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 612 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 6.


This house definitely looks blissful.

This house definitely looks blissful.


After passing the truck, Jill and I continued up the little hill in Petaluma.

Jill noticed this beautiful house, and then said to me, “Do you see what that house is called?”

I didn’t see any sign so I wrinkled my forehead and said, “I don’t see anything.”

Now, I’ve been tested and I have 20/10 vision so I can see just about anything, anywhere as long as humans can see it.

Jill has better vision than I do, if that is even possible.  And, since she does, I guess it is.

She pointed to a sign that was hanging over the doorway.

The words on the sign stated that this was the “The House of Bliss.”

Looking at the cool blue paint job, accented with teal/light blue trim, the house did look quite blissful.

Everything around it was manicured perfectly and it seemed as if the owners take a lot of pride in their home.

I was guessing this was a bed and breakfast but, after searching online, I found it is just someone’s home and they obviously love it.

I’m guessing that when the owners arrive home that they feel quite relaxed, calm and full of bliss.

Isn’t that the way a house should be?

By the way, “The House of Bliss” was about 150 feet away from the truck with the anti-Obama and Stars and Bars bumper stickers.  In reality. this blissful little home was a world away from it.

That is why we walk.


The House of Bliss. Just in case you missed it.

The House of Bliss. Just in case you missed it.


Day 611 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 5.


Notice the "Merica" scrawled into the mud on the windshield.

Notice the “Merica” scrawled into the mud on the windshield.


Jill’s and my walk continued back into more of the city part of Petaluma.

Petaluma, in case you aren’t from Sonoma County, was not the upscale town it looks like now just about 10-15 years ago.

The rush to move north of San Francisco, whether to Healdsburg (my hometown), Cloverdale or Petaluma, has brought in a brand new group of people.

It used to be mostly farmers, and people like my family that didn’t want to live in the big city but still wanted to drive down to see family, but not a lot of commuters and extremely wealthy people.

Petaluma, and Healdsburg, is now loaded with wealthy people and this has changed the demographic considerably.

Not saying this is better or worse, just different.

I know I like some of the new in Healdsburg, and Petaluma, but I also like some of the old.

There is a balance, just like what is happening in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, that can be unsettling and upsetting to long time residents who are now being priced out, pushed out, and excluded from the cities and towns they were raised in and belonged to just a few short years ago.

Progress is just that, progress.

As Jill and I walked, I saw a bit of of “Old Petaluma.”

It was a 4×4 truck, definitely meant for “4 Wheelin'” in the mud and streams, and it had been used accordingly.

When I grew up, there was a definite faction of people that used to go 4 wheelin’ a lot.  They were mostly good folk and seemed to enjoy themselvecs and not bother anyone else.

There were also some of them that were racist and would harass me for being Jewish.  I can’t imagine that happening in Petaluma or Healdsburg of today.

Progress is just that, progress.

This truck brought me back to my high school days and what it was like growing up in a “hick” town, as Healdsburg used to be called.  There is, in no way, any chance it could be called that now.  My personal nickname for it is “Hamptons West” because of the money and skin tone of most of the people that live there.

Stopping to photograph the truck, I noticed the mud and how, “Merica” was scrawled into it on the windshield.  There is a definite statement being made by the person who wrote this in the mud of this truck.  You can figure out what they were stating.

I then walked around the back and notice the folded up American flag, 12 pack of Budweiser and other assorted junk thrown around the bed of the truck.

I also checked out the bumper stickers.

Bumper stickers are an intriguing way to show your beliefs and inform others of who you are without actually having any type of conversation or discourse.

This person, obviously, is not an Obama fan since one of his says, “Does your Obama bumper sticker make you feel stupid yet?” and “4×4” filled in with the Stars and Bars, which, no matter what anyone states, is a definitive statement for slavery, and lastly, “The 2nd Amendment: America’s original homeland security.”

