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!

There I was, minding my own business…listening to a little Christmas music…

If you missed my previous post about the outrageous desecration of ancient California Native American petroglyphs you might want to catch up here.  I assure you I have no intention of continuing with themes related to negativity and odious behaviors, but based on a morning encounter with a billboard, I just couldn’t resist sharing what occurred this morning–a final emphasis on how much work goes into maintaining balance, while cultivating positivity!

It’s kind of tricky business to put yourself out there as a positive outlook blog–breathelighter’s primary focus is towards encouraging general well-being and the ways that I maintain balance, then this week I switched gears quickly and talked about being outraged.  My natural set-point is balanced more heavily towards optimism, but sometimes I lose that perspective, despite my best efforts. Occasionally I realize that although I don’t very often lean into depression, if I’m not careful, I can swallow a heavy dose of cynicism.

It’s not my best trait. But when I don’t actively affirm more positive attributes in others I fall into a well-nursed  negative and complaining tone.

I  know to take responsibility for how I feed my emotions. It’s my problem if I listen to others complain, or digest non-stop media messages designed to elicit a negative emotional response. It’s certainly my own fault if I choose to be addicted to the daily news…most of it is rubbish.

When I realize I’m tumbling into the abyss of gloom, I usually know what works to lift me out.

So that’s what I was doing this morning.  On the way to work I chose to keep the radio off, and as I was cheerfully listening to a favorite Christmas CD I pulled up to the first large intersection and quickly glanced to my right. Whoa! My head did one of those whiplash hard snaps! Where just yesterday a billboard promoting a local health food store stood mighty and tall right next to a “Christmas at Disneyland” advertisement, this is what I read.

Well, that will wake you up!  It wasn’t even 7:00 a.m. yet!  Even Christmas music can’t quite calm that jolt!

The San Gabriel Valley has the largest concentration of Chinese Americans in the entire United States. You can see the message is printed in English and Chinese. I won’t comment on the board’s content except to say that I feel ignorant of the issue. The billboard did its job in raising some level of awareness and I’ll fact check as soon as I’m able.


So where do I go from here?

I have an activist nature…I don’t ignore problems very well (not that I don’t sometimes try…)

I wonder if young people know of Helen Keller?  She inspires me.  As a deafblind social activist–did you know she helped found the ACLU? –she lived her own words:  “Although the world is full of suffering it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

She doesn’t sound cynical, does she?

There are so many people doing really GOOD things to the benefit others.

I have been hearing some wonderful stories of examples of hardworking, committed people not necessarily actively seeking global change, but  finding creative ways that make a difference right on their doorstep.

So that’s my focus for the rest of this week.

My next post will share a couple of stories highlighting people/places or things that inspire me. Maybe you’ll also enjoy the benefit of a little shift in focus.

I hope you’ll come back and be buoyed along with me.

And the music I was listening to on the way to work? Music always elevates my mood.

I’ve added a page at the top of the blog banner where I’ve listed some of my favorite holiday tunes. It’s just for fun. Maybe you can leave a comment there and let me know what you are listening to this holiday season.

I suggest we all turn down the noise! If you’re more disciplined than I am, try turning it completely off!