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Bob talks trilogy
A half hour chat

How does a campfire talk …

Become a book, let alone a trilogy?

Bob riffs randomly on the Campfire Trilogy

Let’s just say one thing led to another, led to another, led to another until we were too deep in to turn around. By we, I mean Rudi and me. The year was 2014. We were around a campfire celebrating the 40th birthday of Big Cypress National Preserve. Looking back, that was the original campfire, our original campfire, and from which everything that came after took root. First our campfire talks where we went “old school” and ditched the Power Point that Ranger Rudi would have otherwise used had I not suggested we collaborate, just him, me and my guitar and a script that kept the audience guessing at every turn. The occasion was the 100th birthday of America’s national parks, rapidly approaching in 2016. Twelve campfire talks later, we’d done our job — with the caveat we wanted to do more. And so the idea for a book was born.

Eight months into writing the novel, which we tentatively entitled The Legend of Campfire Charlie, I informed Rudi that we had too much material, and that the only solution was to turn it into a trilogy. Thus, what started as a half-hour campfire talk turned into a 6-year writing odyssey. Not that I didn’t enjoy the process, I did. In fact, it was a diversion that kept my mind spinning, and helped me refine and expand my writing process. The first book we published in 2016 in time for the 100th birthday, if also not to much fanfare. Not that I cared. There were still two more books to write. By 2020 the trilogy was done, with a twist: the books needed a home. And so the idea for the Campfire Park website was born. Rudi and I were less interested in hawking the books than continuing the conversation around the campfire, just like the “original campfire” where the entire project came to life.

Spoiler alert: The trilogy is great, and I recommend all three books. But an abridged version of all three books is on the way. At the end of the day, even if it takes decade, I’d like to think and always want to be remembered as a finisher — somebody who set out to on a great journey and got to the finishing point.

Oh, and about the roll out of the soon-to-be-released abridged book. It should be just in time for the 50th Anniversary of Big Cypress National Preserve in November 2024. Actually, the abridged version should be out before then.

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Books of the Trilogy: (1) The Legend of Campfire Charlie, (2) Last Stand at Boulder Ridge and (3) Final Campfire. An abridged version is in the works.

Adventures of Ranger Rusty
A campfire tale

Every once in a great while,

There’s a book that shows up new on the scene.

At first people don’t pay in much mind.

But over time its deeper meaning, and entertainment value starts to soak in. To cut to the chase, I’m talking about a book, and not just any old book, but a book that was part of a trilogy written by two park rangers named Robert V. Sobczak and Rudi Heinrich.Visit the trilogy’s webpage

The thing about this book:

They never set out to write a book, let alone a trilogy.

The trilogy was written from 2015 to 2020

Their simple goal:

A 30 minute campfire talk.

In action at the campfire talk

The rest, shall we say, is campfire legend.

Or more specifically, The Legend of Campfire Charlie.

It’s not only rereadable …

It’s a worthy addition on any bookshelf … in my opinion.

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 that led to writing 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.

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.