Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hello Touchdown Jesus

This past weekend Michael and I took a quick trip to South Bend, Indiana to see the USC vs. Notre Dame football game.

We took an 18 hour Amtrak ride to get to South Bend. Between drinks from the Club Car and meals in the dining room, the hours on the train flew by quickly. We met some interesting people, in fact I now have a contact to get wholesale cashmere sweaters in NYC!

We arrived in South Bend about 4 hours before kick-off.

The weather was amazing, it was a warm sunny day with no clouds in the sky. It was so warm I wore my USC flip-flops.

Michael's friend Bill picked us up from the train station, secured us tickets and started us sightseeing the campus.

First stop, the Visitor's Center - it had an awesome display of ND themed carved pumpkins (and a women's restroom with no line!)

From the Visitor's Center we headed to the Main Building, it is topped by a glimmering golden dome. The Dome is covered in 1,250 thin strips of 23 karat gold. The statue at the top of the Dome represents Mary, Mother of God. The Dome has been gilded 5 times in the past 120 years. It was last regilded in 2005 at a cost of $300,000 (which seems pretty reasonable to me - it's a lot of gold up there).

After the Main Building we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The football team attends Mass here before every home game.

The inside of the Basilica has amazing murals and stained glass. During the last restoration of the Basilica, every pane of stained glass was removed, hand-cleaned and re-leaded in Wisconsin and then replaced in the church.

From here we walked the grounds and found this great photo spot at the edge of St. Mary's Lake.

Supposedly the geese are trained to attack any one wearing cardinal - I am happy to report we had no unfortunate geese incidents this trip.

The Notre Dame campus is a very large 1,250 acres with two lakes and more than 130 buildings. The parts of campus we toured were absolutely beautiful and the people were so friendly.

On our way to the stadium, we walked right by 'Touchdown Jesus'. The official name of the mural is the 'Word of Life Mosaic'. It is comprised of more than 7,000 individual pieces of stone gathered from 16 countries and several states. As an indication of the mural's proportions, the head of Jesus is 9 feet high.

We could easily see 'Touchdown Jesus' from our seats.

And lucky for Michael, we also had a great view of the USC Song Girl's reunion from our seats- all of these cute girls were sitting right in front of us during the game.

The full USC band travels to the ND game, it was great to see them take the field before the game and during half-time. (They are spelling out 'USC' in the photo below.)

The Notre Dame band put on quite a half-time show. They performed a mustical tribute to the movie 'Top Gun'. At the end of the show they band formation looked like a fighter jet and they marched in unison down the field to make it look like the jet was flying - they even had people blowing smoke out the back.

And for the grand finale, they quickly changed formation and most of the band was in the shape of an aircraft carrier and a small unit formed a smaller fighter jet. The jet moved and 'landed' on the aircraft carrier! Well done ND band, well done. (In the picture below the fighter jet is on the right side and you can make out the windsock on the aircraft carrier in the just about the center of the photo.)

And the best part of the day - the final game score: USC 38, Notre Dame 0!

*All campus facts pulled from the University of Notre Dame Visitor's Guide.
**Photo credits shared by KO and MW (and if you're wondering, he took all of the good shots).