Do you like driving? I do. And I do a lot of it.
I just drove 12 hours from Dickinson, North Dakota, to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, yesterday, and this thought occurred to me: I wonder how many white lines I drove by? And I wonder how many white lines I’ve driven by in my lifetime?
Now, those white lines, at 75 miles per hour in North Dakota and 80 miles per hour in Montana, appear to be mere blips that zip by at warp speed. But in reality they are 10 feet long and get this, 30 feet apart.
So, if my math is correct, I drove 825 miles yesterday, and 4,356,000 feet, past 108,900 white lines.
Somehow that seems like an accomplishment. Because every time a white line goes by, I’ve made it that much farther and I’ve done that much more.
Especially since there might have been a time, in the history of mankind on this planet, that people didn’t travel that far in a lifetime, much less a day.
Of course, my pickup truck, the engine in it and the tires on it might not be as gleeful about that accomplishment as I am but hey, they work for me and they simply need to do their jobs, right?
Meanwhile, the first white line road markings date back to 1918 in the United Kingdom, according to Traffic Signs and Meanings. And this idea caught on quickly, but the markings weren’t recognized as road safety protocol until 1926. Plus, if you grew up like I did, surrounded by gravel roads, they didn’t catch on at all.
Yellow lines, meanwhile, didn’t make an appearance on roadways until the 1950s. And at that time, the two colors were simultaneously used on roads — with white directing traffic heading in the same direction and yellow used for two-way roads or traffic, like they do today.
In 1956, dashed lines entered the scene, bringing with them a whole new set of rules for overcoming other cars on the road.
The first lined road in the United States was Trenton’s River Road in Wayne County, Michigan, which dates back to 1911.
Edward Hines, at the time the chairman of the Wayne County Board of Roads, came up with the idea after watching a leaky milk truck make its way down the road, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Hines was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor for the idea in 1972.
Yet I doubt that Mr. Hines and all of those who invented the lines knew, at the time, that someone like me would be using those lines, like markings on a ruler, to measure his progress in life.
Because, let’s face it, each of those white lines means, at least for us, as we produce television shows for RFD-TV and the Cowboy Channel, new episodes that people watch, new people whom we’ve met, new scenery that we’ve enjoyed, new lessons that we’ve learned, new memories that we’ve accumulated and, in some cases, a changing of attitudes or impressions.
In other words, movement makes memories like exercise makes muscle.
Or as French novelist, poet and playwright Jules Verne said, “‘Movement is life;’ and it is well to be able to forget the past, and kill the present by continual change.”
Kevin Holten is a columnist and executive producer of “Special Cowboy Moments” on RFD-TV.