Colorado has not one, but two coffin races every year, and this one is surprisingly based on more truth than fiction! Rebecca visits the newly relocated Frozen Dead Guy Days in Estes Park to learn just what makes people want to race coffins, and Laura tells Rebecca the story of what started it all in Nederland, Colorado.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
INTRO: You are listening to Dark Wanderings with Laura and Rebecca.
Rebecca: Oh my god, Laura, we’re starting season two,
We’re we’re finally doing it after months of adulting and changes.
Laura: Yeah. I’ve been excited to start for a while. But I also was literally not ready, like as far as my chaotic life.
Rebecca: Yeah. I get that.
Yeah. We’re in our thirties and things seem to come up fast and change quickly and it’s a constant rollercoaster
Laura: and the things I could do in my twenties, like stay up till 4:00 AM doing like work and homework. And then just like functioning normally the next day after like three hours of sleep.
That doesn’t happen anymore.
Rebecca: I don’t think I ever had a stage like that.
Laura: Mine was brief, but it did happen. But now I have a toddler and a husband and I’m like, you want me to do how many things after 7:00 PM Absolutely not.
Rebecca: I think you win with the toddler and then you added a dog to your life.
Laura: Yeah, we, so we literally just adopted a dog last weekend and the first part of the week I was like, what am I doing? Why did I think this was a good idea? Cuz we ended up with a 58 pound chocolate lab. Pit mix. That’s our, that’s our guess.
She was a stray before we rescued her from the shelter. And she is a sweetie, like she has, she has this sweetheart inside of her, but I think whoever had her before just didn’t. They didn’t teach her any [00:02:00] manners. They didn’t pay any attention to her. So we have a lot of training and teaching to do, but she, like, she is doing better.
Rebecca: She’s a sweet dog.
Anyway. All right. Well we are here with season two. We are so excited to dive more into the history and culture and excitement that has come to our attention over the last few months, and we’re starting off strong with Colorado and another coffin race.
Laura: Yes. And so this one I did not get to go to because once again, life came barreling down the track at me and I ended up having a house full of people and a backed up sewer system the weekend this happened.
So I told Rebecca that for my sanity I was not gonna go. So Rebecca, went, and experienced Frozen Dead Guy Days in Estes Park, Colorado. And I stayed home and waited anxiously for a plumber.
Rebecca: The joys of home ownership are just endless.
Laura: Don’t think they’re joys. Rebecca, I think I was tricked by American society to think that I wanted to own my own house. I mean, I’m stuck now. We own it. We’re, we’re, we’re done. But so far it’s, it gets like a C minus Yeah. Right now.
Rebecca: I keep finding contractor specials around my house,
Laura: Oh, neat.
Rebecca: Like where they haven’t finished drywalling or they just left like a giant chunk in the floor of tiling behind my stove.
They just decided it didn’t need to have tile. back there. Or you know, and most of their like, oh, they didn’t screw in our light in our bedroom properly. So if someone had hit it, it would’ve all come crashing down.
Laura: Ugh. Anyway, so yes. So Rebecca today is going. Tell us all about her experience at Frozen Dead Guy days. And then what I am planning to do is to go over, you know, some of the history [00:04:00] behind frozen dead guy days, as well as like just talk about. Cryonics.. And cryogenics. And I’m also gonna talk a little bit about like polar plunges and some of the science.
Rebecca: Frozen Dead Guy Days started in Nederland, Colorado, which is a tiny community, a little bit south of Estes Park The roadway is known as the peak to peak highway. And so it’s there. It’s just tiny little community.
I want to say like they maybe have 5,000 full-time residents, maybe smaller than that, and they used to have this event there, and it just became so much more popular than anyone expected, and so they ended up deciding this year that Nederland couldn’t do it anymore, and so Estes Park stepped in because they have like facilities for festivals and activities. I think it was a really smart move just knowing how tiny Nederland was and that it would be really hard to host. I would say close to three to 5,000 people over a whole weekend coming up in and out for the event.
Laura: Basically doubling their population.
Rebecca: Yeah. Well, and then another thing too is it’s a really nice situation where because they have the extra space, they could turn it into more of a festival weekend.
So they had a lot of concerts. They partnered with the Stanley Hotel to do events. Mm-hmm. Like a Winter’s ball. And just a variety of other things. So they had stages set up in multiple locations you could go and experience some music, and then they also had their other main events.
one thing that’s a highlight of the event is that they have coffin racing, but of course we’re doing it in the winter. And so weather can be unpredictable, but there’s kind of this wacko track that’s usually like snowy and muddy and like more complicated. And the biggest thing is that they’ve got to carry their coffin so there’s no wheels on it. Like the one in Manitou Springs.
Laura: Oh, okay.
Rebecca: Where they’re just running in one direction.
They have to go over all these things and then their corpse has to get in and out of the coffin. Multiple times to [00:06:00] go over different areas. They have to do like circles around things. It’s like if you’ve ever watched horse, like barrel racing almost, it’s like they have to go certain places and do certain curves and like it’s all timed.
So whoever’s fastest and they’re paired off and then they limit it down, limit it down. It’s kind like the Manitou races, and then eventually they crowned their winner. So one of the teams we saw in Manitou Springs, the Nauti side, was also running in the Frozen dead guy days.
