A New York Minute – Part 2

Click here for Part 1

So when I last left you (ages ago, my apologies), I had just hopped on the subway to make my way north. Getting off the train near Central Park, the two things I wanted to see and perhaps tour were the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On the way from my stop to the Park, I passed a Starbucks thinking I really should stop and grab something. But since my stomach wasn’t feeling so great, I decided to pass it by. A decision I would later regret. As soon as I found an empty bench, I called my family to check in. Despite feeling like I’d been up for hours (actually I had), and that I had traipsed all over the city (oh wait, did that too), my kids back on the West Coast were just getting ready to leave for school.

In hindsight, after making that call, I should have stayed right where I was, or maybe found a patch on the grass (the weather was gorgeous that day despite the cold front that swept in shortly after) and read my book. Something to refresh myself because I was running out of steam fast. And I still had four hours until I’d be able to check in. But I chose to press on.

The reservoir in Central Park

img_4628I strolled along the reservoir a bit and even got an awful selfie. I hate taking those things, but when you’re traveling by yourself, it’s kind of the only way to say, “Look where I am!” And keep in I’d been up for most of the past 24+ hours and hadn’t bothered with makeup when I landed.


At this point I checked the map to get an idea of how far the museums were and saw that if I just kept walking, I would hit the Met first. Once there, I decided not to pay the entrance fee when I wasn’t sure how much energy I had left. Sad, I know. But at least I’d finally seen it up close as it is featured in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), one of my favorite movies.



After taking yet another dumb (partial) selfie, it was time to make my way to the Guggenheim. If it was cheaper, maybe I would give it ago. So I continued walking along, enjoying the gorgeous buildings bordering the park.


It seemed like I’d been walking forever, but I still hadn’t reached the Guggenheim yet. Eventually I decide it’s time to check the map again. Turns out when I looked at it last time, I didn’t make note of which way was north, and since I hadn’t been moving, it was oriented the wrong direction. I was ready to say screw it, my feet and back were hurting. But I figured I was only twenty minutes away, granted it was in the direction I had just come, and I had no idea when I would be back. This was one of those places I kept trying to see every time I was in NYC and it just never worked out. So I sucked it up and headed north. Again. As I dragged my feet along, I kept wondering how I missed it the first time. Especially since it should have been near where I entered the park, and I had stayed close to 5th Ave most of the time. When I finally approached it, I understood how I’d walked right by it. It was smaller than I was expecting. Like other landmarks, it had been made to appear larger in the movies than it actually was. In truth it only looked to be about two or three stories tall and wasn’t very wide. And as I stood there waiting for traffic to clear so I could cross, it occurred to me that the Guggenheim typically showcases modern art. And as I learned from MOMA, I’m not a fan of most modern art. Bit’s and pieces I love, but there was no way I was going to spend money on a museum that probably didn’t have much I was interested in. But I finally saw its iconic building, and I love that I now know exactly where it is.

I then proceeded to walk past it in search of the nearest subway station so that I would make my way to my hotel in the hopes that I could check-in early. Perhaps I could find something in Jamaica to explore, why should Manhattan get all the love?

And the answer to the question is because there is absolutely nothing in Jamaica for a lone traveler to do. Not that I could find between my stop and my hotel anyway.

I got off the subway and decided to walk the four miles to my hotel thinking it would kill time and hopefully I would find someplace to hang out, mainly lunch. I wanted something local, not a chain I could just as easily eat at back home. But in the first few blocks, there was nothing that jumped out at me, and it wasn’t long before I was walking along residential streets. I was sure I would hit a more commercial area before I got to my hotel. Nope. It was all residential, and then there was the Hampton Inn and the Hilton with the freeway and airport on the other side of them.

So by 1 pm I was at the front desk asking if I could check-in early. Unfortunately she wouldn’t let me because there was one small problem; the hotel’s hot water wasn’t working. Okay, maybe not so small. Fortunately the Hilton next door had a restaurant where I could get lunch and read my book while I waited for three o’clock to roll around.

Finally I was able to check in and assumed they would have said something about the hot water if they hadn’t fixed it yet. Well, you know what they say happens when you assume… As I got settled in the room all I could think about was enjoying a nice hot bath and reading more of Game of Thrones. Except that there was no hot water. Grr…. I knew that they were working on it though so I killed time by watching some shows on my iPad, occasionally checking the water. At 5:30 I finally called down and all they could say was they they were working on it. Out of desperation, I ended up heating water in the coffee maker and doing a sponge bath. Not ideal, but I could not crawl into bed without wiping off some of the grime. Soon after, I fell asleep only to wake up a couple hours later. Annoying, but I discovered the hot water was finally working again! So I took that much needed bath and read some more before going back to sleep.

