travel best hotel view Eiffel TowerI’m a multi-genre writer, and digital photographer, who lives and travels in different parts of the world.

I’ve been poisoning the poetry landscape since I was a teenager, adding essay and fiction throughout my undergraduate years at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English. During my time there, I was fortunate to be influenced by a couple incredible professors and writers, and received a couple writing awards.

I obtained my MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University, majoring in Nonfiction with a concentration in Travel Writing.


South Africa map rainbowAside from it being easy to remember, and aside from writing about this life of travel, I use the moniker because it was given to me by a woman I adore: Ida Lee* of Los Angeles.ย  I like to pretend my other L.A. friends use it as well. They do not.

In other words, I’m MarLa. I travel. I do things, live places, meet people, ruminate and write about it.

Currently I live in South Africa.

And write about it.

guest post blog Traveling Marla South Africa move
I’m the little one on the far end of the piano.


I like to say I’m the punchline of a joke:

What do you get when you cross a banjo-picking, coal-mining Appalachian family with an ancestry of ruminative, classically trained educators?

In other words, I’m just another product of rural western Pennsylvania.


My own wanderlust began in summers with my dad in Utah and Nevada, and the southwest will always be one of my favorite regions of the United States.ย  Whether in America or abroad, I love to capture moments in writing and photography, and share them with others.

I’ve been asked about my favorite places and experiences. I don’t know about favorites, but certainly I have some indelible memories.

Wild camping in Botswana led to a few close encounters with elephants, and a leopard. Indelible trips: dune bashing in the UAE’s Arabian Desert;ย  sleeping under the stars at Furnace Creek in Mojave’s Death Valley, drifting off to the sound of barking geckos in the Kalahari; standing by the great dune wall of the Namib as it meets the Atlantic, Each new memory builds on the one before.

I like that I’m not a typical solo traveler. My middle-age, arthritic knees have carried me to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, taken me to dine with monks on Marble Mountain in Viแป‡t Nam, and climbed Table Mountain in South Africa. I can’t forget chasing twilight and donkeys into the hills of Addis Ababa, those 2a.m. searches for glowing plankton in the Maldives; or seeing my first wild pangolin.

Traveling Marla and Baxter stopping at Chamizal NM in 2010.
Traveling MarLa and Baxter at Chamizal Nat’l Memorial in 2010.

This website is a way to connect with my readers, to give you a glimpse into the life around me as I see it, both at home and wherever I go in the world.

If you would like to follow along with my adventures, or receive updates about my latest published work or events, please enter your email address in the box near the top right of this page. I don’t spam, never share my email list, and I don’t send more than one email per day.

Love, MarLa

*Update, 2017: I was heartbroken to learn that Ida Lee passed away this year. She lived to the beautiful age of 96, and how I wish her years could have been double that. Even after her physicality started challenging her she had such a fierceness in her soul, never-ending wanderlust, and a mind eager and willing to share so much of her knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Thank you, Ida Lee, for the powerful woman you were, and the legacy you leave behind.

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Marla, just wanted to say that you have a beautiful blog. I especially enjoyed your posts from the Maldives as I have been there 5 times myself. It is truly paradise! All the best, Irene ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Good morning.
    I logged on a few minutes ago, and there waiting for me was a notification that you liked my “I have nothing to say about pancakes” post. That’s very gratifying, so many thanks for that.
    And now that I have looked around your blog I feel even more gratified, and perhaps a little surprised and flattered. I’ll be following from now on.
    Do feel free to come again.

  3. TAG! You’re it! I’ve never participated in a blog award, so not sure of the appropriate protocol – but I’ve nominated you as ‘The Next Big Thing’, as I believe you’ve got a great inspirational book in you just waiting to burst forth! You can find the questions on my site, if you’re interested in playing along! http://humantriumphant.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/ive-been-tagged-as-the-next-big-thing/ Either way, have a terrific day, Marla!

  4. Merhaba! As am admirer or your work, I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award โ€“ pop on over to my page http://crazytraintotinkytown.com for details. Appreciate these awards involve some work, so please take your time or if you have received them before, my apologies but itโ€™s still nice to know someone appreciates your blog. May your day be filled with sunshine

    1. Hello and thanks so much! I appreciate how much you’ve been reading and commenting on my blog. I also love following yours and will look at the rules related to the award – I think I saw how it gets posted.

  5. Hi Marla,

    Thanks for liking the “Worst Job in America” post on our “The Two Bruces” blog and becoming a follower. You might be interested in the companion entry written by the other Bruce called “And it ain’t just the pigs that are weird.” Bruce wrote the “Worst Job” entry and I, the other Bruce, wrote “Pigs.” You’ll see we have different yet similar takes on the same event. Oh well, it makes life interesting and drives our friends up a wall.

    Life is good.

    Bruce and Bruce

  6. Hi Marla, (not sure if you received this)

    My name is Rick Backstrom and I could use your help. My wife and I are in the planning stage of a 10,000+ mile road trip. We will begin our Great American Dream Road Trip in Carlisle and head west. Along the way we will be spending nights in Dayton, OH, Springfield, IL, Ft Madison, IA, DesMoines, IA, Omaha, NE, Lincoln, NE, Sioux City, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, De Smet (Little House on the Prairie), SD, Pickerel Lake Recreation Area, SD, Fargo, ND, Jamestown, ND, Bismarck, ND, New Town, ND, Williston, ND, Glendive, MT, Little Big Horn, MT, Billings, MT, Bozeman, MT, Butte, MT, Helena, MT, Great Falls, MT, Browning, MT, Columbia Falls, MT, Sandpointe, ID, Spokane, WA, Wenatchee, WA, Seattle, WA, Olympia, WA, Port Townsend, WA, Mora Campgrounds, Olympic National Park, WA, Grays Harbor, WA, Portland, OR, Salem, OR, Lincoln City, OR, Coos Bay, OR, Crescent City, CA, Eureka, CA, Lasse County, CA, Reno, NV, Carson City, NV, Sacramento, CA, San Francisco, CA, Monterey, CA, San Luis Obispo, CA, Santa Monica, CA, Pasedena, CA, Barstow, CA, Sunrise RV Park, AZ, Grand Canyon, AZ, Sedona, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, Walnut Canyon, AZ, Page, AZ, Moab, UT, Sanders, AZ, St. Johns, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, Santa Fe, NM, Tucumcari, NM, Amarillo, TX, Lubbock, TX, Oklahoma City, OK, Tulsa, OK, Bentonville, AR, Branson, MO, Cairo, KY, Lexington, KY, Frankfurt, KY, Charleston, WV, and home… You may have lived in or travelled to one or more of these areas. We would appreciate any input on things such as places to go, eat, or sleep. Please feel free to drop us an email at rick@CarTripsUSA.com with any of your suggestions. Thanks for all your help.

    Thank you,

    Rick Backstrom

    P.S. You may want to travel along (via internet) you can follow us on our blog at http://cartripsusa.com by subscribing to the blog for updates. You will also find many of the photos we will be taking posted on http://facebook.com/TravelAlong or you can follow us at http://twitter.com/theUSAbyCAR

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