A Visit to the Ice Kingdom–Help! I Can’t Feel My Fingers!

I confess to sometimes feeling a little self-conscious with any weather-related stories. Yes, compared to many geographic locations, our Southern California winters are quite warm. Once in a while we dip a bit and the night temperatures might barely kiss 32 degrees. That’s rare.

Sometimes in the early morning there is a little frost on the roof. On those mornings I remotely start the car from the house, grab a hot cup of coffee and dart out the door, quickly making my escape from the cold into the pre-warmed car.

I don’t really know TRUE cold!

So that’s what made our little winter field trip a very interesting first time experience. We made our way to the Queen Mary, Long Beach, to experience the seasonal ice cave exhibit “Chill.”

Family photo pg

Do we look suitably dressed for 9-degrees? Brrrr! We knew enough to wear warm clothing, but as we entered the Ice Kingdom we were outfitted with additional long parkas. In Southern California we don’t have clothing to keep warm in freezing temperatures.

The Ice Kingdom is a spectacular multi-room exhibit of fantasy ice sculptures, utilizing more than two million pounds of ice—crystal ice, white ice and colored ice.  The 12-foot tall Fairytale Castle, covered in icicles, opens to a beautiful 13,000 feet of winter wonderland.

Ice sculpting is a fascinating art. Many of the sculptors responsible for these impressive creations came from Harbin, China, where beginning in 1963, the Mayor  turned the annual Ice Lantern Festival into a formal competition. It is now one of the largest and most popular ice sculpting competitions in the world. Maybe there aren’t that many talented ice sculptors in California. Where would they get the practice?

The girls climbed the frozen Queen Mary with Papa and then enjoyed an exhilarating slide down the bow! Good thing they were wearing their well-insulated snow pants!

The teacher in me would have enjoyed showing the girls some of the more interesting aspects of the ice itself. The white ice looks a lot like compacted snow with its cloudy appearance. I wonder if they thought the colored ice looked a little bit like popsicles? There were signs reminding “big kids” not to lick the ice! And the crystal ice was in huge blocks. I wonder how long it took for them to freeze?


After about an hour my fingers began to lose feeling and then numbness shifted to pain. It didn’t seem the time for a mini-science lesson anyway. This was simply a visually stunning experience, and at 9-degrees, we had our first introduction to what REALLY cold weather must be like!

But 9-degrees?  I’m not sure I’m made of the right stuff! Brrrr!

49 thoughts on “A Visit to the Ice Kingdom–Help! I Can’t Feel My Fingers!

  1. You are right on about the non-existence of REAL cold winter wear! Sweatshirts and maybe, just maybe, a sports varsity jacket for the guys… But I will admit to having (unlined) leather gloves for the AM startup. lol It sure looks as if you all had a wonderful wintery day!

    1. I can’t imagine how much more closet space I would need if the climate were colder, Koji! Those parkas were huge! I think I’d also slow down my activities. Just the necessary time to dress with all the necessary outerwear would discourage me from unnecessary trips anywhere! 🙂 It was fun to pretend we had a snowy day, though! Thank you for stopping by. I hope you and your lovely family have a very healthy and peaceful 2013.

  2. What a unique way to chill out! Seems like a wonderful idea and experience.
    The remote car starting is something I haven’t come across in our warm neck of the woods and in fact didn’t know about.

    1. I can depress a key on the car remote and it starts the engine! It’s a Chevy Malibu…nothing too fancy, but it’s fun. I love this feature. It’s also fun to be in a parking lot and to set it off when someone is walking nearby. Thank you for stopping by and do let me extend wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2013. I’m glad to have made your acquaintance in the past couple of months! 🙂

    1. The ice sculptures were really something, Marie. We were quite amazed and very impressed at how intricately crafted they were. It would have been very enjoyable to have watched them being made…as long as I had the proper outerwear on! I had never previously been so cold that I hurt!

    1. The freezing climates are just crazy, aren’t they Nancy? I have a lot of admiration for those who can navigate all around with layers of outerwear, and even more impressive, can drive in ice and snow! I think it’s best I just be honest and admit I don’t have the right stuff! 🙂

  3. We’ve had years where 9 would be welcome, especially when we lived in MN. What a fun adventure though! I’m sure the girls just loved it! Debra, I hope you have a great New Year! Cheers!

