The Academy Awards took place a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, there’s no Oscar sitting on our desk. (We’d just love for one of our screenplays to get produced, let alone win!) So, the next best thing for us as writers is to have been nominated for the Liebster Award. It was a special honor to be nominated by Nicole H. Wall because she has been nominated for two awards for her great blog, A Trip With A View. She provides people honest reviews about all-inclusive resorts and pet travel, as well as providing other affordable travel resources.

Here’s a bit about this unique award:

1.     It’s an industry award for bloggers, by bloggers—colleagues who understand all that goes on behind-the-scenes to produce a quality site.

2.     Furthermore, it recognizes up and coming bloggers that provide a different perspective. Ever since we started this site, we’ve tried to offer a unique take on travel with our stories.

A few fun rules and paying it forward:

1.     Thank the blogger who nominated your blog and provide a link back to his/her blog.

2.     Answer the questions asked by the nominator.

3. Describe what motivates you in life, other than blogging.

4.     Nominate 2 - 6 blogs who provide a fresh outlook and content.

5.     Ask the nominees creative, unique questions. (Though I was asked 10, official rules state only five are required.)

6.     Display the Liebster Award medallion and list the rules associated with the award on your post. (There are a number of different medallions from which to choose. Personally, I love gold.)

7. Submit your entry by entering a comment in the Comment Box on with a link back to your site for the judge to read your questions and responses.

Nicole’s questions for MacKenzie since she does almost all of our blog’s writing:

1.     What one piece of advice would you pass down to other new bloggers?

My advice would be to look at blogging as an art form. How you choose to express yourself in writing, photography and even presenting your material on your site is individual. Look at other sites to get ideas, but in the end this is your site to present your style. It can be overwhelming to begin because there are hundreds, if not thousands of other travel bloggers. But your style, what you have to say and how you say it is what will attract your audience. Have fun with it.

2.     What was the first foreign country you visited and why did you choose it?

My first foreign adventure happened more by luck and circumstance rather than planning. I was fortunate to grow up in the northwestern corner of Montana, just 80 miles from the Canadian border. Almost every summer my family went to Glacier National Park and often crossed the border to visit Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. The mountains, the lakes and that alpine beauty there has got to be some of the most spectacular in the world!

3.     What is your favorite destination that you have traveled to?

Oh, this is a tough question, because I’ve traveled to some incredible places both here in the U.S. and abroad. However, if I have to choose I’d pick Bali. My mother offered to take me on a trip anywhere I wanted to go, just the two of us. I chose Bali because of its exotic and rich culture. They have absolutely amazing dance, woodworking, painting and music that are intertwined into daily life. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, especially now that she’s passed away.

4.     Do you ever run out of ideas for blog posts and if so how do you break through that writer’s block?

Because my blog is based on taking one photo and writing a 1,000-character story about it, I’m lucky that I rarely suffer from writer’s block. That said, many photos are much easier to write about than others. To help jump start my writing I often study a facet of the photo or try to remember back what the atmosphere was like when I took the picture. Other times I’ll go deep-diving into Internet research about the area where the photo was taken to find a tidbit that I didn’t know and make it the focus of my story. That research often leads to other stories, as well as some musing about my next adventure.

5.     What inspired you to start a blog?

My husband and I saved up our miles and time off to take a 12-week journey to Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. That phenomenal adventure resulted in a million memories and almost as many photos. (Okay, it was only about 6,500 photos.) When we got home, we started talking about, “What are we going to do with all these pictures?” That’s when we hatched the idea to give the old phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” a modern update. And from there we began developing our blog, website and books.

6.     Share your favorite travel photo that you have taken and explain why it is your favorite.

Chinese Gardner-Hong Kong.jpg

Whoa. Answering this question is even tougher than choosing my favorite destination. Nevertheless, I selected this shot that was taken on our last day in Hong Kong. What I love about it is how the curve of the path takes the viewer on the walk with the gardener. I also like that her hat helps give the picture a sense of place. Finally, I enjoy finding beauty in and spotlighting the everyday aspects of a culture. For these reasons, I not only chose it as my favorite travel photo, but also as the cover photo for my first book.

