In 1980 most of it was not paved. It was frozen gravel on permafrost.
From Edmonton through Fort Nelson, Whitehorse, and stopping in Tok, AK; nothing but snow, ice and logging trucks. Services were few and far between so we could only travel between 300-400 miles a day. We had to stop in major "towns", if you will, to find hotels, restaurants and gas stations open during the winter. When we pulled into Tok, AK, the actual air temperature was 75'F below zero. With the wind chill, it got down to 125'F below zero. The car was frozen solid. Antifreeze does freeze at extreme temperatures and the block heater we were told to install to keep this kind of thing from happening did not help, even though we plugged the car in and the block heater ran all night. We had to have the car towed to the truck stop in town where they put it in a bay with the large gas heaters that resemble jet engines and slowly thaw out the car. They also had to do the same to the school bus every morning during the winter and any other visitor’s cars as well. We also learned, by glaring example that gasoline will not burst into flame at such cold temperatures. The cold lowers the flashpoint. We pulled into a service station and were immediately told by the attendant not to turn the car off as it would freeze up as soon as the engine was turned off. He then proceeded to pump the fuel with the engine running and while lighting and smoking a cigarette right next to the gas tank and hose. Needless to say, my mother had us kids hundreds of yards away so as not to be hurt when the car exploded. It never happened. In those temperatures, everything freezes. The items we had stored in the luggage carrier attached to the roof of the car had to stay until we could get to a warmer climate because the ropes/knots froze. From Tok, we then made it to Anchorage and took possession of our house on Christmas Eve, 1980. You learn to appreciate permafrost in Alaska. Without it, you have nothing but inescapable mud and muck. Spring is not called Spring - it is called "Break-up" as that is literally what the ground does. It cracks into pieces that resemble the cracks in a dried mud bed in the desert, but along with the chunks of ground, you have a soggy, mushy mess of mud. Anchorage does not get the true 24 hours of dark but it come very close to the 24 hours of light during the Summer. In Winter, it will get to 20'F below and stay for weeks. It really does not snow as much as you would expect as its latitude is similar to that of Oslo, Helsinki and Reykjavík. The sun will rise at approx. 10Am and will be set and dark by approx. 2PM. In the Summer, it gets to dusk about 4-5 in the AM and then it is light again.
As far as the states I have not visited, I have yet to get there, that is all. I did extensive traveling for work before I gave up the rat race to go back to school 2 years ago. I was all over the US and Canada and yes, there are times that traveling just 1 mile seems too much to me as well. I gave up flying for work after 9/11 - too much BS just to get on a plane by the time you check-in 2+ hours early and go through the strip and body cavity searches. I drew the line when I was asked at LaGuardia Airport in NYC by someone who was not a native citizen of the US but was working for the TSA to remove my shirt and t-shirt because they were setting off the detectors. I refused and got the most complete and thorough pat down and groping I had ever experienced. I hope it was good for them because it was not for me. Anyway, when I restricted myself to driving, my company kept me within a day's drive of my home base. So I missed out on the Hawaii installations and getting a chance to see all 50 states and Puerto Rico. No, I have not been there yet either. I like your description of Idaho as a "deep province". Anyplace that is not on the go 24/7, 365 days a year is considered backwards in the US. Idaho is famous for its potatoes and the outdoor activities it supports. You do not hear people say that they want to go and visit Idaho. Most actually would try to avoid it at all costs.
With regard to natural disasters, I think it is going to be the long-term effects of our careless ways and the results of global warming that does us in. While everyone is still hyped up about the "big one" doomsday earthquake that is supposed to make Arizona oceanfront property and create an island out of the land mass that holds San Francisco and the LA megalopolis, I feel that it is going to be the changes in climate and the cascading effects of those changes that is a worst disaster than an earthquake could ever be. It is going to become too hot and dry to raise crops and grow food. Water levels are going to rise as the polar ice melts. We are going to lose what little protection we have from the sun's damaging rays when the ozone layer breaks up. The earth is going to end up like Mars, except for instead of being cold and covered in ice, it is going to be dry, dusty, barren, and void of any semblance of life. If either of these happens - earthquake in LA or tsunami in NYC, it would be the beginning of the end. My feeling is that these will happen as a direct result of the changes in the weather patterns on the planet. I do not feel that man should inflict himself or herself upon the world and inhabit places that truly are not inhabitable i.e. the deserts. We are spending way too much in money, resources and time to try to make a dry desolate area a lush oasis in which people will want to live. Water, while a natural, renewable resource, is not magically going to just spontaneously create itself when it gets to the point that it so dry in this area that the current supply cannot keep up with the demand. The amount of power used to make the interior climates of people's homes, offices, and stores comfortable and cool is outrageous. They already have had to divert water at the dam to raise the river levels so as to maintain the ecosystems that exist because the water levels are dropping and remaining low. I think we are going to destroy our environment then all hell is going to break loose with the earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, and flooding. No place is immune from the effects; coastal areas or the interior of the country. That is how I see the natural disaster scenario playing itself out. :sm (20): :sm (19):