Ginger and Ken drive to Alaska from Texas, through Wichita, Madison, Chicago, Corpus....

We decided to make a lifestyle change and move. Following are tales of our trips, packing mishaps, beautiful drives, visitations and more! This is Texas2Alaska2 because it is my second time to make the drive.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plotting the Course

If we are moving out of Texas, we have to make it worthwhile. Move far enough that we will not be drawn back. And besides, everything is bigger in Alaska, get over it Texas. 
In 1999, one of us spent a whole summer in Alaska, driving up with my sister from the Big Bend area of Texas. That trip was border, to border to border. The drive was an astonishing adventure and a great opportunity. That trip opened up beautiful vistas and lead to life long friendships. Some of those friendships led to successive trips and now lead to the present decision to move to the last frontier. 
In October of 2009, our friends from Chugiak, Alaska traveled to Austin for a half Ironman. During their stay with us, they planted the idea in our head of operating a water taxi out of Seward, Alaska. This would not be the first time they brainstormed with us in their continual efforts to entice us to the great white north. (Actually, there is plenty of green and even temperate weather in Alaska). But this idea stuck.
We are Ginger and Ken. Although a native Texan, Ken recently returned to Texas from Hawaii where he lived with his family. Ken found many reasons to move back but while he was there, the idea of a water taxi was looked into. Ken saw the great opportunity for tourism and transport in a state known for water based activities. Ken presented this idea to me when we met in 2007. After some cursory research, the requirements of 300 days experience on the water I felt it was not a feasible pursuit. However, when our Chugiak contacts brought it up again in 2009, serendipity had set our course. 
After a second inquiry into the requirements to pilot a boat for business purposes, we found that Ken’s navy experience would give him easily the 300 days he needed. The licensing process does take effort. It requires classroom instruction, 90 days current work on the water in a boat over 18 feet long, acquisition of a Transportation Workers Card, and a full physical. These were easy tasks to complete in order to pursue a new form of work and life. With the decision made, Ken found–after much searching–an instructor in Corpus Christi, Texas by the name of James Cook (yes, that’s his real name). There are many instruction businesses in Seattle, the Great Lakes area, and in the northeast, but very few along the Gulf Coast. James’ business, Third Coast Captains ( was a great find. James was/is a great instructor and very personable. We took the classroom portion of the U. S. Coast Guard Boat Piloting course in Port Aransas, Texas. It was a beautiful setting in a county park building right on the beach. 
Our decision to leave Austin was set for August. My sister was to have a baby in early August and we were going to move up there for the month to help with baby duties. She has a good size home so also graciously offered to let us store personal items in her basement until we know our final destination. Here is our first indication how our move to the north was to go: her baby decided to arrive one month early. That threw my moving and packing off schedule but it was for a good reason. The baby is a gem and I am so happy to know him. He was very tiny but doubled his weight in the first month. However, with going to seem him earlier than planned, out departure date from Austin was moved back to September 3. Ken was working at Lowe’s and attempting to get a transfer to a store in Alaska. He was waiting until the last minute in the hopes he could transfer in order to keep an income and benefits. 
We actually left Austin on September 4 for Wichita, Kansas. It was a huge relief crossing that Red River. Many thanks to my brother Butch for helping by also towing a trailer. Thanks also to Tommy, Michael, and Jerry for their muscles and support in packing and cleaning. 

Below: Port Aransas, Texas in February where we took the USCG Boat Piloting course.