Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mount Pleasant Estates

On a quiet winter day, we decided to drive out to the Augusta wine country about an hour outside of St. Louis. While enjoyable, I prefer visiting during the warmer months.

Mount Pleasant Estates

This is one of many buildings that makes up Mount Pleasant Estates which is the oldest winery in the Augusta area. Established in 1859 by two brothers from Germany, the rolling hills of the Missouri River Valley reminded them of home. They decided that it was a great place to begin their commercial wine business. In the early days, the grounds were filled with both grape and apple orchards.

When Prohibition was enacted in 1920, like the entire Missouri wine industry, Mount Pleasant was forced to close. All of their winemaking equipment was destroyed and the vineyards were set on fire.

Imagine this view in the spring when everything is green!

In 1966, the Dressel family purchased this picturesque property and decided to reopen the winery. Today, Mount Pleasant grows 12 different grape varieties across their 78 acres of land.

Like many of the local wineries, it makes a great wedding venue!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

After leaving the game, visiting touchdown Jesus, and a quick stop at the bookstore, we headed to the other side of campus to visit the church. I'm borrowing a photo from Google to show the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Golden Dome since it was dark by the time we made it over there.

 The famous Golden Dome sits atop the Main Building and is the centerpiece of Notre Dame's campus. When originally built, it was where students learned, ate meals, and resided. Now, it serves primarily as the headquarters for the Notre Dame administration. It was built in 1879 when the previous building was destroyed by fire. This is actually the third structure on this site.

Regilded in 2005, the Golden Dome was first added to the building in 1882. Impressively, the regilding processes uses only about a fist-full of gold leaf to cover the entire structure. Atop the Dome, you will find a 19-foot tall statue of Mary. With this adornment, the Main Building is 187 feet tall, making it the second tallest structure on campus after the church.

Next door to the Main Building sits the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Construction began on this magnificent, Gothic-inspired structure in 1870. It was later consecrated in 1888. The church itself forms a large, cross-shaped structure. 

A highlight of the church is its stained glass windows. Installed in 1873, these 44 windows give Notre Dame the largest collection of 19th century French stained glass in the world.

 In 1992, Pope John Paul II elevated the Church of the Sacred Heart to the status of Basilica.

The pictures don't truly show the beauty of this church.

Since 2002, Sunday masses from the Basilica have been broadcast nationwide. You can even find them on iTunes.

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

I was moved by how spiritual the Grotto felt. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is based on the famed French shrine where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette on 18 occasions in 1958. Notre Dame founder Father Edward Sorin reproduced the shrine at one-seventh the size at his new campus.

Made primarily with boulders from surrounding farms, there is a small piece of stone from the original French grotto located in the right-hand side of the shrine directly below the statue of Mary.

Aside from these three areas, the rest of the Notre Dame campus is pretty bland architecturally.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Notre Dame and Navy Band Videos

Here are a few videos from the game.

The Notre Dame band performing their half time show.

Notre Dame band performing the fight song.

Navy band performing their half time show.

Notre Dame Football

What's this? An actual blog post! Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are! With our move back home to Louisiana only eleven days away, I'm determined to catch up the blog before we leave.

Tony's second favorite football team has always been Notre Dame. I know. Try not to judge him too harshly. Overall, he's a great guy. You just have to let it go and not hold it against him. For this birthday last October, I surprised him with tickets to see Navy play Notre Dame in South Bend. This turned out to be a very busy sports weekend as we watched the Cardinals win the World Series in Game 7 on Friday night at our neighbor Mike's house, woke up very early to drive to South Bend on Saturday, and then returned home for the Saints vs. the Rams in the Edward Jones Dome at noon on Sunday.

It turned out to be a gorgeous day, but we hit torrential rains driving into the city of South Bend. Luckily, we missed a major hail storm by roughly 30 minutes. The car was only 2 months old at that point, so the possibility of hail had Tony stressing out!

Upon entering the stadium, Tony wanted to check out the snack selection. His first pick was this order of bbq nachos.

Prior to the game, we walked through the tailgating area. I was looking forward to this part of the day as we had always heard how great the tailgating scene was at Notre Dame. Living in SEC country, we are clearly spoiled. This was the most boring tailgating I've ever seen. Even Tony was highly disappointed with the atmosphere.

Notre Dame takes the field.

Navy takes the field.

We were talking to the guy next to us and he mentioned that Navy was the only opponent that he doesn't boo. He said that he just couldn't bring himself to boo a team that ran out with the American flag. There's a lot of truth to that! You really can't boo a service academy team.

We had great seats in the lower bowl area.

The stadium was much smaller than I was expecting. Tiniest, most uncomfortable seating that I've ever experienced at a sporting event.

The stadium is in the flight path for the South Bend airport. Throughout the game, we had planes flying overhead.

Tony demonstrating the size of the seats.

We ended up leaving the game with a few minutes left in the 4th quarter. Even inside the stadium, the atmosphere was very subdued. Not at all what we are used to in an SEC stadium!

The famous touchdown Jesus.

Our trip was right around the time that "Tebowing" exploded onto the scene. I begged Tony to let me take a picture of him Tebowing in front of touchdown Jesus, but he wouldn't. 

All in all, I'm glad we went once, but we'll never go back. It was by far the most boring tailgating and football atmosphere that we have ever experienced.