February 21, 2013
Our second trip to Alaska, and our second aggregate operation encounter, came the summer our son out-processed from Elmendorf AFB. His three-year tour of duty was over, and he was reassigned to Cannon AFB in Clovis, N.M. Though he greatly enjoyed his three years in Alaska, he was ready to be closer to home for a while. My husband and I flew up to Anchorage to make the trip back to the “lower 48” with him. After living in Alaska for three years, he had acquired a four-wheel-drive pick up and a couple of toys — a four-wheeler (recreational vehicle) and a trailer — so driving back was the only option.
Once everything was taken care of on base and he was packed and ready to go, we set off for the AlCan Highway…also known as the Alaska-Canadian Highway or Alaskan Highway. It was built during World War II as a means of transporting troops, equipment, and supplies between the contiguous United States and Alaska through Canada. It runs from Delta Junction, Alaska, to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada.
Along the highway, we encountered countless areas of road reconstruction due to frost heave, wash outs from melting snow, and damage from tire spikes. We also encountered more aggregate operations. One, located along the highway in Alaska, was completely different from the roadside operation we had encountered on our first trip. This one was a permanent operation with a built-in processing plant, scales, and conveyors. One conveyor system ran underneath the highway we were traveling on, conveying material from the quarry on one side of the highway to the other side of the highway. Needless to say, we stopped and I took pictures.
I took many pictures during that trip…go figure! It was beautiful, and every hill we crested was another ooh or ahh moment that needed to be documented. Several of the highway and bridge images were used on the cover of our sister magazine, Better Roads. Eventually, we made so many “picture” stops that my co-travelers started to complain, but I just smiled and pointed at another picture that needed to be taken.
It took us over a week to travel from Anchorage to our final destination in New Mexico, but…oh my, what a beautiful drive it was through Alaska and Canada. I highly recommend it, if you ever have the time.