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Why Polar Bear ?

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Polar Bear

Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 110
Location: Denia Spain Ex Birmingham UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:17 pm    Post subject: Why Polar Bear ? Reply with quote

Well .. you guys asked for it .. so here it is ... the true tale behind my strange name. Best to grab a drink and find a quiet corner .. maybe Rolling Eyes

“Thalarctos Ursus Maritimus” Humm … Polar Bear, so what’s with the name, Buddy?

Throughout most of my life I have been called many things, some quite complementary names and a few others that I will not embarrass you with here. Generally I’ve been known as “Thalarctos Ursus Maritimus”. This has nothing at all to do with me being a Roman Gladiator, it’s just, the real zoological Roman Latin jargon for “Bear of the Sea”. You might know the other, more commonly used, names “Ice Bear” in Germany, “Oso Polar” in Spain, “Arctic Bear” in the USA or just plain old “Polar Bear” in the UK. So .. it’s not that unusual for people to eventually ask me the obvious question .. “Why is it, Polar Bear, that people call you Polar Bear”?

Well, the story starts, way back in the 1960s, in the days when the flames of so-called “Cold War” between all the Cowboys of the Western World and the Red Indians of the USSR were still burning, quite hot and not really cold at all! Having “Run Away to Sea” (with the blessing of my Dads rapid Signature!) in 1956, I was serving as a Seaman/Diver/Underwater Weapons Specialist, come general Dogs Body, in what was then known as the “Special Services” branch of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. As a member of a small team (One Officer and six Ratings) They called us ‘Combat Divers’ and we took part in some really crazy, very “hush-hush” type, covert underwater activities and goings on. During my fifteen years of fairly ‘active service’ life I dived, literally, into just about anything and everything that looked even remotely like liquid, anywhere, anytime all around the World. Our dive sites included: shallow, (untreated) sewage systems; stinking, stagnant Storm Drains, fast flowing rivers, thick coastal mud, oily gunge, jungle swamps and on into the warm, deep, crystal clear, shark infested waters of the tropical oceans. Not forgetting the black, cold, polluted, oxtail soup, harbour waters around industrial Europe. We received a “Extra Special Payment” for this type of work, “Two Bob a Day”, wow, that’s about 10p (Cents) these days. Our tiny “Dive Team” was one of several such small groups of men that were constantly being moved, “drafted”, around the Globe, as deemed necessary by the powers that be, in order that we would be right there, “on site” and ready for action, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. One of our better team “postings” was a nice little nine month jobby, based on board the Chemical Warfare (totally gas tight) Frigate, HMS ******* (If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you). She was, around that time, employed on what they rather amusingly called .. Fishery Protection Duties.
Fishery Protection .. “Oh Really”  way up in the freezing ice packed waters well inside the Arctic Circle, “somewhere”, sort of, just off the coast of Costa Del Greenland. Greenland is often credited with the title of being the worlds largest island, it is a big chunk and most of the time these days it is surrounded by open water. However Australia also lays claim to the title although it really is a Continent, not an Island, or so I’ve been told.

Before we venture any deeper into this frozen area of land, sea and ice it might help if I explain that the Royal Navy never, not ever, did anything the easy way. There were no such words as simple or straightforward in the big, blue bible Handbook of Seamanship. So, in order to justify the miserable existence of seven men and at the same time, make it look like we were really doing something, remotely resembling worthwhile, the powers that be always gave us a few little (often very odd) jobs to do. On this particular trip we had a very nice and really interesting mixture of new Diving Equipment, from various manufacturers, to try out, test, evaluate and report back on. The task was to evaluate the all-round performance of this diving equipment, on, in and under the ice of the Arctic seas. This work included days (and nights) when we lugged lots of heavy dive gear, in and out of our Zodiac and Chinook inflatable boats, onto the thick solid ice and moved inland well away from the open water. Once the officer in charge decided that the pack ice was thick enough for safety (normally about 3 or 4 feet) we would set up a “base camp” of tents and start work with ice drills and cutting tools.

