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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"I Grow Old" For Mothers Day

Click photo to read.

One of the prominent memories I have of my mother goes back to 1962. It was the Cuban missile crises, which although was taking place thousands of miles away from our Montana home, was still of concern. I only had a slight idea of what was going on, but then again I was only 6. I do remember my mother being very worried and listening to Walter Cronkite, as he spoke of what could happen should mistakes be made. The part of this that is burned into my memory, is me standing in our front yard just behind my mother. A breeze moving through the trees, just enough to make me notice fallen autumn leaves slowly pass over the shadow of my mom . She turned and looked at me as the city did a test of the sirens which would warn of an impending nuclear attack. The fear that it placed in me will not soon be forgotten. As the sirens ripped through the cool fall air I stepped close to my mom and my little shadow was soon consumed by moms. She put her arm around my shoulder and soon much of my fear was brought under control by her touch. It was not until many years later that I started to think about my parents mortality. I distinctly remember that I thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that they could not die before me. I simply could not handle the idea. They did pass however and it was painful. My father, in 1998, from a relentless cancer and my mother,in 2003, of the combined effects of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. In both cases they suffered enough, and as painful as it was, it was a relief that they moved on to the next step.
Over the past few years I have reflected a lot on that October day in our front yard. I give thanks to this woman, Celina M. Cole, for casting a tall straight and comforting shadow that will remain with us kids, until it is our time to move on as well.

Randy J. Cole

Friday, May 1, 2009

Crisp Montana Air

During the winter of 2007,my wife Chaniya and I went to Turner Mountain ski area near Libby Montana. I had planned on a few shots of the ski lift from the parking lot. I had no interest at all in going up the hill on the lift because I am a chicken. I really am not impressed with heights. My wife put me on the spot when we were approached by the lift operator who invited us to take a ride to the top. I politely told him that my wife would not like it much but as these words left my mouth, Chaniya said, "Honey, I think we should do it. I was stunned and now trapped. We had to go up the hill, my little wife from Thailand said we should. To back out now would expose me as a coward. We went and it was a treat for sure. The beauty could not be measured. Chaniya held on with both hands to the center pole and kept her eyes shut most of the way up. I was very proud of her for making me go. The photos that I shot on the trip up and while on top were some of the best I have taken to date. Thank you dear for being so brave.