Instagram Follows: Jill Wagner @JillMarjeanWagner

Greetings from India!  Ken and I are at a friend’s YOLO wedding in Rajasthan, four hours north of Delhi.  We are having a blast (more to come), but in the meantime, check out the below interview with one of my favorite accounts to follow on Insta- @JillMarjeanWagner .  Think awesome travel photos and engaging/hysterical comments/questions.  Definitely worth the follow!  Check out more on Jill below (including a bunch of things we have in common)… enjoy!

 

 

 

How did you decide to start your IG account? Is it mostly a product of your love of travel?

 

I always thought I was terrible at photography.  The only photo I had on Instagram was a selfie a student stole my phone to take that is captioned “Favorite Student.”  Then I was in Barcelona and took a picture that looked ok, so I posted it.  Then I just kept going.  I was traveling alone and having people like and comment on my pictures made me feel like they were sharing a little piece of the journey with me and I wanted that to continue. I’m not really a natural introvert so it helped me adjust to being alone so much.  Then I started getting addicted…

 

 

 

 

Your pictures are amazing. What do you shoot with? Any tips/tricks/secrets you can share with our readers?

 

 

I shoot with an iPhone 7 because I’m too intimidated to learn how to use a camera for real.  And I don’t want to carry it.  I’m not really in the position to give tips, but for me the most important things are finding the right lighting and taking 300 pictures of everything from a million angles so at least one looks good.  I use the edit app in Instagram.

 

 

I love how your posts are a combo of pretty pictures and thought-provoking questions (that your followers love responding to…) How did this come about? Are the comments mostly constructive or do you have to go through and delete some?

 

I’m actually more into writing the captions than taking photos.  I used to do surveys on Facebook every day and they got a pretty big response.  I don’t have time to be addicted to two social media platforms and I chose Instagram. I love hearing from people around the world and a lot of the responses are very funny. The weirdos really shine in the DMs, not the comments.  A lot of people seem to get confused and think that they logged into Tinder.

 

 

 

 

Last year, you posted from every state in the US. How did this project come about? Was it easier/harder than you expected?

 

There are three reasons that I did the 50 state challenge. The first is that I was very depressed and needed to funnel it into a creative outlet.  The second is that I realized after the 2016 election that I had been living in an urban, liberal bubble and I had no idea what was going on in the rest of the country. The third is that my tourist visa for the EU expired and people on my Instagram were saying, “We’ll miss your pictures!”  That irritated me, because there are a lot of cool things in the U.S. too and I wanted to capture that.

 

It wasn’t hard, but I did get tired and discouraged a few times.  Once in a while I would think, “You are doing this for no reason.”  But I didn’t really have anything better going on, so I kept going.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite way to travel? Do you have a steady group of travel buddies?

 

I’m a pretty unstructured traveler. I kind of just show up places and see what’s there.  I travel alone probably 90 percent of the time. I don’t know anyone else with my flexibility level, so I usually travel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

You’re half-Mexican. I’m half-Mexican. We’re both blond. Everyone gets taken aback when I tell them I’m half-Mexican… you?

 

It’s a pretty good addition to any game of “Two Truths and a Lie.” My backstory is that my ancestors were Mormon polygamists on the lam. Polygamy was keeping Utah from becoming a state in the 1800s, so they started a colony in Chihuahua. Most of them left Mexico because of the Mexican Revolution, but my family liked it and came back when it was over. My dad actually grew up in Mexico City and became a U.S. citizen when he married my mother.  For the record, I don’t have two mothers and I’m not personally down with polygamy.  I don’t mind watching the reality shows once in a while though.

 


How do you find new followers/expand your presence?

 

There are a lot of different methods and I’m always trying to think of more.  I usually tag my photos with feature accounts for wherever I took the picture and I get features fairly often. I got a lot of followers when I was in Tarragona, Spain when I was first starting and most of them still follow me.  I also got a decent influx after I had a feature on the Southern Living Magazine account.  I stopped making political jokes after that.  There are travel Instagram groups where you can post your account to get followers and every Friday the Instagram Reddit page has something similar.  When I first started to grow, I engaged like a maniac.  I got banned twice for liking too many photos in an hour when I was on Spanish trains.  It’s all kind of a weird experiment.  I know way too much about Instagram for a non-teen.

 

 

Any fun travel plans in 2018? What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

I’m in Mexico right now getting a problem in my spine fixed, because doing it here is saving me a ton of money.  I don’t know how long that will take.  I will be in the States for a few months over the summer, so I might hit some more National Parks, and will then be in Europe this fall.  Then, I will probably go to Indonesia and Malaysia to visit friends.  Three things on my bucket list are the Northern Lights, Jerusalem and South Africa.  I also want to go to San Cristobal de las Casas here in Mexico.  My dad and I tried to go when we were road tripping a few years ago and protestors had shut down the highway.  I read a book about it in college and it’s always been a goal.

