Featured, Food, Indiana

Indiana Once More, With Feeling (South Bend)

August 30, 2019

A few weeks after our previous Indiana trip, I was having lunch with a friend when Mr. Baseball Fan called.

“Hey, babe, what’s up?”

“Do you want to go to South Bend for a game Sunday?”

(thinking) . . . Seriously? Another one? Already? In four days?

“Uh, do you need an answer NOW?”

This time it was his turn to pause. I could tell that he really would have liked an answer rightthissecond, but he also wanted the answer to be “yes.” Mr. BF is very aware that when I’m pushed for snap decisions, the chances of me saying “yes” diminish drastically.

“No, I can wait, but can you let me know SOON?”


Once I got home, I started looking at South Bend for some fun frosting, and there wasn’t anything blowing my skirt up, if you know what I mean. So I zoomed out on the map a bit.  And hey, lookee there–what’s an hour west of South Bend?  Lake Michigan.  In other words, A BEACH.

Beach with water and blue sky.

Beaches are the best.

I love the beach.  I will ALWAYS go to the beach.  I know, I know. Who doesn’t love a beach, right? Actually,  I can’t stand the heat and the sun, but I still love the beach.  I mean, what’s not to love about the beach?  The sound of the waves, sticking your feet in the cool and refreshing water even if you don’t swim.  Ahhhh. It’s relaxing just thinking about it.

Note:  it’s absolutely true that I care for neither heat nor direct sunshine. At almost any beach, I will put anything over my head to get shade, from the practical (a beach umbrella) to the ridiculous (my towel, a wave board, even a book).

When I said that I wanted to hit the Indiana Dunes Park, it was Mr. BF’s turn to be dubious.

“That’s an hour further west than the stadium.”

“Yeah, so?  BEACH.”

“We’ll have to get up really early to get there and still get to the game by 1.”

“Yeah, so? BEEEEACH.”

Mr. BF had apparently forgotten that I’m one of those weirdos who usually wakes up early even without an alarm clock.  Getting on the road early isn’t a challenge for me.  In other words, I take early driving shifts.

The Beach

We got to the park after about three hours of driving, and it was . . . ok.  Not very crowded at all, which was great, but zero breeze off Lake Michigan, and no waves to speak of. And already hot, even before 10 AM.  We dutifully walked to the water, but that beachy mood just wasn’t hitting us, and more and more people started showing up.

Elderly man holding a sand broom, standing in front of a gray brick wall.

Gil, the coolest guy at the beach.

The best part of the beach ended up not being the beach at all. Instead, we met Gil, one of the volunteers who was cleaning the sand up from the outdoor shower area (an unsurprisingly constant job). He was friendly and chatty, regaling us with stories about the park and what it was like to work there. His review:  nice people, lots of kids, no complaints.  After about an hour, we headed back out.

Four Winds Field

When we got to Four Winds Field (the South Bend Cubs are the Single A farm team for the Chicago Cubs), we were walking around and saw a nice little playscape, but then I spied something I’d never seen at a ballpark before: a splash pad.  And although I haven’t seen them at any other ballparks, I bet I’ll start seeing a lot more of them in the future, because during hot weather, it’s a huge draw, both for kids and for the adults who want to keep them happy and occupied.

Small boy in a fountain spray of water.

King of the Splash Pad!

This one was about 25 feet in diameter, with more than half a dozen jets  of water, and was definitely getting a lot of use. There were easily a dozen kids joyously running through the spray. I was heartily tempted to stroll through it myself, because I knew it would have been far more refreshing than the beach, but managed to hold back.

The stand out food at this ballpark?  Pretzels.  No, really!  I know–pretzels are a standard item at ballparks and movie theaters across the country.  And generally, those pretzels are just that–standard. Generic.  Cookie-cutter, even.  Looking like they came out of a machine.  Not these.

Ben’s Soft Pretzels were obviously hand made and freshly cooked. The tender but chewy texture made them hands down the best soft pretzel I’ve ever had.

Soft pretzel in a paper wrapper.

No cookie cutter pretzel here!

The game?  A standard game. The most notable thing was a bit of an interview shown on the scoreboard screen before it even started, when one of the players said, “We never quit. If we’re down six runs, we’ll score seven.”

Why is that notable?  Well, giant prophetic coincidences generally are.  Although the Cubs were down 1 – 6 in the third inning, they chewed away at that deficit, and came back to win 8 – 6.  Never quit, indeed!

Up next:  Best. Frosting. Ever!

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