The Seattle to Alaska Road Trip - Part I - Image Heavy

Joined
May 30, 2007
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Boston, MA
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

In March, a friend and I drove from Seattle to Alaska and back, by way of a lot of places out of the way. 6500 miles in 8-ish days. I've been waiting for a calibrator, and now that I have one I can start posting these up.

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This is where the trip began. This photo was taken in Seattle shortly after leaving the airport on Saturday, March 6th. I had just flown across the country after a very poor night of sleep. A jack and coke in the Chicago airport is the only thing that saved me from running on an hour of sleep.

Note the space needle hiding out in the bottom left corner.

Nikon D90, 18-200, taken from a moving car on the Alaskan Way Viaduct (old US 99)




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On the first nights, we got one thing that we came for: the northern lights. They were supposed to be visible further north, but we never expected a display like this this far south, especially since the forecast was for a minor display. This was taken near Prince George, BC, well south of our destination.

Nikon D90, 18-200.



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After a long day of driving, we got about two hours of sleep, and kept going. This is in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, the start of the Alaska highway, our main route to Alaska. 1420 miles to Delta Junction!

Nikon D90, 18-200, handheld.



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All behold the 80s bear!

Fort Nelson, BC (obviously), March 7, 2010

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car



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Here we have the first of six continental divide crossings on the trip. Snowy, low visibility, and unsafe driving conditions will become a theme of these crossings, and of mountain pass crossings on this trip in general.

Keep in mind that we were driving a Carolla!

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car.



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The weather manages to clear up a bit after the continental divide crossing. Northern BC is very good about keeping its roads plowed, or at least a major one like the Alaska Highway.

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car.



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After crossing the Rockies, we start to see the wildlife that the Alaska Highway is famous for. Here is a buffalo, that was just hanging out by the side of the road. There were plenty of them, but this one had the best light, believe it or not.

Nikon D90, 18-200.



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And here is the first photo from the Yukon Territories. Yukon has great distance signs. Each route has its own logo.

Nikon D90, 18-200.



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Finally, an official welcome sign. The Alaska highway crosses the BC/Yukon border 7-9 times (the official number varies depending on who you ask), and this is after quite a few of them. Even after this sign, the Alaska highway dips into BC one last time.

Nikon D90, 18-200



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Behold, the "rule of sevenths!" For some reason, I really like this composition. Maybe it's because it breaks most rules about composition. That, and the fact that I was leaning against the grill of the car in a very awkward position to keep my knee off of the freezing road.

Nikon D90, 18-200.



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I called this one Ghost Bridge because the bridge is almost invisible in the photo. I still really like the photo because of the textures in the snow in the foreground, though!

This is the last photo from the very prolific day 2.

Nikon D90, 18-200.



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And finally, we're on to day 3! We wake up today a bit west of Whitehorse on one of the most remote sections of the Alaska Highway, and also the section with the worst road quality (not a great mixture).

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car.



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Sorry about the depth of field issue! I keep my lens on f/8, which works great for wide angles, but this was zoomed in! Again, documentation purposes, mainly.

According to the EXIF data, this was taken 46 hours and 47 minutes after we left SeaTac. This is 2068 miles away from SeaTac by our route, according to Google Maps.

So yeah, we were making progress.

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car.



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And we have reached the end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, 31 and a half hours after we started. 1422 miles in 31 and a half hours, plus we did a random spur at night near Whitehorse, which brings the total closer to 1500.

The top reads: Fort Greely 5 miles, Anchorage 342 miles, Valdez 266 miles, Fairbanks 101 miles, Prudhoe Bay 599 miles. Prudhoe Bay is a place we will visit someday, as it is at the end of the Dalton Highway, one of the true road adventures left.

The reverse of the sign reads: Miami 4695 miles, Los Angeles 3336 miles, Chicago 3321 miles, New York City 3847 miles, Dawson Creek 1422 miles.

Nikon D90, 18-200



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I have zero idea of what this sign is trying to warn us against, but it doesn't look pleasant for either party.

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car



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The intersection of the Richardson and Denali highways. The Denali highway (8) is closed for the winter. The Richardson highway is the road we took from Delta Junction to get to Anchorage, and it was abandoned and the clouds looked like this the entire way. It was pretty awesome.

Also note the Alaska highway shields. The designs are awesome.

For those of you thinking that those clouds are foreboding... you're right.

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving car



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A friendly snow plow on the Parks highway heading into Anchorage. This is not the height of the storm, which was nearly white-out conditions for a few minutes.

Again, it feels necessary to remind everybody that we were in a Carolla.

This is the last photo before reaching Anchorage. We ended up getting snowed in there, under 15 inches of snow. We stayed there for an extra day, and decompressed from our mad dash, so the next photo will be from Day 5. Day 5 was just about as productive as Day 2, so look forward to that.

Nikon D90, 18-200, moving (sliding?) car.
 
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Joined
Oct 22, 2008
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Keith Jalbert
I was stationed at Ft Richardson in Anchorage for 3 years , I would love to go back especially now that I have a halfway decent camera :) NIce shots keep them coming
 
Joined
May 30, 2007
Messages
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Boston, MA
That is a "bucket list" ride for me. Looks like you are putting the 18-200 to good use.
Yeah, the 18-200 is by far my favorite travel lens. I use it for just about everything, and it may well be on every photo that I publish from this trip.

Let's see some more! We leave May 25 and will drive to Anchorage from Tennessee!
Wow, sounds awesome! I'd be curious to hear how the road is at a different time of year. When we were there the highway was empty, except for truckers. The border patrol was pretty perplexed when we came through.

When you go up to Anchorage, don't forget to go all the way up to Delta Junction (at least). If you turn southward there, you'll end up on the Richardson Highway, which is an awesome drive that parallels the pipeline. I'd recommend going all the way up to Fairbanks and taking Alaska 3 down to Anchorage if you can, though. The route passes McKinley and is beautiful in general.


And yeah, there will be more. These four photos take it to midway through day 2. There were 7 days of actual driving and one day of being snowed in in Anchorage.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2009
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Baton Rouge, La.
Yeah, the 18-200 is by far my favorite travel lens. I use it for just about everything, and it may well be on every photo that I publish from this trip.

I really like mine. I keep in on a D80 in my tank bag when I go on rides. It may not be the sharpest lens made, but it is by far one of the most convenient and I get some really great shots. Keep 'em coming.
 

Butlerkid

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Excellent! I appreciate the road photos.....let's me envision a big diesel truck pulling a 35' 5th wheel!

I like the lighting on the buffalo...nice and soft, with plenty of detail.
 
Joined
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Tony Admana
Northern lights are spectacular... this getting to be very exciting and making me to see more. Thanks for taking us along.....Corolla? Isn't there a recall on this Toyota model? Hmmmm!:confused:
 
Joined
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Awesome series. What a great adventure.

I think the 18-200 did very well for a lens that seems to get slammed a lot. I realize it's not "fast" by any means, but I've been happy with mine.

Hope to see more!
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2009
Messages
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Great series and write up. Imagine if your Corolla had Florida plates on it. The border patrol would be really confused....
 

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