Disclaimer 1: I'm safe, unharmed, and nothing and no one was damaged, destroyed, or even badly injured except for the occasional twinge in the wrists and hands.
Disclaimer 2: There are more anecdotes coming, and I'm intending to get blogs up over the weekend - there's just quite a lot to write about and a lot of pictures to whittle down to decide which I use.
So, onto the story...
In Minnesota (yes, this will be explained at the weekend - ed.) there is a big lake. It's called Lake Superior, and borders at least 2 US states plus Canada. It's the largest great lake, and the beaches are frozen - as is twice as much lake as beach. And I do mean frozen; it's ice - and on the lake, the ice moves up and down, whilst on the beach it stays still.
So, our party is walking the beach carefully; I'm scouting safe places to go, being the lightest (...yeah, the logic escapes me too) and I'm walking the sand-ice, testing as I go - with my leg, the only thing I can test with. So, I see a peak of frozen sand rising from the ice which seems to be a thin layer over sand; I walk toward it, testing as I go - clearly, the other side is the lake. Suddenly, just before I get there, I'm not standing on sand any more; I'm more up to my chest in water at sub-zero temperatures. I shoot, near vertically, out, and stand on something...
And again, the ground vanishes under me, and again, I'm up to my chest in sub-zero temperatures. Again, I shoot out. This time I am on frozen sand... With ice-covered water, of unknown width, between myself and the rest of the beach. Except for where I went through the ice, of course. At which point off comes the leather duster (undamaged), out of my pocket comes the wallet, the mobile phone (undamaged), the digital camera (undamaged), and the inhaler (I didn't want to lose that. Getting hypothermia and losing one's inhaler in one day sounded like a recipe for disaster).
And then I jump... and reach sand. We traipse up the beach and I strip to underwear and a borrowed fleece (any charges of indecency that might be raised against me at this point are rather mooted by suspicious activities in the car next to ours in the lot...), and other than scrapes (numerous), bruises (large), and pervading cold (temporary), everything is fine again. Huzzah, and lesson learned: Not everything that looks like one can walk on it can be walked on.