Alaska



Moose in the morning.


The leaves are changing color.


This – and the 1 mile advance sign just to the north – are the only button copy signs I know of in Alaska.


Heading back down to Anchorage. I made this photo black and white because there just wasn’t all that much color to begin with!

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after the Arctic Circle, we head south and then west to Manley Hot Springs, before returning to Anchorage.


The Dalton Highway is numbered 11 – but there are very few signs for it.


Ducking between clouds for sunset.


And here’s the northern lights, from Manley Hot Springs!

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interrupting the Mexico photos, we now bring you a week-long trip in two stages: several days driving all over Alaska, and several in Washington.

This first batch is the flight to Anchorage, and an attempt to drive the Dalton Highway all the way up to the Arctic Ocean at Deadhorse. How far will we make it?


Fjords of British Columbia, as seen from a Seattle to Anchorage flight.


Typical Dalton Highway clouds.


Official photo of the Arctic Circle monument. We made it!

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we interrupt the last batch to bring you some surprisingly recent photos: Alaska, from last weekend!

A three-day trip, landing in Anchorage, heading out to Fairbanks and Tok, and then back.


Mt. McKinley at sunrise. Taken from about 2 miles south of Cantwell, so maybe 85 miles to the mountain itself. At about 8.30 in the morning, the mountain was completely clear, having not yet generated the cloud system it’s well-known to shroud itself with by mid-morning.

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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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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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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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Third day of the Alaska trip from September 3rd, 2007.

Alaska state route 2
A fogbow, just past Tetlin Junction.

Alaska state route 1
Mountains in the fog. Not that far north of Glennallen along highway 1.

Alaska state route 4
On the way to Valdez, along the Copper River.

Alaska state route 4
Worthington Glacier, as seen from the top of Thompson Pass. This panorama takes up about 130 degrees, and thus, the original image is really quite large (5850×3900 pixels, 13 megabytes). I stitched it together from four wide-angle shots.

Alaska state route 1
Mountains to the south of highway 1, between Glennallen and Anchorage.

Alaska state route 1
Sunset over the mountains.

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the second day of my Alaska trip, and (in my humble opinion) the best – some unbelievable atmospheric effects, in air and in space. Don’t mind the long post, and enjoy photo upon photo.

Now 35% less bear feces.

Alaska state route 3
Double rainbow! Actually, we can see at least four rainbows (and maybe a fifth if one jacks up the contrast a bunch). Look inside the inner rainbow – note the repeating red bands; I count two in addition to the primary.

Alaska state route 3
16×16 shield that dates to 1962… Alaska is ripe for the old signs!

Alaska state route 2
Well, that about establishes the absolute lower bound, doesn’t it? Along state highway 2 is this … veritable metropolis, teeming with life. Note the 1970s white signage; for all we know, the population may have, since that time, taken the final decrement towards the ultimate goal of occupancy.

Alaska state route 2, Alaska US 97
Alaska Highway at sunset.

Alaska state route 2, Alaska US 97
Tok. One of my favorite sign photos I’ve ever taken – just because the setting sun illuminated this sign perfectly!

Alaska state route 2, Alaska US 97
Sunset. I took this one across the waters of the most majestic lake I could find: a mud puddle next to Tok’s main drag. Note the light posts. I think my camera was at most five inches above the water.

Alaska state route 5
The northern lights, over the town of Chicken. Most notable in this photo is the purple jet on the left side. Green aurora are the most common, and purple is far more rare.

Alaska state route 5
One more northern lights – my absolute favorite of the bunch. There is the one aspect of the northern lights that no photos can capture: their motion – they really do dance across the sky, and seeing them in person is something else. September 3rd and March 15th are the aurora peaks, due to the Earth’s position in its orbit, relative to the solar wind, which releases the particles that (upon impact with the upper atmosphere) cause the lights. These photos are from September 2nd, 2007 – so just about the fall peak, and I certainly got an impressive display.

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some photos from my Sept. 2007 trip to the Great White North.

Here are days zero and one – I landed in Anchorage around 10pm so a few photos bleed back into the previous day, but in general they are of Day One and all the glories it contains.

Now 35% more bears.

Alaska state route 1
Grim dawn weather in the southern-coast port town of Seward. The first day was pretty patchy, never getting any clearer than a moderate “partly cloudy”.

Alaska state route 1
A lake, under morning fog.

Alaska state route 1, Alaska state route 9
Fog, fog, fog. Dunno how the white balance came out to the proverbial rose-colored-glasses shade, but I sure as Hell kept it! Intersection of highways 1 and 9.

Alaska state route 1
Mount Iliamna, across the Cook Inlet from highway 1 and civilization. This is actually our second view of it – once down the spur route to Homer, and once back up. The way back up yielded much, much clearer skies.

Alaska state route 1
Moose! How did I get so close to a real, live moose?? Easy – he’s sitting in a wildlife preserve. There’s a fence, somewhere between observer and moose, but I conveniently shot through the openings.


BEAR!


Mt. McKinley… 20,320 feet tall; the highest peak in North America – proudly making Mount Shasta look like an anthill since 200,000,000 B.C. About 160 miles away in this photo. Alas, this is the first, last, and only glimpse we’ll get of the peak. Non-cooperative weather intrudes as we get closer to it… from 30 miles away, all we’ll see (in the Day Two batch of photos!) is a quarter of the way up the side, barely half an edge in the ever-present fog. So take what you get: distant, nearly illusionary, glowing purple-red in the last rays of the setting sun.

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