Award Winners 2023

Seventeenth Annual Solas Awards Winners

Announced March 15, 2023

Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year

Gold ($1000)
The Weight of Paradise by Cherene Sherrard

Silver ($750)
Ambush on the Cumberland Plateau by Brian Reisinger

Bronze ($500)
To the Young Mom on Flight 1122 by Pier Nirandara

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Category Award Winners

Adventure Travel
The best story of high adventure, danger, or physical challenge
Gold: Enduring the Promised Land by Shoshi Parks
Silver: The Hotel Ricardo by Taylor Jennings
Bronze: Getting Naked with a Dragon in Finland by Kristin Fellows

Animal Encounter
The best account of meeting snakes, elephants, rhinos, gorillas, birds, or other creatures
Gold: Pteropods in the Balance by Laine Gonzales
Silver: Finding the Sea Wolf in Asturias, Spain by Beebe Bahrami
Bronze: Meating the Goat by Lisa VanderVeen

Bad Trip
The best account of when things go wrong, or the shadow side of a culture or individual
Gold: The Cauldron of Calamities by Masha Nordbye
Silver: The Ride by Heather Williams
Bronze: The Mistakes I Made on My First Trip to Japan by Rebecca Copeland

Cruise Story
The best account of a trip on the water in any vessel, from the smallest kayak to the largest ship
Gold: Crushing Christmas with the Coast Guard: Icebreaking in Antarctica by Gillian Clare Kendall
Silver: Beyond the Lid of the World by Amanda Castleman
Bronze: Oceans Apart by Terry Ward

Culture and Ideas
The best story or essay about how art, history, currents events, fashion, or music affected a traveler or a trip
Gold: The Creative Cauldron of the Caucasus by Masha Nordbye
Silver: Freak Shows and Farces at the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota by Tim Leffel
Bronze: Roots in Motion by Megan Taylor Morrison

Destination Story
The best story about a place that captures its essence and reveals its attractions, making the reader want to go there
Gold: Time Passage by Alenka Vrecek
Silver: Sightseeing along the Fourth Coast by Darcy R. Fryer
Bronze: Being Kuna by Marina C. Doyle-Brown

Doing Good or the Kindness of Strangers
The most inspiring tale of aid, comfort, philanthropy, or caring for others in faraway places, or of being the recipient of a stranger’s largesse
Gold: A Magic Itinerary from a Stranger in Morocco by Tim Leffel
Silver: Babeldaob or Bust by Laine Gonzales
Bronze: My First Train Ride by Norma Pontrelli

Elder Travel
The best story from a traveler 65 years of age or older
Gold: Where Is Their Tibet? by Mary Ann Littrell
Silver: Lost in Paris by Judy Lynn Guilliams-Tapia
Bronze: From the Back of the Van by Rhonda Wiley-Jones

Family Travel
The best story about traveling with family of all generations, including grandparents, parents, children, cousins, siblings or journeying to discover roots
Gold: Lines of Duty by Lauren Napier
Silver: Golden Silence by Emma Morrell
Bronze: Beyond the Vanishing Point: Traveling the Map of Memory by Rebecca Copeland

Funny Travel
The funniest account of a misadventure or an essay about how the world can make us laugh at ourselves and those around us
Gold: Letting Go of Hungary by Ying-Ann (Annie) Chen
Silver: How the Swiss Make You Say Bad Words by Ben Ren
Bronze: Procession of the What-the-Fuck by Jeyn Jack

Love Story
The best account of love or romance on the road
Gold: Ghosts in the Black Forest by Marianne Rogoff
Silver: Honeymoon at the Garbage Dump by Lisa Boice
Bronze: Pancakes in Sarajevo by Kristin Amico

Men’s Travel
The best account by a man of a testosterone-fueled encounter or experience on the road
Gold: My Father Not Yet My Father by Bo Smolka
Silver: From Farm to Glass in the Finger Lakes of New York by Tim Leffel
Bronze: A Long Century by Yefim Somin

Most Unforgettable Character
The story that best captures how one individual or group of people affected a traveler in a meaningful way
Gold: The Treatment of Dead Enemies by Laurie McAndish King
Silver: Best of Times with Bobo by Linda Ballou
Bronze: The Resort Cowboy and the Magic Hoof by Karen Wertheim

Travel and the Environment
The best story about ecology, development, or environmental issues as they affect travel
Gold: The Last Days of Butterfly Town by Alec Scott
Silver: Down in the Mine by MJ Pramik
Bronze: The New Stars of Community-Based Tourism in Mexico: Melipona Honeybees by Tim Leffel

Travel and Food
The best story where food or drink plays a role in introducing the traveler to a foreign culture or new friends
Gold: The Roadside Café by Pier Nirandara
Silver: The Chocolate Connection by Carla Villoria
Bronze: Food for Thought by MJ Pramik

Travel and Healing
The best story about visits with shamans, healers, holy men and women, or holy sites in search of a cure for illness or psychological malady
Gold: In the Garden of the Fox by Anne Sigmon
Silver: Reconciliation by Rosie Cohan
Bronze: Only the Stones Remain by Rebecca Deurlein

Travel Memoir
The best story that draws heavily on the writer’s past to make a point or reveal the lessons of a lifetime
Gold: On Her Britannic Majesty’s Service by Dianne Cheseldine
Silver: Finding Valentina by Melinda Misuraca
Bronze: Okavango Odyssey by Daniel Stantus

Travel and Shopping
The best account of a shopping, bargaining, or haggling experience in a market, bazaar, outlet, or mall, anywhere in the world
Gold: Negotiating with Nomads by Mike Bernhardt
Silver: Shopping for Salvation in Nicaragua by Tiffany Hawk
Bronze: Chindogu and the Origin of the Selfie Stick by Laurie McAndish King

Travel and Sports
The best account of a sports activity while traveling, such as climbing, rafting, sailing, trekking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, skiing, baseball, Frisbee, polo, basketball
Gold: The New Ascensionists by Kang-Chun Cheng
Silver: Buoyant Wonder by Elaine Jonel Masters
Bronze: Encounter at Hadrian’s Wall by Connard Hogan

Travel and Transformation
The best story about the inner journey or pilgrimage, whether religious, mystical, psychological, or emotional
Gold: My Posthumous Ally by Gary Singh
Silver: Sicily, Through a Dark Lens by Camille Cusumano
Bronze: Virgin Encounter by Ingrid Truemper

Women’s Travel
The best account by a woman of an encounter or experience on the road
Gold: Summer at Nrityagram Village by Sumitra Mattai
Silver: Ashram Dharma by Lenore Greiner
Bronze: Picasso’s Paris Pigeons by Margaret Hooker Wagner

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Honorable Mention

Metamorphosis in La Guácima by Laurie McAndish King
Let Go by Kimberley Lovato
The Baby, the Prostitute, and Me by Teri Murrison
The Trip of a Lifetime by Julie Pesano
Good Gut Hunting by Yefim Somin
Lunigiana: The Land of the Moons by George Tonelli

Travelers' Tales