Day 610 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 4.


The Wild Turkeys of Petaluma.

The Wild Turkeys of Petaluma.


Jill and I are trying to lose some weight, get in better shape, and not be stuck in front of the computer doing work for San Francisco Tourism Tips all day long.

In that vein, we are making sure to do walks each day that we aren’t out in San Francisco getting more information for the site.

Petaluma is such a wonderful little town and it is so easy to get out in to the countryside and away from traffic, cars and noise, especially compared to places like Beijing, where it is almost impossible to find silence and solitude, even in parks and nature since it is so polluted, packed with people, and dirty.

For that reason, alone, we need to be out and taking advantage of what we have been given here and we are doing that.

On the days where we don’t walk, I’m trying to run or do something else to continue getting in shape.  I’m definitely not where I want to be at this point and so I’m doing something about it.

As we walked over a rather large hill in the outskirts of Petaluma, Jill said, “Hey, look at that!” and pointed out a few turkeys that had just finished crossing the road in front of us.  No, I didn’t ask them if a chicken had crossed the road before them or why if it had.

We stopped, watched them walk around and realized, once again, that we are in an area where there is lots of life and nature and that we almost never saw birds in Beijing.  We both mentioned this fact to each other, a few times, when we lived in Beijing, but it really comes to life when you see so much flora and fauna in its natural environment.

The only place we really saw that was at the Beijing Zoo and that was a truly horrendous event of which I will only say that that there were people feeding cheese to the monkeys, gazelles and zebras. I’m sure that is exactly what those animals diets are supposed to be, right?

A friend of mine said he saw people hit the pandas with apples in the head so the pandas would look at them and be more active.  Suffice to say, NEVER go to the Beijing Zoo if you care about animals at all.

We, on the other hand, were able to see these amazing animals, treat them with respect and let them live their lives, and then see a few tiny quail walk out of the blackberry bushes as an added gift.

If we had just sat at our computers, working all day, we’d have missed this wonderful gift.

That is why we walk.

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 564 OUT OF Beijing: Ladies Who Lunch? Nah, Buddies who Brunch!


The wonderful flowers and J sparkling wine.  We also ordered pomegranate mimosas.

The wonderful flowers and J sparkling wine. We also ordered pomegranate mimosas.


Jill’s friend, Leslie, was in town for a few days and wanted to catch up with us after our long trip in China.

Jill had lived with friends, or in AirBnbs, for the three years before I met her.  She didn’t have a “home” or an “apartment” because she wanted the freedom to move and travel whenever she wanted to.  That is one of the reasons she could move to China just 2 months after meeting me: Her AirBnb rental time was short term so she could leave and go where she wanted to go.  Leslie had let Jill live with her, on and off, in her house in Marin.  She lives in a small town there and it is very quiet and peaceful.  Sort of a wonderland escape from anything that might be stressful or anxiety provoking in the city.

Jill suggested we go to Kate’s Kitchen in the Lower Haight.  It was about a block from the AirBnb and house that I met her at a few blocks from our first date restaurant, Palmyra, that I blogged about a few days ago.

It was packed and the tables at Kate’s are fairly limited so we hung out and waited for Leslie to arrive.

The waitress seemed very familiar and I realized we used to salsa dance together back in the day.

Leslie arrived and brought us a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of “J” sparkling wine.  We were blown away with her generosity and kindness.

We sat down at our table and I said to our waitress, “You used to salsa dance, right?”  She answered, “Yep!  And you just got back, didn’t you?”  I told her we had just gotten back and asked her name.  “Erin” she replied and asked mine.  It was so nice to be connected to my old world and family of salsa dancers without even trying.  I love this group and the joy they bring to everyone they do in their lives.

Leslie, Jill and I talked about life and what had happened in the past 1.5 years.  Leslie also invited us to have a small engagement party at her house and we will be figuring that out for the summer as we get more clarity on where and when we will have our wedding.  At this point, we are thinking somewhere outside of the USA because we want to get married on a beach and we love traveling so much.  This all depends on many issues, including ability to people to fly down and travel, but it would be a dream wedding if we can do it.

It was wonderful to talk to Leslie, hear about her life, and meet more of Jill’s friends since we’ve mostly hung out with mine so far including my wonderful friends, Catherine and August last night at Taco Club in the Castro.

It has been so humbling to come back and have so many wonderful people want to see us, catch up and share our lives with us again.  It is also interesting to see how people have changed while we’ve been gone and how San Francisco has changed.  There are a lot more of the “glass and steel” buildings and it is a bit of a disappointment becuase those buildings have such little personality and it means that classic San Francisco buildings have been destroyed to put them up.  However, after watching so many buildings that are culturally relevant destroyed in Beijing, San Francisco still is very much it’s own city and has it’s own style.

The food, by the way, was amazing.  I had corned beef hash, Jill had biscuits in gravy and Leslie had scrambled eggs with bacon.  So delicious and so much more reminding us that we are home.  In every way.


Day 304 in Beijing: Let’s Get Physical! Physical!


Maybe the bars keep the kids in when they want to run away?

Maybe the bars keep the kids in when they want to run away?

Jill and I were wandering our Sanlitun Village and noticed some music blaring out from around the corner.

This isn’t unexpected as there are many clubs and discos around this area but we were surprised because it was Chinese music and not Western.

As we rounded the corner, we came upon all these high school kids in the blue track outfits.

They were doing aerobics and getting a good workout.

I have to admit, the track suits look to be incredibly unforgiving in heat and can’t imagine wearing them to run in or work out in during the summer.

At least it is Spring right now and quite nice.

The view from Luga's restuarant.

The view from Luga’s Villa restuarant.

This second shot is from one of our favorite restaurants, Luga‘s Villa.

The restaurant serves Italian and Mexican food and there is a second restaurant, Luga’s Pho Pho, that serves Vietnamese food.

The manager is our buddy, Deniz, and his girlfriend is Seda.  They are both Turkish but they grew up in Germany.

They are wonderful people and is just another reason why Jill and I love traveling so much.

We get to meet so many amazing, and exciting, people from all over the world.

Each day is a chance to do something new, see something new and meet someone new.

If we have a boring day, it is only because we choose to have a boring day and not explore.

Here is to one more day of exploration and living life to the fullest!


Day 288 in Beijing: Push Ups. One Month Later.


As you might remember, I was able to do 15 push ups on February 4 and 41 on February 19th, my 45th birthday.

I’m striving for 100 by June 1st.

Honestly, I’d like to hit it before that time but that is the “drop dead date” that I’ve set for myself.

I could tell you how many I ended up doing today but that would ruin the video.

See what you think and I’ll update this again in a month.

Excuses are nothing.