Laura: That just sounds fantastic and I’m sorry that I missed it cuz like, it was, the, the Manitou Springs coffin races were a hoot and I can’t like, I can’t even imagine having to carry that down a track while you’re trying to run and keep up with your team.
Oh, that, like, it sounds very stressful to me.
Rebecca: Yeah. I think it, I think most people just take it as fun. A good example is they had the LGBTQ plus community of Estes Park do a team and they were all in rainbow outfits and super cute and like they knew they weren’t really gonna win and they had this like fun coffin and those all rainbow sparkly.
So they stopped about five yards from the finish line and then set off all these rainbow colored smoke bombs. They knew they were losing and they’re just like, we’re just gonna make it fun. And so like, that was really charming. So, you know, it’s a mix of like, some people are really into it for the competition, and then most people just wanna have fun. They wanna have a laugh. They wanna get their friends together in a wacko costume and then run around. So that was kind of the highlight. That was the big part I wanted to see and compare it to the Manitou Springs one. Both are hilarious. I highly recommend trying to go see them if you can.
And then the next thing was on Sunday they did a polar plunge and they cut a big. Block of ice out of Lake Estes. And people, they could, I think it was like 10 bucks for entry and all the money was going to a good cause. And basically [00:08:00] they got to run in and jump into the frozen water. People chose costumes and really the idea was to make it again fun and like a tough man competition. Mm-hmm. So essentially the idea is like you’re gonna freeze your ass. You’re having fun. They had people there to help with any type of concerns of drowning or you know, anything.
So it was very safely set up and people just had a blast doing it from what I saw.
Laura: I mean, super happy that some people enjoy that. I don’t think I could handle it. I did all of like the, the research and reading up this week about polar plunges and like preparations and stuff and that doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time.
Rebecca: It’s like, what do they call it? Secondary fun or like type two fun. Yeah, that’s the whole thing I’ve started hearing lately and I am definitely a little more in the type two fun category. I’ll go hike, you know, six miles for a pretty view and be exhausted and sweaty and nasty and then camp for an additional three days.
And I realize most people don’t love that. I feel great doing it, but that’s not always somebody else’s thing. But on the flip side, like I will go to a concert or a theme park and like dance my ass off and have fun on roller coasters. So I’m a glutton for experience and seeing things. I think I would do a polar plunge if I felt more confident in my ability. To do it without going into shock. Cause I, that happened to me once. That was great.
Laura: Wait, did you jump into cold, icy cold water once? Water?
Rebecca: Yeah. Yeah. So I was a teenager and you know, teenagers are full of brilliant ideas. And
Laura: teenage, Rebecca,
Rebecca: There’s this place near where I grew up in Teller County, going into Park County. And we called it Paradise Cove. I think now it’s labeled as Guffy Gorge and you have to pay, but like nobody used to go there. So it was like this hangout spot for the Woodland Park and Cripple Creek teenagers. It ‘s all mountain runoff and [00:10:00] this was like maybe June, late June
Rebecca: At, you know, 9,500 feet above sea level. And I decided I was gonna go cliff jumping for the first and last time because when I hit that icy water, I went into shock and almost drowned. And luckily I had friends with me that helped me.
And I was able to swim to shore. Okay. But it was not my best moment.
Laura: Oh gosh. I can’t even,
Rebecca: so be careful.
Laura: I have seen a lot of things come across on my, my different feeds for social media where people are doing ice baths and stuff. And I was like why, and apparently there are some benefits and I’m gonna talk about those here in a little bit.
Rebecca: And I’ve heard that too, cuz like they have these like cryogenic, small freezer things that, athletes will use, they go in for, I don’t know, 10 minutes or something. And it’s a crazy low temperature and it’s supposed to help with body recovery and kind of like icing an injury.
So I could see there being benefits for sure. I’m just, there’s a level of, where is it too much?
Laura: So do you wanna talk a little bit about like the, they ac so why Frozen Dead Guys actually got started because we know where, where it started, but why did it get started?
Rebecca: Yeah. So I. I’ve always thought the story is weird, like way weirder than the Manitou Springs Emma Crawford. It’s 20th century weird. This is like something out of a horror movie from the forties. So apparently this Norwegian guy had his body preserved in Nederland in a building, and then somehow the authorities found out about it and there was kind of a kerfuffle and it like made news. It was kind of un upset about it. And then the city decided basically to commemorate this dead guy that [00:12:00] was frozen. And so we have frozen dead guy days. So it’s like, it’s a very simple story. I know it probably has more truth to it than the Emma Crawford story. So, Laura, do you wanna bring us up to speed on what the hell this story is?
Laura: So, long story short, frozen Dead Guy Days is specifically about this one guy that was frozen in Nederland. But how he got there is weird. So he was from Norway. Norwegian dude passed away. Mm-hmm. In 1989. November 6th, 1989. And there wasn’t really an any notes that I could find about why, but he was immediately packed on ice.
So he kicked the bucket and then they tried to freeze him as quickly as possible. And then they packed him off to Los Angeles where he was, at that point, cryogenically prepped and frozen.
