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 609 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 3.


Bill and Rosemary with their Land Rover.

Bill and Rosemary with their Land Rover.


Jill and I were hanging out, working on SF Tourism Tips, and decided we’d go to lunch in Petaluma.

We were going to walk to Lagunitas Brewing Company, have a beer and some food, and then walk back to Randy and Alethea’s home since it was a gorgeous day, we wanted a break from work, and we like getting out and about.

As we know, the best laid plans of mice and men…

We started walking down the main streets and saw Lombardi’s Gourmet Deli and BBQ and decided to take a detour.

We bought a sandwich, some macaroni salad and a bottle of red wine since they had a huge deck and we wanted to enjoy the view.

As we ate our food, we noticed a rather impressive Land Rover in the parking lot.

It was covered with stickers from countries all over the world and we had fun trying to guess which sticker was for each country and where the owners had traveled.

After about 15 minutes, a man walked out and started towards the car.  I told Jill, “I want to go ask him what they are doing and where they are going.”  She said, “Go for it!”

I walked over, flag the man down and asked him about their travels.

Bill told me that they had bought this Land Rover in the UK and then driven it all over Africa for a few years.

In opposition to the news we hear of Africa, they loved the Sudan and said that the people are very friendly and that there is very little crime.  It was interesting because I’ve found that the media very often lies about conditions, here and abroad, to keep people in fear and from experiencing new places and meeting people.

They were in Petaluma on their way down to Joshua Tree, after being in Canada for a few months, and were looking for a good campground.

That is why Jill and I travel and talk to people.  We think almost everyone has something to offer and we can learn from them.

Bill’s wife, Rosemary, came up to us and I invited them to sit down with Jill and me and share a bit of time and share each other’s stories.

Bill and Rosemary had traveled all over the world, starting long ago, by using their professions to get them where they wanted to be.  Or, in one case, not where they wanted but then decided to stay for 10 years.    But that is their story and I’ll let them tell it on their blog if they decide to.  By the way, they probably have only half of the stickers from countries they’ve visited because they weren’t for sale or available while they were there.  I would guess they’ve been to somewhere between 75-100 countries.  I’ve been to 16.  It gives me incentive and inspiration!

Jill and I were intrigued by their choice to sell their house and hit the road.  Their idea of minimalism is very close to our’s, except they have a car, and they live inside their Land Rover almost all the time.  They do use other services, like TrustedHousesitters, to find homes to house sit, but they are also very frugal and financially smart so they can travel for as long as they want to.

This trip started about 2 years ago after they had returned back to the the UK to see their daughter and her family.  They shipped their Land Rover to Uruguay and then started driving all over Southern and Central America from there.

After moving into North America, they went through Mexico, the southwest of the USA, and up to Canada.  They stayed in Canada for a few months and are now heading across the USA to the East Coast where they will ship their car, and themselves, back to the UK.

They aren’t sure if they will settle down when they get back home and are trying to figure out what to do next.

After listening to their story, and be totally amazed by their willingness to take chances, live a different life, and not be tied down to possessions and places, we told them more about our plans and beliefs.  They seemed to appreciate them and were impressed that we could do all this traveling without a car and just walk, bike, bus or take mass transportation to get around.

The next day they were planning on going to San Francisco so Jill gave them some ideas and told them she would email them a plan later that day so that they could have more specifics if they wanted to use them.

After a few hours of talking, they needed to get on their way to  their campsite and we needed to get home.  We gave them some directions and they decided to go food shopping.  After we parted, Jill and I decided to skip Lagunitas entirely, since it would be dark before we headed home, and we decided to go shopping also.

We walked about 1 mile to the grocery store and saw their truck in the parking lot.  We smiled as we knew we’d get to say hi one more time and walked in and saw them immediately.  We all started laughing and talked for a few more minutes before we parted and went our separate ways.

In case you want to see their travels, click the links below:

Africa Road Trip

Latin America Road Trip

That is why we walk.

Day 608 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 2.


The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.

The view of Petaluma on one of our walks.


Jill and I kept talking to Mitch and discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It seems, and this may just be confirmation bias but Jill and I both think that more and more people are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

I’ve been getting a lot of friends asking me how to minimize their possessions to maximize their life.

I’ve helped them figure out how to live on less, travel with less, take up less space in the world, and figure out how to own things instead of having things own them.

Last night, in fact, Jill and I spent an hour going through each of our check in bags and discarded about half of what we had in them.

We doubt we can get down to one check and two carry ons between us each check in will be very light since they are both only about half full.

