May 2010


day 7 of the Alaska highway trip, where we finally cross the Rockies, and are promptly greeted with even more snow than before.


Dawn. The roads have been plowed. We head east on the Yellowhead Highway into Alberta.


This could be a problem. Since 93 through Jasper National Park in Alberta is a park route, it is closed to commercial traffic, and therefore not plowed particularly frequently. [Dan photo.]


Invisible trees at Shuswap Lake, about halfway through British Columbia on Trans-Canada 1.


Trans-Canada 1 in infrared, just west of Salmon Arm.

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Texas State Highway 161 is part of the outer (outer) loop of Dallas currently being constructed all the way around the city, ignoring that pesky Fort Worth. Other parts of the roadway include the planned Loop 9 to the south, and George Bush Turnpike. The latter road is currently being extended east and south of its current terminus.

The newest section of SH 161 to open is about 5 miles long and stretches south from SH 183 in Irving and ends spitting distance from Interstate 30. The new toll road provides a direct link from Dallas’ wealthy northern suburbs to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, just west on I-30. This new stretch of roadway opened during the first week of August, 2009 – but all lanes opened a few weeks ago.

The road is 6 lanes of very bright concrete, and has very little traffic, as evidenced by the photos above. The first looks south from SH 183, and the second shows the current end just north of I-30.

The sixth day of the Alaska Highway trip, where we see the Alaska Highway for the last time, and head down the Cassiar Highway – route 37 in Yukon and British Columbia. We make a brief stop in Hyder, Alaska, just to say that we’ve been there, and then head east on the Yellowhead Highway and attempt to cross into Alberta. However, we’re nearly eaten alive by that snowstorm that’s been stalking us since Day 3 – this will be a recurring theme of our days six and seven!


A caribou, just south of the British Columbia border.


Winter scene on the Cassiar Highway. We will be seeing a lot of this!


The clouds clear up for a bit – but we’re still heading south, so infrared is the rule on the day.


The Stikine River. The Cassiar Highway crosses it, on one of its few, very brief dirt sections. Not only is this section dirt, but there are 13% grades on either side of the river!


Ominous yellow clouds in the distance. Yep, we’re going to get hit with snow. [Dan photo.]


The south end of the Cassiar Highway, which we reached just around dusk.


This is a blower. It makes an ominous noise and spits out a lot of flames. If anyone can tell us what it is, we’d be grateful!

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Brent drove from Chicago west to QC and met up for a joint trip southeast to Champaign. A quick cold front blew through the morning of, washing out most of the ride west. This view shows that construction along Interstate 88 (East-West Tollway) is finally complete! If you drove through in 2008, you noted jersey barriers everywhere and your eyes bled orange.

The Illinois Tollway is slowly implementing exit numbering along their system. Previously, all exits were unnumbered, and the milepost system adhered to Tollway mileage in lieu of overall Interstate mileage. Some of the new signage including exit numbers are found along Interstate 88 toward Dixon. This particular sign replaced a button copy sign pictured here.

These Clearview signs for Interstate 74 west Exits 3 and 2 were installed literally the night before.

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the fourth fifth day of our trip. The fourth day was spend snowed in in sunny East Anchorage, where 16 inches fell overnight. Remember that storm that we escaped in the mountains to get to Anchorage? Well, it found us. However, Anchorage has the best snowplow routine I’ve ever seen, and we could’ve gotten out of there by noon, had we not been zonked. We waited ’til about 6 the next morning. Good enough. We’re still ridiculously ahead of schedule, thanks to those brilliant 120mph speed limits.


Mt. McKinley! This is an early morning shot, which is usually the best time to see the mountain, before a mid-level fog tends to vanish it. In fact, several minutes after this photo, the mountain was no longer visible. This is fairly late in the morning, but at this latitude, 8-12 hours of red twilight per day are common. In this photo, the mountain is about 80 miles away.


On the road to Fairbanks. Here is where our trip was the coldest – minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit.


This 16″ state highway 3 marker with a 1962 date stamp survives. The bridge that this sign serves dates to 1968, so they must’ve moved the sign from somewhere in town to the bypass – and hung it on the first available pole.


Completely whitewashed overcast from just outside Fairbanks, all the way to Tok Junction.

The time I was here in 2007, these mountains were in direct sunset light. I tried to get a photo from the exact same spot, but I just couldn’t remember where it was. Close enough!


Yukon after sunset.


Almost at the end of dusk, we stopped at a bridge over a frozen river.


Northern lights! This is about a three-minute exposure, because the lights were quite faint. The road in the foreground is the access road to a garbage dump somewhere to the east of Whitehorse. Note the reflection of the northern lights turning the snow green.
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Started out the day being greeted by this VMS with the message "I-80 EB Closed at Mississippi River". Had to turn around and trudge southward along the real I-74 eastbound, which was equally under construction for an ARRA based resurfacing project. A routine inspection revealed damage to a faulty floor beam and currently only one lane of westbound traffic is permitted to use the bridge due to repairs. Work began on April 5, 2010 on a $10.3-million project. Construction on the October 27, 1966-opened span will shift to the westbound lanes by early July, with on eastbound lane restored at that time.

A new set of Clearview signs were added to the 2008-replaced Lincoln Road overpass. Signs over the westbound lanes were added during the evening of May 5 as we drove under.

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the third day of our trip, on which we actually cross into Alaska, and complete the Alaska Highway.


Dawn in Yukon. Just past Haines Junction, we hit the final stretch of Alaska Highway.


Close-up of distant purple mountains over Destruction Bay. Yes, that is what it is called! It was named by the troops who were building the road in 1942, and had the wind blow away their new structures.


Making good time to Alaska. It is our understanding that, while there are speed limits in Yukon, they are enforced extremely rarely.


We made it!


Alaska in infrared.


End of the line. 31 1/2 hours to clinch the Alaska highway. [Dan photo.]


Things start to get a little interesting on the road to Anchorage. Around here, we’re reminded that we’re in Alaska. In the middle of winter. Who’s responsible for this brilliant operation?

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Texas has pushed quite a bit of old video to the web, including a few historic road gems. Take a look at this view of construction in Austin in 1965.

The Texas Archive of the Moving Image can be found here.

Continuing northward … and, on this day, greatly westward, as that is the way to get from Dawson to Delta Junction, which is the official end of the Alaska Highway. This batch of photos includes plenty of British Columbia and even some Yukon. About 70 photos total!


Dawson Creek at dawn. This monument is at the intersection (BC-49 and BC-2, actually) where the Alaska Highway officially begins. 2 ends at 97 around one mile in.


Ominous wintry yellow skies, as we approach our first mountain pass since just after Prince George the previous night. Yep, it’s going to snow.


Large bovines of the Liard River Valley.


The Yukon boundary sign. This photo, of course, looks completely different than Dan’s take on the matter.


Sunset, somewhere around one of the many crossings between British Columbia and Yukon.


The bridge at Teslin.

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Photos from the Alaska highway! Okay, well, first photos from flying to Seattle, and then driving to Dawson Creek, where the Alaska Highway begins.

Some photos in this post brought to you by Daniel Brim. We have an equitable arrangement: he provides talent at taking photographs, I run us off the road only occasionally.


Somewhere over the Rockies. Between Denver and Seattle for sure.


And here’s the northern lights! Just north of Prince George, British Columbia, which is well south of where such a strong display tends to usually appear. About twelve hours after landing … mission accomplished. Now all we had to do was drive the Alaska Highway!


And one more northern lights photo, this time from Dan. Hmm, I wonder which one of us has a better camera!

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