The collection of ice “core samples” was another job and this was part of the routine for cutting large holes through the ice. The ice cores might contain ice that was hundreds, thousands or even millions of years old. They would be put inside long tubes, sealed up tight and ferried back to the ship and carefully stowed in her deep freeze compartments, ready for analyst by some scientific egghead, when (if ever) we returned to civillisation. When the Ice Hole was cut, we Divers would then complete our “kitting up” and safety checks before dropping through the hole, in our regular buddy pairs, “bosh” straight into the freezing cold, mile deep water, on the end of a lifeline. This is without any doubt the closest that “man” can ever get to “Walking in Outer Space” without all the fuss, bother and paraphernalia, not to mention US Dollars, involved with launching rockets. After twenty minutes or so, providing there were no problems with the equipment on trial, our little nippy dippy-dips would be bought to an end and the other lads in the team would haul us out! Oh yes of course, I can well understand that all this might not appeal to many normal (sane) people, bit too far on the cool side for most, never mind the other dangers! We would often joke about never drowning, “The bloody cold will kill you first, Pal”. It’s a fact that human life expectancy in these waters (without the right gear) is no more than four minutes and in reality most people would be dead within three minutes or even less. However, let me assure you that this really is not only one of the most challenging and dangerous things that man can do, it is also one of the most spectacular, mind blowing, wonderful experiences any human (or Combat Diver) could ever undertake! It really is another world down there, a very special place indeed. If you get it right, just for a few precious moments .. Mother nature will allow you to share her magic! During the daytime it’s just like floating inside the very heart of a giant crystal glass chandelier, glittering and alive, with all the ultra-bright colors of a rainbow coming alive as the penetrating sunlight bounces them around within a giant kaleidoscope. In the blackness of night, when this strange underwater world seems to be even more silent and still, our powerful lamps would really focus our eyes onto watching the colored bubbles of air, when we breathed out, seeing them rise and expand. I used to kind of “feel” the bubbles excited rush for freedom, as they “tinkled” their way ever upwards inside this giant glittering mass of angles and shapes. Eventually they would all reach their high point, frantically joining up to form larger bubbles and then pockets of shimmering gas, maybe to stay trapped forever, there in the silence of inner space, right there under the ice .. right there under the ice .. with me.
Being honest .. in the beginning this deep freezing inner space idea can be quite frightening, I don’t tell lies and those that do not admit to their fear down there are probably reckless fools. Overcoming this very real but quite natural fear is part of the job and the training. A Combat Diver must be able to function, think and act as required no mater where or when he enters the underwater world, a place that mankind was never really designed to live, once we leave our Mothers warm, wet and watery womb that is.

In the Navy we were taught, very early on, that all diving is safe, until you forget that it can kill you! After a few dives the fear and the danger can be (has to be) mentally overcome, if you fail to overcome your fear you fail to become a Navy Diver .. and most guys fail! The safety routines used were pretty much idiot proof and the trust that we all built and developed within the team would enable me to kind of mentally “switch off” from the world above and drift into a new state of wonder. I could consciously control and slow down my breathing rate, physically relaxing and more able to marvel in my mind at being allowed to enter such a place, a special place that very few men are ever allowed to share. Down there I could forget the crazy world above, the discipline and routine of life in the Royal Navy could be left behind, I could physically drift and mentally appreciate all the wonderful sights before me.

Watching bubbles is also a very good “trick of the trade” used by divers as a visual aid for maintaining some degree of orientation. It’s very easy indeed for divers to get totally “lost”, not really knowing which way is up, down, back, out or anywhere else! “Sensory Depravation” is the fancy name for it, the diver has no real true sense of touch because of the thick gloves, and the air filled dry suit, hopefully he will have no taste, any taste in the breathing mixture is an indication of air suply pollution and that can mean very serious problems at depth, no smell for the same reasons and very distorted hearing, because sound travels about five times faster through water than it does through air, so although you may hear a sound you may not be able to determine where it came from. This leaves only the sense of sight and even then your vision will also be distorted. This is due to refraction (a slight magnification) because you are looking though the air inside your mask, the glass and then into water, the optical plane of your eyes is changed and everything seems to be slightly closer and larger. Air bubbles rise, they only ever go one way, up, so that gives the diver at least one visual “datum” that he can use, should he (or she) start to feel more than just, normally totally lost, and get that age old “Stuff this .. I want my Mom” feeling Surprised(

