Day 586 OUT OF Beijing: Big Bad Benecio.


Benecio getting ready for the College National Championship game.

Benecio getting ready for the College National Championship game.


Before I met Jill, my dear friend Leslie and I were driving around Point Richmond and enjoying the scenery.

We had just finished our lunch and watching a football game at a local bar.

Leslie is a wonderful person and has a heart of gold.

Especially when it comes to doggies and kitties.

She regularly fosters them and has been known to save them off the street if they are out running wild.

She will go up to pretty much any animal and they fall in love with her immediately.

She noticed Benecio running around with a torn rope around his neck and pulled her car over to help.

Benecio is a HUGE dog.

He’s about 80 lbs or so and all muscle.

His head is massive and his jaws could easily wrap around my whole thigh if he wanted to bite me.

Leslie went over to him, started petting him, and then we walked around the area looking for his owner.

We couldn’t find the owner so Leslie put Benecio in her car, and I have to admit I was still afraid of this huge dog and what he might do, and we drove around Point Richmond looking for someone that might know who he belonged to at that time.

No one seemed to know Benecio or his owner, so we decided we to take him home and see if we could help him.

Being that the rope around his neck was torn, he must have been kept outside and we wanted to see how he’d fare with other dogs around.

Leslie had 3 different dogs at that time and Benecio got along great with all of them.

We kept him for a bit, and then our friends, Randy and Alethea, realized we had him and they were looking to adopt a dog.

We brought him over to meet them, and their son, Cyrus, and it was love at first site.

Benecio has now lived with them for about 2 years and he is a truly wonderful, loving and happy dog.

He also has been known to jump over 12 foot fences, when he sees a cat or squirrel, but otherwise is very good at following orders and commands.

He is, as far as we can tell, pit-bull.  So, when people talk about how scary and mean pit-bulls are, we just think of Benecio and how sweet he is to everyone he meets.

Another reminder that everyone, and every animal, is different and to give each other a chance.


Day 575 OUT OF Beijing: The Windy City.


Jill, Dante and the fallen tree.

Jill, Dante and the fallen tree.


All apologies to Chicago but San Francisco was doing its best to be the Windy City a few days ago.

Jill and I took Dante, the dog we are sitting, for a walk and almost got blown away a few different times.

Supposedly there were gusts above 60-70 mph at certain times.

The winds knocked trees over all around San Francisco.

Even Divisadero Street was shut down because of a huge tree that was blown over and blocked it completely from sidewalk to sidewalk.

At Corona Heights Park, above where we are house sitting, a beautiful old tree was knocked over and it ruined the fence beside it.

We did a short walk because Dante is so tiny we didn’t want him to get hurt.

He seemed to actually enjoy the wind and was running around like mad.

Maybe he was smelling all kinds of new scents and having fun with that.

I’m just glad we got him home and safe and secure!




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 561 OUT OF Beijing: Seeing the San Francisco Sites.


The credit card christmas tree.

The credit card Christmas tree.


Jill owns her own website SF Tourism Tips.

Running a San Francisco tourism and travel website from Beijing for a year and a half is a tremendous achievement.

Overall, she’s done an amazing job and didn’t miss a step.

She did ask a few friends for pictures and to help with information, but overall, she’s been a champion!

The site has been doing well and continues to grow each day.  It really is something amazing to behold since we are both going to use this site as a building block for our future travels and life.

We plan to hang out in the USA for about 9 months and then take off to parts semi-unknown.

Our goal the day we arrived in SF was to get pictures and reacquaint ourselves with the city.

We are house-sitting for our friends in the Castro District and decided to walk down Divisadero Street to start our day.

We walked by a wonderful Christmas display and then got a nice tea to help us wake up.

Walking by the Victorians made us feel right at home.

We also saw a guy with a gorgeous dog.  We did love the dogs in Beijing and thought we’d go through doggie withdrawal when we arrived.  No chance.  They are everywhere!

The owner is a real estate agent and we talked about the changes and what has happened.  He’s lived here for 20 years and has seen an amazing amount of change in the Western Addition and all over SF.  His dog, Fenway, was so cute and friendly.  We talked for about 30 minutes before we headed off to have lunch and take more pictures.

We ended up taking a lot of pictures of the murals around Valencia and Mission since Jill needed updates for her site and we both just wanted to cruise around and enjoy the spectacle.

The weather was gorgeous and the sun gave us wonderful light to take the pictures.

It could not have been a better day to start our re-adventure back home by the bay.


Day 536 In Beijing: Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia, Deflating the Balloon.


As we are about to land.

Just before our landing on the trailer.


After the landing on the trailer, they started to deflate the balloon.

They opened up the top, so the hot air would escape quickly, and Captain Mike’s dog, Maggie, decided to help by running around, carrying her leash, and just being happy to see her master.

It was really cute and a wonderful way to come “back to Earth” after this heavenly ride through the skies of Cappadoccia, Turkey.




Day 508 In Beijing: Sunset In Goreme, Turkey.


The mountain range as the sun sets.

The mountain range as the sun sets.


Jill and I hung out on the platform, overlooking the gorgeous town of Goreme, and watched the sunset.

We were lucky enough to be one of only about 10 people up there so it was very quiet and very calm.

The town is known for the hot air balloon rides, but since those only go up in the morning, there is very little traffic or anything else going on in this sleepy little town, which was perfect for us.

We both grew up in relatively small towns and love the quiet and the outdoors.

It is something we desperately miss living in Beijing as there is almost no quiet time and almost no outdoors.

There are parks, and some are quite large, but they are usually full of people.

Sadly, most those people are posting pictures of themselves and not even paying attention to the nature and the beauty right in front of them.

The irony is that I was taking pictures of this natural beauty while complaining about it but this was only for a few minutes.