Rebecca: So where was, where did he die in Norway?
Laura: He died in Norway.
Laura: So, so they froze him in Norway and took him to Los Angeles and took him to Los Angeles. And then he was kept at this Cryogenic Institute. But his grandson. Who lived in Colorado at the time, made arrangements for his grandpa to be sent to him in 1993 because the grandson, whose name I’m not even gonna try to pronounce. We’ll link you guys to something on the website so you can go and try and pronounce his name. I will not get anywhere close.
Grandson had his grandpa shipped to him in Colorado. Grandson and his mom had this, had this wild idea that they were gonna open a a cryogenic facility. In Nederland., I don’t know why it, it doesn’t seem,
Rebecca: I mean, it’s tiny in 2023. I cannot imagine how tiny it was [00:14:00] 30 years ago.
Laura: I mean, you could have probably sneezed and blown it off the map. So I don’t know what was in the head. They had grandpa shipped to them. They stuck him in the garden shed because that’s what you do with the corpse of your grandpa.
Rebecca: Wait, like, okay, hold on. How, how, okay. Just like semantics, like you have a frozen corpse. How the fuck are you preserving it in a garden shed? Is there a tube that he’s in? Is it like electronic or, what is
Laura: And that’s where it gets kind of,
Rebecca: The murkiness of the murky of the legend. Yeah.
Laura: I believe that this is all, all true. Because it is just fucking weird enough to be true.
Rebecca: Yeah. Yeah.
Laura: Grandpa has been cryogenically prepped and frozen.
Rebecca: Right, right, right.
Laura: Cryogenic suspension requires you to be frozen and kept in liquid nitrogen. You have to be kept at a temperature of negative 196 degrees Celsius. Super cold. You also, there’s a process where the, the blood. In the body is replaced with medical crate Antifreeze. Basically that’s what it is.
Rebecca: It makes sense,
Laura: what it does is it, you, you replace the blood and the veins with it. Cuz normally if you froze the human body the, the water in the body is going to crystallize into ice and it damages tissue.
Rebecca: And we talked about that in the Body World’s episode too, is like you have to do something to remove the moisture. Or it’s just gonna decompose, or, or it’s just like you’re not, well you’re gonna turn into an ice block and that’s not gonna do anybody good.
Laura: So so there’s all these things that have to be done to the body. Well, they didn’t have liquid nitrogen to suspend. His name was Grandpa Bredo Bredo Morstoel. So anyway, grandson and his mom did not have the money to suspend grandpa in liquid nitrogen, so they just kept him on ice. And it was a problem.
Rebecca: I’m so sorry, to the the Morstoel family. I shouldn’t be laughing at this. I’m [00:16:00] just like, this is such a “We mean well, but we don’t know what we’re doing.” kind of story. And I’m just like, why couldn’t grandpa stay in Los Angeles? It’s my understanding with Cryonics that they have facilities that people pay into to keep their corpses for X amount of time or like forever, it costs a ton of money, but like people pay it and I’m guessing grandpa here paid it to stay in Los Angeles.
So I, unless like maybe something happened where he couldn’t stay in the Los Angeles spot or like, and that’s again like where we don’t know totally the story. Where’s basically the grandson and his mom. So daughter. Brought grandpa to Nederland and kept him in a garden shed on ice.
Laura: So my guess is grandpa paid for the service. It’s not like you get to make a payment plan after you kick the bucket. Everything is required up front and grandpa was sent to Los Angeles, but I think what happened is grandson was like, “I wanna start my own cryogenics facility” and had the Los Angeles people ship it to him.
This is just speculation, I’m guessing he gave him a bald-faced lie, like “Yeah, I definitely have the facility to keep him. I’d like him in my facility”
Rebecca: which is a garden shed. In the mountains of Colorado, outside of Boulder.
Laura: And, and I mean I, I’m sure that they were using a different method, like maybe like ice, giant ice blocks. But I can’t stop picturing them just going down to like the seven 11 and getting like 50 bags of like the. Ice that you get for your drinks at the barbecue. and just like laying ’em on grandpa in the garden shed.
Rebecca: Would that be good enough or would they have to go to like Sonic and get the Magic Ice? Because you can buy bags of ice at Sonic.
Laura: I did not know that. I’m gonna have to go to Sonic…
Rebecca: Obviously preserving things in ice or frozen is not an impossible fete people have deep freezers. We have freezers and our refrigerators, like back in the day, ice blocks were used to keep things fresh. Like an ice trailer on a fucking [00:18:00] locomotive was sent across the country in the late 18 hundreds with oysters and shit, so people could access it. So it’s not impossible but it’s not the cryogenic freezing that grandpa signed up for.
Laura: Honestly, probably once he was put in the garden, shed like, even if cryonics becomes a legitimate proven science sometime in the future, because it is not. I think they probably screwed it up because Morstoel. Was held at only 109 negative 109 Fahrenheit. It should have been more than three times that much.
His mom sells Grandpa Bredo’s house in Norway to help try to fund the, and kickstart this cryonics facility.
Rebecca: It’s my understanding too, like this is millions and millions you need like hundreds of millions of dollars to set something like this up.
