Welcome to Alaska

In the summer of 2005 my wife, Terri, and I, Errol Groff, made a trip to Alaska.  After flying to Anchorage we took a train to Denali National Park.  Following that we boarded a motor coach  (NOT a bus thank you very much) and took to the "haul road" also know as the Dalton Highway.  414 miles of mostly dirt and gravel road.  18 hours on the bus, err, motor coach spread over two days.  The coach moved right along but with all the stops every time someone cried out THERE'S A CARIBOU OVER THERE or musk ox or moose or,  well you get the idea.

Not too far out of Fairbanks we stopped at a spot where the pipeline is hard by the road.  There are descriptive signs and an opportunity (surprise) to buy T shirts and a pipeline fact book.

That's me on the right.  The pipeline is 48" in diameter, heavily insulated and rides on these supports.  The supports are designed to allow the pipe to move laterally in the event of earthquake and the line has many curves to permit it to expand and contract with the seasons.  The fin like objects at the top of many supports are heat pipe radiators which permit heat to be drawn from the ground and released to the atmosphere.  Many miles of the pipeline pass over land which is permafrost.  Heat from the flowing oil would transfer into the ground and melt the permafrost endangering the "health" of the pipeline so the heat pipes are a vital component of the system.

For an explanation of how these heat pipes work jump to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Pipeline 

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