Snacks On a Plane

Why is it that the minute I arrive at an airport I'm starving?  I think it's because I'm inevitably stressed or late with no time left to grab something and no patience to actually sit down and eat it.  Then I glance around and my choices are McDonald's, Burger King, and.....McDonald's.  The smell taunts me.....c'mon...just a small fry...they're little, salty sticks from heaven.  Then, 20 minutes later there's a film of grease on the roof of my mouth and my stomach is churning with regret.

I don't know of any airport that doesn't have at least one Starbucks.....well maybe Bismarck, North Dakota - they like their coffee "church basement style" (so weak you can read a book through it).  Starbucks has a little lifesaver called the "protein pack" (pictured above).  It's got just enough to fill you up without bloating you out and it comes in a tidy little plastic case you can throw into any bag and go.  Plus, (aside from the egg) it doesn't smell so you won't offend your seatmates when you stuff your face on the plane before takeoff. Starbucks also has a chipotle wrap version of this on-the-go meal; a couple of slices of chicken, a little salsa, delish. And it's just enough to keep me from turning into a grizzly bear.

and believe one wants to see that...just ask my husband.

Brushes With Fame....

SJP filming "Sex & The City" The Movie
I'm a gawker not a stalker - at least I think so. I've never seen George Clooney, however, so for right now I'm in the lesser of the two categories.  I did sit behind Janet Jackson at a comedy club once.  She waited until the lights went down and slipped in with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  She was in town recording her "Control" album - yes, it was a long time ago. Years later, I was boarding a plane in Bismarck, North Dakota and Dick Clark was sitting in first class.  I'm serious.  Evidently, his wife has family there and they were visiting for Easter.  Yes, he did look awesome; impeccably dressed, tan, blinding white teeth.  But lately, the only claim to fame I have is Kim Kardashian who occasionally "worked out" at my gym - her new ex-husband is from a nearby Minnesota town.  
Filming "Wall Street"
As much as you (or I) may insist that we are too cool to care, a chance encounter with a celebrity is still pretty exciting. The last couple of times I've returned from New York, I picked up the latest "People" or "US Weekly" only to realize that I just missed Sandra Bullock filming in Central Park, or I was staying near a theater that hosted a movie premiere and Matt Damon was there.  What?!!

It would be nice to get a "heads up" and not have to rely on chance. Well, now at least I'll get a hint: On Location Vacations posts not only the name of the television show or movie currently filming, but the exact location and, in some cases, the actual time they're scheduled to be there.  So, if you're headed to LA, New York, Philly etc. and especially anywhere in Canada, you can check the site and see if you're going to be near the set of "Law and Order" or my favorite "Blue Bloods", for example (see photo of His Handsomeness Tom Selleck).  They'll even tell you when the production company is holding auditions for extras.  They rely on tips from the general public so if you see anyone let them know and if you're lucky enough to score a photo with a celeb, they'll post it.
This pic makes me wish I was in trouble

What the heck... It's fun, right? and next time you run out of conversation at a dinner party, you'll have a good story to tell.

Not enough o's in smooth....

Frank and Ava Gardner
"I'm having cocktails at Frank's tonight."
Sure you are.

But, wait... It's totally possible - you and your friends can actually hang in the same place where the Rat Pack spent many nights (and days) smoking, laughing, drinking....and telling stories. It's the home of Old Blue Eyes, himself.   

Frank Sinatra's Palm Springs desert hideaway can now be rented for private parties, dinners, corporate events, OR for a mere $2600 a night you can sleep where the Chairman of the Board slept.
If only these walls could talk....

Frank's piano shaped pool today
Circa 1950
"Twin Palms" hasn't changed much, but I don't think you're going to find traces of a flicked cigarette ash or a spilled glass of scotch, the furniture, although still true to that era, is all new.  Some of Frank's things are still intact, however.  Check out the cool recording system that Capitol Records had installed in Frank's living room. Frank could produce a rough recording of a song he was working on and send it directly to Capitol via an antenna on the roof.  