7.     Are there any places that you visited that you would never want to go back?

A few years ago my husband and I went to see the autumn leaves in Maine and New Hampshire. The route we took was off-the-beaten path and there were few lodging choices. However, I did find an old Maine fishing lodge on the Internet that was closing down for the season the day after we were to be there. We thought it’d be wonderful. It wasn’t. The experience was almost like that in The Shining. There was no one, and I mean no one around when we arrived, not even the owner. He’d left a note for us indicating we could have our pick of rooms because we’d be the only guests. It was an eerie feeling to know we were alone in this large hotel out in the middle of nowhere. We had the feeling the Jack Nicholson character was going to be coming around the corner with an ax. Needless to say, we left at the crack of dawn. I loved Maine, but I’ll never go back to that lodge.

8.     Have you ever visited a destination that really surprised you?  For instance, a place that either far outweighed your expectations or a place that really disappointed you?

I grew up in a small town and have never really been fond of extremely large cities. Nevertheless, I fell in love with Sydney, Australia. It’s a clean city with a terrific mass transit system, making it easy to get around without needing a car. And life there is centered around the water. There are scores of scenic day hikes overlooking the ocean, plus opportunities to swim, sail or surf. On top of this, the people are warm and friendly. It has to be one of the best cities in the world.

9.     What is a destination that you have never been to but want to go and why?

Ask any travel writer this question and he or she will list two dozen places to go without having to take a breath. So, I’m going to stretch the rules a bit and choose one domestic and one foreign destination. Here in the U.S. I’d absolutely love to visit Sedona, Arizona. There’s something about the geology and history there that’s calling me to visit like a siren song. The place overseas I’d most like to see is Dubrovnik, Croatia. I’ve had several relatives travel to this special city along the Adriatic and claim it’s their number one favorite of all of the places in the world they’ve visited. I’m curious to experience it for myself.

10.  What is one thing that you must have in your carry on?

I’d absolutely be lost without my camera. So, I need to pack it in my carry-on luggage and work everything else around it. Clothes in my checked baggage are replaceable. But my camera’s almost like an appendage that I depend on.

What motivates me in life, other than blogging?

Curiosity is what motivates me. There’s so much to see, do and learn and way too little time. I’m fascinated by all of the world’s languages and dream of being fluent in multiple languages. There are numerous intriguing art forms to try. And then there are all of the magnificent and exquisitely simple elements of nature to observe. I honestly cannot understand how anyone can be bored with so much to learn and explore.

I’m nominating these blogs for the Liebster Award:

Dreamer at Heart

Museum Travelers

The Silver Nomad

My questions for these nominees are:

1.     Fantasy Air wants you to blog about it and has offered you a round-trip ticket aboard one of its four modes of transport: Aladdin's magic carpet, George Jetson‘s flying car, Harry Potter's Firebolt broom or enough Tinker Bell pixie dust that gives you the ability to fly to your destination and back. Which of these would you choose and why? (Sorry, none of the characters will be on your flight for you to take photos of or interview.)

2.     A new restaurant asks you to create a sandwich for their menu. The only requirements are that its name incorporates that of your hero or favorite superhero and has ingredients exemplifying that person. What’s the name of your sandwich and what’s in this delicious concoction?

3.     On your next trip you happen to venture so deep into the wilderness that you find a lost society whose people have never been in contact with the outside world. Do you write about the society in your blog or keep it a secret to try and preserve it? Why did you make this decision?

4.     You’ve been given the opportunity to live out an adventure within the Star Trek Holodeck. What experience would you choose and with whom would you spend it? (The person(s) can be alive, dead or fictional.)

5.     Travel introduces you to different words, phrases, traditions and ways of doing things. What “souvenir” of this kind have you picked up/adopted into your life, why is it special to you and from where did it come?