By: on December 7, 2003 | # | Comments (15) | Sand In My Bra

I was quite pleased with myself for taking a couple days off the computer while returning from Detroit and getting my things together before Belgium. Now I know better. I missed a huge email that said I won the Grand Prize from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

I'm still in shock and a little confused. I entered Sand in My Bra for the Best Travel Book category, but ended up winning the great big prize!

It's huge. Many thanks to judges Jim Prior, Anthony Birritteri, and George Saliba. They even called it "clever." I think it's really cool that men would choose a women's travel humor book. Thanks guys! Equal appreciation to Elizabeth Barnes for coordinating the whole thing.

The folks at Travelers' Tales must be laughing their butts off because they got the award news up on our newsbox before I found out about it. And of course I don't have a phone right now, so they couldn't call me either.

Now lets take a look at the other winners,including an Award of Excellence for Travelers' Tales Tibet! are thePRIZES.Yahoooooooo!!!!!

Please go look at the entire NATJA website,but here's an excerpt about the grand prizes. I don't know which one I've won, but I'm sure they'll tell me soon. Can you believe this? WOW WOW WOW!

>>GRAND PRIZE 1. Wyoming Trails (8 nights). This $4,300 prize, donated by Montana Rockies Rail Tours, departs from Denver with a deluxe motorcoach trip through Wyoming, stopping at the Oregon Trail, a Pony Express station, and massive hot springs. From Cody, the tour continues into Yellowstone National Park for two days of exploring. Then it's on to Livingston, Mont. To board the Montana Daylight, America's longest-distance daylight-only tour train, for a two-day journey westbound through Montana's Big Sky country and across the Northern Montana Rockies. Relive "the Golden Age of Rail" on restored railroad carriage from the streamliner era of the '40s and '50s while enjoying a day in Big Sky class, seated in a dome car, and a day in the ultra-luxurious Montana Gold, the most opulent rail car service in North America. No more than 14 guests share these cars with their private chef and stewards.

GRAND PRIZE 2. Pacific Paradise (7 nights).Last year, the Four Seasons Maldives won first prize in the Press Kit category. This year, it is donating a prize: a three-night stay for two, with breakfast, in beach bungalow accommodations, plus an all-inclusive four-night cruise on the Four Seasons Island Explorer, a 22-passenger vessel that visits exotic atolls. The secluded, 106-room tropical resort, consists of villas and bungalows (some on stilts above the lagoon) on the fringe of a 12-acre island. In addition to scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, and snorkeling, the resort has a spa reachable in minutes by dhoni (native Madivian wooden boat). It features innovative treatments from India, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Maldive Islands, blending ancient regional traditions with natural ingredients.

GRAND PRIZE 3. Windy City Windfall (4 nights). Chicago not only wins big prizes but also donates them. This $4,000 package includes a four-night stay in the Fairmont Chicago, with views of the city and lakefront, plus dinner for two in aria, home of culturally-inspired, comfortably-American cuisine, and two Serenity Baths, in-room spa treatments provided by the hotel's Bath Sommelier (value $1600); roundtrip tickets to Chicago from any of Spirit Airlines' 14 markets (value $1600); dinner for two at Blackbird, an award-winning French restaurant in the city's West Loop district; a $100 gift certificate to Piazza Bella Trattoria, named one of America's best restaurants by Gourmet Magazine last year; two $150 dinner gift cards for The Signature Room at the 95th, at John Hancock Center; and two CityPass booklets providing admission to Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Science & Industry, Hancock Observatory, and more.

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Alexa Thomson  |  December 7, 2003 02:45 PM

That's fabulous news Jen, you must be thrilled - well done.


Jenn C.  |  December 7, 2003 08:20 PM

Congratulations, Jen! You deserve it!


Laura  |  December 7, 2003 09:01 PM

Wow - how great is that!?!


Ant  |  December 7, 2003 11:11 PM

Rock on, Jen! Congratulations - and enjoy your prize.

Speaking of Sand, I'm in Chiang Mai right now, and found a copy in a second-hand bookstore here. Thought you'd like to know that it's already making the rounds in Asia.


philip  |  December 8, 2003 01:45 AM

Dear Jen-WFTW

AWESOME - I am so proud of ya......

hugs hugs hugs



Michelle  |  December 8, 2003 04:06 AM

Whoo hoo! Way to go Jen!! I blogged about it, too. :D [, if ya wanna look] So which prize are you hoping for?? I'd love #2. LOL Four Seasons resorts are amazing.


Dusty  |  December 8, 2003 06:17 AM

This is fab news. Congratulations and all the very best for the next book.


Mary  |  December 8, 2003 06:36 AM

Good job. Your hard work has paid off.


Jen Leo  |  December 8, 2003 08:38 AM

Wow, thanks EVERYBODY! Geez, I didn't even know that you were around. Ant, I haven't talked to you in forever. Thanks for the Asia update! Dusty, I owe you a book. And I owe a woman in KY a book. And I still have to mail some books to people who hosted me on the tour.
Michelle, cool smiley guys on your site, thanks!

All these congrats were really nice to wake up to this morn. Now, I'm off to Belgium via London. I'll tell you which one I get when they tell me.


Amy  |  December 8, 2003 08:56 AM

Wahoo! Congratulations, Jen! You deserve ALL the prizes!


Ken  |  December 8, 2003 11:16 AM

Congrats, Jen! And congrats to all the great writers in Sand! Too cool. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.


Jen Leo  |  December 9, 2003 01:58 PM

I was just asked to rank my preference of prizes. I ordered them Maldives, Chicago, train trip. They'll tell us by the end of the year. Priority will go to NATJA members, which I am not.

Surprisingly, only one friend has suggested I take them as my guest. So glad everyone else knows their place in line! ;-)


Andrea & Dale  |  December 14, 2003 11:59 AM


Wow, it's about time you got your kudos after giving everyone else your support! Just returned from California & saw the great news. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Maldives trip, it's been a dream of ours to visit that paradise & have heard wonderful tidbits from friends who have visited. Now that's something to look forward to upon your trip back home :-)


Jen Leo  |  December 14, 2003 12:59 PM

Thanks Andrea, it is exciting! :-) If I get the Chicago one, I'll end up sharing it with TT around BEA time. And if I get the Maldives one, I'll probably save it till after the Panties tour next year. That's when a luxury vacation would come in real handy. But who knows, ya know? I told one friend it sounded more like a honeymoon trip than a friend trip and the yentl got to work. I'll let you know when I find out which one it is. All of them would be quite the treat. Thanks for checking in!


Ant  |  December 16, 2003 07:26 AM

Jen, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get a good prize. Otherwise, I get back to the States in early Jan, and should be back in Eugene for at least a few months. Do you know whereabouts you'll be? We've loads to catch up on.

BTW, I also scoured WR for potential markets, research, tips etc. a while back. I'm most impressed. I've got a huge list of stuff to go through, and it's all your fault ;-) Thanx.

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