May 2nd, 8:12am

One Year Ago...

One year ago, we were petting our dog and two cats goodbye as we packed the car for our big Campfire Stories trip. Armed with a research process honed by one month in Acadia, and the blood, sweat, and tears of a successful Kickstarter campaign, we set off to search for stories across the country. 16,000 miles later, we would limp back home bearing a deeper appreciation of the people protecting our public lands. One year later, we’ll share a few of the things we learned along the way.

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  • For four months, our home was our car, and wherever we could set up camp.
  • Which made us realize that refrigerators, sinks, and flush toilets: all incredible inventions.
  • Public libraries are treasure troves, full of can’t-find-anywhere-else local texts, oral history archives, seed libraries, whatever you need!
  • Many libraries in National Park towns offer free “visitor” memberships. Put down a deposit, and pick it back up when you return your books.
  • Driving across all of the country was a great lesson in just how big this land is—and how many diverse people, lifestyles, and viewpoints, this country supports.
  • It was fascinating to see the incredible effort that goes into managing “wild” lands. Park workers are split up in 4 departments: Maintenance, Interpretation, Law Enforcement, and Administration.
  • Each park has their own version of a wildlife traffic jam, aka traffic caused by tourists slowing down to snap a pic of an animal. Get stuck in a bear-jam in the Smokies have a bear-jam, an elk-jam in the Rockies experience elk-jams, or a bison-jam in Yellowstone! See America!
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  • With landscapes, climates, and communities that vary, each park operates like its own little nation-state. What flies in the Rockies doesn’t fly in Yosemite.
  • People are kind and generous and eager to share their stories of place, but you have to show up and invest your own time to access those conversations.
  • Strangely enough, storytellers were not our peers. We share the love of a good story, but there’s something about the craft of performing a story that is fundamentally different than reading from a page.
  • Photographs are today’s tool to share place. But we found over and over that good writing helps us understand, appreciate, and humanize a place in a way that a photograph can’t touch. That said, we love our Instagram account.

Spending those days, soaking in new landscapes and researching the stories that could capture that experience, made us realize that we don’t just want this book… we need it. More than ever, we want to share stories that bring us closer to our National Parks, and to help us understand why we need outdoor spaces.

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One year after that trip, we find ourselves embarking on a different adventure of assembling the best book we’ve got in us. The bulk of our research is behind us, the chapter illustrations are complete, and we’re tweaking the manuscripts. We have the support of an incredible non-profit publisher in Mountaineers Books. As we finish off these touches, we’ll be sharing quarterly newsletters, that includes updates, and a story we love from each park.

Sign up here to receive those updates, and join us as we count down the days to celebrating the release of the book!