Day 584 OUT OF Beijing: Moving Around.

 

A view of downtown San Francisco from the deck from where we stayed one weekend.

A view of downtown San Francisco from the deck from where we stayed one weekend.

 

Since Jill and I have started to live the “vagabond” life, we’ve had to adjust to moving around already.

We’ve house sat for two different people, stayed in 4 different houses, and taken care of 4 different cats or dogs.

We will be heading back up to Petaluma, to stay with our friends, Randy and Alethea, and their son, Cyrus, for the next month or so.

It will be great to be able to relax and settle in more, go for runs in the morning, and just be in nature for a little bit.

We are giving a huge, “THANK YOU” to everyone that has allowed to us to stay at their place and will allow us to stay at their place.  It makes our life so much easier and hopefully we can repay you in some way.

We love staying in San Francisco, as it allowed us to get a lot of work done for Jill’s site, SF Tourism Tips, but it is also very stressful and hectic as she is on 24 hours a day since there there is always something more she can research, see or do while she is in SF.

We are planning on coming into SF about once a week, and if needed twice a week, so that we can continue to build the website but it won’t be as stressful or as hectic.

It will be a fantastic little break as we are still finding our way, and going through re-entry into the USA after being in China for the last 1.5 years.

It has been challenging, and yet great, to be back home especially without a car and without a home since we have so much freedom.

We didn’t realize how having this much freedom, mentally and physically, would be challenging and difficult.

It seems like it would be so simple but it isn’t.

Having to be your own boss can be very difficult and very freeing.

There are many options available to us and that can be confusing and frustrating.

Luckily, we work together to figure out what is best and when we start getting burnt out or feeling lost, the other brings us back into balance.

Off to catch the bus to Petaluma.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Day 583 OUT OF Beijing: The Beauty of Ocean Beach: Video.

 

A view from Ocean Beach towards the Farallon Islands.

A view from Ocean Beach towards the Farallon Islands.

 

Ocean Beach was truly gorgeous and a video seems to bring it all into light.

I hope you enjoy the peace, serenity and quiet that we enjoyed on Ocean Beach.

We also will never take for granted clean air, clean water, and a clean city with people that aren’t spitting all over the ground.

It is so nice to be able to walk around, have silence, and not hear people hacking up huge amounts of spit, and other stuff in their lungs, and then seeing them spit it out right in front of us.

It became a chore to walk outside as we had to ready ourselves for this constant onslaught of disgusting act happening wherever we went.

There were times when we just decided to stay inside our little apartment, hide from the horror of Beijing, and take solace.

Just one more freedom we have here that we didn’t have there.

And another reason we will never go back.

 

 

Day 582 OUT OF Beijing: The Beauty of Ocean Beach.

 

A fisherman waits for his catch of the day at Ocean Beach.

A fisherman waits for his catch of the day at Ocean Beach.

 

Jill and I have been running like mad since we’ve returned from China.

Her site, San Francisco Tourism Tips, takes a lot of work, and time, and even though we love working on it, it does wear us out a bit.

We decided to take a day off and just cruise around San Francisco and see it as tourists instead of work.

Here a few of the pictures we took at Ocean Beach.

It is a wonderful place to spend a few hours and just relax.

 

Day 581 OUT OF Beijing: Being Carless.

 

The bus stop in Petaluma.

The bus stop in Petaluma.

 

Jill and I have made a conscious decision to be carless.

Jill became carless about 4 years ago and I became carless when I moved to China.

I had previously lived in Japan and was carless there and loved it.

I also was “primarily” carless when I lived in San Francisco because I used the bus and BART to see my clients instead of driving around and dealing with the parking and traffic woes.

My agency was nice enough to pay for my transit tickets each month in exchange for not having to reimburse me for my gas for my car.

We have also decided to remain carless and see how we can survive on our trips around the world.

It definitely slows things down, and makes us figure out plans more efficiently, which we like.

We also tend to walk more and spend more time doing what we really want to do and not just running around because it is easy.

It also allows us to save a load of money not having a car, repairs, insurance.

We also don’t have to worry about someone crashing into our car and dealing with traffic other than what we sit in when we ride a bus, train or subway.

Things are quite easy.

We do have to ask friends for help, once in a while, but they don’t seem to mind and we pitch in for gas.

I was just up in Tahoe and my friends drove me up and down as it was a group getaway.

I was dropped off in Petaluma, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco, and then waited for the 101 bus to San Francisco.

