I know I’ve been horribly remiss in keeping up my posts on here. My only excuse I’ll offer as justification is lack of motivation. I’ve gone through a bit of a dry spell – photographically speaking – and I even contemplated getting rid of my cameras all together so I wouldn’t feel that ever-present need to do something with it. Between work and family I’ve found it increasingly difficult to give time to something that, at times, feels so counterproductive. It’s been two years since I sold my art reproduction and photography business but I still find I struggle with the feeling that I need to make money with a camera if I’m to deem it worthwhile. I know that’s not the case; it’s just a hobby now. Maybe it just takes a little more time to forget.
For the sake of both our time I’m going to make one monster post of photos to get things caught back up since last summer.
At the end of October last year, I completed my work in Iraq. I have to say I will miss that place and the people. What a positive circumstance it was to interact with them!
This last hitch in Iraq, I made a new friend.
(Iphone photo – sorry for low quality) This kitten had siblings but they all died from the poison that was distributed around the rig site to kill off the mice. Someone gave very little thought to bringing in cats to control the mice AFTER laying down poison. One of the kittens was outside our control cabin and it was dying a very slow and agonizing death. Me and another guy finally put the kitten out of his misery. The kitten on my lap in the photo above, I found afterwards. He, too, was covered in the white powder poison but had not yet ingested it. I gave him a good bath with some dish soap and water and after he’d dried we put him outside. Afterward, for whatever reason, he stayed away from the poison. We kept him well fed so he wouldn’t try to eat the dead mice lying around. When it was time for me to head back home, I asked my friend, a man from one of the nearby villages, if he would please take him back to his village away from the all the poison. He was glad to oblige. I like to think the cat is well but in a country where people have greater troubles than we can imagine, it’s hard to see where one would have the time and interest to take care of something that neither provides food or income. I fear it’s going to be a hard knock life for that little guy.
That’s me on the right, and my buddy Dave on the left. We were on our way from the rig back to Erbil and had to make a quick stop for our driver to relieve himself. Made a perfect opportunity to pose for photos with us holding their AK’s! (chambers clear, safety on) This was the last time we’d make this trip. The day after, Dave and I flew to Vienna, Austria and then back to our respective homes. The Iraq job is over. I have to say, after 7 months have gone by, I honestly miss the place. I’ve always had an appetite for adventure: seeing new things and meeting people different from me. The project in Iraq satisfied all of that.
Once I got back to the States, my family and I went to stay the night in a cabin in the Appalachians – Tennessee side. We missed all the fall colors but it was still a nice trip.
My 7th youngin’ still had a month left in the oven when this photo was made. We spent the day walking around Cade’s Cove in Tennessee. This was the front porch of one of the preserved homesteads within the historic Cove.
So, after our trip to the mountains I got a call from work to help out on the North Slope of Alaska. What a life! How many people get phone calls like that. “Can you fly up to the Arctic Circle for a few weeks?” There’s that adventure streak again.
That evening I did the best I could to put together some cold-weather clothing. That is not the easiest thing to do in North Carolina. We have coats here but for the Arctic you need a COAT. I had no idea how to prepare since I’d never been anywhere that cold before. I flew the next day to Anchorage Alaska where I spent a few days in a school for those who will be working up on the North Slope. Interesting to say the least. I’ve never had to check beneath steps for polar bears before but they told us we would be doing that up there. Yeah… Can you see it? Wrapped up in all that arctic gear trying to run from a Polar Bear. Forget about playing dead! You’re gonna see a coffee-cup-weilding pig-in-a-blanket sprinting across the frozen tundra! The other training was good though. About how my face would break off after a few minutes exposure, and how not to get lost walking a few feet from the building to your truck. Good stuff.
From Anchorage, I took an airliner up to Deadhorse, which is like Grand Central Station for the North Slope. From Deadhorse, I got on a plane not much bigger than the one in the photo above. That took us to the Alpine base camp. I spent the night there and the next morning I got picked up by truck to head off to the rig site that was about 15-20 minutes away.
Not much to see, eh? Since it was only the first week of November, there were still spots on the tundra where plant life still could be seen. The only wildlife I saw up there were foxes and ravens. Thankfully, I had no mishaps with the bears.
We weren’t up there for vacation. This is the rig we were working on. Everything is boarded up to minimize heat loss and block the ever constant wind. It helped, but not much. I learned that Sear’s carries no steel-toe boot that is any sort of match for the Arctic’s cold.
Lights and heaters are everywhere. You definitely have to work differently up there. Work for a few minutes then go inside to warm back up. It was really hard not feeling like a slacker up there. When it came time to rig out all of our equipment, it took much longer because we spent so much time warming up. It’s not like any cold I’ve ever felt. The cold up there gives your body that kind of feeling you get when your well-being is threatened. It is seriously cold!
The arctic clothing is so insulating that when you have hard labor to do, you very quickly find yourself suffocating in all of it. Getting wet from sweat is not good. It was a warm -35 F so I thought I’d strip down and dry off for a minute.
It was not the most pleasant conditions in which to work outside. Shivering cold then hot and sweating, then freezing, then your glasses condense your sweat which turns to ice, not fog, so you can’t readily wipe it off. We spent a lot of time thawing stuff out.
I only spent about 3 weeks up on the Slope but I was definitely ready for warmer weather after that. I flew back to Anchorage and left the next day for home.
My next job took me to the Gulf of Mexico out on a good sized Tension Leg Platform (TLP)
All those pipes going into the water are individual wells that are being produced. Look at that water. Talk about blue.
We spent Christmas and New Years on this rig. The rig crew was friendly and the food service really went out of their way to make the best of things. We had a bit of downtime which we cured with Foosball.
After we finished drilling, the Rig sent us to shore in New Orleans for a few days while they cemented the casing.
I have to say, New Orleans is not among my favorite places in the world. Glad to say I’ve been but really couldn’t care less if I ever went back.
Folks, that’s all I have for now. I do plan to post some more photos later. I’ve yet to include a post of my random favorites from over the years of shooting. I’ll make it a point to get to that sooner rather than later.
Until then, peace be with you.