Thursday, December 31, 2009

Romancing The Moon

Image and words by Randy J. Cole

Take your child by the hand and lead them to the sky. Introduce them to the great grandmother of imagination, the silent heavenly body above, our moon. Peaceful and grand she means little in the eyes of the average. To the artist, the scientist, the dreamers, and oh yes the lovers, she pulls at the their hearts as she does the tides of this earthly home as if to stimulate the dreams from within. On a clear night full of her reflection, introduce your young to the place where science fiction was born and reality ventured on the soul of man. Gaze upon her as human kind has done for thousands of years and be carried away, for she is beautiful.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paridee Kositchiranant

Just a note to point out that I have added two new sites in my link area, “Good Stuff To Look At.” The new links are, "What’s Good In NYC." and "Paridee Arts & Design." These sites are authored by a young lady from Thailand that came to NYC with a dream and has worked very hard to make it happen. Her name is Paridee Kositchiranant and she is an accomplished artist working in several different medias as well as an accomplished fashion designer with Polo Ralph Lauren in New York. She is good people and keeps herself anchored in the real world by volunteering at Children Services. Instead of going to a swank NYC Halloween party she chose to spend time helping with a Children Services party for some of the less fortunate children in New York. Like I said she is good people. I hope you enjoy her sites as much as I do.
The piece shown is Self Portriat By Pardee Kositchiranant

Saturday, October 31, 2009

32 Chevy

1932 Chevy fire truck. Libby Montana Fire Department

This is a 1932 Chevy firetruck that is owned by Tom Wood, Fire Chief of the Libby Montana Fire Department. I have been planning on a photo project for sometime with this truck. I finally had my chance last week while I was home visiting my kids and friends. This is the one I chose for the piece.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life Is Like A Cup Of Coffee

This is a great video sent to me by a friend. You might want to pause my blogs music while you watch. I really needed this today.

Monday, October 12, 2009


A few photos of the sunrise this morning on the North Slope AK. Time was about 7:50 am.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grant's Shadow

Image by Randy J. Cole

The wind has a snap to it as it stirs up swirls of snow, moving them across the frozen tarmac of the Deadhorse Alaska airport, like lost souls seeking directions to warmer weather. From the warmth of the Northern Air Cargo terminal looking through the weathered south side glass, one cannot help but notice the tall surefooted man in the yellow vest walking across the tarmac. He does so with much more confidence then most. He seems natural on the slippery surface. The seeds to this sure footedness were perhaps planted in 1936 at the Winter Olympics. It was there, in Germany, that this man’s grandfather, Harrison Stacy coached the Belgium hockey team.
Grant Jennings, was born in 1965, in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan and raised with his older brother and younger sister in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada. Grant is a quiet individual and somewhat imposing, and that is before one finds out that he is a former defenseman with the National Hockey League.
Working on the North Slope in Alaska can be interesting depending upon ones job but what makes any job better is getting to meet the interesting people that you share the harsh environment with. Over the past year I have gotten to know Grant while spending time at the Deadhorse, Airport while performing my duties. Grant, is an aircraft mechanic and one of two that works on the private 737 aircraft owned and operated by two major oil companies on the slope. You have to be a tough individual to inspect and repair any kind of mechanical item when it is minus 30 degrees, let alone a multi million dollar aircraft. Grant’s interest in aircraft evolved from his father, who was a bush pilot in Canada and helped influence Grant to always have a skill to fall back on. Aircraft mechanics seemed to be a natural decision cultivated by the time he spent helping his dad maintain his aircraft while growing up. In later years after he hung up his pro skates, Grant would graduate from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, earning the right and displaying the abilities to work on some of the most sophisticated aircraft produced.
Grants professional hockey career started in 1985 and ended in 1998. The time span in between was filled with many highs and lows like any other career. During the pro years Grant played with the following teams.