Laura: For sure. Because the facilities that exist today Huge. There’s a lot of things to be taken into consideration.
Rebecca: To put into perspective, how tiny Nederland is they have a gas station and I think one or two restaurants. That’s it. The town doesn’t even have a hotel. Like if you wanna stay nearby, you need to stay in Estes Park or you need to stay like further south off the I 70 corridor. There’s no resources there. Yeah. Like I’m sure a lot of the town and surrounding area is on well water because they don’t have a city to filter water and pump it out to people.
Laura: This isn’t really working out, obviously I don’t know how much a house in Norway would go for in the 1990s, but I’m guessing it’s not hundreds of millions. Grandson decided that he was gonna. Blow up the popularity of Nederland and you know, maybe get some sponsors or something for his business. So grandson was like, I’m gonna break the world record for ice bathing, which ties into everything we’re talking about today.[00:20:00]
So he invited all of the local newspapers
Laura: and he jumped into this 1500 gallon tank of freezing water in February, 1994. And he did break a world record apparently. But because he brought all this attention to himself, somebody realized that his visa had expired. Like, “Hey. This guy that jumped into the ice bath in the middle of nowhere.”
Rebecca: “He’s, he’s here illegally.”
Laura: “Yeah, we should probably send him back”. It got very dramatic, a deportation warrant was issued for him. He’s like, “I’m a fugitive from the law”. And like, I guess he sorta stayed out of. You know, INS’s clutches for a little bit, but they did eventually catch him and kick him back to Norway.
His mother was left behind. And so she’s like, oh, I’ve got this frozen body. And they, they had at some point added another frozen body. I think it was his grandpa’s friend or something. So they had TWO!. Right, right. Like, and I, I believe that this is all pretty factual. Because I guess if grandpa wasn’t enough, with two, that definitely tells your investors that you are serious.
Rebecca: Got two bodies sitting on ice cubes. Have y’all been watching Yellow Jackets?
Laura: I have not.
Rebecca: Okay I don’t wanna give any spoilers, but this is what it’s reminding of. Maybe they all had little like chats back there.
Laura: Oh God
so anyway, the mom was left behind.
And, She was eventually given an eviction notice because like they had been trying, like living off the grid, trying to evade authorities and, and everything else. Well, she was given, she was given that notice because the house that she and her son had been living in, didn’t have any electricity or plumbing.
And she’s like, well, I, I have to stay, like I have, [00:22:00] I have frozen dead bodies in our garden shed. And so she, like, she tells the local paper,
Rebecca: I just have two corpses hanging out back,
Laura: I have frozen corpses back here, N B D. And she tells the paper and she’s like, “I need help keeping, you know, not being evicted because I have to take care of these frozen dead guys” and People in town were like,” oh, hell no”
All these people show up to be like, “what the actual fuck”. And it, it didn’t take long. It hit international news.
Rebecca: Okay, so they’re being evicted because they don’t have proper electricity or running water at their house. They have two corpses in their back garden shed on ice, and the woman pleads with the, the city or with her community to help her because she has two corpses on her property and she’s being evicted.
Laura: Yeah. She’s like, so you can’t evict me. Because I have these dead guys and I have to be here to keep them frozen. Or they’re gonna decompose. And so of course she tells the local paper this, and it goes from the local paper to the town clerk to the mayor, and everybody shows up at the house.
Rebecca: Again, tiny town. So. Culturally, everyone knows everyone’s business, so like mm-hmm. You tell two people and the whole town’s gonna know in the day.
Laura: Yeah. Oh yeah. Honestly, I’m surprised that they got away with it for as long as they did with nobody knowing,
Rebecca: for real. So this is like 1994?
Laura: So about a year.
Yeah. So anyway, they, this, this blew up in, into international news and the, the town of Netherland had to hold, they held an emergency town meeting. They’re like “Oh my gosh. What do we do about this?” so they passed an [00:24:00] ordinance that says the whole or any part of the person, body, or carcass of a human being or animal or other biological species, which is not alive on one’s property is illegal to have And
Rebecca: laws no one, I thought they would have to make, right.
Laura: Bredo’s daughter was found guilty of living in the building that, you know, didn’t have the, the amenities required to live.
And she violated a lot of zoning codes and all this other stuff. Okay. So she was deported as well. Okay. And the, the other frozen dead guy who oh, his, his name was Al Campbell. He goes back to his family. And I guess they, they’re like yeah, this is weird. They’re gonna, and then they cremated him.
Rebecca: Imagine getting that call being like ” so you know how we told you that we were taking care of your person’s corpse. We can’t, so you can have it back. Would you like it?
Laura: Would you like your grandpa’s body back? And like the community of Netherland was like, yeah, we don’t, we’re, we are gonna bury this, this other dead guy, we’re, we’re gonna get rid of him because this is fucking weird. However, Thank God for the internet.
Rebecca: This, so this would’ve been early internet days, early internet days.