My mom once gave me a t-shirt that has 4 Native American men, holding rifles, with the statement, “Homeland Security: Protecting America’s borders since 1492.”  I would tend to think they’d have had a whole different opinion on the 2nd Amendment.  Just a thought.

Anyway, I just thought this truck, and the owner, were fairly hilarious since he/she had a very nice house, a few other nice cars, and probably lived a very nice life.  And yet, he/she was still angry at Obama and the mostly liberal elected government around this area.

It made me think, again, of the privilege that most people living in the USA have and how little they travel, see other cultures, or truly live outside of their own little bubble.  Beliefs become simplistic and black and white, which, in reality, nothing is black and white.

I reflected on Bill and Rosemary from the UK, who we had just met a day or two ago.  They had done two different 2 year trips in their truck, and in opposition to this truck, their bumper stickers showed their willingness to see the world, see what else is out there, and learn about so many foreign cultures and people.  We tend to know so many more people like Bill and Rosemary, and unlike this truck owner, because of our choices.

This dichotomy reminds me that I  choose not to be stuck in black and white world, to stay stuck in one location, to speak only one language, or to live in a world where everything is explained in a single bumper sticker proclaiming other people’s stupidity.

That is why we walk.


He, or she, made her opinions very well known.

He, or she, made her opinions very well known. Which is their right.


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 607 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 1.


The 1953 210 in all its glory!

The 1953 210 in all its glory!


Jill and I are enjoying our car-less travels all around the bay as we update SF Tourism Tips.

We walk about a mile to grab the first bus, in Petaluma, and then take it into San Francisco where we might walk, bus or take the street cars depending on our time and destination.

We also bus back to Petaluma and it has been mostly enjoyable.

I’d say about 9 out of 10 Golden Gate Bus drivers are incredibly friendly and love their jobs.

The ones that aren’t happy are probably just having a bad day and have to deal with a lot.

I’ve noticed, as I’ve talked to the bus drivers, most of them just say, “This job teaches you patience.”

It makes me think that most of the drivers probably practice a type of “moving meditation” when they drive and deal with people so that they can stay calm, mellow and happy most the time.

Otherwise the traffic, the people, and the on time pressure would wear them down.

Our latest driver said to Jill and me that, “I just put on a smile and keep it on.  If I get worn down, I smile and I come back to who I am and who I want to be.”  Imagine if we all did that, a little bit more each day, how different our lives would be?

As we walked towards the bus one day, we turned the corner and noticed this amazing car.

It is a 1953 Chevy 210 with some added flair (some parts from a Plymouth and taillights from a 1954 210 as Mitch liked those more and wanted more “personality”).

We immediately fell in love with it and Jill said, “My dad would love this!”

Jill’s dad, Bill, rebuilds old cars and is a blacksmith and also does leather work.

I suggested we go ask the owner if we could take some pictures and he agreed.

He stated that he hand painted it about 6 years ago and it took a long long long time because each layer is very difficult and time consuming.  He didn’t use any filler or bondo on the bodywork because he didn’t want the paint to crack or break as the car aged.  We couldn’t see any imperfections at all.

We didn’t have our camera, at this time, so we asked if we could come back and he happily agreed.

Two days later we were walking down the street and heard this rumble behind us.  It was Mitch and his 1953 210 cruising down the street.  There really is nothing like the sound of a classic car’s engine rumbling and cruising.

Mitch pulled into his shop and parked it in the sunshine so we could see it really glow.  He then he wiped it down with a cloth to get all the dust off of it.  He had just made some engine improvements and taken it for a test drive so it was a bit dusty and we appreciated his time and effort to make his baby shine!

Mitch, the owner, told us this is his “daily driver” and that he also built a Comet for his wife.  We talked about the joy of doing what you love for a living and how it can be difficult to live outside the expected way of life but that none of us could go back to what we used to do.