It costs $10.25 to get into town (the toll for the Golden Gate Bridge is $6.00 alone!) and so it seemed to be about the same price if I drove.  I think hopped on the MUNI service for $2.25 and got home.

It took about 30 minutes longer than if I had been driving but I was able to sit in a comfortable seat, look out on the world, and just relax.

It also didn’t have wi fi so I spent my time just watching and resting.

If possible, I’d suggest more people try it.

 

Day 579 OUT OF Beijing: Mario Robledo and Me.

 

Looking cool with our shades on.

Looking cool with our shades on.

 

I’ve been trying to catch up with friends since I’ve returned to the USA.

I got in touch with my buddy, Mario Robledo, a few weeks ago and we decided to have lunch together.

I wanted him to meet Jill and just check in on how his life is going.

He wanted to see how my trip had been and what my plans were for the future.

As most of you know, I grew up in Healdsburg, California.

Healdsburg is now a major tourist area and barely resembles the town I remember from my days there.

Most people that visit there seem to love it and enjoy it because it is so fashionable and trendy.

It wasn’t that way when I grew up there about 20-30 years ago.

It was a small town that most people didn’t know about and just drove through it as they went up to Humboldt, Oregon or somewhere North of San Francisco.

I grew up working in wineries there and there was a small contingent of people the knew our wines were as good as, if not better, than Napa’s wines, but we weren’t nearly as well known or famous.

It was just voted the #2 small town in America according to Smithsonian magazine.

Back in the day, Healdsburg was a small town with a very tightly connected community.

Everyone knew everyone and if someone was in trouble, people usually found out quickly and could help each other or knew the family member and could do something useful to intervene.

An example of this is Mario and me.  We’ve known each other since 1st grade and have stay in contact most of the time since then.

We either use facebook or some type of social media, since I’ve moved away, to do that but wanted to see each other face to face this time.

Mario works in the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa and lives in Santa Rosa also.  He seems to be doing well and has a 17 year old son.

He’s always been a very positive and outgoing person and this was still the same when we met for lunch.

We had burgers at Super Duper Burger and then walked around the Castro and took pictures of the murals and sites that we found interesting.

Mario does a lot of photography and has a good eye for photographs and scenes.

I’m glad we got to hang out and catch up, and that he was able to meet Jill, because he is one of the kindest people I know and someone that I trust implicitly.

It is nice to have friends like Mario, who you may not see for years, but when we do meet up, it is like we never were apart.  Things just fall into place and we laugh and joke and fall right into who we are without any pretension or worry.

I hope everyone has friends like Mario and can have this kind of connection.  It is truly wonderful.

 

Day 578 OUT OF Beijing: 201.1 and Just Run…

 

201.1 and time to Just Run...

201.1 and time to Just Run…

 

Jill is in much better shape than I am right now.

She tends to keep the weight off and lose it more quickly than I do.

This is partially because I eat too much and partially just body type.

My dad has a belly and my brothers seem to have the same body type that holds that fat if we don’t eat healthy, exercise and take care of ourselves.

It is what we are born with but it is not an excuse.

It is a motivation.

That is how Jill and I see life: You can either use what you are given as an excuse to fail or as a reason to try harder and succeed.

Think about this: Jill has run a website, about travel and tourism in San Francisco, for the last 1.5 years in Beijing, China.

There is a reason she’s succeeded in this endeavor: She did a massive amount of groundwork before she came over.  She took so many pictures, visited so many places, and talked to so many people that she had a huge collection of information to keep building her site and her business while not being anywhere near it.  That takes skill and dedication.

Then, even with the daunting task of dealing with China’s “Great Firewall”, she continued to work and not give up, so that when we finally would come home, she could build the business into exactly what she wanted and make it possible for us to succeed and prosper.

We are building our second site, right now, and are looking forward to sharing that with everyone by the end of January.  I will also be selling my first ebook on it and we think it will be a fantastic new beginning for us as we continue to build the SF Tourism Tips site at the same time.

That is where exercise and Just Run… comes in for both of us.

Just Run… is a group that my friend, Bonnie Vasquez, put together for people that are inclined to get in shape and start running again.  She just decided she wanted to make a change and did it.  No excuses, no waiting until tomorrow and no other reasons needed.  Her choice.  Her change.

It isn’t for hard core runners, although they are welcome, it is just a group for us average folk trying to do a half marathon in the next few months and lose that extra weight, gain that extra confidence, and build a better mind and body.