The alarm went off at 4:15 am and I was downstairs a half hour later to check out and wait for the shuttle. When the clerk asked about my stay, I mentioned that I would’ve been better if there had been hot water at check-in. Since I was a Hilton Honors member she offered to credit me some points. I was expecting 500, maybe 1000 points, either would be nice. I was shocked when three days later my account was credited with 10K points! That’s enough for a free night at most of their hotels. So thank you Hilton, for taking care of me!

The view from my window seat

And then I was at the airport and eventually on a plane headed home. It was an exhausting trip and I wish I would’ve forced down the caffeine (lots of it!) so I could see more. But in the end, I was glad I did it. I had lots of time to think about things, and myself, and I feel like I know the city just a little bit better now. If I ever find myself shy of miles for elite status, I would do something like this again, in another city perhaps. Hell, I might do it again anyway if I come across a killer deal.

Now that I have finally posted about my NYC trip, I’m excited to announce that next week I will be in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be my first time and I can’t wait to explore its southern charm. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram so you can hear all about it in real time and then stay tuned for my write-up of it!


A New York Minute – Part 1

With only a few weeks left of the calendar year, I found I was this close to attaining MVP status with my mileage plan, something I’d never attained before. So of course I decided I needed to jet off to New York City. Okay, so I didn’t really need to go as far as New York, but it turned out to be the best deal with the minimum miles I needed. Well, that or Raleigh, NC. Maybe next time, North Carolina.

Problem was I didn’t have a lot of time for a trip and ended up with a whopping 25 hours in the city, landing at 6am on Wednesday and flying out at 7am the next morning.

I couldn’t check in until 3pm  however, so as soon as I stepped off the plane in JFK I made my way into Manhattan. The sun was just starting to come up and I worried about wandering around the city before true daylight, but since I came up to street level right at Madison Square Garden, it wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t any different than Times Square in that it never really gets dark, though it wasn’t nearly as crowded. A couple years ago I had the “pleasure” of staying in the Marriott Marquis right in the thick of Times Square… Never. Again.

Now before I started this journey, I’d made a list of the things I wanted to do in the short amount of time I had. Even mapped it out with what order to visit them.

That went to pot the second I stepped off the train. I had decided that I would visit High Bridge park up north first, then work my way down the city. But as I was making my way in, I realized most everything was going to be south of me, and a lot closer to Penn Station, my arrival point on the island. So maybe I would work my way south, then go north at the end.

First up was the High Line Park, an old elevated railway that had been transformed into a green space. And I’m glad I did because it was the perfect place to catch the sun come up as I walked along the amazing trail.


I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find runners galore on the path, and for a time I worried I might just be in their way, but eventually I crossed plenty of walkers as well. But I’m pretty sure I was the only non-local since no one else kept stopping to take pictures. Hard to say if this was because it’s just off the well (tourist-) beaten path or because I was on it so early in the morning. It was clearly used by the residents though so I’m glad I made the trek to it and along it.

The trail is just shy of a mile and a half, however I was getting hungry for breakfast so I broke off just before the end and found myself in Chelsea surrounded by high-end clothing stores. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my bank account) they weren’t open just yet so I kept wandering.

Eventually I stumbled upon this tiny little café in Greenwich Village. (Sadly, I never caught the name as I walked in and I didn’t kept the receipt since I paid cash.) As I sat in the corner booth eating my hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and potatoes, I watched children with backpacks, heading off to school I presume, the younger ones holding on to their parents’ hand. It was all so…ordinary, and relaxed. The few other times I’ve been in Manhattan, it’s always been in the busier, louder parts. I’ve decided if I ever have to move to New York, I would like to live in Greenwich Village.

With my belly full, I continued my journey south until I made it to Washington Square.

One of my favorite books is An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance. It’s set in 1880s New York and mentions Washington Square where the main character is having a house built near the new park, along with other high society families. I’d been to New York twice since reading it and wanted to see the area, if only to give life to what I’d read, but it never worked out. I was determined to make it happen this time.img_4620 The park is beautiful and surrounded by old buildings, most of them housing NYU departments now. Although, when I first approached, I thought maybe I had seen it before after all, until I realized the park I was remembering was one in Philadelphia, it was so similar. I suspect a lot of these old squares in the historical cities of the original thirteen coloniesare very similar. Though that doesn’t lessen my desire to see them all.

There were a few things left on my list to do in the south end, including walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, but I was running out of steam already and decided it was time to head north…

Click here for Part 2!

How I Packed 4 Days of Vegas in a Carry-On

Whenever I travel, I like to have options with my wardrobe just as I would at home. However, I hate feeling burdened by my own luggage. Getting through an airport and to your destination is stressful enough on its own, navigating with bulky baggage in tow can have you hating your vacation before it even starts.