Mitch, by the way, was born in Sweden and came to the USA to play music.  It seems he did fairly well for himself and quite a bit of touring.  He lived in Los Angeles but got tired of it and moved up north.  He and his wife now live in Petaluma and he seems to be quite content and proud of his creations.

An artist working his craft.

We talked for about 45 minutes, as we weren’t in a hurry, and it was like meeting an old friend.

There is no question that if we had been in a car, we would have missed Mitch and his 1953 210.

That is why we walk.


Day 591 OUT OF Beijing: Tiny Tesla.


The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.


Strangely enough, on the same day that Jill and I saw the Austin Healey, we also saw this tiny little Tesla.

Many decades apart but both on the cutting edge of design for their time.

If you don’t know about the Tesla cars, they are all electric powered vehicles and Elon Musk was the originator of them.

Also, if you don’t know about Tesla, research him.  He was a genius and wanted people to have power that was free of charge and easily accessible.

Thomas Edison basically stole his ideas of Tesla and ruined him.

If you’ve never seen a Tesla coil in action, go Google it now and watch it on YouTube.  It is truly magical.

There was movie called “The Illusionist” directed by Christopher Nolan of Inception fame.  It stared Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman a few years ago where a Tesla Coil was a major feature. If you’ve seen the movie, you know of what I write.

Either way, I wanted Jill to stand beside this car so people could get a good representation of how small it is beside her.

It barely came up to the top of my hip when I stood beside it.

It must be like driving a go-cart and basically sitting on the ground.

I can only imagine how fun it is to take corners, at high speed, and just know your car won’t flip or lose traction since it is set so low to the ground.

Fun for kids of all ages.


Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.


Day 590 OUT OF Beijing: Healey. Austin Healey.



I love the reflection of the tree from the incredible paint job.

I love the reflection of the tree from the incredible paint job.


To paraphrase James Bond, “Healey.  Austin Healey.”

Jill and I aren’t huge fans of using cars.

We both sort of agree that they are used for getting around, doing what you need, and not much more than that.

People seem to become branded by their car and their car style to some extent and we have become branded to the fact that we are car-less.

The more we drive on bus, take planes and ride trains, the more we realize how easy it is to get around in the USA without a car.  We also don’t work in an office or have hard time lines for a lot of things we want to do so it does make it easier for us.

We also realize we have chosen to be kid-less also so that makes it much easier.

However, my brother David and his wife Meta, were also car-less while having two young kids, for a quite a while and he survived in Portland by just using bikes and cycling wherever they needed to go.

We aren’t trying to change the world, or anyone else’s way of living, we are just enjoying the way we live and the freedom it affords us.

That being said, Jill and I still love seeing super cute cars and we were walking around San Francisco yesterday, researching information for her site, SF Tourism Tips, and saw this beautiful Austin Healey.

My mom and dad, long before I was born, used to have an old Triumph TR-3.  I believe it was black and they sold it since they knew they’d be having kids and a tiny two seater wouldn’t really have been a viable means to transport.  I seem to remember that the person that bought it crashed it soon after it was delivered and it was wrecked.  The balance of joy and the impermanence of objects.

This tiny 1960 Austin Healey Sprite Mark 1 was parked in the SOMA district, near Southern Pacific Brewery and the Lyft headquarters, and the owner was obviously still making repairs and fixing it up but it was gorgeous none-the-less.

The owner had a few other cool looking motorcycles in his garage but we didn’t want to intrude or bother him.

We just took a few pictures, admired the beauty of this car, and smiled as we walked away.

We truly love being back in the Bay Area and being able to walk around the amazing city of San Francisco.


Day 589 OUT OF Beijing: Upwardly Vagabonding.


A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.

A longer shot of the bridge with the new movable divider on the left.


As most of you know, Jill and I are traveling around and only staying with friends or family.

I’ve titled this new way of finding a place for us as “upwardly vagabonding.”

A vagabond is someone that is essentially homeless and is just trying to find a place to live and survive.

