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Popping the bubble

Liz Harter | Friday, August 29, 2008

One year ago last week I became what those in the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame bubble call “townies.”

With the exception of three weeks spanning the last few weeks of July and first few of August and regularly scheduled academic breaks (Fall, Christmas and Spring) I have resided in this fair city of 107,789 people (according to the 2000 census).

While my induction into townie life was unintentional – I never expected to spend 47 of the past 56 weeks here – it was unavoidable as I spent 10 weeks of my summer as a features intern with the South Bend Tribune. I lived on the first floor of a house located on the edge of one of the many ghettos South Bend has to offer off of Lincoln Way West.

Spending so much time in South Bend – especially over the summer when there aren’t football games and student nights at Club Fever, The Backer and Rum Runners to distract me – I learned how to successfully and quickly navigate the one-way streets of downtown and discovered many new things about the city and surrounding area which I’m going to share with you to potentially pop the lovely bubble in which we live. Pick a place and check it out sometime.

-Thistleberry Farm: Located just outside South Bend at 61391 Mayflower Road this farm is a great place to go on non-football weekends in the fall. It doesn’t cost much money to wind your way through the extensive corn mazes cut into the fields here. The main maze this year is called Lost in Space and it takes, on average, an hour and 45 minutes to go through it. If you’re directionally challenged, however, like my friends and I are you could potentially visit this maze for an entire afternoon and not find your way out.

-Battell Park: I’ll admit I would never have found this one on my own. I had to cover a story at the band shell at this park for the Tribune this summer and my roommate and I ended up spending an entire evening revisiting our childhood at this Mishawaka park located at 301 North Mishawaka Ave. It has a beautiful rock garden and a playground with an excellent old-school merry-go-round that can make your stomach feel like it’s in your throat. Mishawaka also has a three-mile walking trail by the river if you’re looking for someplace to walk off-campus.

-Potawatomi Zoo: While this zoo is no Lincoln Park it’s pretty good for a smaller city. They have animals that I’ve never seen before like the Golden Lion Tamarin and the Golden Mantella. They also have a collection of tortoises that were racing each other when I visited on the Fourth of July. They move a lot faster than I thought they would…

-Erskine Village: This collection of stores on the south side of the city (Ireland Road) provides a welcome shopping alternative during busy weekends on Grape Road and Main Street. Even though the Target here is smaller than the one on Main Street it’s worth the 10 minute drive to avoid crowds.