To help avoid (prevent) Divers wondering off and getting themselves totally disorientated, during this type of “limited surface access” activity the Navy always follow a standard procedure. The rules state that each Diver must be connected to his ‘surface buddy’ in the support team, via a strong lifeline. Each diver will have his own regular line “tender” and a very close working relationship and total trust would be developed between each and every member of the team because when your tender was the diver underwater you would “tend” his line. This hand held lifeline system also serves as a simple means of communication, using an official system of “rope signals”, combinations of long “pulls” and short “bells” (two quick tugs) on the line, it was possible for us to feel every move and almost “talk” to each other up and down the line. There was (is) also always a “Stand-by Diver”, again with his tender at the ready, fully kitted up, alert and ready to fit his face mask and enter the water in seconds, should the order be given, should the need for any kind of assistance or a rescue arise. Everything is done in a set routine sequence, following well tested procedures that have been developed and updated over long periods of time. In normal peacetime operations every order is repeated verbally, loud and clear, every word, every move, every detail, is also recorded in writing on a special Dive Log slate along with the exact time, nothing is left to chance. All military type diving is very well “controlled”, the routines are followed, to the letter, including the actions that are to be taken by each man in the event of an emergency! In the Arctic (as well as other locations as required) we also normally had an armed marksman (Old style 303 Enfield bolt action Rifle, the don’t freeze up so easily ;o) on site. This not only provided another little ‘odd job” for someone in the team to do, while he stood around shivering his ****s off, but also acted as a physiological backup, for everyone else involved. All this loaded gun stuff had nothing to do with any daft Dads Army type ideas about England’s defense .. er .. well I don’t think it did ?

However, all the TAS (Torpedo and Anti Submarine Underwater Weapon’s) members of our team were also qualified small arms marksmen. I was one of these guys, required to fire at (and hit) a floating mine from 100 yards, as it bobbed about in a big sea, so that was another string to my Able Seaman come “Jack of All Trades” bow, even today I’m still ‘quite handy with a gun’ … but that’s another story Surprised)

Les Pugh, or “Pug-H” as he was better known, was a right “hard case” from Grimsby, at 5’10” he was not quite as tall as me but well built, strong, fighting fit, happy in the water and totally dependable as a buddy. Part of the job required that we developed a (without any question) kind of total 100% trust in each other, our very lives would often depended on it. There were in fact several occasions during the my 15 years service that “Pug” and I were full time dive buddies and we had literally saved each other from almost certain death on many more than one occasion. This bond of trust was an unwritten pledge between us, a very rare and special relationship thing, far more than just two blokes who where mates employed on the same job. Our friendship lasted for all our service years, but once we left the Dive Team and the Royal Navy I never saw him or heard from him ever again, as is so often the way with us Forces people .. it’s a funny old World.

It was a normal working day, nothing special, nothing particularly unusual, just the routine stuff. The weather was freezing cold, but clear, no howling gales, no falling snow, just a light breeze. Under the ice the water was deep, dark and calm with bright rays of sunshine penetrating through into the seemingly bottomless black of darkness so far below. ‘Pug’ and I had been down there underwater for about 20 minutes or so, without any problems. We were never very far apart, even when the visibility was good, we would be “checking out” each other every minute or so, as this was almost a second nature. Often we had no need to use the standard diving hand signals, just a look was all it took to reassure each other that all was well as we glided around watching the colors and thinking of .. our motor bikes or whatever.