Once we figure out where we are going to settle, in about a year, we will be able to unload more of it since I’ll know if I need my cycling gear.

Cycling gear?  Yep, I have my cycling spandex and cycling shoes (with clip-less pedals) that I’m dragging around everywhere.

This takes up about 1/4 of my bag and seems like a waste.

However, it will allow me to get around easily, when we settle down, and the cost of carrying it is much less than having to purchase it again.

This is a cost benefit analysis that I’ve done and the benefits far outweigh the costs.

My friend, Christopher Rubin, is also going to open a bike store in the next few months.

I want to help him and we plan to ride our bikes to work together and that means I’ll be needing these clothes sooner rather than later.  It is also a free way to get healthy and lose weight which I want to do also.

Mitch seems to want to have a simpler life and we all talked about how that could happen, for both him and us, and what we are doing to accomplish that goal.

This doesn’t just mean minimizing but doing what you want, when you want and knowing that you could die, at any moment, and how do you want to live until that happens.

For Jill and me, it is traveling, seeing friends and family, and exploring the world.

We’ve both simplified our lives enough that we can make this happen.

We can help you do the same if you want.

When we walk, we talk about how to accomplish this and share our knowledge.

That is why we walk.





Day 595 OUT OF Beijing: Cable Cars, Alcatraz and Clam Chowder.


A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.

A cable car getting ready to leave on its journey.


As Jill and I hopped off the bus, we knew we had a number of places to visit today and needed to be time sensitive since we had so much to do and research for SF Tourism Tips.

The first place we needed to visit was the Aquatic Park area and get a few pictures, and videos, of the cable cars there.

It would be a long day of walking all along the Embarcadero and this would be a perfect first stop.

The Buena Vista Cafe, which is world famous for its Irish Coffee was right across the street but we decided we’d wait a bit and take our time before imbibing as we planned to hit a few of the new breweries later in the day.

The cable cars were running, on their usual 10 minute schedule, and we were able to get all the pictures we needed.

We enjoyed just hanging out, watching the fog roll away, and seeing the signs of pure joy on the peoples’ faces as they began their journey on the Cable Cars through the San Francisco hills.


Waiting for the journey to begin.

Waiting for the journey to begin.


After getting what we needed, we headed down to the waterfront, to grab some breakfast. We had left the house around 6:45 am and it was already about 10 am and we were starting to get a bit hungry.

One our way, we spied Alcatraz prison, off in the distance and shrouded in fog.

As people say, “It is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

It always amazes me how close Alcatraz is to the shore and yet how desolate it feels when you are there.

It is definitely worth a trip, if you haven’t gone, and worth visiting again if you have!


Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.

Alcatraz peaks out of the fog.


We walked down Jefferson Street and listened to the barkers as they called out different attractions people could enjoy, like renting bikes or little go-carts, to travel around, and finally got to the area where all the fisherman sell their clam chowder in sourdough bread baskets.

We both love these delicious treats and missed them greatly while we were away.  The clam chowder was delicious and the bread was nice and toasted.  All in all, a perfect way to start our getaway in San Francisco.  It also only cost $7.07 for a meal that filled us both up and warm us up at the same time.

Doing research can be wonderful if you love your job as much as Jill!


Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Delicious Clam Chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl!

Day 480 In Beijing: The Xian Wall, Part 2.


About to dodge an electric car coming our way as we ride our tandem bike on the wall.

About to dodge an electric car coming our way as we ride our tandem bike on the wall.

Jill and I both think it is  fun living in China and getting to do things that we’d never get to do in the USA.

We’ve met people that there is just no chance we would have met if we had stayed at home.

We’ve had experiences we never would have had, both good and bad, if we had stayed at home.

And, we’ve learned things about ourselves, that we never would have learned if we had stayed at home.

They say that the strength of a relationship can be shown when you travel with each other.

Well, Jill and I met 8 days before I moved to China, and her willingness to jump in, move over here, and try a new life, says so much about her.

I guess my willingness to quit my job, move over here, and see what would happen says a lot about me also.

As far as I can tell, if traveling together proves if a relationship can make it, we are gonna make it easily after this journey.

Especially when you add in the extra stress of living in China, and starting a new job, and having almost no connections here when we arrived.

And yet we’ve built a real community and expatriate “family” that I will be very sad to leave when that day comes.

This trip to Xian was just another example of that:

As expatriates, you become close to people, and connect with them, in ways that you wouldn’t back in your home town or country.

In China it is incredibly important to do this because expatriates are so out of place and people can feel so lost, hopeless, and alone.