Yeah. Grandson over in Norway starts email chains and like aggressively posting about cryogenics on, on different websites and stuff, and somehow eventually the, the town leaders or whatever in Nederland are educated about cryogenics. This is the part where I’m like a little bit confused by how all of this fit together. Because something changed and the town [00:26:00] is like, “okay, I guess we’re not gonna bury this guy we’ll just build him a better shed and still keep him on ice.”
a couple of the articles I found said that grandpa Bredo was grandfathered in under the new law. So yeah, so that. Long ass weird ass story is ba basically led to Nederland having Grandpa Bredo become this like
Laura: Yeah he’s still there and they still periodically repack him with ice. The thing that weirds me out about it a little bit is, they have to know that. Again, like I said, even if cryonics becomes a viable science in the future, his body is not going to
Rebecca: I mean at this point they’re just keeping around a frozen hunk of person.
Laura: At this point they’re just keeping hi his corpse frozen. For what? Posterity.
Rebecca: I guess so. I mean, but then my other question is obviously, see, like I hear rumors. That it’s gone and they’re just saying that, but have people been to see this corpse? Like did you find any evidence that people have seen it and like can back that up.
Laura: I mean I think people have seen it because there are like, there are photos online.
Laura: But yeah, I’m pretty sure you can go to see it because like it’s, it’s a touristy thing for the town now I’m sure that they get some kind of income from people checking out the dead guy
Rebecca: we are adding it to our list,
Laura: I guess. I dunno, I, as soon as I saw that, I was like, Rebecca’s gonna wanna go see the dead guys.
Rebecca: Yeah. I mean, naturally.
Laura: You said this before, but like frozen dead guy days was held in Nederland until it started getting too big. And so a portion of the proceeds for frozen dead guy days goes toward the maintenance of grandpa [00:28:00] Bredos body.
Rebecca: That makes sense.
Laura: As far as I know, he’s still there. I guess they could have replaced him with a plastic look alike and nobody would be able to tell the difference cuz it’s not like you can go in and like touch him, but you can like look in the shed because the shed, it looks like it has like glass in it so you can look inside. And I’m sure it’s like only the people who like perform the maintenance can actually walk inside.
Rebecca: It’s not the first time that a body has been kept around and preserved in some way. Like there’s a lot of places around the world. Obviously, you know, Egyptian mummies are probably the most famous version of this, but you know, there’s places like the Garden of Eden in Kansas where the guy had himself basically mummified to be laid to rest in this wacko. Place.
Laura: Too much money.
Rebecca: Yeah. And time, I think but that’s really cool. So he’s, so Grandpa Bredo’s still chilling on the ice. Chilling.
Laura: Yeah. Literally.
Rebecca: That’s why we have the coffin races. I think from my understanding is they kind of took the idea from Manitou Springs and they’re like, we’re gonna make it our own and we’re gonna make it more intense and we’re gonna do it in the winter.
Laura: Everything has to do with the legend that, you know, the, the coffin races all and all the like goofy stuff they have to do and you know, the polar plunge and, right. Didn’t they do like a frozen t-shirt contest too?
Rebecca: They did, yeah. And I, I didn’t know that had anything to do with the story.
Laura: Yeah. I don’t know that that particularly does, did you participate?
Rebecca: I did not. I was like, I’m gonna be the press and I’m just gonna witness what I can. I will say like, it was really, really busy the entire time we were there. It will be cool to see what they can do in the future. I mean, it’s just another one of. Weird Colorado, small town activities. Let’s just bring people in and have fun with it. And, I’m a big fan of the idea of second Halloween, which is kind of what it felt like. Yeah. You know, and I, for me it’s like third Halloween cuz I went to a conference for Halloween stuff in February. So I’ve been like, just ridin’ that high of Halloween weird macab events for the last few months.
Laura: Oh, that’s [00:30:00] so awesome.
Rebecca: And I think, you know, revisiting the Manitou coffin races would be worth it as well.
Okay, so polar plunging, obviously this isn’t just a Colorado or this event thing, like I’ve heard. This is done, especially in Scandinavian countries a lot. Mm-hmm. And like most recently I learned that there’s a thing called brown fat. Yes. That kids have. So when you’re telling your kid to wear a damn coat cuz you’re frozen, your kid’s probably fine because they have more brown fat, which is essentially a survival thing. So people that live in like really cold temperatures most of their life, they have a higher amount of brown fat. So they’re more resilient to cold weather. And I think for myself, I grew up at a really high elevation and like winters could be really, really cold. Mm-hmm. And like I’m usually when I’m out with friends, the last person to put on a jacket cause I’m usually overheating. And I don’t love temperatures to get above 85 degrees on a regular basis. I’m a little bit salty about living in the flatland, having a lot of those days
Laura: it gets so cold here, but then it gets so hot.
Rebecca: Yeah. I’m like negative 30. Wind chill in the winter and then 110 degrees in the summer.
Like, it’s great. It’s great Fahrenheit for the record.
Laura: So polar plunges I didn’t do a whole lot of deep diving into like, the history of polar plunges. But I, I did definitely look into a couple of different things as far as this goes.
Probably one of my favorite things that I I, that came up as I was looking into Polar plunges is there is in the Czech Republic. There is a group of senior citizens who do regular cold water plunges throughout the winter, and the custom dates all the way back to Christmas in 1923.
