Notice the section from Destruction Bay to the Border marked "Bad Road?" This is where frost heaves almost literally raised their ugly little heads and made the trip a headache for everyone on the road.
Frost heaves are displacements in the pavement that are caused when a road is built on top of permafrost, and the heat from the road melts the ice below. Melted permafrost causes the soil under the road to liquify, essentially turning to mud. Because the winter climate here is quite cold (more on that later), it refreezes quickly -- and as it does it expands and heaves. What you end up with is waves in the road, bumps in the road, dips in the road, and potholes galore. And, for some reason we couldn't fathom, some stretches are "fixed" for several yards, then there is a rough patch, then another "fixed" patch and so on, so it looks like one row on a giant checkerboard except, of course, it goes on seemingly forever.
The reason this road is in such poor shape is a problem that is simple to state -- the frost heaves keep happening because no one really knows how to keep the permafrost under the highway from melting (buildings in the arctic solve the problem by raising the foundation on stilts -- not a reasonable solution for an entire highway). We saw several road crews dumping sand and gravel on the road and tamping it down, but there was no evidence of a more permanent fix.
A permafrost research project is underway, which results in strange doohickies cropping up along the highway that are designed to -- hopefully -- keep the permafrost frozen by allowing cold air to penetrate under the road:
Tired and road-weary, we finally got to the Alaskan border. Just before the border crossing, we discovered that the border between Canada and United States is marked by a swath of cleared land: