Monday, September 9, 2013

A Fascination with Dragons

Cool mornings, warm afternoons - riding weather doesn't get much better. This past weekend it was perfect.  Climbing up 18th St in the morning felt almost invigorating.  Coasting down a little while later and it was just warm enough to be able to really savor the breeze that comes with the decent.

Riding or walking around Pittsburgh, one of the things I've always loved has been the architectural details of the old buildings.  Years ago there was a large cage on the street corner in what's now the Cultural District.  Inside the huge, wire box was a pile of cornices, gargoyles, grotesques and odds and ends recovered from the destruction of some of those great, old buildings.  I've often wondered what happened to them.  One theory I've heard is that the Heinz History Center has them.  I don't know if that's true or not, but now I know where one of them ended up.  We rode through Station Square on Saturday morning and found this guy adorning a small fountain.

It was a great discovery as far as I was concerned.  The plaque on the fountain identified this as coming from a building on Liberty Ave that was demolished in 1984.  I'd like to find more of those wonderful architectural features re-purposed around the city.

This wasn't our only dragon encounter this weekend.  Up in Knoxville we found a new mural with flags from several countries incorporated in it, including the flag of Bhutan.  Druk the Thunder Dragon represents this Buddhist state who's name translates to "Land of the Dragon".  

But wait... there's more.  On our Sunday morning ride we came across yet another dragon/sea serpent.  This mosaic sculpture is under construction in a small, community garden.  

If the bright colors and inviting seats on it's back aren't enough to entice the neighborhood kids to take a closer look, maybe the kaleidoscopes built into it are.  Scattered at varying heights around the tall tail are prisms embedded in the structure.

And when you look into them:

The top of the tail is under wraps right now.  We were speculating about what other cool feature might be hidden under the plastic, but for now all I know is that it's a great excuse to return here in a few weeks and see for myself.

That was the dragonian trifecta for this weekend.  Other things that caught my eye included a giant, inflated eagle in Point State Park.

This was part of one of the charity run/walks occurring on Saturday morning.  We passed three different groups setting up as we made our way from the Northshore to the Southside early in the ride.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, the Despica-blimp floated over us while we stood in front of Thick's Bike Shop.

I'm not sure which we were more interested in at the time - the strange minion overhead or the cool modification the folks at Thick were making to their bike racks.  They fitted bike tires around the outside to keep your bike from getting scratched!  Nice.  I think I like this better than the yarn bombed ones I'd seen in Lawrenceville a while back.  The yarn bombing was more colorful, but the yarn ends up getting dirty, snagged and torn eventually.  The tires should last a long time.

Speaking of bike rack adornments... Our Sunday morning ride took us past this:

Hmmm.  I think I'll leave the caption open.  The possibilities are endless.  I was curious enough to look it up on line and discovered that Masterlock makes this bike lock and the MSRP is around $65. In case you're interested.

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