And they all get together and they do it and it’s just like this huge source of camaraderie and friendship and trust. Cuz you know, when you’re doing this, you know, you have to know. That your friends have your back if something happens. Because even if you’ve [00:32:00] been doing it for decades, like these people have, there’s always, safety risks.
Rebecca: We talked about the risk of shock and going into shock, like, I don’t think mm-hmm. People always realize, How cold it can fill on your body. You know, again, like your body’s homeostasis is like what, 98 degrees approximately. So when you’re all of a sudden introducing yourself into water, that’s probably 20 degrees. That’s gonna be quite invigorating.
Laura: It’s going to be, yeah. Surprising.
Rebecca: I mean, even in Mexico, they warn people when you go swimming in cenotes, because it’s all underwater fresh water. Oh. And so, it might be a hundred degrees on the surface, when you’re at chichen itza or wherever, but then when you go on that water, it’s gonna be about 65 to 70 degrees.
So, It feels really, really good. Mm-hmm. But it’s, when you first get into it, it’s like, holy cow. They tell people to go pee before they get in because they don’t want people peeing in the water. Because that’s the main drinking source for most of the Yucatan Peninsula
Laura: oh, wow. Oh. And they people just swim in it.
Rebecca: I mean, they also say no sunscreen. That’s a whole, that’s a whole story. Yeah. I love cenotes. I am always happy to go in one, but they’re not always everyone’s thing.
Laura: Shock is, is the biggest risk. And so the American Heart Association, which is where I got a lot of my information about the safety risks. Sudden immersion in water that’s under 60 degrees Fahrenheit it can kill a person in, in less than a minute,
Rebecca: I believe it. Yeah.
Laura: If you fall in and you’re not immediately pulled out and steps taken to start trying to like warm your body again. It can be fatal. Which is why the, the polar plunges like anytime You go to one there are eMTs, on hand. A safety team. All kinds of people there to make sure that if anything does go wrong, it’s handled.
Rebecca: Obviously it is a pretty high risk and that’s again where the, the shock, but then also hypothermia. And you know, especially like if you’re in all of your clothes and you don’t have a way to get [00:34:00] dry and warmed up
Laura: One thing that is Recommended if you’re doing a polar plunge, is if you’re jumping in and totally submersing yourself, you really don’t wanna be wearing a whole lot.
Rebecca: Most people just like go in a swimsuit from what I’ve seen.
Laura: If you’re wearing a lot of clothing, that clothing is holding that cold up against you. And you’re out in the cold air. And the longer that you have that exposure, the longer that your skin is wet. The more of a risk that you have cuz you know that that shock it increases your respiration rates it increases your heart rate and your blood pressure immediately. And if you’re in there for too long the blood starts to rush away from your extremities. We’re in emergency mode, we’re gonna protect the organs.
You immediately start to have a decrease in circulation and in coordination, which is again, the risk involved in, you know, shock. That’s why you don’t want to do it alone,
Rebecca: Absolutely. Well, and that’s why, you know, people get frostbite on their fingers and their toes so much easier again, because that blood flow is not going into the hands.
Laura: People can definitely get hypothermia, frostbite, et cetera, from just cold air exposure. Cold water sucks the heat out of your body 20 times faster than just cold air. So that’s why when you do like a polar plunge like that the, the recommended maximum time that you spend in that water is no more than two minutes.
So there, there are definitely a bunch of risks associated, but that’s not to say that there aren’t benefits to ice baths. Like we mentioned. And like I said, you know, the, the senior citizens that like just go do cold water plunges. In the winter. It’s most commonly known to help, reduce inflammation in the body. And it can kind of help reduce some cardiovascular risks. this is all, different person to person. One thing I [00:36:00] should actually back up and say just about the safety risks is anybody who’s interested in doing a polar plunge in the future or whatever, You should really check with your doctor. Especially if you have any underlying health risks. Anyone with heart health issues of any kind they generally recommend that you do not. Because the shock can affect you much, much more than someone that just has regular heart health. .
There, there are a lot of different, like claims for benefits of ice baths and like, I, I’ve seen a lot of influencers doing them lately. Definitely a lot of athletes have reported that it helps them reduce next day muscle soreness after, you know, like, Hard game or a really tough workout, things like that. So it, it can help with your muscle soreness and, and things. And a lot of people are like, you know, it can help you with mental focus. I mean, freezing your ass off suddenly, you know. Makes things a little sharper.
Rebecca: As someone that doesn’t really enjoy heat, I do like a good sauna and a good hot springs and stuff, because I do find it really relaxing and therapeutic, but I don’t know, the cold just seems miserable it is just like too extreme. And I would much prefer cold day over a hot one.
Laura: Another thing too, regular cold water immersion can supposedly help with is the body’s response to insulin. And that is tied to the activation of brown fat, which, which you talked about earlier. So, brown fat. And I, I actually learned this from a good friend of mine who, you know, who, who’s got the relevant degrees and she works in the, in the health industry. She was telling me that babies, especially newborn babies have brown fat, so when new moms are like, oh, she’s gonna be cold, like I totally was with Lydia. She told [00:38:00] me, she’s like, actually, like babies have brown fat and that keeps them warmer. Yeah. You know, it, it insulates them better and you know, it’s, it’s linked to metabolism and insulin and blood sugar levels and everything.