Vintage recording system (under the flat screen)
Also, look for a crack in one of the original bathroom sinks, where a hot tempered Frank hurled a champagne bottle at Ava Gardner and thankfully missed.  The house has 4 bedrooms and a pool house complete with a changing room so one could quickly transform from swimsuit to cocktail dress.  The kitchen is all new but the design is retro. There's even grand piano in the living room that will only play Frank's tunes - really, why would you listen to anything else?
Designed for chillin'

Frank, Marilyn Monroe, and Peter Lawford
Legend has it that "Twin Palms" was named for the two large trees by the pool.  At the time, they were the tallest trees in the area.  Frank had a flag pole installed right in between the two and would hoist a flag to signal the start of cocktail hour.  The architect even designed the pool deck area to look like black and white piano keys when the sun was shining. 

Built in 1947 for Frank and his first wife, Nancy, who only lived together in the house for about a year and then divorced. Frank remained living in the house until 1957. The house is now designated for landmark status.

From Sinatra"It not only became home to Sinatra and his family, but also served as a sensational backdrop for celebrity gatherings, passionate romance, violent heartbreak and the ever important cocktail hour."

"To Frank and desert nights, Ava"

Good times, good times....

Ava must have thought least when she gave him this watch.

(Bahaha...a watch...good times..I get it)

For reservations, more info on the history of the house and great photos, click on the link above.

We Heart NYC

Taxis in Times Square
New York is my favorite city in the world. This weekend, of course, we'll reflect on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  If you've never traveled to this marvelous city before, put it on your bucket list and get there some day, some way, some how. 

I found a great article on the Travel Channel's website with fantastic tips on how to see New York on a budget.  Check 
it out:  Travel Channel - New York on a Budget.

Here are some of my favorite photos & memories of my trips to New York City.  I've posted a ton about New York on this blog so if you'd like additional info on hotels, restaurants, flights etc. just type "New York" into Trip Scout's search box.  

Her Majesty

On the ferry to Ellis Island

Ellis Island
Gateway to Freedom - Ellis Island
Dylan is Ralph Lauren's daughter - who knew? The girl likes candy.
Empire State Building

Upper West Side Street
At the famous clock at the Waldorf Astoria

Musicians in Central Park
The coffee shop from You've Got Mail

Tulips in bloom on Park Avenue
Freedom rising....
On Sunday, September 11th, I know that you'll join me in remembering our fellow citizens and first responders who were so violently taken from us ten years ago.  God Bless America.

The Glam of Pan Am

The Barbie Version
I'm counting the days until the start of the new ABC series "Pan Am".  See the trailer here.  The creative people behind two of my former favorite shows "West Wing" and "ER" are involved - so it's just gotta be good.

In the meantime, I'm all about the merchandising...

I've always been a fan of the Pan Am store- which has been around forever.  Maybe you need a little retro number to carry on your next trip?

From the "Originals" collection - $189
  Too big?  maybe this ...
Reversible make-up bag - $99
Don't think I could pull this off, but it's really cute....
Sky Belt - $54
They've got passport holders, luggage tags even Pan Am cuff it.

Old School
Yes, honey...that's a heater - careful!  the hair!
The Hat Bag - $54
ok.  one more...the Pan Am Hat Bag.  From the web site, "this piece screams - you are a very stylish girl!  Hey, if $54 is all it takes - I'm sold.

My New Best Friend

So, you want to save a little money on your vacation and who doesn't?  If you're like me, you head directly to a discount site like Expedia or Travelocity first, right?  Well, hold on a minute.  I recently tried a little experiment and now I'm wondering why I didn't try it sooner....oh, I know! because it makes no sense whatsoever.  On a whim (and because I was curious) I contacted a travel agent regarding a trip for a group of six for 5 days in Cancun. Just exactly how much was I saving by booking with Expedia?  Was I really getting a deal?  Much to my surprise (and delight), he quoted us a price that was $100 less per person  AND he threw in premium ocean view, ground transportation and breakfast and yes, his fee is included. He's my new best friend.  In fact, I think I might just invite him to join us.

