Thursday, October 18, 2007

The roads on maps are usually shown as red or blue lines. Most often, the red lines are the big interstate highways. The blue lines are frequently the state roads and are smaller. A guy once wrote a book about traveling on the blue highways. The blue ones are less traveled and more interesting. The red ones, these days, are also the ones with the 18-wheelers and are race tracks filled with rude drivers.
If I wrote a book about highways, it would be about the thin line highways. These are the ones that may not even be shown on some maps. It has to be a detailed map of the state to have these thin line roads and the color is usually a faint black. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell the color. These are definitely the roads less traveled and take you through the small towns that still have some character about them. They usually go right through the middle of town and sometimes circle the courthouse square. These places have a lot of service stations and auto parts stores as well as junk stores that are pretty beat up in appearance. Folks in these towns must own several old cars per family that are in constant need of repair. The, once upon a time, stores in these places have the fronts boarded and look like a movie set for a ghost town. In the 1930’s and 40’s the streets in these small towns were filled on Saturday’s when the farmers came to do their weeks trading.
Today, there are none of the usual line of big chain retail stores or restaurants in these places of the past. McDonald’s used to be located in the larger cities but may occasionally be found in the smaller places. Dairy Queen’s are the most common eating establishment. A WalMart may rarely be located on the edge of town but more likely Dollar General will we the big outfit in town.
These thin line roads are almost always two-lane. That’s the reason they are shown as a thin line. There is never an 18-wheeler on these roads but a lot more pickups. The biggest nuisance is to get behind a slow moving piece of farm equipment or a truck loaded with those huge round bales of hay. If it weren’t for cows eating all that hay the grass would take over and be as high as the moon. I hope we never stop eating beef.
The thin line roads are definitely slower but sure a lot more fun. The scenery is great and it’s refreshing to know that some places still exist that have an identity. The newest and best looking building in most of these places is the school, and it’s best to always go the speed limit when the yellow light is blinking.
The thin highways are sure not for those in a hurry. They are for the ones who just want to savor the countryside and the people who inhabit it. They are especially made for folks like me, who enjoy the porch and just rocking. Whenever possible, I travel the thin highways. Whenever I stop at the Dairy Queen in a small town, I try to eavesdrop on the conversations of the customers. They talk about the weather, the local football team and other interesting stuff. It’s the same kind of conversation I enjoy for the porch.


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