Lesser Places has been nominated for the Liebster Award

I’m very proud to announce that Lesser Places has been nominated for the Liebster Award. Thanks, Abbi, for the nomination! Go check out her blog, Spin the Windrose, right now.


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:

Note: full rules can be found here

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post in which you:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you & post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog.
  3. Write 150-300 words about your favourite blog.
  4. Answer your nominator’s questions and create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  6. List these rules in your post.
  7. 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?

_DSC9507Successfully 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:

“On bathing”

For my brief stay in Beijing between Qinghai and Chengdu, I stayed in a “Six Star” hotel on the Beijing Normal University campus. At this point there are a few things you should know about hotels in China:
1.) Once you exceed 5 stars, the quality decreases rapidly. This is probably because the rating scale only goes to 5 and thus someone who calls their hotel “Six Star” is intrinsically an asshole.
2.) Hot water is usually periodic at best.
3.) Baths are almost impossible to come by.
As most of you know I have a shitty disorder called IC. Lucky for me one of the things I can do to help keep my IC under control is take periodic baths so, imagine my surprise when I checked into my hotel and found a bath tub. For a moment, I was happy.
FORESHADOWING: I should not have been happy.
So I try to make myself a bath. I wait for 10 min or so and the water is only a little better than luke warm. I decide this is better than nothing and throw in the stopper.
FORESHADOWING: I should have taken this as a sign from Heaven that a bath was not to be.
After filling up the tub I get in my shitty, only kind of warm, bath only to realize that it was designed for Chinese sized people and that I can barely fit my mammoth sized hips in. Hey, I’m an optimist, I think, its not so bad.
FORESHADOWING: IT SOON WILL BE BAD. (Also, I am not an optimist.)
After (kinda) enjoying my bath I pull the plug. Then I hear a gurgling noise. Then I smell something…strange. Stark naked and soaking wet I jump out of the bath to see the floor drain in the middle of the bathroom gushing terrible brown, poop smelling, fluid. Not immediately recognizing that this is connected to the water coming from the tub I grab the towel from the rack and do my best Mickey in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice impression on the water coming up from the floor drain. Except in my story there are no brooms carrying water, I have no clothes on, and there is no Sorcerer coming to help. Instead there is just lots other people’s shit piling onto my floor.
After a few terrible seconds I realize this has to be connected to the draining of the tub, and I re-plug it. Luckily the shit stops gushing from my floor and eventually recedes. It is time to go to the front desk. Below is our conversation:
ME: Hi, my room has a problem.
FRONT DESK LADY: What kind of problem?
M: When I unplugged my bath poop started gushing from the floor.
FDL: *not understanding*
FDL: Oh VERRRRRRRRRY sorry. Poop still everywhere?
FDL: We clean.
M: Thank God. How do I drain my bath?
FDL: Maybe you….you…*speaks to Chinese friend in Chinese*
*Long pause
Long pause
Long pause*
M: As a person who is here studying evaporation I need you to know that that is without question the worst advice I have ever heard.

“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.

But no.

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.

M: Why?

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?

BT: No.


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.

My Nominations: 

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: 

  1. Cutest animal?
  2. Why did you start your blog?
  3. What do you get out of blogging?
  4. What makes being outside fun to you?
  5. Tell us a funny story about hiking.
  6. Tell us another funny story about hiking.

I’m out of questions.

Thanks again, Abbi!

Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on. 

Don’t forget you can follow Lesser Places by email, or on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram using the menu at the top of the page. Or, you could click the links below to share with your friends directly. Or, copy and paste the URL someplace you think people will find it useful. Or, print the story, place it in a nice envelope, and send it to one of your friends. Basically we support any way you want to share.  No, we aren’t above begging.


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.


9 thoughts on “Lesser Places has been nominated for the Liebster Award

  1. Congratulations on your nomination, Max! It’s well deserved. I love following your posts and look forward to seeing how your blog progresses. And, of course, thank you for nominating GetGo Outdoors. I really appreciate the kind words, and will do my best to follow up with some funny stories about hiking for you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great, Robb. I was going to post this on your page, but my browser keeps crashing when I try to post comments on Getgo.

        “Your bear story is a classic!

        And you summed up how I felt about being nominated perfectly. Sure, this is kinda cheesy, but how do you say no when someone recognizes your work? Plus, how many chances do we little bloggers get to credit the blogs we love? Completely worth the cheese-factor to me.

        Thanks again for all the kind things you said about the blog! You’re wayyyyy too nice. I’m going to have to start brainstorming some new puns now…

        Keep up the good work!”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the heads up on posting comments. That’s good to know!

        And THANK YOU for the kind words and nomination. I agree, it felt a little cheesy at first, but I got over it pretty quickly. It was a fun exercise and, like you say, giving props to a few of my favorite bloggers was well worth the cheese-factor!


    1. Of course, Salla, I think you do great work!

      And sorry for the chain letter feel– I thought for a long time about whether to participate or not, but in the end I decided it was better for us little bloggers to stick together and give credit wherever we can, regardless of the format. Keep up the good work!


      1. I thought it was quite awesome, I found new blogs to read because of your recommendations so I didn’t mind the chain letter feel at all! I guess I kinda feel the same way you explained in the e-mail.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for the nomination, Max! Recognition from a peer blogger is much appreciated, especially from the blog I really enjoy following. Thanks for your kind words and it makes me happy that my pictures make you happy! By the way, I can’t stop laughing at your question #6.😂 I don’t think I even have one but now I have think of two!! I will do my best to answer your questions though.😊

    Liked by 1 person

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