Summit Inn

Only a puddle remains where the historic Summit Inn diner once stood. One of the most recognized roadside landmarks in all of Southern California, this beloved diner burnt to the ground during the Blue Cut Wildfires on August 16, 2016.

Image Source User:Freeman8739

The history of Summit Inn dates back to 1928. It was replaced by the Summit Inn people remember today in 1952. A time when Route 66 flourished. Patron over the years include Elvis, Danny Thomas, Clint Eastwood, Pierce Brosmon, and Pearl Bailey, to mention a few.

Image Source JoulesVintage

Nearly four years after it was destroyed it appears hope has faded for rebuilding. Early-on the owners vowed to rebuild. But conceivably the cost of clearing the site and removing contaminated toxic ground soil became cost prohibitive for rebuilding the Summit Inn.

Image Source James Ricci

Mojave Cross

One will encounter a number of sites and markers on the trek through the Mojave National Preserve.

One is the Mojave Cross. It is officially known as the White Cross World War I Memorial.

The cross stands on Sunrise Rock, a granite outcropping adjacent to Cima Road about 12 miles south of Interstate 15.

In a story that parallels the Mount Soledad Cross story in La Jolla, there was a decades long battle over the Mojave Cross.

In April 2012, a settlement was reached to allow the cross to remain at the Mojave Land Preserve via a land swap. Five acres of private land given to the federal government in exchange for the one acre of land surrounding Sunset Rock. Ownership of that site was transferred to the local Veterans of Foreign War post.

The site is fenced, with entrances for visitors. There are benches and picnic tables. And ample signage explaining that the cross is on private land and noting it is a memorial for war veterans

Kelso, Luck Of The Draw

Seemingly out in the middle of “nowhere” along Cima Road in the Mojave Desert, this jewel of a train station suddenly appears as a desert oasis. It’s the 1923 Kelso Train Station. Unlike the ghost town relics surrounding it, this beautiful building is in nearly pristine condition.

While the station is from 1923 the importance of the site as a railroad rest stop goes back to at least 1905 when Kelso was founded. The name was chosen purely by chance. Name rights were submitted on pieces of paper and placed into a hat. Upon draw, all at once John H. Kelso had a town named after him.

This Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival design comes from the drawing boards of John and Donald Parkinson. If you don’t know their names, you certainly know their portfolio. They designed the USC Master Plan, LA Coliseum, LA City Hall, Bullocks Wilshire, Union Station, and Grand Central Market – to name a few.

The train station survives today by the sheer will of concerned citizens who stepped up to save the building from demolition when it closed as a train station in 1985. Key to this preservation effort was The National Park Service gaining control of the site in 1994 .

The building reopened to the public in 2005 as the visitor center for the Mojave National Preserve. There are interpretive displays, both inside and out, providing a valuable understanding to the historical significance of the station’s location.

 It is explained why a fancy train station is in the middle of “nowhere.” One reason is an abundant supply of ground water for steam engines.

It was a “helper” station. Because of the severity of the long steep Cima Grade, helper engines were needed to assist trains on that grade. Kelso was home of those helper engines, and there was a big roundhouse there to direct, turn around, and utilize them. Kelso was the helper station in regards to fuel and water as well.

A beautifully designed building that was well used and well loved for a long time. It became affectionately known as the Kelso Club House. More than a train and ticket station it was telegraph office, restaurant, reading room, and dormitory rooms for railroad employees.

The interior has been restored and preserved as well, including the lunch room. Nice they didn’t forget to save the neon sign. However it appears it has suffered some wind damage, as the power cable was pulled out of the wall.

The focus of my photo essay is the exterior. Visitors wanting to see the Kelso Train Station inside and out – be advised they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

In addition to the historic translation, visitors may also view the Kelso Jail. These human cages were utilized from the mid 1940’s all the way to 1985. To lock up, for a night or two, the town drunks who became unruly. Neither the heat or the cold of the Mojave made these cages very comfortable.

But by all accounts, this sort of imprisonment hasn’t gone away. Only from here.

You know you’re in downtown Kelso when…you see the Post Office. Open from 1905, through Kelso’s boom years during WW2, and finally closing in 1962.

Ghost Town…ghost sign.

Kelso 90920

Foundation and Fireplace, Kelso Ghost Town

The warmth and comfort once provided, now a ghost town ruin.

The Eggmen

John Lennon’s famous quote “Before Elvis there was nothing” could especially be said about Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337). When the glory that was Rome faded into the Middle Ages, art became highly stylized and flat dimensionally. Naturalistic perspective and depiction vanished. At the precipice of The Renaissance Giotto nearly stands alone in his discarding the centuries old framework of painting and art. Not since Roman times was the human form naturally depicted. He reinvented soft rounded deep modeling effects using light and dark values. Giotto marks the turning point toward The Renaissance. The above Madonna and Child is in Firenze’s Uffizi Gallery.

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Giotto was also an accomplished architect. The Bell Tower at Santa Maria del Fiore, Firenze, is his. He never saw the completed work. He died three years after construction began. It took more than fifty years to build.