Jill and I spent most the time just wandering around, in utter joy, looking at people, the architecture, and the nature while being amazed that we are lucky enough to be in this amazing town.

So, with that, I’ll leave you in peace to enjoy the sunset with us.


Day 459 In Istanbul: Dog Days Of Summer.


Happy doggie.

Happy doggie.

There are a lot of stray dogs in Istanbul.

This was quite a change from Beijing as there are almost no stray dogs in that city.

The laws are very strict about dogs and it is actually illegal to have a dog, over a certain size, in the Beijing city limits.

Of course, if you have enough money, or the right connections, you can easily get around this law and I’ve seen dogs that are well above the height limit walking around downtown Beijing.

The stray dogs in Istanbul are different from stray dogs I’ve seen elsewhere.

They are mostly clean, well fed, and quite friendly.

The only group of unfriendly dogs we met occurred when Jill and I hung out with my second cousin, Nate, and he informed us there was a pack of wild dogs that terrorized the neighborhood every night around 11 pm.

The second time we visited him, we took a cab, and were unfortunate to be dropped off near the pack’s home and they did not like us being anywhere near them.

There were about 10-15 dogs and they look very vicious, mean, and ready to eat us if we happened to walk the wrong way.

We made a hasty retreat and headed for safety.

However, the dog in these pictures is a perfect example of 99% of the dogs we met in Istanbul.

If you notice, he has a blue tag on his ear.

This means he has been spayed and has had his shots.

Supposedly the government goes around, each year, and rounds up all the strays and gives them their shots.  They neuter the males, since it is inexpensive, but don’t spay the females, since it is expensive, and this seems to work fairly well.

They Istanbul government was trying to round all the dogs up and move them to “natural habitat” parks a few years ago, but the city’s populace had marches and rallies against it and they backed down.

These dogs, and cats also, are part of the “family” in each district and they seem to be very well accepted and loved.

It is quite cute and nice to have a doggie at your feet when you walk into a cafe and sit down.

It feels like home.


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Day 397 in Beijing: Doggone Crazy!


A huge doggie in Beijing.

A huge doggie in Beijing.

Another doggie video and post!

This dog was utterly hilarious and having the time of its life and we couldn’t resist taking a video and being a tiny part of the action as it ran around us and went totally nuts.

If you watch until the end, you’ll also see a massive dog come into view.  Again, big dogs are outlawed in Beijing but people can get them if they pay, uh, I mean, “want” them enough.

I have no idea why I love dogs so much but I sure love them.

I grew up with dogs and cats, outside of Healdsburg, California, on 6 acres of land and in the redwood forest.

It was pretty much the most perfect, and idyllic, place to be raised that I can imagine.

It is, in pretty much every way possible, the opposite of Beijing.

Our closest neighbors were about half a mile away and we lived back off the main road about 1 mile.

On an unpaved dirt road that many of my friend’s parents didn’t want to drive up because their cars would get so dusty.

We also lived 7 miles outside of the tiny town of Healdsburg, so it was a real drag getting in and out, which meant for more quite time and calm.

By the way, Healdsburg is now the heart of the wine country and incredibly popular and “hip.”  It wasn’t when I lived there and people that go there now can’t imagine how different it has become in the past 20 years.

We had a dog, when we were kids, named, “Horse.”

He was a huge black lab and was like a “horse” so that is what he was named.

We went to our friend’s house, Rob Maddox, whose lab had just had a huge litter.

My mom sat down and Horse just jumped into her lap and he chose us.

He lived about 17 years and was the most loyal, faithful and amazing dog.

He could actually smile when he was happy.

I remember one time when a boar came onto our land and horse started barking and charged it to protect us.

I think this is why I love dogs so much.

They are caring, affectionate and protective.

And they are just big love bugs!


Day 396 in Beijing: Doggie Shoes.


Doggy with shoes!

Doggy with shoes!

Yes, another post about dogs in China.

Jill and I love them and can’t get enough of these little cuties!

So this guy, or girl, was wearing very stylish red booties, as you can see in the video, and we just kept laughing at how cute he, or she, looked.

There are so many cute dogs in Beijing, and many of them with little shoes on, just hanging out and walking around.

Many of them are unleashed so they just cruise by their owners and do their own thing.

Bigger dogs are outlawed in Beijing, so most the dogs are pretty tiny.

I have seen bigger dogs, including Afghans, Huskies, and other big breeds, but they are fairly rare and people have to pay some pretty stiff fines for having them…or know the right people to be able to have them in Beijing, if you know what I mean…hint hint, wink wink.


Day 394 in Beijing: Corgi Cuteness!


Too much corgi cuteness!

Too much corgi cuteness!

About a month ago, Jill and I were at the Beijing Craft Brew Festival.

We were volunteering for our friends that own Jing A Brewing Company and pouring beer for them.

I love pouring beer for them because they are such great people and it is so much fun to see everyone so happy, drinking great beer, and enjoying their day.

Well, Jill and I took a break and walked around the SOHO Galaxy building where the festival was located.

It was twilight and a perfect day.

As is usual in China, people were doing their evening walks and exercising.

This had to be one of the cutest, and sweetest, corgis we’ve seen around Beijing.

Strangely enough, most the dogs here almost never come up to us to be petted and most seem almost indifferent to anyone but their master.

This corgi was different and just wanted lots of love and hugs.

My ex-father in law, Peter Steager, has a bunch of corgis and I know he loves them just as much as they love him.

They are magical dogs.

By the way, I have about 5 days worth of videos from the next 30 minutes of the day and I thought about putting all of these videos into one post, but decided against it, since they are all special in their own way and so joyful.

I hope you enjoy the next few days of cute dogs, happy people, and happy posts!