Saturday, January 8, 2011

Freeze Tag - It's all about love on the pond

Two nights ago I went on an adventure, however, it didn't require me to go very far. It was about 5-10 minutes back the road in St. Thomas, PA. It has to be one of the biggest social events that occurs during the winter months back in this neck of the woods, but only some people know about it. Freeze tag. on ice skates. with Mennonites**. My brother, Alex, only started going a few weeks ago and has gone about 3 times. If you know about it, just show up. There isn't really an invite.

Ok, the set up. Everyone parked their cars in the field and headed down to the bank to sit and put on their skates. Who ever runs the show had a generator hooked up to some big flood lights at the far end so some parts of the pond weren't very well lit.

We made it on the ice, without falling, which was a miracle because the water seemed to freeze mid-wave. That was a bit of a challenge. Some areas of the ice were perfectly smooth, mainly around the edges and in the corners, but out in the middle, the site of the tag games, it was very rough.

I saw some of the craziest, but best skaters I've ever seen (and probably ever will see) at this pond. They are also risk takers, not risk takers as in "Oh I've never skated backwards so I'm just gonna start doing it." No. There were 7-12 year old boys skating at full speed towards an ice ramp (maybe 6 inches tall). They'd go airborne and manage to land perfectly. Amazing.

It took a little while for things to get underway, so we skated around and just seeing the speed and skill of these skaters was really intimidating. My brother, Alex, warned Alexis & I that the "tagging" is a lot more like checking or slapping or hitting; it's a rough game. He also advised that we stay on the outer edge, because it gets really crazy in the middle. We were a little scared of what to expect and rightfully so. I fell a few times and I fell hard. I'm still sore.

Each time the decision was being made on who would be it, all the guys congregated near the light pole. Some guy in a raccoon hat was in charge, I think. One round all guys 18 and over were it. One time all girls were it. One time all boys under 20 were it. So pretty much just went by age and gender. I reallllly wish I had a picture of all the girls congregated ready to go tag the tagees. I was one of 6 girls in pants, so we were the outsiders and easy to pick out of the crowd. There were some girls who had camouflage skirts, which were more season appropriate than all the pastel, flower patterns :) All the girls wore hockey skates, no figure skates. Pretty sweet.

I was really slow and a super easy target. I mean, wearing pants makes a girls butt more pronounced than a skirt so there was some awkward tagging on our butts. Not to be forgotten, there were some boob grazes too. Guess it happens in a game of people zipping around somewhat flailing their limbs at those their trying to tag. Whatever.

It's so difficult to describe how it looked without having any pictures, but somehow, a lot of people would get tagged in one area and then the taggers would guard the group so that the untagged people couldn't free their teammates. One time I definitely was freed one time and got really excited and in an effort to escape from the tagging guards I ran...and fell right on my knees. Ouch.

My next fall was pretty epic. My brother's friend and his friend's sister were there. His sister completely took me out, on accident of course. She fell behind me and into my legs, which scared me because I was worried my skate blades would cut her and we'd have a serious problem. Luckily neither of us cut each other but we were really sore.

Weirdest, most awkward moment of my life so far: I was in the middle, where it's extra crazy. I guess someone bumped me or I hit a rut or something and started falling. There was a guy near me so for some strange reason my reflex was to grab him in a weird hug. I hugged him really tightly...and almost made him fall over too. Thankfully we didn't fall, somehow. I didn't look at his face because I felt bad, but just apologized a lot and skated away. I obviously got a really good look at his coat so I identified him later because of the coat. He had a beard. Oh no! You all know what that means, right? He's married! :/ I felt bad. He probably went home and had to tell his wife he hugged another woman. Very tightly. BUT I apologized so I think all is well.

The other girl who was with us, Alex's friend's sister, M, had some very interesting names for some of the guys: Mr. Gorgeous, Cutie, etc. I know there were more, but I can't remember. She guessed that Mr. Gorgeous was 26 years old. No way he was that old. He was at the oldest probably my age. We soon found out he was in fact a teenager because one time the taggers were all girls and boys over 20 he was away from us out with his fellow tagees. Another interesting tidbit, M has gone a lot so she knows what's up and told us the boy wearing the helmet has had 13 concussions and his parents make him wear it. He's not allowed on the ice if he doesn't wear a helmet. Insane.

Two days later and I still ache, but I think Monday night I'll go back. I had a great time and I think this is a good way to force me into taking some risks and become a better skater. Oh and next time I WILL take pictures and/or video. Has to happen.

All in all, freeze tag is a huge social gathering. I bet I saw what will be 20 future couples (at least, if not more). Budding romances all around. I'm even told that some people were trying to hook Alex up with the one girl in the camo skirt. Seriously, love is in the air at this pond.

**We aren't really sure exactly what they are, could be a plethora of different groups, German Baptists, River Brethren, Mennonites, etc. but we do know they aren't Amish. Everyone drove vehicles. So in order to not make things too confusing, I'll just refer to them as Mennonites. I do feel bad that I don't know...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday night patrollin'

One of the most fun things I do at work in the summer is go to Sheetz after work with my Igloo friends (I know, I lead an unbelievably exciting life). So, that's exactly what we did this past Thursday. Two of them worked earlier in the day & I was working 4-close. They showed up around 10 & we all carpooled to our favorite Sheetz of the 5 in our town (I know, Chambersburg is sort of pathetic).

After spending about 2 hours at Sheetz, during which my one friend J.1 had to be that customer (becuase J.2's pub burger was ROCK hard), we headed back to The 'loo parking lot to get our cars. (Usually we don't have bad experiences with Sheetz food because it is Sheetz & it's the most awesome gas station food ever... Wawa's got nothing on Sheetz).