Giotto’s bell tower is sublime. But the grandiose architectural element of Santa Maria del Fiore is the celebrated dome by Filippo Brunelleschi. The achievement can not be over stated. Architectural dome engineering and construction know-how died with the Romans. It wasn’t until Brunelleschi closely studied the Roman artifacts first hand (especially the well preserved Pantheon in Rome) that architecture was reinvented. Being this was unexplored design in its day, Brunelleschi faced a counter current of resistance and opposition. The Guild of Wool Merchants who sponsored and over saw the project wanted to know just how in the world such a large dome could be accomplished. Brunelleschi asked the members of the committee to demonstrate to him how they would stand an egg on the table. No one could. “Impossible,” they said. With that, Brunelleschi cracked the end off the egg and proceeded to stand the shell on the table. When the members of the committee protested that any one of them could have done that, Brunelleschi explained that was exactly his point. If he told the committee how he planned to execute his concept, all would claim that they could have done it. After several months of arguing, the committee allowed him to proceed and work began on the dome in the summer of 1420.


The Pantheon, Rome, A.D. 118-25. Besides its position as one of history’s greatest architectural masterpieces, its survival from ancient times to modern day Rome is miraculous. Step in from the noisy hot streets of Rome to a cool calm quiet atmosphere where time seems frozen. You may almost hear the distant whisper of Marcus Aurelius. That the structure is so well preserved is a testament to Roman engineering and master building. One can only ponder a question; if the Pantheon had not survived into Brunelleschi‘s time, how long to reinvent such engineering from scratch?


Locals simply refer to Santa Maria del Fiore as “Il Duomo.” It remains to this day the most iconic Feature of Firenze. A site on the landscape still commanding the most attention.

Michaelangelo’s David, Firenze Italy.
Michaelangelo went to school, so to speak, with The Duomo before designing Saint Peters in Rome.

Another source of Michaelangelo’s admiration was Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Doors of the Baptistery, Firenze.

Michaelangelo fondly referred to them as “The Gates of Paradise.”

The doors consist of ten panels. Each frame depicts a scene from either the New or Old Testament. Ghiberti used a painter’s approach to composition but used his sculpture and architectural skill to create enormous visual depth. As an architect, Ghiberti was the only other considered candidate besides Brunelleschi for designing the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. And Brunelleschi was a possible choice for the commission Baptistery doors. Much competition for the prized jobs during The Renaissance.

The Gates of Paradise have been removed from the Baptistery and have undergone restoration. Replicas are there now. The originals will be kept indoors under a protective transparent encasement after completing a world tour. They maybe coming to a city near you.

Smithsonian Magazine has a complete story of the restoration and history of these magnificent panels.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/gatesofparadise-200711.html?page=2#

Love A Parade


Firenze (Florence), Italy. That cradle of The Renaissance and birthplace of modern Western Civilization. Trove of priceless art and architecture. It is only natural to view the parade of Calico Storico (Historic Soccer) with its Renaissance costumes as a quaint colorful and charming affair. In perfect fitting with all that is great with Firenze and Italy at large.


But I truly didn’t grasp what I was looking at. When I heard “Historic Soccer” I figured this was in some way akin to modern soccer.

It is not. These are mean nasty tough guys that play a sport that makes rugby look like a game of paddy cake.


A recorded date of 1530 is affixed to the beginning of Calico Storico, but it actually goes as far back as the 1400’s.


The child will not be participating. Nor will the older members of the parade. Only men in their 20’s and 30’s have the bodies capable of enduring the punishment suffered in this “sport.” A later day rule prohibits criminals from participating to somewhat mitigate blood letting.


A good wholesome church function? The four major churches of Firenze each sponsor a team. Here the white team is sponsored by Santo Spirito.

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The ball isn’t kicked in this version of soccer. A heavy leather bladder is hauled through a maul and melee across a field. The “goal” is to heave the ball over a 4 foot wall at either end of the grounds. Players literally wrestle, shove and bare knuckle punch or slug. It is part “Fight Club,” carnal demolition derby in some semblance of a ball game. By the end players are near naked from gear being ripped to shreds. Bruised, bloodied, dirty, sweaty and spitting mud. A splendid time for all!

Breakfast At Venezia

Daybreak at Basilica San Marco, Venice. Workers hose and scrub the Piazzetta.

Gondolas on the Grand Canal looking toward Punta della Dogana


Gondolas under protective drape.

Gondola Captains await their customers.

But the “streets” of Venice were quiet.


The milk man makes his rounds. Two men (left) walk and talk politics.

A chef with fresh produce in hand for the morning fixins stops to talk futbol with a friend.

The ladies lament grocery prices have never been higher.

The morning commute in Venice is either by foot or boat.

Yellow Chairs


Venice Italy is arguably the most photographed city. And certainly one of the world’s most popular as well. It is pretty difficult to maneuver in the city with a camera during the height of day time. One needs to rise when custodians are sweeping the side walks, when milk is delivered, and when the baker is loading his oven. The yellow chairs are at Piazza San Marco. The brick element on the left is the base of San Marco’s bell tower. Straight ahead in the background is Torre dell’Orologio. It is the city’s famous astrological clock dating from 1499. That is the bell atop the structure. On either side of the bell are statues of Moors that strike the bell as part of the clock mechanism. “A masterpiece of technology and engineering.” The archway at tower base leads into what is the main shopping street of the city, the old Merceria.


The elements of Piazza San Marco, the historical political and religious ground zero of the city, face the waters and oceans Venice once ruled.

A nice quiet Piazza newspaper read before tourists arise and fill the awaiting yellow chairs.