The trip to South Bend from Boston has become one of the most lasting traditions at Boston College. When I was a junior, it was the first time we played Notre Dame at South Bend in three years, yet there was no question that people would be road tripping out. For my part, this was my first trip out to Indiana for the game. It was a fun experience, great to see the Notre Dame campus, and even better to see a little bit of America. That said, the next time I make it out to Notre Dame, I think I'll fly.
My group left Boston around 9PM Thursday and drove through the night to make it to Indiana by noon the next day. The drive across was fun. As a New Yorker, I saw parts of my home state I hadn't seen before. Perhaps most exciting was driving past all the other BC RVs on their way to South Bend. You'd be driving along 90 West in the middle of Pennsylvania, coming up on another RV and immediately knew who was in it and where they were going. As the RVs past each other there'd be fist pumps, waves, and thumbs up. It was a nice little bit of BC camaraderie on the way west. At each rest stop, too, would be about a half dozen RVs gassing up. It was fun to have that small bond with all the other BC people heading out to South Bend.
I saw a limited part of South Bend, but what I saw was nice enough. Notre Dame has a beautiful campus. The architecture is similar to BC's except all made of brick instead of stone. The campus is very spread out, which surprised me. It seemed like all of BC's campus could fit into one quad at Notre Dame. The Golden Dome dominates the area, much the way that Gasson dominates the area around BC. Notre Dame was beautiful, a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
The tailgating on Saturday was a blast. The RVs basically turned into Mods on wheels. It was great to experience real college football tailgating. Many BC alums complain about the BC gameday experience and with good cause. Notre Dame police patrolled the area, but I saw no incidences whatsoever; I can't say the same thing for BC. Additionally we pulled into the lot at around 10 giving us over five hours to tailgate, which meant that at 3:30 that afternoon, we were some of the last people to leave the tailgating area to head to the stadium. People had had their fill of tailgating and were ready to go to the game.
Notre Dame has a great stadium. You really can feel the history when you walk in. The experience in the stadium, though, felt a little gimmicky. They trotted out the band Chicago at half time and then announced that Jon Bon Jovi was there and was directing the band, or something like that. It seemed odd at best and the announcement about Bon Jovi sent inquisitive looks all around.
I only met a few Notre Dame fans, most were nice and polite, but not overly so, I'd put them somewhere between Clemson fans and Maryland fans. My group did end up sitting next to a handful of Notre Dame fans who, as it turned out, were from the same town in Ohio as Bobby Swigert. The result was by the end of the game, we had a bunch of 40 or 50-something men decked out in Notre Dame gear cheering for BC as hard as we were.
Not much went on after the game. Most people left immediately afterward. Some made their way to the Wal-Mart parking lot, but it seemed that most BC people slept for a little while and immediately hit the road. My group stayed and let the following morning around 8 getting back to Boston around 11:30. The trip to Notre Dame was a great one. The memories were great and I couldn't have asked for a better time. Overall, the experience was a good one. There were nice people, a good time, and what ended up being a pretty exciting game. I'm already looking forward to my next trip out to South Bend