So over the years I have learned to scale back, and I see it as an accomplishment when I return home with only one or two (or better yet zero) items that were packed and never worn.

When hubby and I spent five days in Mazatlan earlier this year, it was easy to fit everything in a small, single bag–we were going to be spending most of our time lounging by the pool or beach in our swimsuits. For a recent trip to Las Vegas though, I new it wasn’t going to be as easy. We were going with friends and were going to be out every night. I pretty much needed two outfits for every day. But I was determined to get there with just a carry-on even though I can check a bag for free through my Alaska Air Mileage Plan, it just saves so much time.

How did I do it? First of all, it takes planning. There’s no way this can be done last minute and done well. I always check the weather for my destination and start coordinating outfits from there. And don’t forget to look at overnight temps if you’re likely to be out at night.

Then think about what pieces can to double duty. This works especially well for bottoms. Someone might notice a top being worn twice, but basic jeans, shorts, or even a plain skirt probably won’t garner as much attention as the super-cute top you’ve changed into.

Below are the evening outfits I decided on. The pink dress was the only piece that was a one-time only thing, while the others could be mixed up with other items.


Shoes are a little bit trickier if you love them as much as I do. This definitely requires a lot more thought on my part and I’m often adding, unpacking, or just swapping out pairs all the way up to the end. The best advice is to be realistic about what you’ll actually wear. Unless you’re traveling for a special event that demands a specific pair of shoes (being in a wedding for example) then you should only pack shoes that can go with at least two outfits.


That being said, I still went a little crazy with six pairs of shoes ending up with me in Vegas. And this was after I removed a couple pairs. The struggle is real! But I wore the largest shoes, the tan suede shoes, on the plane there and home so they didn’t have to take up precious space in my luggage. The flips slops, which take up very little space, were mostly for wearing by the pool. And all the heels could just as easily pair with jeans, thus giving my that magical thing…options.

Now comes the really hard part for some of us ladies… How to get all those beauty products carry-on approved. The solution is travel sized bottles and samples galore. I’m a Sephora Fanatic and I’ve accumulated a ton of samples over the years. So when I’m looking to travel light, I go digging through my stash to see what has just the perfect amount for those couple of days. And as a Beauty Insider, I rack up points that can be used to buy mini sets, which I snag whenever they’re offering my favorite products. When all else fails, buy a travel-sized bottle and fill it from your full-sized bottle, but try to use the smallest container you can. I was also able to do this with sunscreen as I knew we wouldn’t be spending that much time by the pool for this trip.

I opted to leave my hair dryer at home since I still need to invest in a quality travel one, but I knew I wasn’t going to be washing my hair that often so decided to settle for the hotel’s dryer. Instead I took my flat iron along with a curling iron. If you’ve mastered curling your hair with a flat iron, then that’s one less item you could drag along.

Another key item to invest in are the travel cubes. They really do help squeeze in more AND keep everything organized. I bought some of the Eagle Creek brand from REI and they’ve held up really well over the years. Last year my husband found some cheaper ones on Amazon that are doing okay so far. We’ll see if they stand the test of time. But the cost was low enough compared to Eagle Creek, that I already feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.


And one last tip. I like to bring a larger purse to shove all the little odds and ends in that I want near my on the plane, but then I pack a smaller clutch or crossbody that I can use when I don’t want the bulk of the purse. Plus if your travel companion is like mine and wants you to hold all his crap, then you’ll be glad for the extra space.


I hope this helps if you’ve been wondering how you can travel lighter. I’m always looking for more tips, so let me know if you have any that you’ve found especially helpful.

Next week I’ll be dashing into NYC for a whopping twenty-five hours! Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I document my mini-adventure!

Until next time…



Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

Bob n Jo BellevueAs you’ve already guessed from the blog’s title, my name is Jolene. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, just a few miles outside the Seattle city limits.

I’ve spent most of my life in Washington State, but as a Navy Brat was given the chance to see more of the world by my eighth birthday than some people see their entire lives, including the two years we lived in the Philippine Islands.

My husband and I have lived in the same house since shortly after our wedding (15 years ago!), but we still have a passion for traveling, something we’ve passed on to our two boys.

In addition to traveling, I love food, especially trying simple to make yet delicious recipes, and am obsessed with wine! Our family spent this year’s Spring Break in Chelan, WA where we managed to visit 17 wineries over the course of the week-long visit, coming home with almost four cases of wine.

I hope you’ll follow along with my blog as I share my experiences, and maybe even inspire you to try something new, be it wine, food, travel, or whatever caught my fancy.

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