Tag Archives: Oregon coast

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Four-wheeled farewell

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.

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In fact, she’s sometimes the star—though even when she isn’t, she’s never far from my mind.

Mt. Rainier letterpress print by Chandler O'Leary

She’s even made some cameos in my studio work.

Map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

She was the first and only car I’ve ever owned (thanks to years of living in dense cities, I didn’t need to buy one until my mid-twenties), and she took me nearly everywhere. I always thought I’d drive her to the moon, but it doesn’t matter that we fell a little short. She was the beating heart of my adventures, each highway another artery feeding our little love story.

Yet all stories have to end. Back in February I was gearing up for another big solo trip—a doozy this time, with 6500 miles of mostly remote mountain and desert roads. Blue already had many costly age-related repairs coming due, and I didn’t think she had another trip like that in her. So we took one last winding local drive together, and then I put her out to pasture.

Goodbye, Blue. Hello, Silver.

Car sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This new gal and I have had plenty of time to get acquainted—after all, she got well and truly broken in this spring with that big trip (more on that next time). And she’s the first car the Tailor and I have bought together, as we want to remain a one-car household. We had to make little compromises over what we each wanted, of course, but the biggest one was the compromise I had to make with the auto industry: I had to give up my stick shift. We really wanted this model, and a manual transmission simply isn’t an option anymore for this one.

For all I had to give up, and for all the frills and furbelows that seem to accompany all new cars (though I’ll admit I love having USB ports at last)—this car has plenty of qualities that fit my personality. No GPS, for one thing—you all know how I feel about that (the Tailor and I agreed that if that had come standard, we would have paid to have it removed!). And plenty of nooks and crannies for holding all my paints and things while I sketch.

Yet while Silver is pretty and sleek and reliable and powerful, she’s not my Blue. I’ve already put close to 10,000 miles on her, but I’m still finding it hard to make the transition. Driving an automatic feels so different to me, so less engaged. And I have a lot of trouble finding her in crowded parking lots—I’m usually great at remembering where the heck I parked, but finding a silver Subaru in a sea of other silver Subarus (welcome to the Northwest) is hilariously difficult. Still, I’m sure we’ll grow to know and trust each other over time. It’s just hard to give up your first love.

Astoria sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Thank you, Wild Blue, for taking me here, there and back again—and for always keeping me safe along the way.

Astoria sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Here’s to the next quarter of a million miles, and my shiny new steed. Hi ho, Silver.

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Prehistoric Gardens dinosaurs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Jurassic forest

Speaking of incongruous dinosaurs, if you ever find yourself traveling up Highway 101 along the Oregon coast, you might be surprised to see a brachiosaurus head poking up through the trees. Just like the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon rainforest isn’t a place you’ll ever find actual dinosaur fossils. Still, there’s something about the misty hillsides and impossibly tall trees that make it easy to imagine yourself standing in a primordial place.

Giant Frying Pan sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Serves four (hundred)

Well, I can’t feature the Winlock Egg without giving you something to cook it in, can I? Just over the coast range from Winlock is the town of Long Beach, home of the perfect roadside companion to the World’s Largest Egg.

Since it’s not exactly as flamboyant as, say, a giant orange, people often blow right by this one without even noticing it. But this giant frying pan is much more than just a monument. It’s a replica of a real, no-kidding, fourteen-foot pan that was actually used to cook food. For many years this frying pan was a permanent fixture of Long Beach’s annual Razor Clam Festival—where chefs actually used it for the clam fritter cook-off. I don’t know about you, but that fact alone raises this humble giant right to the top of my personal list of favorite roadside attractions.

Giant Frying Pan sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Speaking of which, my roadside attractions gallery exhibit is closing tomorrow (Washington folks, hurry!), so today is the last post about roadside giants—for a little while, at least. Next week I’ll be back with a different topic and a broader range of sketches. But I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have these past few weeks—because as you can probably guess, there’s a lot more where this came from.

Happy weekend—see you on Monday.

Heceta Head Lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Sailor’s warning

I have never yet managed to visit Heceta Head in anything other than a raging gale. (Thank goodness for the car overlook where I could park and sketch in comfort while the Pacific threw bathtubs of icy spray at my windows…)

But then again—what better way to see firsthand exactly what lighthouses are for?