Jill and I went for our first run a few days ago and I did 2.65 miles and she did about 2 miles.  She had a lot of lower body issues and so she took her time and rested so that she doesn’t injure herself.  I walked a block or two with her, in the middle of the run, and then took off by myself to finish it.

I felt great, other than a stitch in my side, but that is probably because I’m so out of shape and haven’t been drinking enough water.  So, when I got home, I drank a bunch of water and had a very healthy salad for dinner.  Jill and I made it together and it was a wonderful way to start a new year and start being the new people Jill and I want to be in 2015.

My plan is to do push ups in between the days that I’m running.  I’d like to get up to around 200 push ups a day doing 4 sets of 50 at a time.  This may take longer than 12 weeks but that is fine.  I have a plan and will stick to it as much as possible.  If I need to adjust it, I’ll do that.  A plan is just that: A plan.

Keep building your dream, working hard, and it will happen.  One never knows the path to a dream but it will be paved by you.

In case you are wondering what the 12 week week half marathon plan is, and want to join along, I’ve posted it as a picture here:

 

Our workout plan for half marathon within 12 weeks.

Our workout plan for half marathon within 12 weeks.

Day 572 OUT OF Beijing: Happy New Year’s Eve!

 

Goodbye Airpocalypse!

Goodbye Airpocalypse!

 

Jill and I have started our new life and are moving along swimmingly.

Today is New Year’s Eve and we are going to be celebrating with friends and doing a little salsa dancing.

We will probably drink a lot of champagne, eat amazing food, and have a truly incredible time since we are back home and things just feel “right” again.

We are definitely missing our friends back in Beijing and wishing them a wonderful New Year’s Day since they will have crossed the New Year’s Eve dateline before we do here.  We love you all and wish you were here to celebrate with us.

I have posted before about the Airpocalpyse app on my iPhone.

This will be the last time you, or I, see it since I deleted it.

I don’t plan on ever going back to Beijing, and I don’t want to be reminded of the pollution and conditions of living there, anymore.

Neither does Jill.

We are moving on to bigger and better things and want to focus on that.

I will be, however, writing a book about our experiences so we will be looking back at it.

But not right now.  Today is for the future and for enjoyment.

The air is clean in San Francisco and not a cloud in the sky.

Our website SF Tourism Tips is doing incredibly and we are working on our new site to help others live the life they want and figure out how to change what is in their way to being more content.

So, say goodbye to the Airpocalypse App.

Give it a good send off and a huge, “Thank you” for the laughs and the information that allowed Jill and me to figure out if we would leave our apartment on certain days or just stay home, order in, and watch Breaking Bad, 30 Rock or some movie that we’d have downloaded.

Happy New Years to all and I hope 2015 is the best year of your life so far.

I am sure it will be for Jill and me.

 

Day 571 OUT OF Beijing: Christmas Morning above the Castro.

 

The view from one of the houses we are staying at over the Castro District.

The view from one of the houses we are staying at over the Castro District.

 

Jill and I have been house sitting, at two different houses, for the past week.

One house has a gorgeous little Italian Greyhound named Dante and a very cute tabby named Goya.

The other house has two super cute kitties named Buzz and Coco.

We walk Dante everyday and most days we walk him twice.

We also go check on Buzz and Coco when we walk Dante and he seems to enjoy hanging outside the house and checking out everything in that part of the Castro District.

It is nice because the houses are only about 15 minutes walking distance from each other and we are able to meander through Corona Heights Park and a few staircases and back alleys.

It is also quiet and calm here and the exact opposite of the constant hustle and bustle of Beijing.

We can not express how different it is actually.

It is like going from Manhattan on steroids to a town of 400 people in Nebraska.

Coincidentally, in about 4 months, we will be living in a town of 400 people in Nebraska as we will stay with Jill’s parents, Bill and Emma, for a month or two.  They live in Cedar Rapids and she wants to catch up with them and introduce me to my soon to be father and mother in law.  The wedding is probably gonna happen in 2016 so there is no rush but it will be nice to meet each other’s parents, other than on Skype, since we haven’t been able to yet.  This is what happens when you meet someone 8 days before you leave for China and then ask them to marry you in Turkey.  It’s an expat life for us!