 

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Thanks so much, Jill. Your spontaneity, sense of adventure, and beautiful photographs are inspiring!

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Firenze 2018

I just returned from an incredible four day trip to Florence (Firenze), Italy with a big group of girlfriends. As you can imagine, there was never a dull moment with lots of food, wine, no sleep, and lots of activity. The trip was incredibly planned and I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to this beautiful city.

 

We stayed at the most beautiful place. This is the view from one of the apartment’s kitchens. DUOMO. Stunning.

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Sunriver December 2017

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great finish to 2017 and a strong start to the New Year….I was happily in bed and asleep by 10:30 NYE after a fun dinner out with family and friends. I am still trying to create my goals for 2018, but in the meantime, here are some pictures of our adventure out west last week in Sunriver, OR with my parents, and brother’s family.   It is truly a great family friendly place for everyone to experience the beauty and nature of Oregon. We never get tired of it, even when going twice a year (this year in March and again in December). Enjoy the photos of beautiful Oregon!

 

Once again, Ken was the one who went downhill skiing with the kids. I only went one day (Christmas Day) and although it is fun, nothing compares to cross country skiing. So Ken is the downhill guy, and I am the cross country gal. yin and yang.

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Utah- Via Ferrata Climbing

Ken and I went to Utah this past weekend for a belated 10th anniversary celebration. And what a weekend it was — can’t rave enough about the extraordinary experience we had during our stay. It was to date, one of my favorite vacations and involved everything I love: adventure, exercise, beautiful sunny weather, nature, great food, and relaxing. One of my favorite activities was a climb in the mesas of the Canyon Valley of Southern Utah. The type of climb we did is called a Via Ferrata which involves steel rods / climbing ladders, and a steel cable that you are connected to. So yeah, JV type of climbing, but so fun and scary nonetheless!

 

This activity involved a guide, and I told the guide that we were both in good shape (#humblebrag) and wanted the hardest via ferrata climb that they had…..so look at the mesa we climbed. OY.

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Stanford Vacation

After spending the weekend in Costanoa, we continued our California vacation by spending a couple of days around Stanford University. As readers of the blog know, Ken and I started dating at graduate school at Stanford (although Ken and my brother were best friends and roommates at Amherst for undergraduate). It was extra special to be there with the kids and show them the various places that had an impact on our life (i.e. dating –> love –> marriage –> life –> kids). Not only did we go to Stanford, but my father did as well for graduate school (right after marrying my mother), so this place is special to the whole family, and not just me and Ken. Take a look at the pictures (and I promise this will be our last post on our vacations, as we return to NYC so soon).

 

My squad at the hotel.

My (good looking) squad at the hotel.

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Crater Lake, Oregon

Last week, we jumped into the car and drove to Crater Lake. Although I had gone as a child, I didn’t remember my experience and the trip had been on my to-do-list for several years. This year, I was determined to make it happen, and despite the long car ride (Thanks Pups for being our driver), it was INCREDIBLE. A MUST SEE. A MUST GO TO. A MUST A MUST A MUST.

 

On our drive South, we stopped at Watson Falls, for a quick hike and lunch pit stop. Oregon always blows me away with its natural beauty and divine power. We were all mesmerized with the water, the green, and Mother Earth.

On our drive South, we stopped at Watson Falls, for a quick hike and lunch pit stop. Oregon always blows me away with its natural beauty and divine power. We were all mesmerized with the water, the green, and Mother Earth.

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Sonoma 2017

We returned Sunday night from our Third Annual Sonoma Trip with a small group of our Stanford friends. It continues to be a wonderful tradition and something we look forward to each summer. If you have never been to wine country in CA before, I highly suggest doing it– beautiful vineyard views, hot dry weather, delicious farm-to-table-food, and of course… amazing local wine. Can life be any better? Thank you to our wonderful friends and hosts, Kimmers and Joe. Enjoy the photos — I want to go back now!

 

On our friend's property (100 acres!), they have many different houses / cabins spread out. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and yes, all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

The guest house we stayed at on our friend’s property. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

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Paris Marathon 2017

I just returned from a quick trip to Paris where I completed by 4th Paris Marathon (7th marathon total). It was great fun — both the trip itself and the run, and now I am looking forward to not traveling, not doing long runs, and staying put….. at least for the next couple of months (I have already planned my next two marathons…). Here are pictures of the weekend! (And what day is it today?)

 

Crazy as it was, we landed at 2 pm on Saturday. Which meant, the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is my feast that morning pre-race.

We landed at 2 pm on Saturday, 16 hours before race time. So the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is our feast pre-race.