Suddenly .. with one almighty heave, my life line was bar taught and I was off and awayyy .. I was being dragged quickly backwards through the water, bouncing off the rough jagged ceiling of ice, with my arms and legs twisting and turning. I can clearly recall thinking to myself: “Hey, I say chaps, hold on a minute here, what seems to be going on then”. (Or maybe I used some other choice unrepeatable words to that effect! )

Just to diversify a little, if I may (who me?) When underwater at these sub-zero temperatures the life expectancy time for a Diver, with a ripped or holed suit might be zero. The shock/fear factor can be so enormous that even the fittest heart may not stand it. Life can then be measured in seconds, not minutes. The pack ice below the surface suddenly changes to a giant mass of very sharp and jagged cutters, a kind of big marine ball of barbed wire and broken glass, it is very easy for that wonderful “tinkle-tinkle” crystal chandelier world to become a giant cold store size freezer, full of pointed daggers and razor blades! During normal dives, Divers move at very slow speed, taking great care not to get themselves or their lines “snagged” up.
In a normal ascent routine, there will be several orders, followed by rope signals, up and down the line, between the diver and his tender, resulting in a very slow and controlled return to the surface, under his own steam.

Anyway, I realised that something was wrong, (quick me, eh), very wrong, as I zoomed along, backwards, then sideways, spinning then bouncing off jagged points and sharp edges. My first thoughts were for my buddy, Pug-H.
I couldn’t see him! Talking to myself now .. “Keep Calm, Breath out, Do Not Panic, Breath Out! Remember your Training, Stay Calm, Assess the Situation, Make a Plan … and only then ... PANIC!” “Pug”, “Pug”, “Where the **** are you mate?” This kind of instant thought for your Dive Buddy is second nature to all full time professional Divers, your Buddy is your link with (or first hope of) the much needed help, once you have done all the “looking after number one” and “self rescue” bits. Of course on the real “Active Combat Dives” we would generally dive solo (as in alone, all by yourself, without your Mom!) and we would use the pure oxygen re-breather equipment (no bubbles at all) so that a diver could not be detected from the surface. This is also because of much more cost effective thinking “We will only loose one set of dive gear and just the one man (in that order) and not two”, kind of a philosophy, very nice of them, don’t you think? In reality it is often much better to be “diving solo”, with only your own safety and actions to consider and nothing very much else worth worrying about, such as when doing mine disposal work or setting demolition charges, etc. It’s all based on those magic words of wisdom: “Get in, Go down, Do it, Come up, Get out”.

Now, looking up, as I reached the area under the ice hole, I could see several wobbly shapes above me, the other guys, up top on the surface of the ice, all “pulling like a bloody train” on my lifeline. Again “Pug”, “Pug”, “Puggy”, Where the bloody hell … ” I looked around again, one last look, then … I saw him ….

“Bloody Nora” and “Oh Sugar”, no .. it wasn’t Pug-H .. it was, gulp, (Breath Out, Think, Stay Calm!) the largest Polar Bear on Planet Earth and he was, gulp, Breath Out!) very, very close! Coming straight for me, swimming underwater, his two massive front paws paddling powerfully away like a drunken Steamboat Skipper on the Funny Fags! I know this will sound strange, but it’s true, the clock that counts the seconds of my life seemed to stop, right there. I looked straight into the small, fearless, jet black eyes of this giant bear, the undisputed “King of The Arctic” and he looked straight back at me. I had no doubt that what he saw was new to him, but this was his patch, his kingdom, his world and I was just a little bit more than an unusual curiosity or uninvited invader. I was a potential meal, I was a meal that would help keep him from the doors of starvation for another month, or maybe even longer. Polar Bears can, will and do eat just about anything and I had no doubt that he was not coming for a nice big cuddle .. he was quite coming (and very determined) to eat me!

