Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weekend at Notre Dame, Part 1

We had an awesome weekend at Notre Dame! It's roughly a 12 hour drive to get there from where we live, so we left early afternoon on Thursday to make most of the trip that night. After an overnight stop in Ohio, we got into South Bend around noon and headed for Shaun's (step-)grandmother's house. We had lunch and spent a bit of time with her, and then went to campus for Friday afternoon festivities. After a quick walk around campus and trip to the bookstore, we met up with some drummer alumni to watch the current drumline warm up and march out with the band to their afternoon practice.

From there, we followed the band to the pep rally. They usually take place inside the basketball arena, but there's construction work being done on it right now, so this rally was out on the quad. Different, but still fun - and the beautiful weather helped. Above is a picture Shaun took of the team up on stage.

We grabbed dinner at Steak 'n Shake...classy, I know. But we don't have them in CT, and we always used to go there during school for a cheap meal off campus, so it's just kind of our thing. Plus the cheese fries are SO GOOD.

We came back to campus after dark and visited one of our favorite places, the Grotto (bit of info at the bottom of that linked page if you're interested). It's gorgeous, peaceful, and situated right across from one of the campus lakes - and we actually saw a couple get engaged nearby that night! It's a popular place for alums (and the occasional students) to get engaged, but I've never actually witnessed it before, so that was fun and very sweet.

We continued the rest of our evening as if we were undergrads...we'd seen a stage and a sign on the quad earlier for a free comedy show featuring Maria Bamford and Judah Friedlander, so we sat and watched in our ND hoodies, trying to blend in as best we could with the crowd of mostly freshmen. (If nothing else we could pass for grad students, right?) Anyway, I'd never heard of Maria and I'd only seen Judah as his character on 30 Rock - but they were both hilarious.

After the show ended, we rushed over to the Dome and Midnight Drummers' Circle. For those unfamiliar, every Friday night before a home football game, the drumline of the Notre Dame marching band plays their cheers and cadences for about half an hour, in the middle of campus, to help get the students and fans hyped up for the game. In the four years I was at ND, it went from an occasional gathering that would often get broken up by campus security to an official, sanctioned event occurring on every football weekend. It's kinda cool the tradition we left behind!

I don't have any pictures because we didn't get a great spot, and it was of course dark, but apparently the local news was on top of it - you can see a brief video clip here! (click the link in the middle of that page) It's crazy to see how Drummers' Circle has grown - when I was in the drumline, we didn't have a screen set up so people in the back could see, and we certainly didn't have flaming cymbals! And we had to walk uphill both ways in bare feet to get there! (Not really, but I know I'm sounding like a crotchety old alum!)

This is getting long already, so I think I'll break it up into two posts. Next up: game day!

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