Exploring “The Bend” (Part 3)

Living in a new location for three months was exciting.  There is something about exploring new neighborhoods, restaurants, weather, and people that is so much fun.   Today’s post is going to be a summary of some of the areas we enjoyed and explored in and around South Bend.

From the time we arrived on Feb 23rd through the end of March, the Notre Dame games were at Arlotta Stadium except for a short four-hour drive to Columbus, OH to play Ohio State University.  It was nice that we could get “settled in” and take the time to enjoy our new “home.”

Around South Bend

We settled in rather quickly as Joy found a fantastic Jazzercise group that was super accommodating and made her feel right at home from the get-go (very Midwest by the way). While she was doing that every morning, I did “The Walk” (a future post coming about that) every day on the Notre Dame campus.  We made sure to spend some idle time exploring our new surroundings. 

We found some nice restaurants we liked:  Café Navarre, LaSalle Grille, The Lauber (Marco’s go-to spot the night before games), Fiddlers Hearth, Oh Mamma’s to name a few).   We found a nice butcher St. Claire’s that we frequently visited. It was a real treat having a BBQ for some of the boys on the Notre Dame lacrosse team one afternoon.  We even saw a Broadway show, Aladdin, right in downtown South Bend.  We went to a South Bend Cubs game, on Paws and Claws night, a very nice little ball field! We found a Neapolitan pizza place, Venturi, in Goshen, IN that was worth the 45-minute drive in the pouring rain!! 

We went to both a Men’s and Women’s basketball game, the Women’s game was amazing!  The arena was full, and they were so much fun to watch.  Joy and I even went to the first round of the NCAA tournament as which was held in the Joyce Center right on campus.

I think we were pleasantly surprised with how much South Bend had to offer.  In our previous trips to Notre Dame, we’d fly in on Friday, watch a game on Saturday, and leave on Sunday.  Outside of Eddy Street, we didn’t do that much exploration.  Spending three full months in town we got a great feel for what the local culture was all about, and we could not have been happier with what South Bend had to offer.

We took a day trip to New Buffalo, MI a small town right on Lake Michigan.  We ate lunch at the Stray Dog twice, it was a nice little getaway.

Gabriella, Marco, Joy and I got to enjoy some Notre Dame basketball. The Women's team was a LOT of fun to watch!
Pictures around South Bend. Joy/I at Aladdin. The boys coming over for BBQ steaks from St. Claire. Gabriella at the game. A picture of the Shoe at Ohio State in Columbus.
The Napo's were in South Bend for Easter. Gabs friend (Lauren) also joined us. Cool picture of Marco signing an autograph after Notre Dame beat Syracuse, 14-12.
Pictures in New Buffalo, MI with Ed and MC. Joy and "The Rock" at the South Bend Cubs game. It was "Paws and Claws" promotion night.

Marco vs. Maryland

I will interject a little bit of lacrosse into the posts as appropriate.  As I mentioned in my prior post And We are Off!, Notre Dame lost to Georgetown in their first true test of the season.  The following weekend #3 ranked University of Maryland came to Arlotta, which was a critical contest for Notre Dame.  In a little bit of foreshadowing, we’d have the chance to play them again on Memorial Day.  Notre Dame won 14-9 and Marco won the ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors with 3 groundballs and 2 caused turnovers.  Both were career highs in one game…at the time at least! 

(I hope the link below works.  If you click on the right arrow, you can hear the announcers mention Marco after a great play)

When I became a “Lake Guy” Glen Arbor, MI

We had an open weekend, so we decided to take a trip to Glen Arbor, MI.  Glen Arbor is a cute little town right on Lake Michigan.  Let’s just say this weekend is when I declared myself a “Lake Guy!”  It was a beautiful place.  We had some great hikes, visited some local wineries, and saw amazing scenery.  Granted, it was the off-season so we had the run of the town, it was amazing, and we will be going back very soon!

Beautiful pictures from Glen Arbor, MI. Lake Michigan (in the snow), North 45 Winery.
More pictures in Glen Arbor, MI

Traveling to Columbus, OH to play Ohio State

Our first trip through Ohio was to Columbus to watch Notre Dame beat THE Ohio State University, 13-10. I say “first” because we drove through Ohio maybe 4-5 times during our Great American Road trip.  To get anywhere South or East, you have no choice but to go through Ohio.  The drive is not that interesting, but I will say there are two notable things I would mention.  First, the rest stops are the best we encountered.  First, they are right off the freeway.  They have huge and clean bathrooms.  A few food options, a place for Rocco to go potty and get some gas.  Ten minutes and you are back on the freeway! 

The next thing I would mention was pure serendipity.  We were in the middle of nowhere (i.e. standard for Ohio) looking for a place to eat.  We were farm country and finding it difficult to navigate.  We searched Google to find a place to eat when it navigated us to The Salty Longhorn.  It was the only place open; we had no choice.  We walk in and there is nobody inside.  I say “hello” and a woman comes from the back and hands us two menus.  We sat at the bar and paid $6 for a hamburger and $3.5 for a beer.  The bartender turns out to be the owner, so we strike up a conversation about how we are from California, via Notre Dame on our way to Columbus. Typical Midwesterner super friendly.   We say our goodbyes.

The legend of The Salty Longhorn does not end there!  Three weeks later on our way to Durham, NC (as I said you have to go through Ohio), as luck would have it, guess where we stopped for lunch the second time???  You guessed it, The Salty Longhorn!   Clearly, we didn’t plan it, but maybe we were meant to go back!  We walked in and the bartender once again greeted us, but it was as if she saw a ghost. She could not believe that this couple from California, via Notre Dame, was back in her bar!  It was a nice visit, and we were off again.  Who knows, maybe there will be another chapter in the future for The Salty Longhorn!

Menu from the Salty Longhorn in Ohio (somewhere!)

8 thoughts on “Exploring “The Bend” (Part 3)”

  1. Marco Napolitano

    You’re getting the hang of the formatting! Looks really good!! Can’t wait for the series to continue.

    1. Thanks Marco. Finding the collage maker on Google Photos was a game changer, ha ha! I was pretty impressed with myself getting that IG post embedded too. Thanks for reading, and the next one should be coming out next week.

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