Washington Capitals
Hartford Whalers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Toronto Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres

It was while playing as a defenseman with the Penguins that Grant reached for the golden ring and caught it not once but twice. Season 90-91 and season 91-92, Grant and his team mates won the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t get much better then that. If you have ever wondered what one of those rings looks like up close I can tell you that they are very impressive. During a conversation with Grant I asked him if I could take some photos of his rings. Grant was kind enough to bring them to the North Slope during his following tour. He allowed me to hold them and take photos. I would never have asked permission from him to put them on my finger, to me that would be just wrong, kind of like asking a sitting King if you could wear his crown for a few minutes. I was satisfied that he brought them up for me to see. I asked Grant to put them on his fingers for a few photos and while he did so I asked him what the most memorable moment of his career was, Grant paused for a moment and said he had two. The first being a winning goal he had made during a game against Boston, and the second was the first Stanley Cup win. Grant was quick to point out that although those two things were important, they were small compared to the two greatest accomplishments of his life to date, his two sons, Harrison 13yrs old, and Gordy, who is 2yrs old. With this simple statement Grant elevated himself to a new level, way beyond the reach of Google or Youtube. Grant is just a hell of a nice guy, and most of all, a caring father.
On a side note, June 12, 2009 the Pittsburgh Penguins brought home the Stanley Cup for the third time. It was pretty exciting to watch the game and even more so knowing that just a few miles away was a guy who was a big part of the Penguin’s Stanley Cup history.

Image by Randy J. Cole
Best wishes to Grant and his family.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Its Official

It is official indeed. Winter has arrived on the North Slope. Our first good dusting of snow is on the ground and temperatures are dropping. The kicker for the change in season was the large flock of Tundra Swans flying over at about 10:15 a.m. I have to admit that I just wasn't ready for the shot. My camera was tucked away in it's bag. The photo sucks because of the distance. When I realized that they were swans, it was just to late. Anyway, to those in North Carolina and Chesapeake Bay area, heads-up. They are on there way. You should see them in early November. The Swan is the last migrating bird to leave the slope. It is a struggle at times watching a handful of parent swans trying to encourage their young to reach goals set by mother nature. When the time comes, and the young for what ever reason has not met those goals, they are left behind as food for the hungry fox. That is what nature is all about.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunset 9/15/2009

Image by Randy J. Cole

Sept 15th @8:25 p.m. Interesting shot from the east shore of Lake Coleen, Deadhorse Alaska. This is right outside my current camp, actually more than a camp. It is a very nice hotel that was constructed this year. I am lucky enough to be housed there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Takraw in Portland

It was a great day in the Northwest today and I was introduced to a sport that I was unaware of until I accompanied my wife and her friend Ben, to a small Buddhist temple in Portland. The occasion was an open market where Asian food products are sold. It also happened to be the location of a Takraw tournament. I never heard of it either but I am now a fan This sport has been around Southeast Asia, since the 15th century. I have never seen anything like it. Each team has three players that do battle with a hollow woven ball about the size of a cantaloupe. The teams are divided by a net not unlike a volleyball net but just a bit shorter. The object is to blast the ball over the net and onto the ground before your opponents can react. Now your saying well it sounds a lot like volleyball but there is a catch. You cannot use your hands. I watched with slight interest at first until I witnessed Takraw emerge as so many things. Volleyball, ballet, modern dance, ballet and martial arts. I was stunned. Although this round was won by the Portland team, everyone was amazed at the skill of the visitors. They were from Boise Idaho and more than once made the crowd gasp at the skill they displayed. The gentleman on the Boise team that was set up by his team mates to score defied gravity as you can see in these photos. He only failed to land on his feet twice during the match. Anyway, if you have a chance to view a Takraw event, don’t pass it up.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Parka Squirrel

Parka Squirrel stops by for some sun! Prudhoe Bay Alaska 08/22/09. Considered a wonderful snack by the local brown bears and just cute by us humans.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Sandrift “Wilbur, You Did Such A Wonderful Job”

“Wilbur you did such a wonderful job!” These were the words cried out by the loud boisterous nurse with the southern accent moments after my father, Wilbur, died in his hospital bed, September 28th 1998. As she spoke these words she threw open the curtains which protected us from the outside world during our private moment. What a wonderful move it was on her part and I will never forget it. As the curtain parted I almost expected the appearance of a great entertainer, it was that dramatic to me. The healing of the living started as the sun emerged from behind the clouds. A large cross had been formed by the passing of two jets miles above the earth and we as a family looked at it as a sign meant specifically for us. The nurse was referring to the manner in which my father had managed his death but I now look at it as a representation of the way he lived as well. The following is a short story of one of his iteresting accomplishments while serving in the U.S. Army in Khorramshahr, Iran, during World War II.