What I saw, right there in that frantic moment of time when the closeness of death forces your brain into overdrive was a real mixture of both nice and nasty. Evil against good, unbelievable amazement and a good dollop of gut wrenching fear. Don’t ask me how or why, but I didn’t feel any real panic, maybe because all Navy Divers get the very best training. I did however think, and although those thoughts may have taken only a few fractions of a single second .. I thought Wow what an absolutely fantastic animal, Wow! A perfect example of raw physical power, control, determination and rock solid self confidence. This was one of nature’s success stories, the result of maybe millions of years of animal evolution and adaptation to the environment. It takes a very special animal to live and survive in the Arctic, Polar Bears had no real competition up here, until man arrived and even then man could only ever win this particular cold war if he stayed warm, dry and above the freezing water! A large adult male Polar Bear can swim 100 miles in that freezing sea, he can dive down and grab a small whale, twice his weight or more, haul it to the surface and drag it out onto the ice .. then eat it! Have no doubts .. these guys rule .. big time!

My clock started again, suddenly I became aware that nothing much was happening with the life-line, the guys had stopped hauling. I was just hanging there, like a little multi-colored “lure” on the end of a fishing line. I looked up, almost screaming and shouting at the surface party above the hole “Pull me up, PULL ME .. PULL THE BLOODY LINE” of course they could not hear me, but what more could I do? My hand reached down towards the inside of my right lower leg. This is where the sheath of my 9” blade combat knife was securely strapped (If you carry your knife there it’s available with either your right or left hand, go on try it Surprised). This was a real life or death war situation and if I was going to die then I was going out with a bloody good fight! Just as my hand reached the handle of the knife the life-line was snapped tight again and I was on my way up towards the surface, the big Bear was now much closer and still set bang on course towards me …..

Next thing I knew, I was out of the water, being dragged along and sliding across the ice in the bright, almost blinding, sunlight. Wearing full ice diving kit I weighed in at well up round 25 stone (in the old money) but the guys had just pulled me straight up and out in one swift movement. Then, as my Fins (Note: Please, never call them “flippers” it really annoys all good diving instructors ;o) came out, clear of the water, a massive, giant, white paw followed me, crashing down onto the ice like a big Fluffy Tennis Racket, the razor sharp five inch long black curved claws gouging deep marks in the ice, right there .. only a few inches away from where my feet and legs had been just a fraction of a second ago … Breath Out!

“Bang” .. “Bang-Bang” (loud gun-fire) the marksman, my other best mate “Brum” Davenport, had fired the 303 rifle three times into the air, no need (so far anyway) to shoot the big bad old bear, the unfamiliar sound was enough to make him stop, half in, half out of the hole. This time it was his turn to assess, think, then act (Polar Bears get pretty good training too I guess) After what seemed like minutes he moved again, with a swing of his massive shoulders he turned, water flying off the ends of his long pure white fur as he, almost defiantly, lifted his mighty head and sniffed the air one last time. He took a breath, growling loudly, and with one swift and easy move he was gone, diving back down into the blackness of the sea. Back in, then away under the ice he went, back into his world, back out of any potential “Bang-Bang” man made danger, safe, to hunt, to survive and to live on in his own cold war world, for another day. The instinct of Survival had overcome his instinct of hunger … for now.

Because of the weight of the 35 pounds of cast lead weights around my waist, not to mention the rest of the kit, I was unable to stand up without some assistance, so I kind of scrambled away, frantically crawling on all fours, dragging the tangled life line behind me, away from the hole. Then, rolling over I sat up, pulling off my facemask and gulped down some air, trying to get things back into some sort of mental order. “Pug” was also sat, just a few feet away, sat there on the ice, he was also grunting and gasping for breath and looking like he had just seen a spook. “What the **** is going on Trev” he said, as both of us realised, with relief, that the other one was out, clear, safe and OK. Relax .. breath out .. breath out! We were all trained to forcibly, consciously breath out, whenever any emergency was underway, it helps you to recover and get things back on an even keel. Go on try it, you will breath in again, all my yourself … really .. I promise Surprised)

Seems the big (maybe 1.250 pound) male Polar Bear had picked up our scent (they can do this from seven miles away if the breeze is in the right direction) and quite naturally, he had followed his, big black, boxing glove size, nose to investigate anything and everything that just might have been a potential meal. The lads had (luckily for us) spotted him, as he moved in, closer and closer, stopping from time to time to stand more that ten feet tall, up on his hind legs to sniff the air. Until he cunningly disappeared from their sight, by diving into a natural hole in the ice, over near the boats. Not exactly Russian Rocket science to figure out that he was going to have to surface again within a few minutes, or that he had decided to use “our” hole and try for the free lunch and a breath of air, all at the same time! To this very day, I still thank Neptune (he’s still my only God by the way) that the guys saw him as he approached us and that the loud gun shots had, kind of, frightened him away .. just a bit.

