Friday, December 3, 2010

The Alaska-Hawaii Connection

I’m about to let you in on a well-kept secret about Alaskans. I only discovered this when I moved up here. It came as a bit of a surprise…but then again, not really. Alaskans LOVE Hawaii. After all, it’s only a five-ish hour flight from Anchorage to Honolulu, from the Arctic to the Tropics, from ice fields to lava flows.

It’s much easier to get to Hawaii from here than to the East Coast. I know quite a few Alaskans who try to take a well-timed mid-winter trip to Hawaii each year.

Myself included.

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.

Jenny Bernard


Cheryl said...

Too true. My daughter lives in Nome and tries to get to Hawaii twice a year. We're meeting her there in May, and her flight is shorter than ours from the Midwest.
Congratulations on your marriage.

Morgan O'Reilly said...

We'll be there with you in spirit! Hope you have someone taking lots of pictures to share. Otherwise I'm putting up a few more Homer pics - heheheh

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Congrats on the wedding!
I agree there is a strong tie between Alaska and Hawaii. I've heard both groups have a laid-back, go with the flow attitude, maybe the influence of nature on our lives. I am one of a few who have lived in Alaska most of my life and haven't been to Hawaii--but I plan to go one day!
Another connection: there's a large group of humpback whales who winter in Hawaii and summer in southeast Alaska. Even the whales know a good thing when they see it!

Vee said...

What a lovely place to have your wedding! Bring back lots of pictures!