Laughter is carried in the dry breeze across the nearby railway tracks into the forbidding desert. For the locals who did not speak English, a curiosity of the content of what was being viewed by the Americans must of made for some interesting conversations, after all who the hell was Humphrey Bogart? The location was Iran, 1943 - 44. I never asked my dad if he ever fired a shot during the war. I was too impressed to learn that he built a theater in the middle of a desert to really care. My dad, Staff Sgt. Wilbur G. Cole, was a carpenter during the war. A man with limited education but endless in his abilities to design and construct functional things that made ones life easier and more pleasant. Wilbur had to leave school when he was in the 10th grade to help his father run a ranch and cut ties for the Great Northern Railroad in Northwest Montana. Like most families back then they had to survive with little. During the early part of the war, my grandmother who I never met, used to panic when she saw a dust being kicked up by an approaching car. She was always worried that the government had learned of her extra 10 pounds of sugar she had stashed. Wilbur, while helping his father with the orders from Great Northern prior to the war, saw the need for transportation of the school kids to and from the Iron Creek area outside of Troy, Montana, including his younger sisters and brothers. The result was a make shift school bus made from the flatbed stake truck used to haul the railroad ties. He incorporated fold down seats along the sides, of his own design and made regular runs as one of the areas first school buses. That is the kind of thing my father did.
Dad joined the Army during the war and had worked his way to Staff Sgt. when he was sent to the dry deserts of Iran. He built many projects that he used to talk about, officers clubs, barber shops, including barber chairs of his own design. We grew up in a house that my father had built, and outside next to the house dad had constructed benches for enjoying the Montana evenings. These were benches he designed for the officers club in Iran but worked very well for a bunch of kids with growing pains.
The theater which was named, “The Sandrift,” offered movies of the day starring western movie stars under the stars of the middle east. It is so American and I am sure it was the focal point of many romances between American soldiers and maybe female support staff. The photos shown are taken out of my dads Iran photo album. A treasured piece of history for our family. It would be interesting to know when the theater met its end. It would also be interesting to have a glimpse of the stories that had there beginning under the stars while the films ran. I know how at least one story ended. You did do a wonderful job Wilbur!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Flight 23 Point Hope 2001

Point Hope is a great distance from just about everywhere. The Police department was equipped with short term holding cells. Anyone needing longer then a day behind bars would have to be flown to the Village of Kotzebue which is south of Point Hope by just under 200 miles. When this occurred we would load the prisoner or prisoners onto a private air carrier such as the one above. The Cessna Caravan is a common site in Alaska. I remember a particularly busy weekend in Point Hope, where someone smuggled some booze into the village. Bad news and illegal as the remote villages in the North Slope are dry. A cheap fifth of whisky will fetch $150.00. It is also a common practice to make booze which has its own set of health issues and risks. On the weekend mentioned we dealt with a number of assaults and one bad car accident. I found this to be strange as there is a very small road infrastructure that goes nowhere. The driver, a female was without a doubt intoxicated and traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle rolled over several times. She managed to stagger away with bad bumps and bruises. More than the local clinic could handle but not serious enough to send her out on a medivac aircraft. At about the same time this was going on, I was dealing with a drunk guy that was struck across the head with a 2X4 after he had attacked another drunk. It turned out he also had a warrant for his arrest so while the aid crew attended to his small blood gushing wound on his forehead, I was placing him into handcuffs.
The Bering Air Cessna Caravan landed and three passengers boarded through the small door. The plane only held about ten passengers and a pretty good size amount of freight in the belly. There were already three others in the passenger area and they looked very concerned as the big police officer got onboard with two bloody drunks in cuffs. Rightfully so I might add. As the aircraft left the ground and made its first turn, the male drunk reached for the puke bag with cuffed hands and began what would become known as the puke fest of flight 23. Note to self: Small planes do not carry enough puke bags to accommodate more than one drunk per flight! BYOB.
As the male drunk wretched, the female reacted in kind reaching for her own little bag. Let the contest begin. It was like talking to someone who starts to yawn and yeah, you start to yawn and so on and so on. As the horrid smell of vomit filled the small cabin the pilot’s eyes burned a hole through his cool Ray Ban sunglasses and into my soul, wishing bad things on the nice policeman who dared bring these two buffets of madness onto his clean aircraft. The fact that this writer gags when changing diapers made this flight perhaps the worst I have ever been on. I am pretty sure that the other passengers on the plane felt the same way as they tried to cover ears and plug noses while praying for a strong tail wind. They should have been praying for more bags! How long does it take to fly 200 miles in a Cessna. I really couldn’t tell you because I had an out of body experience trying to find a happy place to hide. The best I could come up with was the Chucky Cheese in Rapid City SD, where I used to take my kids to when they were little. Didn’t help a bit as the two drunks began to plead for more bags. The only one remaining was in the tight grip of an elderly native lady near the front of the plane and she wasn’t about to let go. She was also wearing a pair of cool Ray Bans, hmmm, maybe she had a son or daughter that was a pilot. The pilot did the best he could to keep the planes nose up so the horrid liquid which now formed deltas on the floor of the aircraft stayed at the back of the plane with me.
Touch down in Kotzebue brought a new meaning to, “get me off this f*^@#*$ plane” as we all gasped for fresh air. The only ones not feeling better were the two with the cool Ray Bans, the pilot and old native lady, both finding new reasons to dislike drunks and cops.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Your Truck Will Be Right Down

