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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See what other bloggers have posted about Transportation
- Transportation Museum in Nürnberg (an essay with photos)
- A female transportation pioneer (a short essay about Lillian Gatlin)
- An Insight into the Transportation Industry (an essay)
- A trip to the Studebaker Museum (an essay with photos by an occasional visitor here)
- Black and Gray Transportation (a photo essay)
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