Recently someone asked how fast Jack is driving in these videos. The answer is, the fastest Jack drives on the Dalton is 55 miles an hour. His truck is governed at 55, meaning it is programmed to be unable to go faster than that. The speed limit of the Dalton Highway is 50 miles an hour, so he is given that extra 5 miles an hour in order to let him gain a little speed before going up the steep grades of the hills and mountains.
Of course he drives a variety of speeds. Things he slows down for are curves, rough patches, frost heaves, and animals. And when you see him meeting other trucks as a general rule he slows down to about 35. That is for safety primarily, but also etiquette.
So here’s another video, this one of a night drive, which is what the Haul Road experience consists of most of the time in the winter. (Don’t forget, the volume is loud.)
This is an amalgamation of video clips from the Dalton Highway between the Brooks Range and Prudhoe Bay. You’ll see the Trans-Alaska pipeline and a glimpse of Pump 2. It’s not in perfect order, as road aficionados and time clock watchers will notice. I’m new to video editing and sometimes you just have to accept a less than perfect product, to Jack’s chagrin.
Call it sunrise or sunset, whatever you want, but the sun has officially shown up in Prudhoe Bay (the photo was taken the 21st of January). From November 24th to January 17th it doesn’t break the horizon but on the 18th it’s just above the horizon for about an hour. During those two months it’s not pitch black all day but instead it’s varying degrees of twilight for a couple of hours each day. On the 19th of January it’s up for an hour and a half, 30 minutes more than the day before, and each day more and more light is gained, though the gain slows down to about 12 minutes a day by the end of January. So people who live and work up there notice a drastic increase in light over this time. At the beginning of February the length of day is about 5 hours and by the end of February it’s about 9.5 hours! At March 21st the length of day is about 12.5 hours and by the 15th of May the sun never sets! This is all according to the website http://www.timeanddate.com (and corroborated by Jack 😉 ).
Happy Fourth of July! Here are some photos from Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Cliff dwellings are always fun to see and this is one of the best places to experience them. There’s more info on the captions and in order to see them and the photos at original size, click on the first photo and scroll to the right. Be careful with those fireworks!
Looking down into the canyon where the Native American cliff dwellings are.
Diorama of some of the dwellings that were not attached to the cliff.
“Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.” (nps.gov)
This diorama shows how the dwellings were attached to the cliff and connected to the alcoves.
“The Ancestral Pueblo people lived here from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE. They built homes carved from the volcanic tuff and planted crops in mesatop fields.” (nps.gov)
The actual cliff wall.
If you look closely there appears to be some holes in the cliff wall.
The first ruins you come to, a circular building that was a religious gathering place.
The circular diorama in the visitor center was of these ruins which were made up of many individular dwellings, some of which were at least 2 stories high.
The holes next to the square entrances were for posts that supported man-built dwellings that stuck out from the side of the cliff.
Jack, showing the size of the entrance.
Inside the alcove.
Looking back toward the visitor center.
“By 1550, the Ancestral Pueblo people had moved from this area to pueblos along the Rio Grande. After over 400 years the land here could no longer support the people and a severe drought added to what were already becoming difficult times.” (nps.gov)
Judy, climbing a ladder to check out an alcove.
These steps were put in by the park service, as were the ladders.
Looking down on the circular ruins, some of which were at least 2 stories high.
Inside an alcove where the soot built up from years of fires.
Imagine dwellings made of rock standing high enough to cover those cave entrances.
“Corn, beans, and squash were central to their diet, supplemented by native plants and meat from deer, rabbit, and squirrel. Domesticated turkeys were used for both their feathers and meat while dogs assisted in hunting and provided companionship. ” (nps.gov)
Post holes for supporting the rock buildings that leaned against the cliff wall. (The engraving may be vandalism.)
The artwork to the right has been covered with plexiglass for safe-keeping.
What a great day.
Leaving the visitor center and other buildings of Bandelier National Monument. Thanks for looking!
Jack bought a new pick up truck! We picked it up in Amarillo, Texas and drove through Palo Duro Canyon State Park before heading on to New Mexico. Click on the first one and scroll to the right if you are interested!
Jack and his new truck!
Look at those huge ears on that jackrabbit!
An adorable prairie dog family (and could that be a burrowing owl in the background?).
Very different soils from what we are used to in Alaska.
Windmills and jack pumps everywhere!
Amazing dips and depressions in these brick roads, not all that different from what we deal with!
On The High Road to Taos (highway 518 in New Mexico) Jack and I ran into a pretty powerful hail storm. Even Jack felt the need to pull over at this point. At the very beginning of the below video you can see a little bit of lightning and later the road was totally white, it looked like snow. There are photos below it.
Hail on Jack’s truck after the storm mostly passed.
It looks like snow!
But it is clearly small balls of ice.
Deciding to head out.
Not sure if it melted right away seeing as it was pretty cool up in the mountains.
It was still on the truck when we stopped at a gas station about an hour later!
The day before we were enjoying the beautiful (but cool) weather of Taos.
In June, Jack and I went south on the Alaska Highway to camp and came across this construction site with a new culvert going in. More info on the photos. Click on the first one and scroll to the right.
This is the culvert that’s going in, about 6 feet in diameter and maybe 80 (?) feet long.
Jack says this is the stream water being diverted while the construction is going on.
Water is being sprayed to keep the dust down.
The fabric is Typar that was laid down under the road years ago and there’s also some rigid foam insulation showing on the right. All of this is an attempt to keep the dirt under the road frozen in order to prevent frost heaves.
The next two photos are pretty self explanatory. Collapsed culverts are very common in interior Alaska.
This was Jack’s first heavy haul load. He wasn’t actually part of the a heavy haul division yet but obviously it was a landmark load for him.
You can see the partially melted snow and the dry road. We are almost to that point in the year right now, and you can probably believe that it is an exciting time for us Alaskans who have snow 8 or 9 months of the year!