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Sleep has never been Caleb’s forte. It took him a year to sleep through the night and even now, he will count a 5 minute nap in the car as his nap for the entire day. Thankfully, now that he’s older, it had been a while since we’d found ourselves in the position of choosing between driving around aimlessly to let him continue a nap in the car or to go home and futilely hope he’ll fall asleep again in his crib. Sunday however, was one such day, and I’m so thankful it was.

We’d stayed late at church to eat lunch, something we hadn’t been brave enough to try in a year or two. As we drove home, I noticed Caleb’s eyelids drooping. By the time we we’re two minutes from home he was completely out. I asked David if we could drive out to a state park about 20 minutes from our house. There will still a dusting of snow over most of the countryside and I thought the drive up into the mountains would be beautiful.

Although I’m much more in love with a long, winding drive than David is, he gave me a loving smile and agreed that we should go for it. Soon snow-covered farmland and crumbling barns were whizzing by as the mountains in front of us became larger and more defined.

Our plan was to go up to the parking lot nearest the lake and turn around. Plans changed when Caleb woke up cranky and tearful 5 minutes before the park entrance. He settled down after repeated promises that we were going to a park with a lake and he would be able to get out and play. Mind you, everything is covered in snow, it’s 40 degrees out and David and I have thin jackets, regular shoes, and no hats or mittens. Caleb is doing slightly better because I always throw his heavy snow coat into the car before trips in the winter, just in case the car breaks down (yes, I’m paranoid like that…).

As we crested the hill into the parking lot, I glimpsed something strange. The lake was covered in snow!

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Which means there must be a thin layer of ice covering the whole gigantic lake! I’ve never seen anything like it.

Then I notice the ice fisherman. In the middle of the lake. Only then did I realize what a cool afternoon we were about to have.

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Being Floridians and not knowing the first thing about ice safety, I decided to chat up the park ranger. He explained it takes 4 inches of solid ice to safely hold a grown adult. The lake isn’t checked by the rangers, but the ice fisherman have augurs they use to check the ice. He looked over at Caleb and David enthusiastically moving towards the lake and back to my excited face and summed it up by saying, “Basically, mam, I have to tell you that you go on the ice at your own risk, but (with a smile) if you follow those fisherman’s foot prints in the snow and stay nearer to the shore, I don’t think you’ll find any trouble.” And that’s exactly what we did.

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Checking out the inky ice water below us

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Caleb wouldn’t keep his hood on. I on the other hand was thankful I’d worn a scarf and pulled it over my ears for warmth!

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This picture does a good job of capturing the number of footprint trails on the lake. We still stayed close to shore though!

None of us had ever walked on a frozen lake before. Pictures can’t possibly capture how large this lake is and how amazing it was to see grown men walking around the middle of it.

An abandoned ice-fishing hole

An abandoned ice-fishing hole

After about 45 minutes, the cold was finally starting to get to us a bit so we headed back to the car. We pealed off wet shoes and socks, turned up the heat and drove home full of the wonder and joy our unexpected little adventure brought.

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