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


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


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