We did see him again, a little later, quite safe and still standing up tall and sniffing at the air from time to time as he circled round us, hunger, food, survival, life itself .. all are mighty strong motivations for sure and Polar Bears never seem to give up .. not ever! Of course, this being the Navy, it wasn’t very long before we were all laughing and joking about the whole affair, danger and death had passed us by yet again, the very real risk of a quick cold death, or two, had been pushed well onto the back burners of our brains (where they would quietly simmer, for many years!) Next, of course the funny stuff started .. all the daft jokes and silly ideas about just what the big bad old bear would have done to Pug-H, or more likely to me (not only a good inch taller, I was also much better looking) had he got a giant front set of “Paws and Claws” just a few inches closer and within grabbing reach. All these daft ideas seemed to revolve around various kinds of silly ice hole sexual activity, followed by being eaten alive, while I was still warm … unless…maybe if the sex was soooo good the big bear might have just bunged me into his Snow Hole den, to keep me .. for his .. er .. future pleasure? The (normal) mind boggles of course, but somehow over the following few days, I became known as “Polar Bear” and the name stuck and it’s been with me ever since. My old house in Birmingham UK. was called “The Snow Hole”, I made a collection of Polar Bears, all sorts of Polar Bears, from very expensive crystal glass, real work of art stuff, on through the porcelain and pottery ornament types and don’t forget the “fluffy toys”, I had well over 300 at the last count, I think. Then of course, we have all the pictures, framed photos, stamps, coins, key-rings, drawings, video’s and books and so on and on, T-shirts, sweatshirts, logos and even a few “special” number plates on Motorbikes, Cars and Trucks, Polar Bears, all kinds of Polar Bears, from all over the world. I have even put my trade mark “Brand” on Rainbow Annie, she has a Polar Bear .. tattooed on her butt ..  Yes really.

Doing the full circle: (A little bit of extra)

In the October of 2001, “Rainbow” Annie gave me the most wonderful birthday prezzie I have ever had, an amazing trip back into “The Land of Cold”, up into the frozen north. We went to the place now called The Polar Bear Capital of the World … the tiny wilderness town of Churchill, way up on the top end of Manitoba in Northern Canada. Quite a big job just getting there (look it up in that old school atlas). It’s at the very end of a 1.400 mile long, single track railway line that was built to carry export grain to the ships on the Great Lakes. Plus a few other little covert job “things” north, nod–wink, say no more. The train ride only takes (about) 42 hours or so, provided the weather is good enough for the powerful snow plough engine to get through and clear the track. (Must be just the right kind of snow though, no doubt .. and no leaves on the line problems like in the UK ?) The train starts off on this long haul from Winnipeg, and as I’m sure you know, that’s the hometown of a very famous Bear indeed .. “Winnie” yes, you know “Winnie the Pooh” was born there .. really!

Once in Churchill, we settled into our Log Cabin, taking note of the three inch spiked “floorboards”, strategically placed on the ground, outside each of the steel bared windows. These wide boards and steel bars apparently help to stop the Polar Bears from breaking into the cabins, during the night. Of course, sometimes a big bear will get through all these man made defenses and smash the cabins up .. just a bit like .. “Y’all Sleep Tight Now” .

Across the wide-open, windswept, main street Kelsey Boulevard we found “The Big Bear Diner” and got huddled up snug, in a warm corner, for our early evening meal. After eating, we stood outside, leaning on the howling, ice-cold wind, for as long as we could stand it (about 20 minutes is the average) with our heads held back, looking up at the spectacular Aurora Borealis, maybe better known as the Northern Lights. A truly amazing solar display, with wonderful lazer lakes of shimmering colours, some hundreds of miles long, dancing like magic rainbows, across the coal black sky’s.