There is only two ways to get large items to Point Hope AK. You can fly it in on an aircraft if it fits, or by barge as seen here during the 2001 sea lift.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Hope

I took this photo during one of my outings on the four wheeler on the shores of the Chukchi Sea, which separates Russia from the shores of Alaska. It also happens to be the hunting grounds for the seals which the local natives use for food clothing and as the exterior skins for their whaling boats or “Umiaks.” For this reason the photo I took of the clouds seems to take on a special meaning. To me it appears to be the shape of a seal diving . I showed it to one of the local Elders who also was at the time one of the last remaining Shamans. She too felt it was a spiritual message.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Point Hope II

Exploring the area around Point Hope was amazing to say the least. The photos shown here are of the old homes built underground by the early Inupiaq people. The structure was built using whale bones as the frame work as we would use 2X4’s today. Once the frame work was complete the area around the living quarters was covered with dirt and sod. An open area on the top was covered with seal gut membrane to allow light free access to the home. There are still a number of these old homes at thee old Point Hope village site. While I spent time out in the old village area it always felt as though I was being watched. If ever there was a place of haunting, this would be it. The natives can tell you many stories about such things. I heard a few odd stories from other officers who were assigned at Point Hope at one time or another. It was an amazing place filled with interesting people.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Prophet Of Point Hope?

Mr. Nashapuk, who's grandfather told of his prophecy. It seems like such a long time ago since I was a police officer in the village of Point Hope, Alaska. It was an interesting time in my life. Being a police officer in a very remote village will teach you a few things about life and about yourself. Some of those things you might not want to know. The village is home to just under a thousand people and is the largest remote village in the North Slope Borough. Barrow Alaska is the equivalent of a county seat. Barrow being the farthest northern community in the United States. The only way to get to Point Hope is by aircraft or across the tundra by snow machine when there is snow, and of course by boat. Point Hope is said to be one of the longest continually occupied areas in North America. It is the site where the land bridge extended from what is now known as Russia.
Point Hope is made up of 98% Inupiaq natives. The rest are a mix of folks who have moved to Point Hope for various reasons. If you live there one thing is for sure, you better be tough, and when I lived there be ready to pay over $6.00 for a gallon of milk. That was back in 2001. There were supposed to be three police officers in the village but it was just another officer and myself while I was there. I will save those stories for my “Life In A Sandbox” tales to be continued at some point in time. For now I will just cover some interesting people and places as well as non related law enforcement tales about Point Hope. One such tale is about the gentleman in the photo. I actually cannot remember his first name but I will never forget his last name, Nashapuk. The name is important to me because of his brother Henry, but that is a different story. The gentleman in the photo is holding a handcrafted baleen basket. It is small but expensive. I bought one like it for my then wife Julie. They are weaved from baleen which is the inner upper portion of a bowhead whales mouth. These can range in size from 2ft to as much as 12ft in length. The baleen is used to separate sea water and food in the whales mouth. The whale will take krill or maybe small fish into its mouth. The whale then forces the water out using the baleen as a strainer. Once the water is ejected, the whale will swallow the food left behind. In the early days of whaling until the early 1900’s, baleen was used to create things such as corsets for woman because of its flexibility and strength. As its use dwindled as a result of new manmade materials, the natives began to improvise turning it into art work that could be traded and sold. The little basket in Mr. Nashapuk’s hand would be valued between $200.00 and $400.00. The small white piece at the top is ivory. The top is usually carved into shapes such as whale tales, polar bears, seals and such. I love talking to people and Mr. Nashapuk was no exception. He offered up a story about his grandfather that made wonder about the future. It was shortly after Sept. 11th, 2001. I stopped at his house to tell him I was leaving Point Hope to work on the Prudhoe Bay oil field. We sat in his living room and 9/11 attack was the topic of conversation. He relayed a story about his grandfather some sixty years prior, standing outside staring to the south. He said that his grandfather spoke slowly as he described his prophecy. He said that he could see thousands of people moving across the tundra heading north trying to escape the great fire! With the attacks on our country so fresh we pondered the possible scenarios. Did his grandfather see a nuclear war, or perhaps climate change? Maybe a celestial object such as a meteor striking the land to the south. What ever the case it was chilling.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flight 132

