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 585 OUT OF Beijing: Frugality, Fitness and Minimization.

 

Two pair of shoes for $54.99.

Ready to run.

 

Jill and I love to go running.

Sadly, because of the pollution in Beijing, we were not able to run nearly as much as we wanted to each day.

It became a struggle to be motivated since we’d have 3 or 4 days of decent weather and air quality and then a week of deathly pollution.

We ended up giving up and knew we’d get back into it once we arrived back in the USA.

We are now getting ready to get in shape and start our working out.

Part of this endeavor has also been to minimize as much as possible.   We are close to being down to one suitcase each, and maybe a day pack, for our travels.

Therefore, when we buy something, we need to get rid of something else.

This includes running shoes.

I’ve had the same pair of running shoes for about 2 years now and they are in horrible shape.

We walked over to the Petaluma Outlet Mall and went to the Adidas store.  They are having a buy one get half off the second sale and so we took stock of what we have, and what we can get rid of, to see if it was worth having two pairs of tennis shoes.

I knew I’d dump my old tennis shoes when I bought these so there is one piece gone.  I also won’t really need my dress shoes after a month or so because we won’t have much business that requires us to dress up by the time we leave for Los Angeles to stay with my friends Christopher and Tina.

I also got rid of one backpack, full of clothes, 2 days ago that was full of winter clothes I’d no longer need.  I also donated my winter jacket to a friend who will give it to one of his social work clients.  We could probably sell some of these things but it is just easier to give them away and help the needy at the same time.

Therefore, my pack has gotten much lighter and I could afford to have two pairs of shoes.  The sale also allowed me to buy one pair for 39.99 and the second for about 15 dollars.  Adidas is also having a 5 dollars off promotion when you donate your old pair of shoes.

The sum total for 2 pairs of brand new shoes for me?  $54.99.

Jill and I ran home, me wearing one pair of my new shoes, and carrying one of the pair in one arm, while Jill wore her shoes she bought 3 weeks ago and carried the other shoe to my pair in her arm, about 2 miles.

A good work out, a good lightening of our load, and a good start to be more fit and frugal at the same time.

By the way, I’m off for a 2 mile run right now.  The weather is perfect, the air quality is fantastic, and I just had a nice healthy breakfast of yogurt and fresh strawberries.

It is so nice to be home.

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 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 580 OUT OF Beijing: The Great Purge of 2015.

 

Jill and me on the 17th floor looking out over Coit Tower and Alcatraz in the backgroud.

Jill and me on the 17th floor looking out over Coit Tower and Alcatraz in the background.

 

Jill has about 900 friends on Facebook.  I have 2,710.

I had 2.710.  I am now down to just over 1,000.

I decided, last weekend, to do the great purge of 2015.

I’ve been reading a book titled You Are not so smart by David McRaney.

It primarily deals with cognitive distortions and why we think we know or believe something when, in reality, we tend to either be primed by something or we make up reasons to justify our beliefs.

We even make up stories and memories to prove our own beliefs and this can be fairly easily manipulated.

At one point in the book, he writes about how we can only really focus on a certain amount of stories/people at one time and any more than that we lose concentration and the themes of what they are telling us.

Since Jill and I are working on our new site, our books about life and how you want to live it, and how to minimize your things to maximize your life, I wanted to minimize my friends list to have more control over who I interact with each day.

I also set a goal of only being on Facebook for 30 minutes a day for the month of January and seeing how it affected my mood and my ability to reach important goals that we need to get done for our new site to go live and our books to be published.

We need to work on the covers for our books and our bios for them.  They also need more editing and we have a lot of places to visit, people to see, and events to update for our site SF Tourism Tips and we are working with our friend on building the new website which takes time and effort.  We have our logo, which we are still in the design stage but getting close, and it will need concerted effort and not wasted Facebook time.

We are heading off to some museums today to see them and take pictures, update information, and make connections.

Yesterday we went to a local and were shown around it and treated to lunch because our site has brought them business and they were thankful for everything we’ve done.  It was really wonderful to put a person to the page and know that we are making a difference in their business and they see all the hard work Jill has put into it and that they wanted to hear her story, and our story, and how much we had in common.  It was also delicious food and we had excellent wine.

Back to this weekend and The Purge:  I just decided I want to drop people I don’t really connect with or post to my wall.  I just don’t see the need for so many friends if I’m not actually connecting and being “friends” with them.

I still have over 1,000 friends but these are people that I do actually tend to connect with in some way.  They are fellow travelers, or from high school, or salsa dancing, or somewhere else and I think they will be important as Jill and I start our life of being vagabonds and traveling the world.  They will keep me grounded by being able to check in, say hello, and also meet up on our trip around the world.

It is a pretty daunting change to think of moving to another country, after living abroad for the last 1.5 years, but as long as we can spend time seeing our friends and family in the next 6 months, I think it will work itself out quite well.

I’m excited, and nervous, to be taking on this adventure because we will be able to see so many exciting sites and locations around the world.  We will also be able to meet so many new friends.

The part that makes me nervous is being away from family and friends in case something negative happens and not being able to help or be there in time.

This is the trade off one makes when they are an expatriate.

 

You see things others may never see but you miss things you wish you were there for.

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.

 

 

 

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 570 OUT OF Beijing: Murals, Murals and More Murals!

 

Fantastic.

Fantastic.

 

Jill created and owns a website called SF Tourism Tips.

It is our business since I’ve decided to take a break from being a psychotherapist.

I may go back to it but I think I’d rather start coaching people on living their dream life and understanding what is getting in their way instead.

It is similar but Jill and I both want to change up our lives and want others to know that they are also able to do it if they want to.

It is something that will be happening in the near future and we are quite excited by the possibilities and what we have to offer since we have such a varied amount of knowledge and experience and people seemed to want to learn more about how we were able to do so much with so little.  We are big fans of minimization and travel, as if you couldn’t tell by my blog so far.  🙂

We were walking around San Francisco, on another gorgeous day, and decided to take pictures for SF Tourism Tips so that she can update her site and let people see some of the beautiful pieces of art that people have created all over the Mission District.  She has a page dedicated to seeing them and learning a bit about the murals and the artists that created them.  It is at SF Tourism Tips Mission District Murals.

It is truly a wonderful way to spend the day, just walking around, snacking on whatever we want (since we have so many choices in the Mission), and people watching at the same time.

I can only say that it is wonderful to have fresh air, uncrowded streets and friendly people everywhere we go when we are cruising around San Francisco.

It is also wonderful to be able to walk through so many parks and bits of nature, even in the heart of the city, and feel like we aren’t stuck in a cement jungle.

At least for the next few months, we are home.