Although I've used Expedia many times and have been pretty happy with the savings, I've always known that my reservation is "red flagged".  As soon as I check in, I know I'm marked as "a discount customer" so if there's a room right outside an elevator, with a "lagoon" or "garden" view, or next to a noisy, kid-filled pool - whatever - it's going to be mine.  If I want an upgrade I'm going to have to fork over more money at check-in and poof! there go my savings.

Travel agents, however, have access to blocks of rooms and groups of seats on most airlines.  They're given a special price which they pass on to you.  So when you check in, you've got the good name of a reputable agency behind you AND someone to contact directly if anything goes wrong.  Another plus for my travel agent friend is that he only requires a small amount down to hold the reservation.  The balance isn't due until shortly before we leave.   Expedia and Travelocity require you to pay for your trip in full upon booking.  Ouch.

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be a "do-it-yourselfer".

Get Outta My Chair!

This couple certainly doesn't seem to have any trouble getting a good spot at the pool...evidently, they're so good looking no one even comes near....

But alas, real life isn't a travel brochure and there are a lot of yahoos vying for the best seat in the house. All is fair, as they say, but there are a few rules that one must abide by and tips one must remember....well, just because one must.

#1 Good "pool position" sets the tone for the whole day.  This is my number one rule for obvious reasons.  Time in your sunny haven is limited and you can't risk a whole day not being what it should be because you're stuck in no man's land fighting for the smallest ray of sun, or a waiter's attention, or there's a mile walk from your chair to the pool or beach. Sleeping until noon and then sauntering out to the pool and expecting to get a good seat? Not likely.  And don't think for a second one might open up later - sorry. If you're on vacation and a chair is taken, it's taken for the whole day, baby. 

#2  If any towel or personal item is anywhere near a chair, it's taken.  Yes, I've witnessed people "toweling" a chair in the morning and not even using it until the afternoon.  Although that is a little frustrating, it's fair. I get it - first come, first save.  Perhaps they're going shopping or touring in the morning and want to hit the pool in the afternoon, they run the great risk of not having anywhere to sit.  (See above).  Who wants to have that awkward moment when they return and discover you're sitting in the chairs they saved?  I'm sure it probably wouldn't come to blows (well, depending on how much tequila is involved) but it's still uncomfortable. 

#3  The early bird gets whatever the heck they want.  My friends think I'm a bit ridiculous, but I've taken rule #1 to heart.  It doesn't matter if I'm up until 4am the night before, I'll be out there at 7am securing the best lounge chairs.  I can't sleep thinking someone might be taking our spot.  Sleep?  Who needs it?  After all, what am I going to be doing all day? Ummm...lying DOWN.

#4  What makes a good chair position?  One must scope these things out early and create a strategy - including a plan A, B, and C.  Very important things must be considered:  Where will the sun be as the day goes on?  Is there any tree or building nearby that might cast an unfortunate shadow thereby infringing on my rays?  Am I close to the bar and/or bathroom?  Can I get to the beach easily or am I going to have to run an obstacle course?  Is the chair near the pool so that when I'm overheated I can jump in quickly without having to be upright and walking around in my swimsuit for too long?

Vacations are too expensive and too rare to be lame. Why risk it with something as easy to get as a good spot at the pool? 

Tan on, my friends.

About Me

My photo
I didn’t dip my toe in an ocean until I turned 25 and my friend Sandy and I traveled to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. After that week, I was hooked. I loved being somewhere new; smelling the smells, tasting new food, seeing how other people lived. It energized me. As luck would have it, I landed a job that allowed me to travel all over the US and often to Canada. Being a sports event television producer, I was on the road all the time. That's when my love affair with travel began. Now, its 20 years later and still no one gets more “geeked up” about planning a vacation than I do. All I need is a destination and some travel companions and my fire is lit! I start delving into my favorite hotel sites, sifting through photos and reviews, comparing, contrasting -it’s like an addiction. The travel shows with tips and trends? I study them like a playbook. I LOVE doing the things most people hate doing before they go on vacation. Whether it be searching for a food tasting tour with a local or discovering a romantic B&B in the middle of New York - I’ve found it and I’ll share it with you. So....where should we go?