Veal’s Ice Tree

Nestled just off I-74 on Indianapolis’ southeast side is a winter spectacle that’s been delighting Hoosiers for over 50 years. Since 1961, the Veal family has been creating the ice tree in their back yard, and today their granddaughter Wynter Veal-Drummond continues the family tradition.

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The tree started by accident. Wynter’s grandparents Mabel and Vierl Veal were trying to make a hill for their children to sled down, so they started pumping water out of the pond next to the house to make an ice hill. The wind had other ideas, and blew the water onto some nearby bushes, creating the first ice tree. The family thought it was pretty and decided to keep growing it. Eventually, it took on the form of the ice tree that we see today.

Building the tree is a pretty involved process and as soon as it starts getting cold out, Wynter begins building the frame. She uses 2×4 boards for a steady base and adds branches from the neighbors’ tree trimmings.

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Photo courtesy of Wynter Veal-Drummond

Once there are several days of temperatures 30 degrees or lower, they turn the hoses on and begin pumping the water out of the pond to spray on the tree form. As the tree grows, Wynter adds more hoses, and during the 2013-2014 season, the tree grew to 80 feet tall!

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The dying process gives the ice tree that magical look that people love to use for unique photo backdrops. Wynter dyes it using a powder form of food coloring and most years they are able to hook a special spray bottle that contains the food coloring up to the hoses and dye it that way. This year, though, she had to do it the way her grandfather did and dye it by hand.

It can take hours to get the final results and on Wednesday, the coldest day of the year, she was outside dying the tree for six hours in negative degree temperatures.

She leaves the backside of the ice tree in its natural state, which looks beautiful as well. Wynter offered to let me climb the formation using cleats, but I decided to stay safely on the ground 🙂

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Her mother, Janet Veal-Drummond, lives in the family home next to the tree and estimates there have only been about eight winters that haven’t been cold enough for them to grow the ice tree.

This year’s season may also be a short one; since I visited on Saturday, Indiana has had some unseasonably warm temperatures that will begin to melt the ice formation. Wynter says that once the tree starts to melt, it’s very hard to rebuild it.

Creating the ice tree may be a lot of work, but it’s a family tradition that Wynter hopes to continue for years to come. She says not only does it help her feel close to her grandparents who have both passed away, but it gives her joy to see how happy it makes other people when they see it.

How to get there: 11333 Southeastern Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46259. From I-465 take I-74 east toward Cincinnati. Exit at #99, Acton Rd. 3. Go south to Southeastern Ave. (1st road) and turn left. Turn left at the first drive after the sharp curve.

Follow Veal’s Ice Tree on Facebook & Instagram for the latest on the tree’s condition.

 

 

Reykjavik & the Blue Lagoon

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Happy New Year! Hard to believe that it’s 2019 already – where does the time go?? It’s almost been THREE months since my trip to Iceland and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I just have one more post about that amazing little island that captured my heart in 2018, and I’ll be highlighting what we did in Reykjavik as well as talking about my experience at the Blue Lagoon.

Continue reading “Reykjavik & the Blue Lagoon”

Iceland’s Golden Circle

If you’re looking for a short day trip from Reykjavik, the Golden Circle is probably your best bet, although we found it to be underwhelming compared to the rest of the country. Still, it’s a very popular route and much more touristy than the northern part of Iceland, so I would suggest getting out early to try to stay ahead of the tour buses.

The Golden Circle takes you through Þingvellir National Park and our first stop was at Almannagjá, where you can literally walk between two continents. North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet here, providing a one of a kind experience and unique landscape. For the really adventurous, you can snorkel between the continents at Silfra. Almannagjá is also a shooting location for Game of Thrones – you may recognize it as the path up to the Eyrie, as well as where Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane journeyed through the Riverlands.

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Further up the road is Iceland’s very own Old Faithful. Geysir erupts every 7 – 10 minutes and you can tell when she’s ready to blow by watching the giant bubbling center. Be sure not to stand too close though – the wind can blow the extremely hot water causing people to get burned.

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It was so cold at this stop and raining, so I didn’t get great pictures but I did get a fun video of the eruption. You could hear the people screaming in the background when it went off, haha.


From there, it was a short drive to Gullfoss, a stunning waterfall that is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. There are several different viewpoints for Gullfoss, with a couple taking you very close to the water where you will get wet!

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From there, we headed south to Kerid Crater, which seemed to be separate from the national park as there was an entrance fee. It’s definitely worth the stop, and the colors in and around the crater are beautiful. The rocks/soil is a bright red and the plant life surrounding the crater is a mossy green and the contrast is stunning with the blue lake in the middle.

You can also walk down to the bottom of the crater, although we didn’t do that either. I felt like the best view was from the top and the path that circles it. It’s believed that Kerid was once a volcano that caved in on itself, forming the crater that’s been left behind.

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One we left Kerid, it was time to head back to Reykjavik – the entire circle took us a good half day and on the way back, we stopped to chat with some friendly sheep hanging out next to the road.

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Here’s a map of the route we took – it’s a very easy drive on all paved roads and there are many restaurants and gift shops throughout the park. You should have no problems finding food, fuel and restrooms in this part of Iceland!

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