A few pics from inside one of the Conoco / BP 737-700 that flies the oil field personnel back and forth to and from the Alaska, North Slope / Prudhoe Bay. The weather wasn’t that great last Monday and the shots were a little disappointing. We were at about 30,000 ft. over the Brooks range and just beyond. The flight takes about 1.5 hours to get from Anchorage to the Slope. I make the trip at least twice a month.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day Trip to Arcadia Beach Oregon

Someones dream gone to hell in a hand basket.

A flock of pelicans approach.

Chaniya strolls.

Chaniya and I are reflected in a bubble as it is swept by with the wind.

Pelicans do a flyby

We started our day trip a bit late, about noon to be exact. The drive is about an hour and forty minutes to get to Cannon Beach and just down the road is Arcadia Beach. It was such a good day. Not too many people and a lot of great photo opportunities. What a place!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Toby Jr. Takes A Break

What’s the difference between a grizzly bear and a brown you ask? Not a lot really. The browns live in areas closer to the coast and are a little larger then the higher elevation grizzlies, such as the ones that live in Montana. They are both best left alone. The polar bear is considered a marine mammal and of course lives by a whole different set of rules set down by Mother Nature. Much of the focus that centers around climate change, is based on the effect that it is having on the polar bear. It is true that climate change is taking place and it is having an effect on all species. Climate change is not new however. The area in Alaska that I work in, was once a tropical forest. It is still in question what effect man has on the process. The bottom line is that the polar bear will adapt to changes in the climate if not by mutation, then by adapting by breading with the brown bear which it has already done. It is just my opinion of course but I do see this as the new order of things. I would imagine that what you end up with is a bear more capable of surviving in more adverse conditions then before. The hunting skills and abilities of both animals. This is Mother Natures way. The photo was taken a few years ago and I admit the quality is less then perfect. It was a long shot with my 75 X 300 maxed out. This particular bear was alleged to be the off spring of the North Slopes most famous bears, “Toby.” Toby was one of the last character bears on the slope. He was smart, very smart and had grown up dealing with the security personnel. He knew exactly how far he would have to go into the tundra to avoid the cracker rounds. Toby would then just lay down and look at us knowing he had won. Toby was shot and killed after charging a group of people in the Prudhoe Bay Hotel a few years ago. This was after he had broke into the second story fire escape looking for some food. His death was reported on CNN and we all felt the loss. His offspring , like the one above, still roam the tundra.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Polar Bear in the Cotton

I am ashamed of myself for not posting this photo earlier. It is one of my favorites. I took this back in 2004 I think, in September. One of our functions as security is to monitor bear activity and report to the feds. We are also all trained and certified by the Department of Wildlife to haze both brown and polar bears on the Prudhoe Bay oil field. By hazing I don’t mean getting them drunk and making them pick up marshmallows with their butt cheeks. By hazing I mean making them change direction by honking a horn, a short blast on the siren and at times cracker shells. These are launched in the direction of the bears from a shotgun and a small explosion occurs letting them know they need to go the other way. This is a last resort especially with the polar bear. As a rule they will visit the field and just rest in a location for a day or two then move on usually back to thee ocean. For all of us that have been assigned to sit and keep an eye on polar bears, I can tell you it is a privilege to see these beautiful creatures up close, (but not too close) in their natural surroundings. The oil companies go to great lengths to avoid disturbing them. An example would be the ice roads that are built every winter cannot be within a one mile distance of a den containing a female bear and her cubs. The pregnant female dens in the winter on shore to give birth.
The bear is the photo was a female approximately three years old. Most likely just kicked out on her own by her mother. I was observing this bear and while doing so, I was listening to Bruce Hornsby’s CD, Halacon Days,” which had just been released. The music was great and I sent a note with the photo to his web site and explained the circumstances. I never thought I would hear back from him but I received a note via e-mail, “I didn’t know I was writing polar bear sound track music, but I love it!” The photo and our exchanged was on the front page of his web site for a year. A short time after this happened I saw Bruce in concert in Baltimore, while taking a vacation on the east coast.