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!

An unlikely White Christmas–we get creative around here!

I hope you’ve had a very nice weekend. I enjoyed mine, spending time with friends I don’t regularly have a chance to see socially, following through with some holiday baking and  we decorated the Christmas tree, also making a good start on the outdoor lights. We even had time to watch a Netflix DVD that’s been sitting here for at least two weeks.

And as the song says, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”  Christmas  in Southern California that is…Monday’s temperature is predicted to be 75 degrees and sunny.

What is winter in Southern California? Well, does it tell you something that I’m wearing the same clothes to work in December that I also wore in August? I might wear a light jacket, but I don’t wear a true coat, I don’t own boots, and I think hats, gloves and scarves are beautiful, but I rarely wear them.

Christmas morning we light a fire and create the ambiance we envision for our family  gathering. That works for an hour or so if we begin really early, but by midmorning my brother is stating he thinks he may spontaneously combust and we begin to peel off the layers of clothing, turn off the fire, sometimes even opening windows.

But this weekend…

Karina on sled

Sophia and Karina had the chance to enjoy several rides down a “snow mountain” on a sled. When I saw the photos and videos their mommy sent me I just had to laugh and enjoy right along with them! The looks of joy and delight on their faces tell it all…this is the best they’re going to get of snow in Los Angeles! But what fun!

Sophia on sled

They don’t compare their experience to children living in REAL snow conditions, they just hold on tight and feel the exhilaration of speed.  They had a ball!

So although we won’t have a White Christmas this year, I applaud the folks who thought to bring a little snowy fun for the children. And if you live where snow is an expected holiday visitor, please enjoy the brief video clips of Karina and her cousin Annaka on one sled, and Sophia on the second, enjoying their winter fun.

Don’t chuckle too hard at what we call snow! Just listen to the shrieks and try to remember your own youth, and what it felt like to be a child with the fun of an unexpected treat!

I hope you, too, can find some joy as you begin the week.