We are more Upwardly mobile about our vagabonding so I’ve joking called it just that.

We are staying in nice places, with good people, and don’t have to worry about shelter or really being homeless.

As Jill continues to build her site, SF Tourism Tips, and we are now building our new website together (to be released to the world in a month or so) we want to stay as frugal and with as little limitations on us as possible.

We also are traveling by plane, train or bus wherever we go unless friends are driving and we can hitch a ride.  We also use uber or taxis if needed to get around.  It saves us money and saves us mental strain as we don’t have to worry about driving and possibly being in a car crash, paying insurance or worrying if we are going to get lost.  We leave the work to the driver or pilot.   We also then have time to enjoy the scenery or work on projects while we travel.  Win-win.

We have gone through another round of minimizing our stuff and donated all our winter clothes and whatever we think we won’t need.

Our plan is to be down to one good sized backpack and one daypack each by the time we head off for Los Angeles on February 28th.

It is rather amazing we’ve been home for a month already because it seems like we just arrived and are still settling in.

Part of that is the reverse culture shock after being in China for 1.5 years but it is also that we have stayed in 4 different places in one month so we didn’t really “settle” down in any one place and feel at home.

We will be staying at our friends, Randy and Alethea’s house, for most of the the rest of our trip in the bay area so that will make life more comfortable and easy on us.  Hopefully it will on them also as they are being incredibly generous letting us stay and hang out with them.  Randy is like a second brother to me so it is wonderful to spend time with him and his family and just be “home.”

Here are a few pictures from the Golden Gate Bus as I was upwardly vagabonding home to Randy and Alethea’s recently.


Day 577 OUT OF Beijing: New Year’s Eve.


Happy New Years!

Happy New Years!


Jill and I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Singapore last year with our friend Dipesh.

It was an 8 minute show of fireworks and then a very delayed walk home to our hotel because they aren’t used to crowds of that size in Singapore and they forced everyone to walk down the same route which led to massive people jams and nowhere to go for a long time.

The day before, we did the same walk home in about 30 minutes.  That night took 3 hours.

We prefer smaller, and more intimate, parties with just our friends.

Luckily, our friends Alvaro and Kelly have their New Year’s Eve party most years and had it again this one.

We were in San Francisco and the party was in San Leandro, over the bay, so we had to figure out a way to get there on mass transit since we are going carless from now on.

We hopped on the Muni train, then moved over to BART and then Alvaro picked us up at the BART station near his house.  We were going to grab a bus to his place but he was nice enough to offer and we accepted.  Muni was free from 8 pm that night until 5 am the next morning so our trip only cost us about $6 bucks each way which was a steal as far as we were concerned.  Jill hasn’t had a car for over 5 years, and I haven’t had a car since I left for China, and the savings are amazing.  I mostly rode the bus the last two years I was in the states and took carpool whenever I could.  It is also a nice way to meet with people I may not have met in any other circumstance.  It is also part of our drive (pun intended) towards minimization and being more frugal.  We find we don’t make as many frivolous trips when we don’t have a car and plan out our days to be more efficient in regards to what we do and when we do it.

We arrived at the party and said hello to Kelly, her parents, Alvaro’s parents and their twin daughters.  They are incredibly cute and love to dance around.  Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of them.  Simply stated, they were wearing princess gowns with tiaras and are about 3 years old.  We were having a great time just watching them run, dance and play with each other for a bunch of the night.

People started arriving, many who didn’t know I had returned from China, so we were able to catch up with many of them and update them on our adventures.  It was wonderful to see so many happy faces at our return and to realize that we are part of this small salsa community that seems to grow and add people but still stay close and like a family.

We danced a bit and mostly talked and ate delicious food while talking and catching up.  As 12 pm arrived, we all gathered by the tv and started to countdown the seconds at 10…9…8…7….6…5…4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!

We had a great one.  I hope you did to and wish you the best 2015.