Day 630 OUT OF Beijing: Break Time.


Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.

Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.


All I can say, is that after 630 blog posts over 630 days, I’m ready for a well deserved break.

I’ve loved sharing Jill’s and my adventures with all of you and will write more when I feel like it.

I have no idea when that will be.

I want to thank everyone that has enjoyed my blog posts and read them.

I’m incredibly grateful for the comments, responses, and care you sent me while I was living overseas with Jill.  She is also.  It meant more to us than I can ever relate to any of you.

Thank you.  Seriously, THANK YOU.

Now it is up to you to write your own story.

Most of all, I have to thank Jill.

My darling, I will do my best to never let fear stand in our way.

Thank you, Jill.

You saved my life.



Day 629 OUT OF Beijing: Austin, My Buddy from Beijing.


Gao Jie, Austin and me at the salsa festival.

Gao Jie, Austin and me at the salsa festival.


Austin and his friend, Gao Jie, were visiting the states from Beijing and we happened to be in San Francisco at the same time they were.

We were also at the 7th Annual Salsa Rueda Festival and so they both got to see a bit of what that festival was like but mostly we hung out, caught up with each other, and just relaxed.

Austin and I met through a friend on Facebook who knows both of us.  He suggested we meet up and hang out when I got to Beijing and Austin and I hit it off immediately.

He later met Jill when she came over and we bonded like brothers and sisters and made sure to help each other out when we needed it.

That is a big part of being an expatriate: Taking care of each other because most of the time your family is so far away and can’t help you out when you need it.

One tends to have incredibly close friends, when living overseas, to make up for this and it almost feels like one has a new family every time that you move or change locations.

This is both positive and negative because you make lots of friends, and build amazing communities, in a very short time but you also have the negative where so many people you love move away and you have to say goodbye way too often and way too soon.

Luckily, we knew that Austin would be coming to SF and we’d be able to see him and we were incredibly happy to spend a few hours with him and Gao Jie here.  Their travels were starting in Los Angeles and then going all the way up to Seattle where Austin has to do some work.

It sounded like an amazing trip and we even set him up with information from our website, SF Tourism Tips, and gave him ideas on where to stay in Healdsburg where I grew up.

It is nice to have friends, and stay in contact, when it is so easy to lose that connection, by being an expatriate.


Day 628 OUT OF Beijing: Family Farewell.


Dave, Stacy and me.

Dave, Stacy and me.


Jill and I are heading off to Los Angeles in about 3 days and have to say goodbye to my sister and my brother today.

Dave happens to be in town for work and we stayed at Stacy’s house for a few days since she won’t be able to come to our goodbye get together on Thursday.

So, we decided to go out to breakfast before Dave went back to work and Stacy went on to do her daily errands and chores and we set off back to San Francisco to stay with Jill’s friend Aline.

It is one of the double edge swords of being an upwardly mobile vagabond and expatriate: You are always saying hello or goodbye to people you care about and are never sure if you will see them again when you return.  Or if you will return.

It all depends on what happens on our travels, and in their lives, as to when and where we will see them and if our schedules match up.

Dave lives up in Portland and we were lucky enough to be near enough for him to BART or drive over to see us and for him to have some free time in between his meetings to do this.

Stacy was nice enough to put us up for a few days and let us hang out with her and her kids, Nate and Will.  It is always great to see them and catch up with what they are doing and play around with them.

Day 627 OUT OF Beijing: Rest.


Our luggage and us at the Salsa Rueda Festival.

Our luggage and us at the Salsa Rueda Festival.


I tend to think that Jill’s and my life looks incredibly fun and adventurous from the outside.  And it is.

However, we get worn down because we are running from place to place, researching information for SF tourism Tips, interfering with our friends and family’s lives by staying with them, and trying to continually minimize more and live on less and less.  We are even continuing to minimize each place we stop and think we can get down to less than we have now.  And we are pretty dumbfounded by how little we have and how we can get along on it

Also, even though we love taking mass transit and not having to own a car and deal with the hassles associated with that, it can be very tiring.

The 7th Annual Salsa Rueda Festival in San Francisco just ended on Sunday and we spent 5 straight days having fun, dancing, meeting people and helping out Nick and Serena who run the whole thing by themselves (major props to Nick and Serena for a job incredibly well done!).

We are staying at my sister’s house in Walnut Creek and were hoping to see a few last friends before we head off on Feb. 28th for Los Angeles and hit the road for at least 5 more months.

However, we are both so exhausted and worn out that we are trying to stay low key and relax at Stacy’s house and just catch up on things.

Jill is still working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day (or more) on her site and we wouldn’t ever think of going to work in an office again, but sometimes we just need to rest.

I’ll be posting videos of the salsa festival we were at over the next few days but, today, just rest.

I hope you all have a restful day also.

Day 626 OUT OF Beijing: Minimizing My Family.


