Category: Off the Beaten Path

The long detourNorthern California

Landslide sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I spent nearly all of April breaking in my new car with a 6500-mile road trip up and down the West Coast. I’ve done many similar trips in the past, but this one had a completely different feel to it. And that’s because the severe drought—which for more than seven years had parched California and… More

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Four-wheeled farewellAstoria, OR; Tacoma, WA; and others

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you’ve seen this picture before—and others like it. My car, Wild Blue, has made many appearances here over the years, because she’s as much a character in my stories as any place I’ve visited. In fact, she’s sometimes the star—though even when she isn’t, she’s never far from… More

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Cabbage patch kidPuyallup, WA

Cabbage field sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Farmland in the Puyallup Valley is becoming a precious commodity, as suburban and industrial development threaten the small vegetable farms that still cling to the valley floor. Yet for now, at least, I can still count on finding a view like this just a few minutes’ drive from my house. May it ever be so.

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Flour flurryYukon, OK

Yukon's Best Flour sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This post is part of an ongoing series called 66 Fridays, which explores the wonders of old Route 66. Click on the preceding “66 Fridays” link to view all posts in the series, or visit the initial overview post here. It’s not entirely clear to me why the founders of Yukon, OK named their town… More

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World’s largest pie fillingSeguin, TX

World's largest pecan sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Just in case you were worried about making enough pecan pie for the holiday this year, I think I know where there’s a good supply. To all my readers in the United States, wishing you a happy Thanksgiving! Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a slice of pie with my name on it…

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Green to goldPalouse region, WA

Palouse (autumn) sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Earlier this year I received a grant to travel to the Palouse region of southeastern Washington and sketch the changing seasons there. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about this in future, as there’s a lot to say and one post can’t possibly hold it all. But just as my sketching trips were my introduction… More

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Rereading the mapUnited States

50 States pictorial map illustrated and hand-lettered by Chandler O'Leary

I finished this map before the airwaves were inundated with red and blue election maps—and today it’s a good reminder that America is more than its electoral divisions. That there is good in every state, and that there is so much to love and celebrate in every nook and cranny of our nation. This is… More

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Halfway thereAdrian, TX

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This post is part of an ongoing series called 66 Fridays, which explores the wonders of old Route 66. Click on the preceding “66 Fridays” link to view all posts in the series, or visit the initial overview post here. When I started my 66 Fridays series back at the turn of the new year,… More

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Butte-ifulTheodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Theodore Roosevelt National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Like Saguaro, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is divided into two separate units. Unlike Saguaro, the North Dakota badlands are an old, familiar haunt of mine. Greener and less weathered than their craggy South Dakota siblings, these buttes have a similar mystery to them, all the same. It’s not hard to see why they were dear… More

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Alien forestSaguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ

Saguaro National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I visited Saguaro National Park for the first time last year, and between being a veteran national parks tourist and seeing a zillion photos of the place over the years, I thought I knew what to expect. Aaaand of course, I was way wrong. (No surprise there.) For one thing, Mary-Alice and I arrived in… More

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