©Bert Gildart: Bill and Larry are devotees to Anza Borrego, and during the winter, make as many trips from their home in San Diego to camp and to explore this premier desert state park as their schedule will permit.
Images of Larry and Bill flank cyclists, part of the many attracted by the dragon and by our elaborate photo shoot.
Originally, we met them by virtue of a mutual interest in our Airstreams, which is always a constructive start, but of itself probably insufficient for long-term friendships unless there are yet other interests. In this case there were, for Bill is a photographer/blog writer/historian, while Larry is a historian/gourmet cook/ stimulating conversationalist.
CHINESE AMERICAN HERITAGE
This weekend the focus of our shared outing pertained to Larry’s Chinese American heritage. More specifically, Larry was interested in features flanking a small portion of Anza Borrego that tied in with the Year of the Dragon, exhibited near Borrego Springs.
A few of the 150-plus metal sculptures created by Ricardo Breceda.
About five years ago, multimillionaire Dennis Avery (as in “Avery” office supplies) commissioned Ricardo Breceda to create a series of sculptures. The response was impressive. In desert areas surrounding Borrego Springs, Breceda began to position dozens of metal sculptures. Examples now include dinosaurs, saber-toothed cats, sloths, birds of prey, wild horses, elephants, llamas, camels, and various people. But germane to our day, Breceda created a huge dragon, which has been attracting the curious.
The immense head of the creature appears vicious and in life such a reptile must have been a powerful predator. Standing beneath the head of the beast, we could see that the body then coursed east across a portion of the desert, disappeared beneath the rural road, and finally – some 350 feet later — then concluded on the east side of the road with a massive tail.
And, now, here is where Larry makes his debut.
In historic times, the Chinese began celebrating the Year of the Dragon, imparting various values to the creature. Larry says the dragon of their mythology is a benevolent, peaceful dragon, “kind of like Puff the Magic Dragon from the Peter Paul and Mary song.” Larry said the Dragon is the mightiest of the signs and that it symbolizes such character traits as dominance and ambition.
To commemorate his Chinese heritage and bring attention to the dragon Larry had dressed this day in the attire of a late 1800s Chinese man who was respectful of the Emperor.
Appropriately, Larry’s head was partially shaved but to represent tradition he wore a cap to which was attached a realistic appearing Queque (a long braided ponytail). A red bow was attached to the several foot long length of hair. The Manchu hairstyle was significant because it was a symbol of Ming Chinese submission to Qing rule. The queque also aided the Manchus in identifying those Chinese who refused to accept Qing dynasty domination.
Larry also wore a changshan (long robe) and he carried a huge ball intended to appear like a lantern, which it did.
Both Bill and I had thoughts about positioning Larry in ways that would dramatize the dragon, and before long our “shoot” began to attract an audience. Cyclists pulled off the road, and virtually every car stopped to see if we were producing images for a movie or for a magazine.
Dressed in traditional garb, Larry helps commemorate "The Year of the Dragon."
We left the question unanswered believing it bad luck to share one’s hopes.
The day was a productive one and later we all returned to our Airstream where Janie and I then prepared a steak dinner, trying to reciprocate in some small way for all the time both Bill and Larry had invested to make the upcoming Year of the Dragon just as symbolic as possible.
AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THREE YEARS AGO
*Endangered Penninsular Bighorn Sheep
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
$18.95 + Autographed Copy
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy