Tag Archives: ghost sign

Yukon's Best Flour sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Flour flurry

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 after the Yukon Gold Rush, nor why its county is called Canadian County. But on the day of our visit to the Yukon of Route 66, the only blizzard we might possibly have witnessed was one of enriched white flour.

Route 66 sketch map by Chandler O'Leary

Mother Road, mother lode

Last summer the Tailor and I spent a couple of weeks traveling every inch of old Route 66. And then I kept pretty quiet about it, because I just had no idea how to organize and share the sheer number of sketches and stories I came away with afterward. There really is no “long story short” way to do this—like the Mother Road itself, there are too many branches and tangents for a single linear tale. So like I did for my Mission Mondays series, I’m going to break this down into 66 Fridays, starting today and running through spring of next year. (You can follow along by using the 66 Fridays tag.)

So each week for the next 66 weeks, I’m going to share a piece of Route 66—and like everything else on this blog (except the Mission series), those pieces will be in no particular order. There are a zillion books out there already that tell the Route 66 story from beginning to end (both in time and space), so that frees me to, er, paint a slightly different picture. I’ll be jumping around from state to state, highlighting my favorite landmarks and historical tidbits. With any luck, it’ll give you a good enough taste of the Mother Road that it’ll inspire you to explore it for yourself.

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

A few notes:

• There’s a common perception that Route 66 is long gone, and that modern travelers can only drive bits of the route. That’s actually not true. While modern Interstate highways have replaced long chunks of the Mother Road in certain spots, it’s actually possible to drive over 80 percent of the original route—including the original road bed and even 90-year-old pavement in several places. Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a U.S. highway decades ago, but the old thread is still there, still nearly intact, just waiting for an adventurous traveler with a sharp eye to find it.

• We didn’t see everything there is to see on Route 66. Not even close. We spent nearly two weeks on the Mother Road, and by my estimate we would have needed a good month, at least, to really take it all in. Considering how much more there would have been to see years ago, before so many places closed down or fell into ruin, it all boggles my mind a bit. Nevertheless, this trip was a good first taste of the whole thing. I made the Tailor promise me that someday we’d do it all again, and take however much time we wanted.

• Even though we didn’t see everything along the way, we did our darndest to drive every inch of the route that remains—and that’s no small feat, considering how many tributaries, diversions, parallel routes, rerouted sections, poorly-marked bits and dead ends there are. I’d driven bits of 66 before, but never the whole stretch in one go. It feels like a real accomplishment that we did that.

• I hope you don’t hate vintage signs, because you can expect a lot of them in the coming months. I’ll try to keep the posts balanced between various subject matters, but I’m not gonna lie: there’s a metric ton of incredible vintage signage along Route 66, and I did my level best to draw all of it. I have whole sketchbooks just devoted to neon. I probably won’t show you everything, but you will see an awful lot of it.

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So buckle your seatbelts and pull out your paper maps—let’s get this show on the road, and embark upon the serious business of getting our kicks.


Vashon Island barn sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Faux farm

You know I have a real thing for farms—as evidenced by all the sketches that have cropped up here (no pun intended) so far. But I also have a fascination with fake farms—you know, the odd sort of agricultural replica that you sometimes see at museums, tourist traps, or—as in the case above—private property.

I love them because just like any roadside attraction, they range from the hokey to the poetic, with every variation in between. Just like the sort of thing you might find at Wall Drug, you get a scrubbed, glorified, romantic version of farm life—without having to muck out any stalls, fight brush fires or take out crop insurance. Yet both the places themselves and their visitors (including little ol’ me) are remarkably earnest in their enthusiasm.

This replica barn, with its replica mural and (probably) eBay-acquired vintage feed plaques, is much more than lawn decor—it’s a careful homage to the agricultural history of the entire island. While most of Vashon is still rural and dotted with farmland, you’re more likely to find beach homes than egg cooperatives these days. So while I’d still rather have the real thing, I’m glad, at least, that somebody wants us to remember how things used to be.