So kids actually do stay a little bit warmer than adults do because they still have a lot of that brown fat.
Rebecca: I havejust noticed it in the last five years or so, as I’m gone from my twenties to my thirties. I notice the cold way more than I did five years ago. It can be the same temperature, same humidity, and it just bothers me much more than it did back then. So it’s like, I know some of that has to be the change from just not being out in the cold as much. And not having as much brown fat as I did even five years ago.
Laura: Yeah so the, the cold water immersion activates that brown fat. And there’s a chemical reaction that takes place in the, the white or yellow fat that, and don’t ask me to explain the chemical process.
I am a historian.
Rebecca: We’re liberal arts people. We, we don’t know, the science
Laura: but anyway, the, so this, there’s a chemical process that takes place that, you know, if you do this, these regular cold water immersions, it’s eventually going to help that chemical reaction in the, in the white fat, right Turn to the brown fat.
Because if your body is constantly experiencing that cold, It’s like, okay, well I need to build up more of this. Because I need to keep the, I need to keep everything warm and the, like I said, the brown fat helps with blood sugar and insulin levels, which As a diabetic, I’m like, oh my God, gimme some of that.
Rebecca: I mean, it could be a good option, but I, you know, again, like check with your doctor kind of thing. Yeah.
Laura: And so there are also people who think, who say that, you know, having more brown fat on your body like helps burn calories. The research into that inconclusive. There’s no proofof that at this time.
Rebecca: Just the idea of [00:40:00] having something that could protect you from the cold more is attractive. And then also the idea of like, oh, it could help. with insulin pancreatic issues. That’s really cool. Mm-hmm.
Laura: That part of it was, was really cool to me. And you know, a as always, like, again, we are historians, we are not scientists, we are not doctors ask your doctor. If cold plunging is right for you.
Rebecca: And just so you know, we never give medical advice because we have no way to do that. We do not. This is all for funsies and this is about history and culture. So putting that pin in there we’re not medical people.
Circling back onto the idea of Cryonics and having Mr. Norwegian guy sent to a facility in LA, why would someone sign up to go through a cryonics process? And it’s not the catchphrase cryogenics. Like people say, you’re going to be cryogenically frozen. But from what I understand, that’s not actually the right word for it.
Laura: So I mean, they’re, they’re definitely related. Cryonics is the practice of preserving life by pausing the dying process, using subfreezing temperatures with the intent of restoring good health with future technology, whereas cryogenics it’s the branch of physics that deals with the production and effects of very, very low temperatures. So they interlink.
Rebecca: You need cryogenics to make cryonics happen.
Laura: Yes. And for example, cryogenic facilities, Are like the Super Collider. That deals with creating very, very low temperatures and, and science. Science. All the science that I don’t understand.
Cryonics is specifically deals with freezing people. People generally want to do this because they don’t want death to be the end.[00:42:00] They believe that if they freeze their body right after they’re declared legally dead. That they can maybe have a chance of being brought back to life in the future when technology has advanced enough that they can, you know, regenerate the body and bring life back to the brain. There are several different facilities around the globe. I will say that a lot of the patients at different cariogenic facilities are Americans. Because of all the people on the planet who thinks they deserve to do it all over again.
Rebecca: That is 0% surprising
Laura: you will also not be surprised to learn that three quarters of all of ’em are men.
One of the facilities that I specifically looked into and there’s actually a cool video , we’ll put that up on the website and everything. Walks you through the facility and, and kind of talks about everything. The Alcore Cryonics facility located in Scottsdale, Arizona have 170 patients every single one of them has been declared clinically dead. They were immediately frozen after they were declared dead, and then they were taken to the facility and they have all paid money to do this. I think it’s about $250,000 thereabouts. For, for a full corpse. However, if you’re on a budget, you can freeze just your head for only 80,000. So they will lop off your head, freeze it, and
Rebecca: I only agree if they do it with the guillot.
You know, whole patients and they call ’em, they call the people with who just froze their heads neuro patients. Because the idea, of course, is in the future they, you know, they’re not gonna have the same body, but they’re hoping that science [00:44:00] will advance enough to where their brain can be taken out of the head, and either put into a different body or. My dream is to become a cyborg. I don’t know, I guess I want to be the Terminator.
Rebecca: Okay. Okay so the idea is they’re holding onto their neurology rather than wanting to be able to use their full human body, they’re holding onto the mental capacity that lives in the head.
The bodies at Alcore specifically are kept in liquid nitrogen, which is cool to me because, they’re in these great big, huge silver cylinders on the stasis floor. And if the power goes out the bodies are unaffected because they’re suspended in that liquid nitrogen. The video that I watched about it, the employee that was kind of doing the walkthrough said, we have backup generators to keep up the computer systems and stuff, but the bodies are not affected. The bodies will not. Defrost if the power goes out and is out for a while.
Rebecca: That’s impressive. I mean, just in like a fact-based, this is where science is at.
Laura: This is of course, an unproven science. Nobody has at this time ever revived. Resurrected, whatever you wanna call it, a human body.
