Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Clare and Liz at the Holy Half

As Clare gets older, we have an increasing number of ways to celebrate her birthday. This year, I managed to incorporate a personal goal - running the Holy Half Marathon at Notre Dame - into her celebration. When I asked if she'd like to accompany me for the weekend, just us, she jumped at the opportunity. Since she hadn't been to campus since she was about 18 months old, I was really looking forward to seeing ND from her fresh perspective. The weekend did not disappoint! In fact, I think she was more enamored of the school than I imagined. Given that it was bitterly cold for late March (highs in the high 20s and low 30s), it's clear that the place has a magical touch!

We flew into Chicago and drove through the city, just to give her a quick look at our former hometown. I was eager to get to campus and pick up my race packet, etc., though I did wonder if perhaps I was allotting too much time for exploring the grounds. I need not have worried.
After checking out the dome, library, etc., we managed to get inside Walsh and passed the hallowed threshold of 329. Doesn't appear to have changed! (Yes, we visited Stanford Hall as well, but did not attempt to get inside. Brainwashing is best served early.)
Clare was eager to check out college classrooms, so I took her through O'Shag and then Debartolo (above). I think we better get more serious about our college savings plan...

After dinner at South Dining Hall (of course) and a visit to the grotto, we headed back to the hotel and crashed. We both really enjoyed the Inn at Saint Mary's - Clare in particular thought it was fabulous, and especially enjoyed the tea and coffee station in the lobby. I love how appreciative she is of some of the simpler pleasures in life!
The next morning dawned cold, as in about 12 degrees when we headed back to campus. I dropped Clare off at LaFortune, armed with her headphones, phone, book and cash for Starbucks. I wasn't sure how long she would stay entertained there, but not much I could do about it. Once again, I need not have worried: She loved the student center, such that we returned a few more times over the weekend! Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed the race, and it didn't feel like it had been 18+ years since I had last run around those lakes.
After a much-needed shower, we returned to campus for more touring and a second meal at SDH, where Clare discovered the wonders of Yocream. If she hadn't already been smitten with college life, this would have sealed the deal.
From here we headed to explore the sports areas of campus, and it surprised me how interested Clare was in all of these. We saw the very impressive new ice arena, then made our way to the basketball/volleyball/swimming complex. To our surprise and delight, we made our way onto the hallowed basketball court, all the more exciting since the men's team was playing their Elite Eight game that very night (though in Cleveland, not at home).
We then stumbled upon the pool and what turned out to be a women's water polo tournament, which afforded us some entertainment (and me a chance to sit for a while!). For Clare, it was ultimately a tie between this structure and LaFortune for favorite part of ND.
Eventually, it was time for 5 p.m. mass at the Basilica, which was lovely. Another visit to the grotto, and then it was finally time to make our picks at the bookstore. It was a daunting task, but we came away with solid selections for the whole family. We also came away very hungry. We wound up at Legends, the restaurant/night club that has overtaken what was known to the Class of 1996 as Senior Bar. For our purposes, it was perfect, as we got a delicious meal and even caught the beginning of the basketball game surrounded by fellow fans. Eventually, though, my bed was calling my name, so we made our way back to the hotel - but stayed awake for every minute of that riveting, ultimately heartbreaking game.

The next morning we had enough time to get bagels and coffee and enjoy them  - where else? - at LaFortune! Then it was time to say good-bye to ND and head back to Chicago, where we drove by our old condo and I found it very difficult to imagine living there anymore!

I don't think Clare has a hard time imaging being a college student, which I know will happen before we know it. May every campus visit we make be half as pleasant as this one!

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