    1. I can’t imagine dressing and undressing the children with all the layers required to keep warm, Kristy! Our local mountains have some beautiful snow right now following a day of cold rain. I’m admiring the view from a nice warm distance! 🙂 Thank you for the “warm” New Years greeting, and I certainly wish the same for you and your precious family! oxo

    1. The ice sculptures were very impressive. It was very fun to watch all the children sliding down the ice slide and getting a sense of what it is to live in a much colder climate. I thought they were cute in all their fluffy clothing! 🙂

  4. Not only a good experience for you (though limited ;)) but a big wow to the ice sculptures. Great idea for an exhibit in SoCal … after all, it’s only temporary … BTW, 3-4 inches of wet snow greeted me this morning, which means I will shovel soon.

    1. It’s true, Frank. Even as I was meandering through the exhibit, shivering and very, very cold, I was well aware that I would be exiting in a few minutes and warm again. I think the snow must be very beautiful at times, but I am sure navigating is tricky business! You just got through the leaf raking season, and now here you are shoveling snow. Your work is never done. 🙂

    1. Oh my goodness. I just can’t imagine navigating in the cold you describe. At one point during our ice “adventure” my fingers hurt so badly I was actually a little concerned. I asked my daughter, a nurse, if it was possible to get frostbite in under an hour and at that temperature. I was really worried. LOL! Happy New Year, Rita. I hope you have a healthy and peaceful new year…with lots of warmth! Hahaha!

  5. Linda

    Such great pictures and loved your pink cheeks! I’m sure you’ve looked outsides today but we have snow right in our own backyard! Actually on Mt Wilson but as it’s above our house it feels like the backyard. I taught English in Harbin province in the city of Chungchun and yes, it’s in the northern part of China, across from Siberia. 9 degrees would be warm!

    1. I certainly remember when you were teaching in China, but I couldn’t have recalled you were in Harbin province. Isn’t that interesting! You weren’t there in winter, were you? I didn’t get a clear look at Mt. Wilson today…I must see the snow–from the warmth of my home! Haha!

    1. The ice sculptures were very beautiful and impressively large! I couldn’t move about well enough to really take photos with the proper perspective! It was a little funny to be in so many layers of clothing yet be so cold–an entirely new experience! The girls did like the ice slide very much. I think they’re more resilient than I am. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Tricia. We had a very nice time experiencing extremely cold weather, even if it was just on a lark! 🙂 Here we are at the New Year, my friend. I hope that 2013 is kind to you. I truly hope you find renewed health. I do wish you well! oxo

      1. Dear Debra,
        Thank you so much for your warm and caring wishes.
        I hope the coming year brings you joy, peace and contentment, and lots more fun with your grandchildren.
        Take care my cyber friend.
        Tricia xoxo

        1. Thank you so much, Tricia. You are so warm and the word that I most think of when I read your posts–REAL. You are real. There is nothing artificial about you in your sharing and my heart does reach across from one continent to another. I know I say this often, but I wish we could be neighbors! So for now, this is our way to connect, and I do consider you a friend. Blessings to you, too, now and in the year to come. oxo Debra

  6. These are absolutely beautiful ice sculptures and lovely family photographs! With your story and the photos I feel like I’ve been there with you! Did you have enough warm winter wear? Awe, we just had 14 inches of snow and it’s beautiful! Cold, but not bad! We get use to it, and I tolerate the cold better than hot weather! Happy New Year to you and your family! Take care and stay safe, Edie

    1. You know, Edie, I really didn’t have enough warm clothing for 9 degrees! Even with the parka they supplied me I was still really cold. But it was very beautiful, and I was pleased to have some idea what you and others with very cold climates experience every winter! 14 inches of snow sounds very intimidating to me. 🙂 Happy New Year to you, too, my friend. I hope this is a very healthy and peaceful year for you and yours! Debra

