Rudi and Bob

Bob and Rudi

Bob and Rudi never set out to a book, let alone a trilogy. Their task as hand was much simpler: A 30-minute campfire talk to a dozen or two campers at a remote swamp campground. Six years later they somehow wrote a trilogy. Here’s the story behind the story, and maybe some of the story, too.

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To New Beginnings
The hidden success of failure

Have you ever heard that saying:

“You can’t be a hero in your own hometown?”

The first podcast

Well, I think the same sort of applies to initial success.

Success too early in a process, or life, may feel good at the time, but can also be the kiss of death in the long run. Why? Success breads complacency in the same way failure inspires you to overcome.

My point is this:

Rudi and I co-wrote three books which, when we were done, inspired us to do a podcast. Both the books and the podcast were utter “initial” failures by traditional metrics. The silver lining was that I never lost faith. And it made me realize: Less about selling a product, the trilogy of books was the ultimate deep dive into exploring “big canvas” ideas that required 450,000 words of space and six years of time to properly spread out, metabolize and incubate in our minds. If you think writing a book, let alone a trilogy, is hard – try co-writing it with a Rudi! The mystery of the creative chemistry of our unlikely partnership became a reoccurring theme in the books. Our brief foray into a poorly-produced podcast (to discuss the books) was a dismal failure, too. Please listen to them and I think you’ll agree.

The second podcast

But all clouds have a silver linings:

The process, and those failures, was how the Nature Folk Movement (NFM) was born.

Thank God for failure – really it’s the only way we improve.

Ranger Days
A Bob and Rudi Campfire

Rudi joins Bob around the campfire …

To reminisce about the good old days.

Bob and Rudi collaborated on 12 campfire talks and three books called the Centennial Campfire Trilogy: (1) The Legend of Campfire Charlie, (2) Last Stand at Boulder Ridge, and (3) Final Campfire.

Hindsight as we say is 20/20. The reason? We have the benefit of seeing how the future played out. We survived the past, so it must have been good, and so seeps in the “nostalgia effect.” But make no mistake, they were good times, too. At this campfire, Bob interviews Rudi about the ups and downs and many memories of his rangering days. Bob does his part by introducing a new “experimental s’mores” recipe that Rudi doesn’t seem to like much. It could have been intentional on Bob’s part knowing that if they were too good Rudi would have ate the entire stockpile.

Nature Folk Inc
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

The Nature Folk Movement and the need for Nature Folk Inc was born organically and accidentally around a campfire at Collier County Museum in the heart of Naples, Florida at the tail end of a gala event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the formation of Big Cypress National Preserve.

The original campfire

The festivities had all but wound down when a fellow acquaintance named Ranger Rudi (soon to become a close friend) and myself found ourselves hunkering down at the campfire eating whatever food was left. “Before the smart phone, before TV,” Rudi lamented, “– the campfire was where people let their guard down, connected with one another and talked about life.” Ranger Rudi continued on about how he was “gearing up” to give a series of campfire talks at a cluster of campgrounds in the remote swamp preserve. At the end of the conversation he mentioned that he’d be using a Power Point. “A Power Point!? At a campfire talk!?” I interrupted in shock.

And so was born the idea of Ranger Rudi and Hydro Bob teaming up. In place of Rudi’s Power Point talk, we opted to developed a Shakespearian (or shall we say Vaudevillian) campfire skit. And here’s the real cincher: I would bring along my guitar (and a bunch of self-written nature ballads). In total, Rudi and I gave about a dozen campfire talks, each one building on the next and each one also leading up to the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, or Centennial celebration, of its formation in 1916. By our final campfire talk, on the eve of that fateful anniversary date, Rudi and I had already pivoted towards a new project: A book-length version of our half-hour campfire tale. It was just a half-year into that project when the new epiphany emerged: Not just one book, we had enough material for three (i.e. a trilogy). And so the odyssey began. In total, it took us 6 years to complete all the books. It was at that finish line that another moment of clairvoyance struck: We weren’t so much interested in hawking the books as we in continuing the conversation of the many overarching themes our literary endeavor opened up.

By the summer of 2020 the larger vision had finally coalesced: Nature Folk Inc was born. Nature Folk Inc is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization located in Naples, Florida focused on environmental education and outreach, but with a twist. Our goal is to reconnect people to nature by rekindling the traditional values and activities that the internet and smart phone culture have diminished or devalued … and finding a way to get them back.

Bob and Rudi’s first campfire gig

Nature Folk Inc is an umbrella organization that integrates an ecosystem of websites and creative content aimed at raising environmental awareness and outreach for the Collier County, the Big Cypress Swamp, the Everglades, the Great State of Florida and pretty much the entire Earth. Our mission? To be positive and proactive and not stop what we’re doing until until the Nature Folk Movement (NFM) touches every corner of the Earth. What exactly is the NFM? It’s a growing societal responsibility and urge to become connected to and restore the natural world around us.

Our growing ecosystem started with a rather well-known and highly regarded water-cycle awareness website called Go Hydrology (https://gohydrology.org) that sprung to life in 2008. From the start, its goal has always been to give people an online avenue for feeling “at home” in the water cycle. As the availability of online information has exponentially expanded over the years, we also feel there is a growing gap. Technology has created a divide between humanity and nature. But why?

That’s where Nature Folk Inc’s unique approach steps in to fill the void. Our secret? We aim to connect with your heart as much as we do your mind. And we’re not afraid to go out on limb. And yes, a little dash of humor also helps out. It’s primary websites include GoHydrology.org, BobbyAngel.org and CampfirePark.org.

Despite a small crowd, it was a success

We’re not saying we have all the answers here at Nature Folk Inc. But we do feel like we’re on a promising track. Our aim is to be a voice in the wilderness that gives the water, the trees and the animals a proper seat at the table where the decisions are being made. And we’re not alone. If you’re reading this, you’re part of the club and we value your feedback and ideas.

Trilogy Sneak Peak
How one simple campfire spawned 3 books

Hey there,

Thanks for stopping by. Today, I wanted to write a short piece on the three books that I co-authored. If the books were ever featured as a movie, the Hollywood-style trailer would probably go something along the lines as written below (and shown in the video.)

So without further ado …

As Ranger Rusty raised the flag at the crack of dawn, he thought it was “just another day. Little did he know his day would turn into a 3-book odyssey. Or am I talking about myself?

Little did I know (or imagine at the time) that the endeavor of writing those three books would take six years of my life. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, and not that I did it all the time, all day long. It was usually in the evening and early morning hours – before embarking into work at the nearby National Park/Preserve – that I did most of my writing. The caveat is that I did it every day. Rarely did I let a day go by without working on some aspect of the sprawling work. The other caveat is that I had a co-author, as elaborated in the video above. But even he would say when it came to the grindstone of writing it the book was primarily me. The other caveat, and there are lots – is that the three books chime in at just under 500,000 words. That’s quite a bit by any metric. A short book, like the Great Gatsby, is around 60,000 words. Could we have used an editor to help us shorten it up? Maybe so, but I stand by every word.

The three books

My Point:

The trilogy didn’t start as a trilogy. It started as a single book. And that single book didn’t start as a book. It started as a 30-minute campfire talk. The rest, shall we say, is campfire history. At the start of a journey usually you have no idea where it will lead. You can check out the books here: Visit the Trilogy’s website

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Rudi and Bob Archive