133 – Transportation

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I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

As I look to the sea, I notice a large freighter moving toward the horizon. After all, my location is near the region’s major port, but I don’t ever see a steady line of ships coming and going.

I wonder where is it going? Where has it been? What is its cargo? Thanks to this ship, I started thinking about transportation for today’s walk.

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Transportation – that active system of moving someone or something from one location to another – taking products, animals, or people from point A to point B with who knows how many stops in between.

Other words came to my mind when I think of transportation. Words such as transit, transfer, transmission, movement, delivery, traffic, freight, distribution, shipments, and I’m sure there are others. Yet, as I again look at the now more distant ship, I chuckle thinking about the word shipment is not limited to ships.

Humanity has been using waterways for transportation for many years. We know that early civilizations as the Vikings and the Phoenicians traveled the seas. I wonder who got the first idea to build a raft or canoe? Let alone a boat. Did a floating log spark the idea?

I think back to early times – a period without a transportation system other than humans walking from one location to the next; and then probably exchanging products. A time when they did not worry about barcodes and packaging. A time when humans traveled on paths – first my foot – then in time, by horse. A time when people used rivers to transport themselves and some materials.

I think about how much difference wheels made in transportation – carts and wagons – eventually leading to rail and then motor vehicles – let alone expansion into the air. Railroads truly expanded human transportation on land.

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As I stop to look out to sea, I’m reminded that I grew up in a small town on a major river with many boats transporting coal and petroleum products up and down the river. Besides many small towns, history shows we find many cities on major waterways throughout the world. Besides being a water source for the people, water transportation was then and is today – an important aspect of life.

I think about transportation today with its system of barcodes identifying specific points of origin, destination, and places along the way. Today we have an infrastructure of airways, canals, docks, highways, pipelines, ports, railways, roads, runways, stations, terminals, warehouses, waterways, and more as a system for bicycles, boats, buses, cars, helicopters, planes, ships, spacecraft, trucks, and more.

We package materials for transportation – sometimes individually, other times in bulk. Packaged in bags, boxes, cartons, plastic, and more – and even these are packaged together into a larger container, possibly even multiple times.

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While cruising in Alaska, I recall seeing tugboats on the water pulling a barge by a long chain. A barge loaded with truck trailers stacked on top of each other – each trailer presumably filled with goods, including food. Alaskans told us their purchases depended on the day of the week; that is, in terms of freshness. Why buy milk on Tuesday if fresh milk arrives Wednesday?

As I look at the sea, the view reminds me of something I saw several years ago. We were cruising from San Diego to Miami through the Panama Canal. As we approached the canal, the number of ships anchored in the sea waiting for their turn to enter the canal surprised me – all large freighters moving products around the world. There is no question of transportation’s importance and involvement in a global economy today – and importance that has been for our lifetime.

We live in a world at a time when people are more mobile than ever. People from one continent visiting another – even possibly moving. A time with multiple large international airports serving as hubs for transporting people around the globe. Just think, a handful of flights can transport a person around the world.

As I travel our main highways, especially the interstates, the number of trucks I see going in both directions is very high – all transporting goods from one place to another.

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On a smaller scale, but one just as important, I think about how the human body has different specialized delivery systems to transport materials – each a system involving pick-up points and drop-off locations. Hormones travel around the body by the bloodstream and act as if their destination is an embedded barcode causing them to only act at a specific place.

I think about how nerves deliver specific messages in the form of nerve impulses. Information that one location gathers so nerves can transport the message to the necessary location for that information to bring about a response. It seems to me human transportation systems are mimicking biological systems.

Whether in a pink Cadillac, a yellow submarine, by convoy, leaving on a jet plane, or taking the midnight train to Georgia so we can sit on the dock of the bay to watch wood and metal ships – transportation is paramount in human life. From cruising up or down a river; to crossing a bay, gulf, sea, ocean, or a large lake called Gitche Gumee, transportation has always been and continues to be vital to humanity.

As my walk ends, I look out to sea to notice the large freighter is no longer present – but I know it is out there. Out there somewhere on a journey to help humanity in some way. The freighter may be out of my sight, but at least it sparked enough interest for me to ponder as I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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57 thoughts on “133 – Transportation”

  1. Transportation of all kinds is movement and movement is what makes the world (and us!) go ’round. When things aren’t moving there are problems as we all are experiencing these days with shipping/moving goods. When there’s a backup of “transportation” in our bodies we have big problems……Movement is critical to the ebb and flow of life in every way. If we didn’t give much thought to its’ importance before – we sure do now! Thought provoking post Frank!

    Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam,
      No question about the importance of transportation. And to think I wrote this before what we’ve experienced due to the product shortages in the post-pandemic world. “Critical to the ebb and flow of life” is well stated. Your comment about the human body made me smile because I wondered the reaction of the surprise example.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Transportation makes the world go round. In old age I keep transporting my body everywhere. Ha We have a saying in Arkansas – “Keep moving or you will rust or mold.” Amazing how much transportation has increased over the decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy,
      So true …. we got to keep moving as we get older. Meanwhile, we grew up in a time without seeing Amazon and FedEx trucks … let alone services such as UberEats and Door Dash. Yes – transportation has changed a lot … and who knows what is coming next.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up in a river city, Frank, and the importance of transportation was all around. Raw materials in – finished products out. A different kind of consumption than what I see today. Moving from Point-A to Point-B remains important. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan.
      Growing up along the river is a different experienced. My small town is like a shoestring …. a long, narrow stretch along the river with roads going by into the valleys and up the hills. We saw the river and its transportation activity every day. But people who don’t see it often are surprised by it, but in a positive way.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes we’ve certainly come a long way in a short time Frank.
    Wonder what leaps we will be transported into in the next few decades? Space Force!, Anti Gravity! Telaportation? Time Travel?
    One would never have envisaged back in those viking days container ships or aircraft carriers..

    We are change in motion. 😁💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue,
      A short time indeed. Think about how air travel has changed in our lifetime. On this side of the pond, the national interstate highway system changed many things! So yes – what’s next? What will your grandaughter see when she is a grandparent? Thank you!

      Like

    1. Michel,
      Thank you. You posed an interesting question. I can see both sides of the discussion. Nerves are no doubt a communication tool by transmitting a message. Think about the similarity of transmission and transportation. Is transmission transporting a message? Hmmmmm ….

      Like

    1. Jaya,
      Thank you for the wonderful thought. Our world is like a giant jigsaw puzzle … all these individual pieces fitting together into life. However, looking at individual pieces is also fascinating … only to discover it (the one piece) is also made up of many pieces. Sure seems never-ending! … which is a good thing, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Human beings seem to be the most restless of all creatures. I don’t think there is even one bird or insect species that populates the entire globe. Your ending paragraphs make me laugh. The most important transport is the one that brings me coffee. From the tropics, from the roaster, from the store, from the pot to my seat on the sofa in the morning. Priorities, baby!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’ such a wonderful song about a terrible happening. I really like Gordon Lightfoot and saw him live many years ago in a small venue. But I like story songs such as he and Al Stewart tell. As for transportation, I find it interesting that although the methods and speed of transportation have changed, any that aren’t in the air often follow paths that have been used for many, many years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet,
      One thing for sure about transportation – the topic can give someone a lot to think about. Great point about following long-used paths. Although our interstate highway system was built from scratch, it followed popular highways. Railroad paths are unquestionably very old. Walking paths – well – who knows the age of some of them! Glad you enjoyed the song. I had mixed emotions about using it, but working Gitche Gumee into the text sealed the deal.

      Like

  7. Great and timely post, Mr Frank. Transportation seems to make the world go round…it screeches to a halt, sort of when the lines are severed or snarled. Seems to be the theme of many a chat these days…and the ‘producer
    of all those empty shelves we see.
    I like to transport myself to all kinds of places, mundane and exotic by way of my dreams and fantasies. I don’t need fuel nor any kind of vehicle other than my imagination!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingrid,
      Transportation is one of the key components that make the world go around – even more in today’s era of a global economy. And yes – so many of our shortages today are related to transportation. The thought makes me wonder – what if I could take the product’s journey from raw materials to the shelves. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. When I first read one of your posts I have to walk away. They make me think, they make me ponder and they often inspire me. The concept of transportation is so widespread and is one of the things that connects us throughout the world. It has evolved as we have evolved. And then my mind segued into communication as a means of transportation. It truly is. We have an idea in our minds but in order for it to find substance it must be transported to another via communication. I may have to think more on these lines, I am intrigued. I usually am Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam,
      Your Pam has made my day. Many, many thanks! Stimulating thought is one of my goals, and knowing that I’ve done that in this post is important to me – although I also am touched to learn that you often feel this way about these essays. Linking communication and transportation involves critical thinking, so cheers to use for making that connection!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Transportation, especially for transporting food is paramount.
    I’m thinking how Ukraine can’t get part of last year’s grain harvest out on ships, because the russians have blocked & or mined the Black Sea. So, now Somalia and other countries depending on Ukraine grain, are growing hungrier every day.
    Between this and climate change, starvation is in the offing.
    Covid has already caused havoc in the world of transporting goods, due to the supply chain issue. I’ve been washing clothes in the sink for a year. There is no machine for me to buy yet, as some parts & products from China just aren’t getting here.

