This Route 66 artist's father never wanted to stop on family road trips, but now that he's in the driver's seat, Jerry McClanahan stops all the time

Great State
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CHANDLER, Okla. (KFOR) -- He's never far from the road that brought him to this place.

"It's a good place to live," says artist Jerry McClanahan. "It's quiet."

Old Route 66 runs right past his back yard in Chandler.

Remarking on the cars that still drive The Mother Road past his gallery and home, "If you chunked a rock you could hit them."

His art, from the early pen and ink to the modern watercolors, stretches a long line from Chicago to LA and all the stops in between.

"I just wanted something that fit my image of Route 66," he states.

His latest work takes in a historic barbecue joint in Springfield, MO, long gone but for a black and white photo from the 1940s.

As he carefully fills in color, he points out, "This was Graham's Rib Station."

January is kind of a quiet time for McClanahan and his wife, a Route 66 blogger in her own right.

The international travelers aren't due till springtime.

His gallery and gift shop is more of a clubhouse without the tourist traffic.

"This is the 'man cave'," he smiles. "For instance, this snake sign is from Apache Fort, Joseph City, Arizona."

But if you want to understand Jerry's history with America's first major highway you have to look close.

Pointing out a small, metal sign in his gallery, Jerry says, "This is Rootie. He's my Route 66 character."

Some of his first professional Route 66 artwork hangs in here.

The book he wrote is on sale, as well as some of the other books on which he's collaborated.

He points to another piece hanging on the wall- an old sign that "was found in a St. Louis landfill around 1963."

Just outside sits an idling 1954 Chevy station wagon, not so different from the cars his father used to drive on summer vacations with the family.

"We did our first summer vacation, family trip in 1959," recalls McClanahan.

Back in those days, Dad didn't like to stop in places like Chandler for anything but gas.

"I saw all this cool stuff going by. Neon signs, to billboards, 'see the live snakes', 'see the rabbits', that kind of stuff. Dad wouldn't stop."

Jerry made a career out of stopping at every wide spot to paint or mark another spot on the map.

On the McClanahan sections of the old road, it's always summer just like he remembers, and there's always something worth seeing.

To see more of Jerry's artwork go to his website or Facebook page.

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