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The last two states to join the USA have many things in common, but both are famous for their pipelines. Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline1 attracts the world's bravest surfers while the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System has brought enough wealth into Alaska that the state legislature abolished the personal income tax.
Both are the only non-contiguous states, both are 'Out West somewhere' and both have a distinct style of dress (Hawaiians wear Hawaiian shirts, Alaskans wear Alaskan shirts). Captain James Cook charted the islands of both states2. However, the climates of Hawaii and Alaska are as different as night and day. Hawaii's weather is that of a tropical paradise; Alaska's weather is, er...brisk!
Taking advantage of tourists is the biggest industry in Hawaii. Apparently, a mainlander's sense of decent clothing does not function on the islands, thus causing them to purchase and wear incredibly tacky Hawaiian shirts. The native Hawaiian language has very few consonants in it. Hawaii is home to Don Ho, the guy who sang 'Tiny Bubbles'. The main island for tourist fun is Oahu, but the other islands also have a lot to offer.
Hawaiian residents love tourists - often greeting them lovingly with wreaths of flowers, dancing girls and ukulele songs about saying 'hello'. The state is home to fantastic beaches, hula skirts and one-third of the world's pineapple production.
Alaskans usually do not live in igloos3. In fact, the Eskimo people indigenous to the area usually only use igloos as temporary shelter when travelling in the harsh winter months. Alaska's climate takes some getting used to. In the winter months, the daylight is reduced to three-and-a-half hours in many places. For many, this lack of daylight leads to the onset of the aptly named SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). As the media are quick to point out, moose walk down the street in the middle of winter. Also don't pet the bears - they will regard you as food.
The dead of winter also inspires the world's most famous sporting event involving more than one type of mammal and a sled, the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. Contestants stand on the back of a sled pulled by dogs for well over 1,000 miles. Granted there is $450,000 up for grabs, but it's a hell of a gamble.
Alaska is also well known for its commercial fishing. For some reason, fish don't gut themselves, so fishing plants are necessary in Alaska. Workers, mostly students, use a hydraulic spoon to gut fish which are soon sent on to seafood establishments worldwide.
Ketchikan, Alaska, is called 'The First City', as it is the first stop for cruise ships and many commercial fishing vessels entering Alaskan waters. Alaskans refer to cruise lines such as Princess and Holland America as 'cattle rustlers'. The residents also insist that the state is 'just like any other place in the world', which it obviously is not. Other states do not have the proximity to the North Pole allowing them to have the longest summer days and the shortest winter days of any state in the nation. The state's residents are a hearty bunch. Most residents, particularly the middle-aged and older men, speak with a southern accent. Girls wear miniskirts in the dead of winter, and everybody starts wearing shorts and tank-tops in April just as the snow starts to melt.