picture for our daughter.

Here you go, Kelley. The football stadium.

And another view of the stadium.

After we left Notre Dame, we boarded the bus and went off to lunch. We ended up at the same restaurant that my husband and I ate at Thursday evening. Some of the ladies wanted to go down to the shops in the building after lunch and I realized that my friend had left her jacket, and I went down to give it to her. So I naturally had to blame her when I found a black pearl necklace that I liked and had to buy. And then she found something she liked, so I waited with her while she purchased it.

Now, do you remember from an earlier post that I said there was a funny story with these shops? Well, while I waited for her, the bus left without us. They deserted us! Actually, they left behind three of us. Now, here I am going to blame this on the fact that they let a man run the tour. A woman would never have left her fellow shoppers behind. Pfft! Fortunately, as these things go, this was not all that bad, as we were just across the river from our hotel. And as we started off on foot to the hotel, both of our husbands called to tell us that they had each left their keys in our rooms. So, the dutiful wives that we are, we each retrieved our husbands' keys and got them to them before following our group to the next destination.

After a fair bit of trials and tribulations we did indeed meet up with our group as they toured Copshaholm, or the Oliver Mansion and tried to enjoy what was left of the tour. Perhaps it was the fact that we missed part of the tour, or some other factor, but I just didn't enjoy this leg of the tour as much as I had hoped to. Or perhaps the tour of Notre Dame simply refused to be eclipsed? But at any rate, I know that I made a new friend that day. Hi, Sally!

Having recovered from our misadventures of the afternoon, we headed across the skywalk to the convention center and our formal dinner. Can I tell you how much I love having a formal gown that I can literally wad into a ball and pack and then wear? Why don't they make all clothing like this? Er, anyway, this is the decorative waterway that was once the West Race.

Yet another view.

And, finally I bid you adieu from South Bend with a night time view from our hotel room.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Friday to Myself in South Bend

Now given that I don't work and my youngest child is 19 years old, you might think that I live a life of leisure. Not so, mon ami. Even while I am at home alone with my dear cat, I am constantly aware that in just a few minutes I must spring into action and cook, clean, attack, whatever. Did I mention that my dear daughter is 19? And I still cook, clean, attack, whatever? What is wrong with this picture?

Er, anyway... so I warned (or threatened, whatever) my husband to not 'volunteer' me for anything on Friday for the Scottish Rite Council of Deliberation as I had plans. Never mind that at the very last minute I voluntarily backed out of my plans due to the realities of the abysmal parking situation at the hotel and the very iffy weather situation (is that even a real term?). Safe at home in Bloomington, In, I had envisioned traveling to the Ella Morris and Muessel-Ellison Botanical Conservatories and Potawatomi Greenhouse. Now, that's a mouth-full. However, plans change and I pride myself on being able to go with the flow. So, I decided to take advantage of the break in the weather and explore the area around the hotel on foot. And I certainly could use the exercise. But you didn't hear that from me.

Hmph, now, this is not what I had in mind...

Only a mother's love could prompt a non-football lover to venture into such dangerous and uncharted territory.

Well, maybe I can cheat a bit. After all, I have no desire to pay $12! to tour a museum that explores a subject about which I have no interest whatsoever. So, I'll just slink about a bit and take pictures, and spend some money in the gift shop for said dear daughter. Perhaps that will be enough?

Okay, here's a pic.

And another.

Okay, now this is more my style. As I leisurely wandered around the area around our hotel I happened upon this park that is just across the street from the hotel. As it turns out, on Fridays from 11:30 t0 1:30 the Morris Center sponsors a free concert by the fountain. I just happened to arrive right after the start and as there were a few food vendors on site, I purchased my lunch and found a free bit of a planting ledge and settled in. What fun.

The marque informs us that today's musical offering is the Jason Sapen Band. I would assume that they are a local band. I will say that despite the lead singer's rather humorous confusion as to the actual time of day, they were good. Good enough that I spent an hour out in the hot sunlight to listen to them and watch the people around me.

And this young lady seems to be an avid fan. This adorable little girl started dancing as soon as her mother let her out of the stroller.

Just a few minutes after I took this picture, an older lady came up to me and tutted over the teenagers who were strolling through the fountain, complaining that they were too old to do such a thing and the next thing you'd know, the adults would be following suit. I smiled and told her, "too late."