Earlier on our drive to Sheetz we saw about 3 police cars (& it's like a 5 min. drive). We saw about 2 more cars pulled over on the way back. This was really strange. Cops all over the place!! About 16 seconds after pulling into the parking lot at work, a cop car pulled in. GREAAATTT. We all have this weird fear of the police. We have no reason to be, it's just a little scary that they carry guns, those weird sticks for beating people, bright flashlights, etc. So both doors of the police car proceed to open while we stare half blinded into the frickin' high beams (Was it really necessary to open BOTH doors? Are we that much of a threat, a couple 19 & 20 year olds? NO).

The one cop asks, "What are you all up to?"
"We work here and, oh, we just went to Sheetz for some food and decided to carpool," says J.2 (the one we decided should do most of the talking).
"You work HERE & decided to go to Sheetz?!"
"Well, yes. They are open later than we are," I said. I wasn't having any of this man's annoying humor.
"Oh, I see... well, we just wanted to make sure you weren't going to break in."
"Alright. Bye," J.2 said.

If only they would've been there earlier when we WITHOUT FORCE "broke into" The Igloo (I forgot my iPod & one of the signs wasn't flipped to "Closed"). One of us has a key! HAHAHAHAHA. Joke is on you policeman.

Also, did he really think I'd rob a place & proceed to speed away in my truck?! That wouldn't go so well... HAHA.

Well, what do you know. Time for me to get ready for work. Wonder what tonight will hold... always interesting at The 'loo.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yes, grapenut ice cream. It is a real flavor and it is delicious. It is pretty much my favorite flavor. Grapenut ice cream is made by folding grapenut cereal into vanilla ice cream. I’m not sure if everyone who makes this kind of ice cream does it this way, but we soak the cereal in a litle bit of the ice cream mix. This softens the cereal so that it isn’t too crunchy.

I think grapenut cereal is yummy, but it is pretty different from grapenut ice cream. When eaten as just a cereal it’s obvious that it’s healthier for you, because it’s not nearly as sweet as its ice cream cousin.

Fairly often I have customers who tell me that The Igloo grapenut ice cream is the best grapenut they’ve had. I thank them each time, because it is something in which I have a little self pride. I make that grapenut ice cream; it’s a compliment that customers come back again and again just for that delicious grapenut ice cream.

“Would you like that on a sugar cone, regular cone or waffle cone?”

This is a question, as a customer, one may face when ordering ice cream. You all are probably aware of what these types of cones are, but there are some other types of crazier cones that the ice cream world has to offer.

The Pretzel Cone

Before I started working at The Igloo, we had pretzel cones, but no longer sell them. I’m not really sure why; I don’t think they were very popular.

Personally, I think it’d be a great combination: ice cream & a salty pretzel cone. Back when my grandparents made homemade ice cream and my family all went over to their house, we would always eat pretzels with our ice cream. It’s a good balance of salty and sweet. A pretzel cone is a functional way to enjoy these two opposite but yummy tastes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Not-So-Popular Soda Fizz

I think that my favorite thing to make at work is the infamous soda fizz. It is just so delicious :)

How to make a soda fizz (The Igloo version, at least)
First put a milkshake rim on the size of cup needed
Fill cup about one-third full of carbonated water
Add 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
Add topping/flavor (strawberry, pineapple, chocolate, etc.)
Mix on milkshake machine on LOW.
If needed top off with a little more carbonated water

A soda fizz is pretty much a milkshake with zing, as like to say. It is blended so you can drink it through a straw just like a shake, however mixing it on low is key. Mixing a fizz is done on a low setting and in pulses, so that the soda doesn’t go flat. If it goes flat, simply adding more carbonated water on top will fix the problem.

Strawberry soda fizz


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Custard versus Ice Cream

A lot of people have a common misconception about “ice cream.” From my experiences at work, it seems like some people think that just because ice cream is soft it is automatically frozen custard and NOT ice cream. At The Igloo this is not true.

According to my boss, what we serve is “soft, hand-dipped ice cream.” This means we make our ice cream, it comes out of the machine soft and falls into a bin. We then hand-dip the ice cream. It is not soft-serve, it is not custard. It’s just soft ice cream.

While trying to find some information about the differences between frozen custard and ice cream I ran across a type of machine used to make frozen custard, which looks similar to what The Igloo has.

However, I still think it is a little different. Our machines are stainless steel churns from the 1950s (the original ones used when The Igloo opened). From what I’ve gathered, the way our machines push out the frozen product is very similiar to how these older custard machines operated. The very important difference is that the mix we use does not contain any eggs. It is strictly ice cream mix.

For more about ice cream history!

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Introduction of Sorts

Hey, I’m Blair, a sophomore at Shippensburg University, and I am a Comm/Journ major and German minor. I live on a beef farm, and have been helping out around our family farm for as long as I can remember.

About three years ago I decided I needed to find a regular summer job in addition to just doing farm work. Before I knew it, I found myself spending many summer evenings at a local ice cream shop called The Igloo.

Working at The Igloo can be really fun, but at other times completely insane. Imagine having 1 cash register, 3 people working, 2 ice cream churns runnning (which requires keeping a close watch), sandwich orders, and a line that practically reaches the road. Despite these crazy times, I love making ice cream.

Current flavors:
Cookies & Cream
Peanut Butter

You may be wondering what Grapenut ice cream is. From my understanding it is a somewhat local (South Central Pennsylvania) flavor that not too many people are familiar with. Next time look for further explanation on how we make our ice cream and the nearly extinct soda fizz.