2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace.  All upgraded carbon components.  $1100 or best offer.

2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace. All upgraded carbon components. $1100 or best offer.


I’m not actually minimizing my family but I’m helping my family minimize their stuff while we travel and stay with them.

My sister’s husband has an incredible bike that he isn’t using anymore so I offered to help them sell it and took pictures, wrote the description (with the help of Christopher Rubin) and posted it on craigslist.  It is a steal at the price especially compared to what it originally cost.  It is so light you can lift it with a single finger.

I’m a huge fan of craigslist because it is local and I don’t have to ship or box anything up.

It is also much quicker because I don’t have to wait the 7 days for an auction, like ebay, to finish.

And, last but not least, there is no commission to be paid to the site when the listed object sells.

I also posted an older 50 inch tv, in perfect condition, that they don’t need.

It is another reason I love social media, when used for productive purposes, because it lets people find something they may need while allowing others to get rid of things they no longer want.

In case you, or anyone you know are interested, here they are.  Click on the pictures if you want to see the ad and know more about the bike or tv:


2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace.  All upgraded carbon components.  $1100 or best offer.

2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace. All upgraded carbon components. $1100 or best offer.


50 inch tv with stand, remote and HDMI cable for 200 dollars or best offer.

50 inch tv with stand, remote and HDMI cable for 200 dollars or best offer.


Day 625 OUT OF Beijing: Benecio, Dog Show Fanatic.


The Beautiful Benecio!

The Beautiful Benecio!


Jill and I have been staying at our friend’s Randy and Alethea’s house.

We also were dog sitting the wonderful Benecio.

He’s a big puppy, in every way, and loves to play and cuddle.

He’s 80 pounds but thinks he is a lap dog.

He is also the cutest, and kindest, doggie ever.

We decided to give him a treat and let him watch the Westminster Dog Show since he’d been so well behaved lately.

He seemed to be enthralled with it all and would let us change the channel on the remote.

It truly is a dog’s life.


Day 624 OUT OF Beijing: Bus Breakdown.


As we migrate to our new bus.

As we migrate to our new bus.


One of the issues with traveling so much is we are likely to have problems with transportation.

We finally had one on our trips in and out of San Francisco.

Jill has been riding buses for the last 5 years since she went car less and has never had a breakdown while on Golden Gate Transit.  I haven’t been riding as long as she has but I’ve never had one either.

Today that all changed.

We were climbing up the hill to the Marin Headlands when we heard a big “WHOOSH!” sound come from behind our seats.

We were near the back of the bus and it started to slow down instantly.

The driver turned on his hazard lights and we drove for about 500 feet going 5 miles an hour on Highway 101.

As we crested the hill, the driver parked the car in a turn out and tried a few different things to see if he could fix the bus himself.

An alarm kept going off and he notified us that he’d be calling a new bus, and we’d have to wait about 15 minutes.

Being that Jill and I keep our own schedules, this wasn’t a big deal.

There were others commuters and they all seemed pretty calm and just took it as was a normal everyday life event.

A manager drove up and talked to us and he seemed pretty mellow about it and we all started laughing and joking.

As the new bus drove up, we all disembarked, grabbed our cell phones, and started taking pictures since we had a great view and the chances of us every being allowed to park here, take pictures, and have this view are about 0.

The manager, the driver and the technician also took out their phones and took pictures.

I loved that people could have been grumpy, annoyed or angry because they were late but instead of choose to enjoy the view, laugh a bit, and stay calm and cool.

Bus breakdowns really aren’t that bad.


Day 623 OUT OF Beijing: Minimizing to Maximize our Travels and Life.


Jill beside our luggage to show perspective.

Jill beside our luggage to show perspective.


Jill and I are getting ready to set out on another epic trip all over the world.

We know we are hitting Los Angeles, Cancun, Santa Fe, Nebraska (Jill’s parents live there) and then we are off to parts unknown.

We are expecting to go to Costa Rica to start our travels outside of the USA.

However, we might go and hang out with my cousin, Michele and her husband, John, down in Mexico if that works and they want us to come.

We also have invites to stay in Colombia, Spain and so many other places that it is hard to even comprehend what wonderful and exciting adventures are coming our way!

In our year and half together we’ve already visited China, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Greece and Turkey, where I asked Jill to marry me (yes, she accepted).

Being that Jill and I have figured out we really don’t need much when we travel, we have decided to minimize to a massive extent.  We only had one carry on each for a month when we were in Greece and Turkey.  We know we don’t know much and hate having extra weight or unused gear.

Here’s where it all started. When we moved to China, we both had 2 full sized pieces of luggage, 2 carry on and a backpack.  I had basically sold everything else I had and Jill had a small storage area.

That was for 1.5 years and the only reason we needed so much was because I needed to buy gifts for people, bring my therapy books over, and we would be faced with major temperature changes and be prepared to have all deal with all kinds of issues that might have come up.

