The small town of West Point (population 746) in Calaveras County lies about 60 miles east of Stockton. I recently undertook the 1-1/2 hour long trek for an assignment at West Point Elementary School.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 48mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200)

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/200th sec. @ f/5. ISO: 200)

My assignment was to photograph teacher Sarah Johnston’s 4th/5th grade class learning a unit on California’s current drought. Johnston, a former stream biologist, had her students do experiments following the water cycle, creating rain in a bottle, and exploring the effects of pumping on ground water levels. Then she dissected a chinook salmon as a highlight of the lesson. The kids’ initial disgust turned to fascination as Johnston expertly cut into the yard-long fish with a kitchen knife and they were soon leaning in to get a closer look.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure:1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

About two miles outside of the Mother Lode town was a large green dragon at the side of the road. At first I thought I was a whimsical sculpture of some sort. I stopped the car and took a closer look. It looked like a parade float that might have been quite the spectacle at one time, but was in a rather dilapidated state of disrepair. The fabric skin was torn and what appeared to be PVC pipe ribs were exposed. It’s decapitated head lay on the ground a few feet away. The whole thing looked like a turkey after a Thanksgiving dinner.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure:1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

I asked the office secretary what the dragon was all about. She said it was indeed a parade float left over from he town’s annual Lumberjack Days held last October. The premier float is always placed at that location every year. The secretary said that it was looking a little weather-worn and was about time it was taken down. It looks like mother nature is adept at dragon dissections as Johnston is with fish.

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