[drop_cap]Four years ago I sat with my dad in the Sierra Nevada’s, overlooking a golden sunset on the edge of King’s Canyon National Park. He advised me not to fall in love when I moved to Italy, but a few short weeks later I would meet Andres in the birthplace of the Renaissance, marking the symbolic birth of a new life chapter. Over the next few years we embarked on a series of mini-quests, from living in Italy and Colombia, to tying the knot in the foothills of the Appalachians and establishing Hike & Draw while working full time jobs. [/drop_cap]
It’s amazing how you can look back on your life and see the dots connect. In this moment of reflection, I picture my early days of camping in the Smokies while Andres dreamed of seeing the Yellowstone bison. Those are the roots of this National Park Quest, memories so many of you can relate to. What united us in 2012 was the desire to live according to our wishes, even if it meant going against the grain and failing often.
[quote name=”Steve Jobs”]You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.[/quote]
Going Nomadic to Showcase the Role of Art and Parks
So here we are, trusting in what we feel passionate about. Living moments away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, preparing for a nomadic quest that has no 9 – 5 timecard, nor permanent roof, except the wide expanse of sky above our tent. We are traversing this great country to say hello to all 59 natural National Parks of America and showcase other artists who make art inspired by the parks, while finding inspiration for our own illustrated maps and prints. Our exact timeframe is unknown, but we estimate 18+ months – two years.
Rain falls from the sky as I write. It’s the kind of rain that washes a veil of gray across the land, darkening the day with an aura of mystery or misery, depending on your perspective. From inside a worn but cozy apartment, I imagine a day not too far in the future when this space will be a warm memory. Rain or shine, in April 2016, we’ll set foot in Mammoth Cave at the beginning of this self-initiated journey.
Andres and I recently took a family trip up along Highway 1 to Big Sur. We didn’t make it into the mountains, but we did stand along enchanting cliffs, dreaming into the depths of the ocean horizon. Staring into the unknown, we know a lot of challenges will greet us along this journey. But beyond the challenges is the deep motivation to map our way forward, following our instincts to do what makes us come alive, as others have done before us.
John Muir once wrote:
“The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”
And that sentence is at the core of why we are doing this quest.