By the time we had left, we had minimized down to 1 check in, 2 carry on and 1 extra bag each.

Even though that is much less than most people we know, we knew that there is no way that would work for us if we wanted to keep cruising and be as mobile as possible as we travel all over the world.

So, we’ve been whittling down our luggage and our clothes over the past 2 months.

Today was the day of reckoning.  We got Jill’s backpack from her friend Leslie, and started packing again.

We gave away 2 more bags of clothes to Goodwill and both of our large check pieces of luggage were emptied.  They will either be used by Randy, since he travels so much playing with different bands around the world, or they will be donated.

We also will donate two of our smaller bags that we don’t need.

So, we are down to 4 bags total.

1 check in piece of luggage.

One 45 liter backpack.

1 15 liter day pack.

1 5 liter mini day pack.

We plan to buy a 30 liter backpack and get rid of the check in piece of luggage.

It isn’t that the check in piece, which has wheels, isn’t useful, it is that we want to be more mobile and able to adjust to our travels.  Backpacks give us that.

Our plan, when needed, is to wear the 45 liter backpack on the back and the 5 liter backpack on the front.  This will balance our load and will allow us to carry everyone.  Jill will wear the 15 liter day pack and wheel the carry on until we get the new backpack.

Less than two weeks from now, we head off on our Megabus to Los Angeles and then the fun begins.

By they way, about 1/5 of the 45 liter backpack is taken up by my cycling gear.  This will be dropped off at my friend Christopher’s house as we want to do a some cycling when I get there and hopefully when we return.  That is why we will be able to survive with a 30 liter backpack instead of another 45 liter one.  The beauty is that both of these don’t have to be checked when we board a plane so it is faster, easier and safer.  We still are able to fit both our computers, our kindles, and our phones since we will be working from wherever we are.  We don’t feel we are going “without” because we have what we need.

Our view on life is simple:

Own your things.  Don’t let your things own you.



Day 622 OUT OF Beijing: Happy 46th Birthday to Me!


Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.

Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.


Jill and I are getting ready to have a major party this weekend at the 7th Annual Salsa Rueda Festival.

The party started last night, when we hired a few private party buses and drove all over San Francisco.

My friends, Nick and Serena, run the whole event and it is one of the biggest in the USA.

Some of the best teachers, performers and fans of Cuban music and dancing come from all over the world just to be at this festival.

Luckily, it is always on the same weekend as my birthday so I get to celebrate with loads of friends and pretend as if this is my birthday party every year.

Jill, always willing to try something new, went on the party bus for the first time last night and seemed to have a great time.

She was able to meet a lot of my friends that she had never met before, and was able to do a little salsa dancing also.  It isn’t really her scheme but she’s a trooper and danced with me a few times.

Most my friends are new to her since we met only 8 days before I left for China.  Since we’ve been back we’ve been working non-stop since we got back to update San Francisco Tourism Tips, she hasn’t really had a chance to meet a lot of my salsa community.  That is going to change, BIG TIME, this weekend.

Since I won’t be around my immediate family on my birthday, I will be around mi familia salsa.

A wonderful way to start the party and to begin my 47 year of being alive on this little blue marble we call Earth.


Our friends, Nick and Serena, watch as their team practices for their performance.

Our friends, Nick and Serena, watch as their team practices for their performance.


Day 621 OUT OF Beijing: How to pour an Imperial of 1998 Mauregard down the Drain.


As close as I'll ever come to having a kid.

As close as I’ll ever come to having a kid.


Jill’s friend, Leslie, knows a lot about wine.  She also had some extra wine that she needed to drink in case it was getting past its prime.

One of these bottles was an imperial of 1998 Mauregard of Chateau Camarsan from Bordeaux, France.

It was ranked in the top 5% of wineries in the world according to vivino.

Now, it has been in the bottle for almost 17 years so we were hoping it would still be drinkable and not have gone off.

For your information, an Imperial is 8 bottles of wine and not the 4 that I thought it was originally.  My good friend, Suhneel, let me know when he saw this video.

My friend, Lisa, who I used to work with at Bay Club Marin, was invited to come over and hang out with us and she wanted to try it also.

Well, first things first we had to open it.

The cork seemed okay as I pulled it out but when we looked at the bottom of the cork, there were a lot of crystals.

These are tartrate crystals, and are harmless and tasteless.

However, they are crunchy so we decided to decant the bottle since we didn’t want to bite down on one while we were drinking the wine.

After decanting it, we all tried a little taste and agreed, sadly, that it had gone past and didn’t have much taste at all.

We really didn’t have much use for 8 bottles worth of vinegar (which is what we could have turned it into) so we just poured it down the drain and moved on to a couple of bottles of Armista since Jill and Leslie love Armista’s wines and are friends with the owners.

I guess the moral of the story is always be prepared because you never know when you’ll need more wine!