Almost like being back down there .. under my arctic ice chandelier .. only the other way up Surprised).

Next morning, we got all dressed up in just about “everything” we had, then teamed up with other likeminded Polar Bear People, before setting off, out onto the barren, almost flat, frozen Tundra. Not so many years ago the only way (and still the best way) to move out here was with a Husky Dog Team (put this on your list folks, it’s quite an amazing way to travel, trust me cos I’ve got that T-Shirt too ;o) Today, the easy way to cross this kind of terrain is in a giant, custom built, all-wheel-drive, “Tundra Buggy”. Bumbling along in our Big Buggy, we met several Polar Bears, mostly Moms with a single cub, but sometimes twins, as we made our way to the Tundra Buggy Lodge. This “Lodge” is a Base Camp kind of Snow Motel (made up with about seven individual giant Buggies all linked together in a line, like a train). From the lodge, the solo Buggies go out each day, to search for the bears, however, during the night some bears come to sleep, maybe trying to shelter from the wind, right under the giant buggy wheels. This means that we are all up very early, with every camera rolling, well before the spectacular dawn, of each wonderful new day! Another very special place to be .. Bears looking at us and us looking at Bears ... “Hi There Fluffy”

Cape Churchill is the area that all the Polar Bears walk to, during the slightly “warmer” (feels like it’s only about minus 30 something) summer months. Once there, they sit down and wait .. and wait, for several long weeks, until the deep salt waters of Hudson Bay start to freeze over again, every October and November (good old Global Warming still permitting, of course). The fresh water of the Churchill River runs into the bay just West of here, fresh water freezes “earlier” than the salt water, the fresh water brings the fish, the fish bring the seals and sea lions and they are what Polar Bears eat! Arctic Fox’s, Snow Owls and the very rare (all white) Gyr Falcons join in too, helping to clean up the scraps and keep the place nice and tidy. Neptune only knows how do they all do this, how do they all arrive on site, right here at the right place at the same time, but they do .. every year?

The Polar Bears are the stars of the show and the best bit of all this magic, is that YOU too can get to within a foot, or three (and I mean really, really that close!) of these huge and magnificent, white creatures. Right there, out in the wild, right there on their patch. During the (normal) “Happy Gang-Gang, Gooly-Gooly” introductions, John the guy in charge of our Buggy, called out to all the other people, “Say folks, looks we got ourselves a real live English Pro Trucker here”. So, much to my continued delight, I was invited to “Take the wheel” and drive the giant £100.000, Tundra Buggy (quite a good “Tonka Toy” to play with, for any Birthday Boy). Flat out at about 10 mph with a “Grin Factor” of over 9.7 on the fun scale, straight on, up and over big boulders and rocks, through rivers, in and out of deep mud holes, over frozen mud flats and sand hills .. anything, no problem buddy, no problem! Brumm, Brummm, go on, give it some welly! Yesssssss 

I could, (as you can see) go on and on about Ice Diving, The Cold War, Big Polar Bears, Dangers, Churchill, the top town of Planet Earth; real log fires in real log cabins, the local “Inuit” people who are half Red Indian / half Eskimo. The Polar Bear Prison; the Husky Dog teams, those unbelievable, sub-zero temperatures and the sheet ice wind that blows straight through you. The tiny skinny Christmas trees, that only grow on one side, because of the wind (you need two to make a tinsel tree). The Helicopter Hangers and the Tall (iced over) Radio Masts, the old (now deserted) Military Base and of course, the strange (now abandoned) Cold War, USA Rocket Missile Launch Pads.

Yes .. I could in fact, do the full Rocket Science (Arctic) circle thing, right back to my time in that “Cold War” in the 1950 and 60s, . Back to where I met my first big Polar Bear .. face to face, I could go on as I tend to do .. but I won’t.

If you are interested to know more, you had better go and see for yourself, but it might be an idea for you to just click onto one of the many web sites first, there are several but why not try the one below, just for starters:

This modern day internet might give you a rough idea of what this “End of The World” location is really like .. before You book your flight, buy your train ticket and dig out that daft Wooly Hat?

