South to Alaska: A True Story of Courage and Survival from America's Heartland to the Heart of a Dream
Nancy Owens Barnes
A Journey Even Huck Finn Would Have Admired---Spokesman Review
(Note: to view the video book trailer for this book, click on "Visit Amazon's Nancy Owens Barnes Page" in the More About the Author section.)
A true story of courage and survival, South to Alaska carries readers from the heartland of America to the Last Frontier...THE HARD WAY.
Born in the dusty heart of Oklahoma in 1916, ten-year-old Melvin sees a photograph of a cabin in the Alaska wilderness in his fourth-grade geography book and dreams of living there. Nearly fifty years later he builds a 47-foot boat in his Arkansas backyard, launches it on the Arkansas River, and cruises 10,000 miles to Alaska by way of the Panama Canal. Melvin has never been south of the United States/Mexico Border and has never been on a boat in the open ocean.
"Learn by doing," he says.
In South to Alaska, author Nancy Owens Barnes takes readers on two journeys. On one, readers follow a young boy's dream that begins in a one-room, Oklahoma schoolhouse in 1926, and ends decades later on an island in southeast Alaska. On the other, readers become a passenger aboard the Red Dog as it cruises along the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico where, in 1973, Melvin begins a solo journey along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal, then into the Pacific Ocean to Alaska. Plagued by mechanical problems, international fraud, violent ocean storms, threats of foreign jail, illness and loneliness, Melvin fears a deadly end before reaching the place of his dreams and returning to the woman he loves. South to Alaska chronicles Melvin's 10,000-mile journey through a dangerous world he knows little about, to a world he cannot forget.
About the Author
As the daughter of the main character in South to Alaska, Barnes watched her father's dream weave its way through the lives of her family. In 1971, she boarded the Red Dog for the first leg of its journey along the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers.
Barnes was featured in the Winter 2010 issue of Coeur d'Alene Magazine as one of nine North Idaho authors who have achieved acclaim for their work. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications such as We Alaskans and Idaho Magazine, and in literary journals such as The Lyric and Snowy Egret, the oldest independent journal of nature writing in the United States. In 2008 she received the Zola Award for Poetry from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She has also authored a short anthology of nature writing titled Moose for Breakfast, as well as a brief guide for beginning writers titled How to Swat the KILLER BEs Out of Your Writing. Barnes received her BA degree from Vermont College of Norwich University where she studied creative writing.
it. Ahead I saw Galveston Island where the city of Galveston lay against the island’s southeast shore, basking in the warm glow of the Gulf of Mexico. . . . The clear gulf water easily revealed Errol Flynn’s ornate, teak sailboat, which sat submerged and seemingly forgotten. Refraction kinked the mast where it pierced the surface and stood white in its surrender. Only a few feet outside of the concrete seawall protecting the Galveston marina where my father docked the Red Dog, the actor’s
family had always considered her an excellent cook, she confidently hired on as a cook for the Carmel Inn, a retirement home with twenty-some residents. She loved the job. She attacked her work with enthusiasm, happy to feel useful and doing something she enjoyed that helped take her mind off the problems with Delling. Although her contract did not require her to make desserts, she walked to work in predawn hours to bake pies for the residents. She shuffled fruit pies in and out of the oven,
finally enter inland waters and escape the roll, pound, and jar of the seemingly endless ocean. But even though nearly fifteen-hundred miles of open Pacific coastline stretched ahead of him, when he anchored that night, only eighty miles lay between him and his home country. . . . Planning to go into port the next morning, my father anchored off a San Diego beach on June 22. Three months had passed since he had crossed the southern border of the United States near Port Isabel, Texas, where
hand. I saw my mother at the stern holding off the wall with the broad end of a broom. Once the water level matched that of the lower outlet, the downstream gate opened and we continued downriver. The second lockmaster appeared less congenial than the first. When the lockmaster waved his arm, Dad steered toward the entry gate. “Get out of the way,” the lockmaster yelled with a sour face and a quick flip of his arm. “Errrats.” Realizing the lockmaster’s wave was not a directive to enter, but
habitat, especially after experiencing the fascinating and abundant sea life on his journey along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In Ketchikan, he and Mom sometimes took the Red Dog out early in the morning and spent the day anchored in a bay or inlet to watch the shores for wildlife. They delighted at the sight of a bear crossing a gravel beach, of an eagle diving and snatching its prey out of the water, or of a deer nosing from the edge of the woods. For my father, hunting and trapping no