A Journey Even Huck Finn Would Have Admired
A True Story of Courage, Perseverance and Survival
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.
A true story of courage, endurance and survival, 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.