I don’t want to pretend that this is your usual award where a committee sifts through hundreds of nominees to pick the best. Instead, the Liebster Award is more of a recognition system where bloggers who are just starting out to recognize the other blogs they enjoy. Yes, this can have a little bit of a chain letter feel, but I think it is important that those of us who are just getting started look out for one another. I, for one, am surprised that anyone reads Lesser Places at all. I guess the internet is kinda cool.
Here is how it works:
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post in which you:
- Thank the person who nominated you & post a link to their blog on your blog.
- Display the award on your blog.
- Write 150-300 words about your favourite blog.
- Answer your nominator’s questions and create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
- Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
- List these rules in your post.
- Inform the bloggers you’ve nominated them for the Liebster award and provide a link to your post.
My favorite blog(s)
There are three obvious influences here at LP: Brendan Leonard over at Semi-Rad, Ben Smith at Arizona Wanderings, and the immortal Shea Serrano, formerly of Grantland, now of the greatest newsletter ever written. A quick word about each of them:
Most writing about the outdoors is approximately 0% fun. Brendan’s site is atleast 187% fun. Until I saw Brendan’s blog I just didn’t feel like there was a place for people like me, who would rather make jokes about wood chucks chucking wood than ponder the necessity of nature.
After years of thinking about starting up LP was a combination of a late night, a ton of scotch, and coming across Ben’s site, that made me pull the trigger. You could spend a lifetime just trying to figure out where all the unnamed canyons, streams, and mountains in his posts are.
Shea Serrano is a king among men. He doesn’t write about the outdoors, but when he started writing at Grantland everyone I know was completely blown away. He’s funny, irrevrent, absurd, but still genuine– basically everything I try to be here on the site. True story: Shea once sent me a DM on twitter about one of my posts and trying to play it cool was the hardest thing I have ever done. His newsletter is my favorite thing on the internet right now.
Questions from Abbi:
Give me five facts about you.
My name is Max Wilson. I live in Phoenix, Arizona, where I am working on my PhD in biology at Arizona State University. My son, Jack, is the cuter than any child you have ever seen. My main hobbies include hiking, fishing, and making typos on this blog. Oh, and I really, really like pikas.
What’s your blog about?
One of my friends calls Lesser Places an “outdoors lifestyle” blog, which seems somewhat accurate and very fancy. Basically Lesser Places is about the fun of being outside, both in the US and abroad. We do lots of different stuff– stories about hiking, stories about my field work in remote parts of China, gear reviews, and jokes about animals. Lately, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time making memes about marmots trying to use Tinder and photoshoping Donald Trump hair on perfectly innocent animals. If you want to know more, head over to the highlights from the first year of LP.
What’s your goal for your blog in 2016?
To move to my own domain. Right now Lesser Places is on wordpress.com, which is great (and free!) but I don’t have control of the advertising my readers see which is probably the third most annoying thing in my life.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
This is a terrible, homer answer from someone who ostensibly writes a travel blog, but I am the only person in the world who LOVES Phoenix. I mean, one of my early posts was on the fact that I think Phoenix is the best place in the world for people who love the outdoors. We have 180 miles of hiking trails within the city boundaries, plus thousands more in parks and wilderness areas that border the city. Winters are spectacular and, because half of the state is above 5,000 ft, you are never more than two hours from nice weather. Being a young city things are still coming along culturally, but if I could choose anywhere in the world I would be hard pressed to pick somewhere else.
What is your most important possession while travelling?
Toilet paper. Not even close.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What’s your biggest achievement?
Successfully keeping Jack alive for more than a year (and counting!). That was mostly his mom though.
If you could relive one memory from your travels, which would you choose?
Saving a Yak, who had become stuck in prayer flags on the edge of a cliff at 15,000 ft, on the middle of the Tibetan Plateau. That was pretty baller.
Have you ever had a disaster while travelling? Please share!
Oh, sweet God, so many to choose from. The precursor to this blog were emails home to my family and friends describing all the terrible/very funny things that happened to me while I was working in china. Here are two classics that I could still find in my email:
“No joking in banks”
Generally speaking, changing money from one currency to another is much easier here than it is in the US. Any Bank of China, which are on every corner, can change your currency over, and although there is way more paperwork than could possibly be necessary, the process is usually pretty quick and painless.
Things started out easily enough. Once I fought off the little old lady who tried to take my spot in line, I made it to the bank teller who took my money and passport, and began filling out the pages (and pages and pages) of necessary paperwork. A few moments later, the bank teller has finished everything, my money is counted, and all that is left to do is place the official stamp on my paperwork so I can be on my way.
The stamp is broken.
I watch as the bank teller struggles with the stamp. This isn’t any normal stamp, which you just push onto an inkpad, but rather one of those self-inking stamps that flips around when being depressed. The stamp itself won’t spin, and thus the stamp won’t stamp. This is deeply distressing to the bank teller.
But who cares, I think, it’s just a stamp.
This goes on and on. 10 minutes. 20 minuets. Finally, I start to get annoyed and begin asking questions.
Max: Is there a problem?
Bank Teller: The stamp is broken.
M: I can see that. Is there a problem?
BT: Yes, no stamp, no money.
M: Do you have another stamp?
BT: No, we are only allowed one per bank.
BT: Because then we know that no one will steal our stamp.
M: That doesn’t actually make sense….
BT: Don’t worry. We’ll get stamp from another bank.
M: Okay. But won’t you be taking their only stamp?
BT: No, we have to go to central bank for new stamp.
M: And where is that?
BT: Other side of town.
M: How long will that take?
BT: There and back? Two hours.
M: You have to be joking.
BT: No, this very serious. No joking in banks.
M: Can I have my money back then and go to the other bank (just around the corner)?
BT: No, once I have money cannot give it back.
M: How about my passport. Can I have my passport back?
BT: No, not without money.
M: …which I can’t have because the form isn’t stamped because the stamp is broken, which you can’t replace because you only have one, for which a replacement is two hours away.
BT: Exactly. You want us to go get stamp?
M: You haven’t sent anyone yet?
M: WELL WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?
BT: It’s raining. We’ll go when it stops.
Describe your perfect day.
I’m not really sure, but it probably involves riding a bear like it is a horse because if you have already gotten to the point where a bear trusts you enough to let you ride it your day was probably pretty sweet.
I’m going to stick to blogs I read all the time and people I’ve commented back and forth with:
Jaime over at Hiking Girl With Dog— her dog pictures make me legitly happy.
Cassie over at Breathless Adventurer— that girl is crazy brave and inspiring.
Salla over at Mountain State of Mind— super unique perspective.
Robb over at Getgo Outdoors— photography on point and if his trip reports are any indication that dude can hike.
Questions for my nominees:
- Cutest animal?
- Why did you start your blog?
- What do you get out of blogging?
- What makes being outside fun to you?
- Tell us a funny story about hiking.
- Tell us another funny story about hiking.
I’m out of questions.
Thanks again, Abbi!
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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.