My head’s in the clouds. That’s because the rest of me is going to be up there in a few days: I’m going to be traveling again.
There is something unique about being in a place, almost any place. Sure, the Internet has brought the world to our computer screens—or at least, many and various interpretations of the world.
But it isn’t the same as sitting in your hotel in Chiang Mai and hearing the monks chant next door, or having the pork knuckle and black ale at U Fleku in Prague, or watching “As You Like It” at the New Globe in London.
This time, I’ll be flying out of Newark, changing planes and sampling beers in Atlanta, and then pushing on to Sarasota. My destination is a small island that separates Tampa Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. When I get there, I’ll take my tie off, sit in the kayak, and shake fins with the dolphins.
I’m going primitive, right? When I’m on dry land, I’ll be taking photos with a digital camera, speaking asides into a digital voice recorder, updating my friends by e-mail (on a Macintosh notebook computer), and riding a bicycle.
Well, the bicycle sounds a little on the primitive side, yes, but if you caught Frank Wicks’s article “Credit to the Bicycle” in the July 2010 issue of Mechanical Engineering, you were reminded that a bike is a pretty sophisticated instrument. It spurred the refinement of bearings and other mechanical advances that led to later developments. It laid the manufacturing groundwork for the automobile.
To get to the island, I’ll drive my car to the airport, take a shuttle to the terminal, fly on two jet aircraft, and be met at the airport by my sister and brother-in-law in a late model SUV. In a matter of hours, I’m going to cover more than a thousand miles in the air and more distance than a day’s walk—close to 40 miles—on the ground. The jets are likely to be single-aisle narrow-body airplanes, which right now are a source of prosperity for gas turbine manufacturers. You can get more on that in the May issue, which will include Lee Langston’s report on the state of the turbine industry, “Breaking the Barriers.”
I’ll follow the same path in reverse on the way back.
I have a passion for travel. I get to see places that I only dreamed about when I was a kid. It’s time again to say thanks to all the inventors, builders, and others who make it possible.