On this trip around the USA, we will also see our friend Christopher Rubin and his family down in LA and spend a week in Cancun with Jill’s sister’s family in Cancun.  After that we will head to Galisteo, NM to hang with my mom and step-dad for a few weeks before heading to Costa Rica or some place in Latin America to start looking for a long term residence as we build our websites and businesses.  It is one of the true wonders of the internet age that we can work “anywhere” and strive.  We plan to teach others to be able to do the same once our new website is up and running in a month or two.  We love the vagabond life and what it affords to us.

So, Jill and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Wonderful Kwanzaa and any other holiday or pagan ritual that you subscribe to.  Here’s a little view from the second house we are house sitting and of the Castro District.  Just another gorgeous Christmas in San Francisco.  And not wisp of smog anywhere in sight.  So glad we are home.  Whatever, and wherever, home is.

 

Day 569 OUT OF Beijing: Support Sonya in Her Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis!

 

Jill, Sonya and me in her room at UCSF.

Jill, Sonya and me in her room at UCSF.

 

Jill and I went to visit our friend, Sonya Haggett, at UCSF on Christmas Eve.

She was hospitalized, a few days before that, because she is suffering from pneumonia which was caused by cystic fibrosis.  Sadly, she had to spend her 40th birthday in the hospital instead of out partying.  In classic Sonya style she had a party after she got out anyway.  🙂

She has now been hospitalized 8 times in the past 13 months and yet doesn’t seem to ever give up hope or become negative about her life events.

Sonya is one of the first people I met when I started salsa dancing about 14 years ago.

There was a dedicated little crew of us, that all went to Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville, CA, and a lot of us have stayed friends even if we no longer dance as much as before.

The salsa community seems to be very tight and connected and a lot of them have stepped up to help Sonya in her battle against this disease.

Jill had met Sonya once before we left and they had hit it off immediately.  This was the first time we’d have been able to see her since we left for China and we were incredibly excited about that even though we were bummed that she was back in the hospital.

Before we arrived, we asked if we could get her lunch and suggested Yellow Submarine because it is a local place and their sandwiches are incredible.  She agreed and we ordered pastrami sandwiches and picked them up before we saw her.

We were so happy to see her and gave each other long hugs.  It had been way too long and it seemed as if it was also only yesterday since I had seen her.

We talked about life, what had been happening with her, how she copes and continues to stay strong, and our time in China.

It was wonderful to see her.  After a while, her cousin, Eric, showed up and we decided to give them time alone to talk.  He was nice enough to take this picture of us.

Here is my request: Sonya will be receiving new lungs, as soon as possible, and that is all paid for by insurance.  HOWEVER, she will “be married” to UCSF for the 8 weeks after that transplant and that ISN’T paid for by insurance.  She will need about $35,000 to pay for it.  At this point, she has about $28,000 so she is close but not close enough.

If, in any way, you would like to donate to Cota in support of Sonya, please do and then and share this blog post.  I am certain we can help her and give her a wonderful holiday/birthday gift.

Trust me, Sonya deserves it.

The website is COTA and all you have to do is click this link COTA FOR SONYA and click on donate online.

We thank you in advance.

 

Day 568 OUT OF Beijing: Cool Hand Aram.

 

Cool Hand Aram is back in town.

Cool Hand Aram is back in town.

 

Jill had never seen Cool Hand Luke before she met me.

Yes, she lived a very shallow, boring, and lackluster life.

I’m kidding.

Jill actually rarely watched tv or movies before meeting me at all.

I introduced her to such classics as Star Wars (her take, “Meh.”), Breaking Bad (“Incredible”) and Cool Hand Luke (“I can see why you like this film” which is neither Meh nor Incredible in Jill speak).

As we were walking around San Francisco, taking pictures for our site SF Tourism Tips, we happened upon a family that was taking pictures with this uprooted parking meter.

They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and we started laughing along with them, and then took some pictures of our own.

I instantly thought of Cool Hand Luke’s beginning where he is cutting the heads off of parking meters and gets arrested for doing that bit of vandalism.  When he’s arrested, he is just drunk and laughing at the whole absurdity of it all.  When asked why he did it, his response was, “I had an old score to settle.”  We never learn what the score was but it defined his character and his disdain for authority from that moment.

Now, I ain’t no natural born world shaker, as Dragline once referred to Luke, but I’ve done my fair share of fun.

Anyway, I just couldn’t resist taking this picture with the parking meter because it seemed so silly.

Mind you, I put the meter down, nice and soft, on the ground so that there wouldn’t be any damage caused by me.

If you notice, Luke also makes sure the meters don’t get left in the road.  He’s a conscientious objector, pun intended.