I sat and watched the crowds gather. There were babies in strollers, young families, teenagers, senior citizens, blue collar workers, medical professionals, tourists (like me) and white collar professionals. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I love life moments like this. Life is good.

I wish our town had this sort of thing.

Walking off the Calories in South Bend
A delightful dinner is behind us and an even more delightful evening is before us, so my husband and I decided to wander a bit before heading back to the hotel.

The orange barrier marks the beginning of the East Race on the St. Joseph river. This is a man-made channel of the St. Joseph River that was supposed to provide hydro-power for factories in years past. I understand that the East Race was re-worked in recent years and now serves as an Olympic training waterway for kayaking. Another benefit is that people can raft down the obstacle-filled waterway for a fee on certain days of the week.

Looking downstream of the East Race.

An island was created when the East Raceway was dug. Today, a public park occupies that island. Fortunately for us, instructional plaques stand ready to educate us.

The West Race was somewhat less than successful, but today serves as a backdrop for the convention center.

The East Race is still quite useful.

Salmon in Indiana? Who knew? Well, I didn't, so be quiet.

So, how do the salmon and trout know to go through this maze? Are there fish instructions somewhere? Did someone sit down and explain the procedure to the fishies? And by the way, trout and salmon are closely related in the fish world.

My husband insisted that I get a picture of Corby's Irish Pub, as scenes from the movie Rudy were filmed here. As he was thinking of my dear daughter's happiness, I gladly obliged him.

We found another island. To the right of the picture is what is left of the West Race.

The sculpture in the bend of the dams is "Keepers of the Fire" by Mark di Suvero.

I just love the play of the water as it joyfully makes its way over the dam.

Whew! After a nice hour's walk up and down the races and the river for a few blocks on either side, I think I can forgive myself for eating such a lovely dinner. I really must thank my husband for taking this time to walk around town with me. Uh, maybe later. Sh, go away now...

Dinner in South Bend

After arriving in South Bend mid-afternoon on Thursday, we settled into our hotel room and then went off to dinner together. This would be the only chance to eat dinner together - and alone, if you catch my drift - all weekend. Prior to arriving, I had done an internet search of nearby restaurants and had settled on The Emporium. One of the perks was that it was within easy walking distance of the the hotel.

And this is our hotel, our home-away-from-home for the weekend. Besides our rather large group (we need about 300 rooms), the hotel also hosted eight different wedding groups this same weekend. It was so bad that you couldn't turn around without running into a wedding somewhere in town.

My dear daughter requested pictures of our room. I quickly decided that I don't like overly soft beds. After the first morning, I also gave up on making the bed, as the maid re-made the bed. Fine, if she wants to go through the extra trouble. I was trying to be nice. But the view was great as you can see from my last post.

I am not a fan of small bathrooms, though. This makes even my bathroom at home look spacious.

As we walked across the Jefferson Street Bridge that crosses the St. Joseph River, we can look downriver at the dam.

And there is our destination. Even better yet, once we got there, I found that they had some nice little specialty shops. No time to shop tonight, but I later returned. A funny story that...

I asked for a table that had a nice river view. The hostess led us up to the upper level.

This is the view from my seat.

And the view without the blinds in the way.

In my enthusiasm for dinner, I forgot to take pictures. Instead I will tell you what we had. As we had no particular schedule to follow, we decided to take our time with our dinner. Too bad that despite several gentle reminders to our waiter, he kept trying to rush us. Geez, they weren't even remotely busy. I will charitably think that he was simply being overzealous in his desire to provide us with good service.

Anyway, on to the food. We started with Skinny Dippers (loaded potato skins with sour cream). This is not necessarily a good-for-you-dish, but it is good. We felt like indulging ourselves this night.

Then, I ordered The Saloon (a marinated top sirloin) with a salad and a side of wild rice. My husband ordered the Tilapia Oscar (tilapia topped with Alaskan King Crab, asparagus spears and a bearnaise sauce) with a baked potato and a salad. Freshly baked rolls accompanied our dishes.

Both of our meals were very good, though I would have wished for just a bit more sauce with my steak. In the end, we both left food on our plates, but only because the portions were so generous. We did not even contemplate having any desert, but instead set off to walk along the river and the raceways in order to work off all those yummy calories. Again, more on this later.

And a special bonus just for my dear friend, Rosie Hawthorne....

Yet another funny sign.

"Door is Alarmed"?!! Who or what scared it?

This sign was just inside a door to our hotel.