Rebecca: Dr. Frankenstein has no work right now.
Laura: the facility in Scottsdale, they are all there because they have hope that in the future technology’s gonna be able to revive them. The one heartbreaking one is there was a little girl. She had brain cancer, her parents decided to have her frozen. Because they’re hoping, hoping, hoping that someday she can be revived and science will have advanced enough to, you know, treat the cancer Yeah. And everything. And [00:46:00] that like that broke my heart.
Rebecca: I mean, that’s such a hard thing, like as parents you know, your child never got the chance to live their life. You know, I suppose a lot of people would take the opportunity to try to allow them to have that. And it’s something that I think everyone hopes they never have to deal with, but it’s a reality.
Laura: I feel like it’s in that way, like it, it gave a little bit of hope to those parents, you know? I’m sure they understand that there, there’s no guarantee they’ve given themselves that little tiny sliver of hope. Of, of maybe
Rebecca: What’s the theoretical of how long they’ll keep a body, like hundreds of years if need be..
Laura: They are basically there to be kept until. Science has reached the point where they can be revived or, or when they, they feel like they, they have a chance to revive. Whether that takes 50 years or 200 years as long as the facility is still standing, I think those people are gonna be there.
Of course there are a lot of skeptics. The skeptics in particular are like, okay, you’re preserving the body, but we don’t know enough about the brain, and how it works. To, to even have a hope, at least in this present time, of reviving the brain and having a person be the same as they were before they died.
Rebecca: Yeah, I mean, neuroscience is a very baby. Branch of medical science, like it’s only got maybe 40 years of like real research and understanding.
Laura: Yeah. And most of the experts, they seem to agree there really can’t be a way at this moment in time, To preserve a brain without doing some kind of damage.
Either to the tissue or to the, the, you know, the, the neurons and, and how everything is set up in the brain.
[00:48:00] One guy, and I think it, this might have even been in the same video about the, the facility. This one guy was like, you know, we are a long, long way, decades, maybe even hundreds of years from knowing exactly how the brain works and how to preserve it. Without losing any information, without losing personality. Things like that.
Rebecca: I think there’s evidence to show that it could potentially work. And I can understand, again, having that hope of like bringing back your child or that your child gets to live and in a future century or yourself. But again, it’s like a lot of newer sciences, like we just don’t have enough fact-based evidence to say yay or nay on any level.
Laura: I’m sure it’s nothing we will see in our lifetime. You know not unless the aliens come down and take pitty on us.
Rebecca: I think they’re avoiding us. It’s like going to, nevermind. I’m not gonna make that joke. We’ll just say, I feel like we’re the Florida man of the universe. not Florida specifically, but Florida Man.
Laura: There’s a meme online where it’s like when aliens drive past our solar system, they roll up the windows and lock the
Laura: There’s no judgment there.
Rebecca: We live here. We understand.
I always think of Futurama when we’re talking about Cryonics and all the little heads hanging out, especially the Nixon and, and the Beastie Boys. I mean if they can bring back the Beastie Boys for future generations, I think that will benefit everybody. But Nixon.
Laura: I love that show.
Rebecca: That is our story around Frozen Dead Guy Days. We highly recommend you check it out in 2024. It is likely to take place in early March as it did this year and stay at the Stanley.
Listen to our Stanley episode if you want some more information. On that one. We are so excited to bring more stuff coming up this season.[00:50:00]
Laura: What kind of, what other things do we have coming up for this season, Rebecca?
Rebecca: That’s a great, great question. Definitely have some on our radar looking at the Sand Creek massacre, which I think is super important and really sad. So, big trigger warning on that one. What else are you thinking?
Laura: We are definitely gonna be doing an episode about the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming.
Rebecca: I think we also are gonna start exploring more stuff locally, definitely wanna dive into some additional areas that I think need some more light on. Such as LGBTQIA plus history history of transgender people in the world, and. Including the United States and the West.
There’s plenty of people that passed as the different gender than what they were assigned at birth and live their lives as such, which I think is an important part of our story as a culture that people like to often ignore.
Laura: Yes, for for sure. I have so many resources on drag and cross-dressing. Especially in surprisingly, The old West. The old American West. So we’re definitely gonna do an episode about that. Lots of really good, interesting deep topics coming this season.
Rebecca: That is episode one, season two of Dark Wanderings. If you’d like to support us, please visit our website at darkwanderings.com. We have also set up a store so you can buy some merch and support us that way. If you’d like to follow us on Instagram, it’s Dark dot wanderings.
Laura: On Twitter. You can follow us at Dark underscore Wanderings. And we also do have Facebook. You can just look us up as Dark Wanderings podcasts.
Rebecca: And we now have a tik tok, which is Dark dot wanderings.
Laura: I forgot about the TikTok.
Rebecca: We’re trying to, we’re trying to do the ticky talk and pretend that we’re cooler and younger than we are.
Laura: Are we cool and relevant?
Rebecca: We’re trying.
Laura: Oh, I turned 35 on Tuesday.[00:52:00]
Well, that’s our episode. Thank you for joining us for our new season of Dark Wanderings.
Music was done by AudioNauti this has been a livelihood co-op production.