  7. Cold is such a relative thing for us humans, isn’t it? In Fall here in Chicago, when the daily high temps dip into the 40’s, everyone starts pulling out the Winter gear. 5 months later — hopefully! — when the weather rebounds with temps once again reaching into the 40’s, those same people are running along The Lake in shorts. 9 degrees is cold, Debra. We just don’t have to pay to see it. 🙂

    1. It is true that cold is relative, John. One of my best friends who also grew up in Southern California now lives in Phoenix. When she comes to visit I always remind her to bring a jacket. The temperature differential between L.A. and Phoenix is so vast that she gets quite cold if we sit out in the evening. I do think our bodies must adjust a bit over time. if I had more time in the cold maybe I wouldn’t be such a wimp! And you’re also right that we paid for the experience! LOL!

    1. Jackie, You are so hardworking! My goodness. I don’t know how you do it. But good for you. That you can blog at all is really amazing. I hope that 2013 is the year for you to really sense your accomplishments. You deserve to feel your success! oxo

  8. I’m exactly the same as you, Debra – I don’t know the meaning of ‘cold’. What a great day out. That would have been an awesome experience. I’m so glad they gave you those parkas – I would have asked for two! xx

  9. This post made me smile.. you’re adorable and I love your reference to 9 degrees:) (is that Fahrenheit?) We had -30Celsius not long ago and I don’t think we had anything nearly as beautiful as your Southern California chill to admire.. Well, the frost crystals in the sky were pretty and the ice on the river. We’re just so used to the cold here and we do just pre-heat our cars and run to jump in before the cold can get to us. It’s walking the dog that puts me out in the cold for any real length of time, but he’s worth it. I love those ice sculptures.. they’re really stunning. I think I read once that people who go to culinary school have to learn to do these (maybe just smaller) so that they can have ice sculptures for the fancy buffets they set up? (I did touch and lick one once when I was a little girl.. it was salty!! heehee) xx

    1. Yes Barbara, the 9 degrees was Fahrenheit, which I thought was simply beyond understanding, and then the comments started coming in and I realized that to many, that isn’t even the beginning of cold! Ha! I really don’t have much of an understanding! Someday I would like to spend some time vacationing in a winter wonderland and I know I would love the beauty–I’ll buy a good coat and boots! 🙂

  10. What a fun experience, Debra, for the girls and for all of you.
    We are sitting at 12°F at the moment here on the Cutoff. Just got back from MN yesterday. When we left, it was -3. New Year’s Eve and Day are typically very cold and snowy in these parts. We haven’t had much snow, however. In fact, the little bit we did had was an embarrassing for we midwesterners. tee hee We did go through lots of snow and had some for our second Christmas with the grands – which was, quite grand! Just starting to catch up, Debra, and always, always love to hear about your adventures and feel the warmth of southern CA through your words and pictures.

    1. 12°, Penny? Oh my but that’s cold! The funny thing about our trip to the ice sculptures and the “Chill” exhibit was that I felt so enlightened to have at least some idea of what real cold feels like! I was like a big kid. But my good friend is sending me photos of her Boston snow, too, and I must admit that it is beautiful. I simply wouldn’t know how to drive, or del-ice and keep pipes from freezing! And I would definitely need a good coat! 🙂 I am sure you had a wonderful time with the little ones, Penny. I like the idea of a second Christmas! oxo

      1. We are just used to the cold and snow, Debra. Municipalities get out with salt or sand for the road when a storm is predicted, driving is more cautious, and our homes are built for the weather – still, it sometimes gets much colder than this morning’s 12 degrees. Boston and the east coast has really gotten “slammed” this year already. It was fun having a second Christmas and, as you know, watching children opening up presents is part of the fun.

  11. That sounds SUCH fun, Debra, for big and little alike, and I love your photos of the spectacular ice-sculptures. 🙂

    Yes, cold is relative. For me in the UK, 9F (-12C) is the kind of temperature we can get overnight during a really cold, frosty spell, when the temperature during the day won’t rise above freezing. For those from Canada and the Mid-West, 9F is probably fairly average winter weather. It’s probably why we northerners are so keen on knitting. 🙂

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