I happen to be getting married in Hawaii at the end of this month. I keep meeting other Alaskans who tell me they got married in Hawaii, so I think my choice of location is perfect. And it got me thinking about the Alaska-Hawaii connection.
It goes way back. In 1778-9, during his final voyage, Captain Cook explored both Alaska and Hawaii—meeting his unfortunate end on the Big Island. More recently, Alaska and Hawaii were the last two states to join the Union. We’re also the only non-contiguous states, never feeling that we’re entirely part of the mainstream of American life.
Other common ground: Hawaii and Alaska are the only two states with indigenous populations who are not Native Americans. Both states rely on imported goods that have to travel long distances, which makes prices ridiculously high. Both states, with their spectacular scenery, are tourist destinations. Plenty of workers in the tourist industry spend summers in Denali and winters at Hawaiian resorts. Both states have active volcanoes and both have been struck by tsunamis. In both states, there’s a constant sense of living at the mercy of nature, whether it’s Pele the Volcano Goddess in Hawaii, or the bitter cold in Alaska.
Alaskans love for Hawaii isn’t a one-way street. I’ve found that Hawaiians have a fondness for Alaska too. I’ve been told it’s because they appreciate how difficult it is to survive here. I’ve seen many Hawaiians turn extra friendly when they find out I’m from Alaska. I’ve even gotten discounts on roofing materials and such. Maybe it’s because they feel sorry for us. Maybe it’s because we Alaskans appreciate Hawaii all the more when we stumble off the plane in our wintry, light-starved state.
Here’s what we do when we travel to Hawaii in the winter. We blast the heat in the car. We leave our winter boots, coat, long underwear, hat, gloves, and scarf in a tidy bundle, then run into the airport in our shorts and flip flops.
Of course, this time I’ll be bringing my wedding dress too.