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Spring Break 2017 Sunriver

We are now full swing back to reality with school, tutoring, responsibilities, etc…so it seems hard to think that we were just in Oregon a couple of days ago — it seems like an eternity. I already miss my parents, the fresh air, the fir trees, the crisp delicious water, and everything Oregon. Here are some pictures of our week skiing in Sunriver, Oregon. Enjoy!

 

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

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Spring Break 2017 Week 1

Spring Break!  We were fortunate enough to spend our first week in the sun, first in Puerto Rico with my in-laws, and then in Florida (just me and the kids). Lots of sunshine, beach, pool, french fries, chicken fingers, and sunscreen. Here are some pictures to recap our week! Enjoy (and thanks for letting me indulge).

 

Love the combination of beach and then pool. And of course, minutes soaking up the Vitamin D on the ground.

We stayed at Dorado Beach for the fourth straight year.  Good combo of kids activities and things for my in-laws to do.  Love the combination of beach and then pool. And of course, minutes soaking up the Vitamin D on the ground.

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Val D’Isere

We just returned from a special 40th birthday party of a very dear friend in the French Alps. It was a weekend of snow, ski, rose, fondue, meat, relaxation, and lots of fun. An incredible experience that we will never forget.

 

Val D'Isere is located in the French Alps, a three hour drive from Geneva. We landed early morning in Geneva, took a bus to our chalet, got fitted for skis, and went straight to the mountain. No wasted time on this trip!

Val D’Isere is located in the French Alps, a three hour drive from Geneva. We landed early morning in Geneva, took a bus to our chalet, got fitted for skis, and went straight to the mountain. No wasted time!

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Pangulasian, El Nido, Palawan

Hands down, the highlight of our 2016 trip to the Philippines was our visit to Pangulasian, El Nido, Palawan. To say the resort, scenery, environment, location, food, service, experience was amazing is an understatement. I will go out on a ledge to say that it was the most beautiful and breathtaking vacation I have ever been on. It was so incredible that I would fly across the world again tomorrow to spend more time there.

 

To get to the resort, we had to fly from Manila to El Nido, then take a van to a boat. The boat was a tiny speed boat that took 20-30 minutes to get us there. Worth every travel minute to get to this paradise.

To get to the resort, we had to fly from Manila to El Nido, then take a van to a boat. The boat was a tiny speed boat that took 20-30 minutes to get us there. Worth every travel minute to get to this paradise.

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Punta Fuego, Philippines

Our holiday trip to the Philippines has been a mix of time spent in metro Manila where most of Ken’s family lives, and time spent out of Manila, which is more know for beautiful beaches, nature, and tourism.  (Fortunately, Typhoon Nina didn’t do as much damage to Manila as some had forecast).  Our first getaway was to gorgeous Punta Fuego, where we went with Ken’s 11 cousins (on his mom’s side of the family), 4 kids (including our two), and 2 of 3 spouses (including me).  Enjoy the pics!

 

 

Punta Fuego

Club Punta Fuego has an amazing infinity pool. Toosh enjoyed her lounge time.

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We Made It! – Philippines

Greetings!

I will let Ken’s Instagram post speak:screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-25-20-pm

Yep.  2 hours of delay on the snowy JFK tarmac, 16.5 hours to Hong Kong, an hour layover, another 2 hour flight to Manila, and two hours through customs and to Ken’s family’s house later, we are in Manila for a family reunion extravaganza for his mother’s side of the family.  It is 5:30 AM Manila time now and the kids have been up for 2 and 4 hours respectively, but we are excited that we made it without dramatic incident (though we are still waiting on the kids bag to come… hopefully later today).

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Park City, Utah

It feels like a million years ago that we were on vacation with our dear friends in Deer Valley / Park City, Utah. In reality, it was just a week ago (another trip to the West Coast this weekend for my sister’s wedding sure makes time confusing). Deer Valley was the perfect ending to a fabulous summer, filled with lots of activities and simple family fun with great friends. Here is a recap of our trip with recommendations.. Deer Valley is a PERFECT summer getaway (particularly at the end of the summer after Utah schools start up… everything was empty which was perfect!)

 

Utah

Utah

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Napa Weekend

On our final weekend on the West Coast (Best Coast), we went to Napa to celebrate our best friends’ joint 40th birthdays. It seems like there were a lot of California trips this summer (there were), but this one topped them all.  Just like we did 10 years prior for our friends’ wedding, we stayed at The Carneros Inn. Over the weekend, we had an incredible (INCREDIBLE) dinner at Ad Hoc, one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, brunch at The Fremont Diner, and the party at The Barn at Cornerstone. Not only was it hog heaven food wise, but the weather, the company, and the experiences were all top notch. I already miss the ease of flying from Eugene to San Francisco, and all our West Coast friends….

 

White farm flowers.

White farm flowers.

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Oregon Coast 2016

This past weekend, the kids, parents and I went to the Oregon Coast to escape the hot temperatures of Eugene (in the 100s) and surround ourselves in the beauty of the Oregon Coast. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed nature, and family (minus Ken, who was in New York). Take a look at the pictures.

 

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland .... which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland …. which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

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Yosemite 2016

Saddened.. yet again.. by another mass tragedy.  France is incredibly close to my heart as I spent all my summers going up with my French exchange family and try to go back as often as I can.

 

I am sad for all of the victims, and for humanity.

 

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Let me count the ways that I love the West Coast: 1) Oregon 2) California 3) Washington. This past week, we traveled to Yosemite with Stanford Classmates where we lounged, hiked, made smores, laughed, swam, and simply enjoyed the simplicity of the California Nature. AHHHHHH California.

 

Hike Day 1.

Yosemite National Park is known for its waterfalls, meadows, giant sequoias, and vast wildnerness. This is a photo from our hike on Day 1. It was an easy hike yet truly beautiful, surrounded by trees, water, and waterfalls.

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4th of July Weekend 2016

Happy short week (and happy belated birthday, USA)! I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend and off to a great July (holllllly smokes). As always when with family, we had a great weekend celebrating with my brother and his family in Seattle. The only bad news was that Ken was unable to fly out as planned due to a storm on Friday night in NYC. After 4 hours on the tarmac and his flight being canceled, he sadly didn’t make it to the west coast. We missed him but will be reunited with him for 10 days on Friday! Here is a recap of our weekend!

 

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

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Summer 2016 Reading List

Summer (for me) officially begins tomorrow when I fly out to Oregon with the kids to spend the summer with my parents. Once out there, I have no friends, no life, no tutoring, and no real responsibilities (not necessarily very “summer-like” for most people….but it is my way of recharging). It is the PERFECT time for me to read. I have a long list of books I would like to read this summer, so here they are.  If you have any book suggestions, please share.

 

Books / xoxo / Cruz

Books / xoxo / Cruz

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Paris with Kids – Itinerary

Below was my itinerary in Paris for my recent trip with Cruz. While it was just from my own research, childhood memories, recommendations and experiences, it worked great. Stay tuned for Friday, for tips on *how* to travel to Europe with children, and things that *worked* for us.

 

Day 1: Jardin des Tuileries, Ferris Wheel, Place de la Concorde, outside of the Louvre, crepes.

 

ferris wheel

A view of La Place de la Concorde in the Ferris Wheel. It was great elevating and showing Cruz where our adventures would lead us the rest of the trip

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I’m BAAAAAACCCCKKKKK

I’m back from a whirlwind mother-son-Paris-adventure with Cruzzie, and I am more tired, jet-lagged, exhausted, and yet more full, cultured, and educated than I ever knew was possible. Who knew that a trip to Paris with a 6.5 year old would be so difficult and yet so rewarding! Currently, I feel like I could write a book (a best selling book, too!) about what to do in Paris with children….and I *also* feel like I could pass out from being up for 40 hours straight-and-traveling-across-the-Altantic-WITH-child. So come back on Wednesday for a 5 day guide for Parent-Child-trips-to-Paris, and until then….

 

Paris Guide Coming to the JGB soon!

Paris Guide Coming to the JGB soon!

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Mother’s Day in Paris

Bonjour! Hello from NYC after a whirlwind trip celebrating Mother’s Day with my special mother-in-law Josie Natori! As most of you know, I have a deep profound love for Paris and feel that it is my second home (Cruzzie corrected me and said “third’ — after NYC and Oregon, so true true). As it had been over a year since I had last been there, I was dying to get there. So my mother-in-law and I (just the two of us), jumped on a plane and went there for the long weekend. And what a special and wonderful treat it was. I am currently cross-eyed from no sleep (Jet Lag and I don’t mix), and we #ShoppedTillWeDropped, but it was so special and fun; a weekend to always remember. Take a look.

 

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous of the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous about the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

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Puerto Rico 2016 Highlights

After our wonderful vacation in Mexico with my parents, we headed to Puerto Rico with the Natori Seniors…YUP #hardlife and YUP #travelwithparents. We had a luxurious, lavish, relaxing, and fun 5 days (just like last year. Same vacation, different year). Take a look at the pictures….wish I was back there NOW! NYC is flipping cold and un-Spring like.

 

Traveling to Mexico to Puerto Rico is not so much fun, but what is really unfun is a 4.5 hour layover in Dallas. So we had fun by taking the airport monorail for a good 45 minutes (circle after circle after circle)

Bucerias, Mexico to Puerto Rico isn’t exactly a direct flight.  We had 4 hour layover in Dallas, so we killed time (at the kids’ request) by taking the airport monorail in circles for 45 minutes.  #KillingTime

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