We definitely count on our expatriate family, which include my eldest brother, Robert, to do that.

Jill’s cousin, Michelle, lives in a city of 400,000 people in Northeastern China.

There are about 20 expatriates living there and 7 of them are one family.

I have no idea how she handles it, but she does, and she is amazing.   Meeting Michelle has been another gift of living in China.

One really doesn’t know who they will meet when they travel.

It allows Jill and me to keep an open mind, and eye, to what may come and how to deal with things that happen to us.

So far, so good.

Enjoy the ride…we sure are!



Day 479 In Beijing: The Xian Wall, Part 1.


The gang with our bikes.  From left: Jill, Phil, me, Eleni and Annie.

The gang with our bikes. From left: Jill, Phil, me, Eleni and Annie.

Jill and I have been to the Great Wall of China two different times.

We are actually going again in about one week.

We will be going with a bunch of students from Eseune Business School and our dear friend, Nuria.

I actually met Nuria when I first moved here and went salsa dancing.

She’s from Bilbao, Spain, and a wonderful person.

She works at the school and invited us to come along with the new students and stay at a farm house.

We immediately accepted and thought this would be a wonderful way to spend the Autumn Holiday in China.

However, since we were still in Xian, at the conference, we decided to check out the Xian Wall.

Now, it isn’t as long as the Great Wall, obviously, and is actually inside the city itself.

It runs about 16 kilometers long and is about 50 feet high.  It is also formed in the shape of a rectangle that protected much of the old city.

Most of the houses and businesses inside it are the “old style” but they are being torn down, like so much of China, to build new and “civilized”housing which is not very interesting or exciting.

This is the way of progress, I guess, and it makes us quite sad.

We ended up going with a bunch of friends, from many different countries, and riding bikes on top of the wall.

We had been told that it had rained for 2 weeks straight in Xian, and the skies had been hidden by “fog” that whole time.  A word to the wise, when a Chinese National says “fog” they mean smog but they don’t want to admit it.  Trust me, it is smog.

Tonight was absolutely gorgeous and we were able to take a lot of fantastic pictures with our new friends.

Phil is the tall guy and he is from Austria, Eleni is blond and from New Zealand, Annie is a brunette and from Sweden.


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Day 355 in Beijing: OY GVANT!


You want to ride a bike?  Are you meshuganah?

You want to ride a bike? Are you meshuganah?

Not sure if you all know the Yiddish saying of “Oy Gevalt” or not.

“Oy Gevalt” means to basically accentuate a comment or statement.

So, one might say, after seeing a horror movie, “Oy Gevalt!  That was terrifying!”


“Oy Gevalt!  I can’t believe that person jumped out of a plane!”


“Oy Gevalt! What are you? Mesuganah!?!”

Of course, mesuganah now needs to be defined and the definition of it is “a strange, eccentric or crazy person.”

So, in case you didn’t know, Yiddish is truly one of the most hilarious languages around, in my humble opinion.

My grandmother, Evie, used to speak it.  Well, let me rephrase that, she used to swear it, when we kids would do something annoying.  She would also clench her fist and bite her thumb.  Yes, this kind of logical response to anger and frustration is a perfect way to deal with it.  It is also why I’m a therapist.

Anyway, this isn’t quite “Oy Gevalt” but it is pretty darn close.

I wonder if this is just the Yiddish version of the Giant bike.

At this point, for your information, I’ve now found 5 different spelling of “Giant” bikes in China.

That is pretty impressive that they can misspell such a simple word and do it so consistently.

Day 326 in Beijing: Gient or Giatne. Either Way, It Is Not A Giant.


Gient.  I'm guessing this isn't a "Giant" bicycle subsidiary.

Gient. I’m guessing this isn’t a “Giant” bicycle subsidiary.

There are a lot of bicycles in Beijing.

Supposedly not nearly as many as there were 10 years ago since many people now own scooters, motorcycles and cars, but there are still a lot.

There are a large number of bicycles from different makers but Giant definitely seems to be the overwhelming choice of premium bikes.

However, there also seems to be some pretty serious knock offs of the Giant name.

Giatne.  Also probably not a Giant subsidiary.

Giatne. Also probably not a Giant subsidiary.

I found these two different versions and they both made me laugh.

This isn’t quite “Chinglish” but it is close enough for me.

By the way, Giant is a Taiwanese company and I’ve owned a couple of them.

They are fantastic bikes and my friend, Christopher Rubin, used to work for them and got me turned onto them.