The trans-Alaskan pipeline is pretty neat. I guess I was expecting it to be ugly, some huge sprawling monument to industry and greed, rusty metal over blighted lands.
It's four feet in diameter, slightly warm to the touch, and an unmarred silver that reflects snow-capped mountains, feathery arctic plants, ice-choked rivers, moon-pale birch forests, sunsets and starlight. The engineering that went into it is fascinating - insulation, and supports that allow it to slide as it expands, pumping and measuring stations, vents to carry waste heat and keep the permafrost frozen. It winds over plains and up mountains, into the ground, and over rivers, from Deadhorse to Valdez.