    Well Frank, I could go on, but I am fortunate. My wine is still getting here.
    That is not meant to be funny. It is painfully real.
    As this years crops and products are marked for delivery in the autumn, I wonder what we & the world are up against.
    I think it will be painful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Resa,
      Well now … this walk got you going! … but that’s OK … after all, I have a freshly-poured glass of Portuguese wine at my side. Many of today’s immediate issues are tied to transportation. From store shelves to new cars, supply shortages abound – and are commonly linked to transportation. Toss in Covid and other issues – oh boy – yep – problems. Meanwhile … cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoyed this beach walk Frank – I am wondering of the slower transportation of olden days when humans crossed forests, rivers and oceans to get to places faraway – now we cross more open terrains on trains and the sky for air travel. I enjoyed you describing the transportaion in our inner worlds – how human body functions on these systems just like humanity fucntions on the systems in the outer world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PD,
      Thank you for stopping by and your kind words. Thinking back in time, one wonders the about of time it took Marco Polo to travel from Venice to China …. or sailing from one end of the Mediterranean to the other – let alone around the corner and up to Scotland. A wagon train across the US? No thanks. Meanwhile, I’m sure my biology background guided me in my segue into transportation within us! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Good one Frank! Transportation of nutrients within and without are essential for sustaining life. Now I’m thinking of permeability of cell walls and border crossings and other barriers both good and bad….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Muri,
      Thank you and glad to know that I transport your thought into the cellular world. Now you got me thinking about natural transport systems in nature, such as diffusion and osmosis …. plus the movement of fluids due to pressure gradients. Thank you for that!

      Like

  12. We’re fortunate to have so many options when it comes to getting around, aren’t we, Frank? Can you imagine wanting to cross an ocean and not having ships or planes to take you? Maybe long-ago people just got used to sticking around in one place, but not today’s folks — we demand (and expect) mobility!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie,
      I’ve got the feeling that mobility (along with exploration) are very much part of human DNA. I’ve got the feeling that humans are the most widespread living thing on this planet. Then add transportation to that. No wonder cultures are mingling all over the world! As I stated in another comment, I wonder how long it took Marco Polo to go from Venice to China? Thanks for walking along.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. beautiful reflections always Frank.. I love the old wheels and history you share. I have some awesome wheels I covet. Transport all of the bodies systems are wonderful as well. And now if that ship will deliver my stone and refrigerator, I would be much obliged. 💖💖😂💖

    Like

  14. Thanks to transportation the world has become ‘smaller’, people have become more blended, and the things we enjoy are more readily available.

    Like

  15. All the various branches of transportation make my head spin. Ground and air and sea and even virtually, it’s incredible how smoothly things go . . usually. And really, when you consider the logistics, yeah, it is incredible.

    Nice Gladys Knight reference there 😉

    Like

  16. A very interesting topic, Frank. Probably because my husband enjoyed such a long career as a railroad switchman and even in retirement continues to comment on where the trains leaving Los Angeles are going with their loads, I’ve picked up on how much our economy relies on various forms of transportation. We live near the ports of Los Angeles and in times of economic downturn or in this recent season when there weren’t enough long shoremen to unload the container ships, the international container ships and trucks were “parked,” so to speak, by the many hundreds. You can actually look out at the port and understand why our grocery stores had empty shelves. We need to be aware and think about transportation. Without a healthy transportation system we’d sure be stuck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debra,
      I’m so happy to tap into hubby’s career in this walk. Although rail may not be a common type of people transportation in the US, it certainly is in terms of transporting products. GIven a global economy and the different modes of transportation, one side of me is amazed that we see so many products on shelves. On the other hand, the sight you described as “parked” is disheartening. Thanks for walking along and sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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