The Adventures of Marvin and Huck: A Journey from Childhood Imagination to National Park Exploration
As a child, I was captivated by the world of imagination. I would spend hours playing with my stuffed animals, teaching them the ABCs and how to read and write. My bedroom would often become a makeshift classroom, much to the chagrin of my parents, who were less than thrilled about the occasional wall art I created with my crayons. But these stuffed animals, with their button eyes and soft fur, were my most attentive students. They never talked back or complained, and they listened to my every word with unwavering attention.
However, when my little sisters came into the picture, they took over the role of my eager learners, leaving my beloved stuffed animals behind. Yet, the memory of those sweet, silent students never faded. Among them was a raggedy old moose with only one antler, a cherished companion who I had a special connection with. This connection would later play a significant role in my creative journey.
My parents instilled in me a deep love for the great outdoors from a young age. Every summer, we embarked on family camping trips to the Great Smoky Mountains, immersing ourselves in the wonders of nature. While I didn't spot any moose during those trips, I fell in love with another iconic creature: bears.
When I was older, I was lucky enough to fall in love with someone who loved the outdoors and camping as much as I did. So our tradition continued as we made our own little family together. We understood the power of these cherished moments spent in nature, and we wanted to pass that love and appreciation for nature on to our own children. So, we packed up our camping gear and took our girls to the Smokies, where we would camp under the starry night sky and explore the same trails that had filled our own childhoods with wonder. It was our way of creating new memories, forging connections, and ensuring that the love for national parks would be carried on to the next generation.
Fast forward to 2018, my husband, Steve, and I embarked on an incredible adventure, working with national parks around the country. These experiences provided us with the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of these parks, learn from the dedicated rangers, and share our adventures through video documentation.
Throughout our journey, my childhood stuffed animals, especially the moose, remained in my thoughts. I decided it was time to give them names and personalities. Thus, Marvin the Moose and Huckleberry the Bear came to life in my imagination. They became our constant companions, even though they were only alive in our minds.
As we filmed our park videos, I couldn't help but weave Marvin and Huck into our stories through my blogs. These blogs became a way for me to pay homage to my cherished childhood companions and share the magic of the national parks with others.
In March of 2023, I received a challenge from my grandson, Oliver: to write a book about our visits to the national parks. Challenge accepted. I began compiling my blogs and the transcripts of our ranger videos, transforming them into book form. My creative journey didn't stop there. I tried my hand at Procreate, a drawing app on my iPad, and brought Marvin and Huck to life visually. To make them even cuter, I enlisted the help of a talented designer.
But there was still something missing. I needed a backdrop for my books that could truly capture the essence of the national parks. That's when I turned to Steve's stunning photography, which beautifully showcased the parks we had visited. With Marvin, Huck, and Steve's photographs, our books were ready to take shape.
To date, I have written seven books in our series, each one inspired by our countless adventures in the national parks. The words flowed easily, thanks to the rich source material from our blogs and video transcripts. My goal is to capture every single adventure we've had in the parks, and with over 140 experiences to draw from, it's a labor of love that promises to keep us busy.
When asked who our books are intended for, the answer is simple: everyone who loves national parks and harbors a childlike memory of these incredible places. It's a blend of nonfiction and whimsy, appealing to both young and old. One of the standout features of our books is the tie-ins to the UN Global Goals, reminding us of the importance of preserving these natural wonders for future generations. We also include "kindness" journals in each book, encouraging readers to reflect on the small acts of kindness that can make the world a better place.
A special firefly shows up on every page, serving as a reminder to be good humans and stewards of our planet. The Adventures of Marvin and Huck is more than just a series of books; it's a tribute to the beauty of the national parks and a call to protect and cherish them for generations to come.
So my journey from childhood imagination to national park exploration has been nothing short of magical. Marvin the Moose and Huckleberry the Bear have come a long way from my childhood bedroom, and we hope they inspire and delight readers of all ages as they embark on their adventures through the national parks.