So, there you go then, Polar Bears Rule and Polar Bears are: Quite Large and just a bit overweight (as in fat!) Quite happy when on, in or under the water. Strong long distance swimmers. They walk slow and kind of funny. Males are quite anti-social, independent, loners. A little bit messy, but very enthusiastic when eating their meals. Aggressive, angry and very brave (or maybe just daft) when young. Crafty, even calculating (more so as they get older). Bloody Minded, Persistent, Relentless, Determined, Traditional, Territorial, Patriotic, Philosophically rather Black and White (Or maybe that should be White and Black) Very Adventurous and Inquisitive. Soft and Cuddly in bed Surprised) and of course, unbelievably absolutely fantastic Lovers .. yes indeed .. it seems that the Polar Bears really are .. just like me .

The large male (Dad) Bears have been known to eat their own offspring … I’m quietly proud and generally reasonably happy to report that I managed to resist that particular temptation (although it came very close, several times!) and my two fat little “Polar Pups” have both managed to survive, grow to be very large and individually go off into their own world and raise their own pups.

The youngest Tony, my son, is also very much a Big Bear type of guy, he now lives in the sunshine of Mallorca and so he’s known as “The Big Brown Bear”... but all that’s … his story .. 

So .. may YOU also always, Walk Tall, Sleep Sound, Stand Proud, Eat Well, Be Warm, Stay Cool, Swim Far and .. above all .. Survive and Stay Safe .. just like all Polar Bears, OK ;o)

Trev (Polar Bear) Parkes

The Sure & Easy way for you to contact me, Should you wish to do so, is via Email on:

There are a few Photos to go with this story .. I’ll try m best to get them to you.
Stay Safe ;o)
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Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 344
Location: Ballston Spa, NY

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story!!!

Thanks for sharing it with us.
David D
Suzuki Bandit 1200/Hannigan Bandito
2007 BMW F650GS
2000 Guzzi V11 Sport
2009 BMW R1200GS
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Joined: 06 Jan 2007
Posts: 336
Location: yorkshire uk

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well here the pictures

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Joined: 14 Feb 2009
Posts: 39
Location: victoria ,australia

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing the story Polar Bear.
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Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 630
Location: Eastern NC

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, great story
Mike Currin
93 BMW K1100RS / EML Speed 2000
89 Honda GB 500 (6,700 miles, all original except tires)
67 Triumph 650 chopper
92 Suzuki GS500 (eldest son)
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Joined: 19 Feb 2005
Posts: 16
Location: Western Australia

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful story, Polar Bear....and you have good taste in bikes.

I also have an '05 FZS1000 (we don't really call them Fazer's in Australia...more generically known as the FZ1). I have an '82 DJP (olde Aussie brand) sidecar that I'm considering fitting to the Yam.

Thanks for sharing.
Western Australia
'05 FZ1..soon to have DJP third wheel....
'09 1050 Speed Triple
'82 XLH.....currently being rebuilt
'76/'66 T140V rigid chopper (needs rebuild)
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Joined: 06 Dec 2009
Posts: 23
Location: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England

PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cracking story Trev!
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Polar Bear

Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 110
Location: Denia Spain Ex Birmingham UK

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:15 pm    Post subject: Thanks Chris Reply with quote

Glad you enjoyed all the Polar Patter Buddy ... Very Happy Thank You.

As you see I quite enjoy 'painting pictures with words'.

It would all be so much easier if I could type. Fact is my one funny fat finger gets very square .. but only on the one end like Confused .

I've done a few others like this .. all based on the truth .. all based on my life(s) I started to write the book of my lifetime a few years ago .. did chapter one and kind of ran out of steam .. I really should get back onto it I guess.

Just not enough days in my hour and not quite the right frame of mind just now .. I'm more interested in the future than the past.

Stay Safe Guys .. we don't get old being reckless! Trev (Polar Bear)
Stay Safe ;o)
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