This weekend I fulfill another civic duty required by the State of Alaska to maintain my citizenship. It is an activity that every Alaskan must due on a regular basis, and as difficult as it is, I am taking that task on beginning Saturday. That task simply is:
I’m going on Vacation to Hawaii
When you request the Permanent Dividend Fund (PFD) every year (that’s the government free money check they give us for just being here) you have to prove four things:
1) You have an Alaska State License
2) You have a car with a chip in the windshield
3) You can tell the difference between a Muktuk & Mukluk
4) You have been to Hawaii recently
Okay, yeah, I am being funny here — but seriously, the number of Alaskans that go to Hawaii is completely out of proportion to the rest of the world (except maybe Japan). It’s said that if you count up all the Alaskans that spend time in Hawaii in any given year, they would count up to be enough to be the 4th largest city in Alaska. That may not be true, but try this detail on for size: Alaskan Airlines currently is running 11 non-stop flights on 737s to Hawaii from Anchorage (7 to Oahu, 3 to Maui, and 1 to Hawaii (aka ‘the big island)). They routinely sell out all 150 seats. Since it’s a safe bet most of those are Alaskan vacationers; you are talking about 1500 people per week heading to the islands — 6000 in December alone. That doesn’t include the other possible routes to get there (either using Alaskan Airlines through Seattle which goes 4-6 times a day, or any one of the other airlines). Any safe estimate can suggest over 30,000 people will fly from Alaska to Hawaii every year. This is a lot for any state, but for Alaska’s size that’s nearly 5% of our population. For the people I know, when I tell them I am heading to Hawaii nearly all of them have gone there at some point in the last few years and its rare to meet someone up here that hasn’t been there at all.
There’s some obvious reasons for this. Of course the constant cold and darkness of winter is a leading cause; the fact that it’s closer to fly to Hawaii than Florida is another. Also, the PFDs play a big part in it too. Every year, every citizen gets a check that is enough for a plane ticket to someplace warm, and while sometimes its used for snow machines, four wheelers, big screen TVs, or a heck of a good night down at McGinleys … sooner or later the call of the islands will get an Alaskan charged up to cash in the money check to head south.
I chose to go because I had to burn some vacation before the end of the year – and wasn’t about to spend it sitting around the house yelling at the dog for interrupting my game on my Playstation. I could have gone anywhere, really, with the amount of airline miles that I had, but I decided Hawaii just because that’s where every Alaskan is going. I even tried to schedule it around Curling (but failed due to last minute curling club schedule changes). I’m going to spend a couple of quick days on Oahu in Honolulu where my only set plans are to watch the Packer game from a Packer bar. Then I hop a quick flight to Kona where I will spend four days on the big island of Hawaii at a resort. I really don’t have huge plans, just trying to do something to get through the blahs of December before the holidays. This is a trip solely about warm weather, fruity drinks, beaches, sun, sand, relaxation, and tuning out for a while.
So, if I go quiet on the Bear Feed front … tough. I am too busy fulfilling an Alaskan civic duty.