South to Alaska

  • by Nancy Owens Barnes
  • Narrated by Nancy Owens Barnes
  • 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A true story of courage and survival, South to Alaska carries listeners from the heartland of America to the last frontier... the hard way.
Born in the dusty heart of Oklahoma in 1916, 10-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 50 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 listeners on two journeys. On one, listeners 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, listeners 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Amazing story - dreams can come true!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Oh yes!


What did you like best about this story?

I liked the lifelong commitment to a dream and the work ethic and ingenuity that made it come true.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A boy's dream, a man's amazing journey!


Any additional comments?

Fascinating account! So glad Nancy Ownes Barnes recorded this amazing tale about her Father's voyage before it was lost. I was inspired by her father's unyielding comittment to his childhood dream of living in Alaska I was impressed by her father's abilities and work ethic - who builds an 18 ton boat in their backyard? I was touched s by her parent's devotion to each other and their dreams, the sweet way her father referred to her mother as "pretty lady," and the family bonds that were as strong as the steel that the Red Bird was made of. I cried when they were cheated, cheered when they crossed back into American waters and jumped up and down when they finally reached Alaska. If you would like to believe that dreams can really be reached and that hard work still wins, listen to this one!

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- Sandi

Enjoyed reading but listening was more fun.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, have recommended the book in the past.


What other book might you compare South to Alaska to and why?

I enjoy biographies from the WWII era and although this is a bit later it is just as exciting..


What does Nancy Owens Barnes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

When my husband and I were sitting in the car, listened to the book. I remarked "it sounds like Nancy is in the car with us" We loved listening to her tell her own story. Reminded me of enjoying Frank McCourt reading Angela's Ashes or Bill O'Reilly reading one of his books..


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, I laughed and got upset by the people who took advantage of her father.


Any additional comments?

Inspires someone to do something unbelievable. If he can, why not me. Why not indeed.

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- Sandy N

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-02-2017
  • Publisher: Rushing River Press