Psychic spies from China
Try to steal your mind's elation
Little girls from Sweden
Dream of silver screen quotations
And if you want these kind of dreams
It's Californication
-Red Hot Chili Peppers

Late July, we hopped on a plane and arrived safely in Sacramento, California. At my request demand, Chipotle was our first stop. There we showed no restraint, gorging on crunchy tacos filled with melt-like-butter barbacoa beef and lime dusted corn chips with guacamole. Did I mention we ate without restraint? That pretty much characterizes our month of good California eating, socializing, and playing like children with $100 in a candy store.  Without restraint.

We slid into our old California ways as naturally as a hotdog slides into its bun. A Starbucks coffee here. Two pints of beer there. Oh, don’t forget the extra tart frozen yogurt topped with almonds and Heath crumbles. Extra sour cream on that burrito please. One platter of paella with a bottle of red wine. Dessert? Of course, and make that extra whipped cream. Sure, I will eat another slice of pizza. Sorry, Joel, for eating all the blue cheese. Even Taco Bell was a delicacy.

birdMAN's parents' freezer is stocked with Häagen-Dazs ice cream. How could I resist?

Shortly after I had arrived in California and had more than my share of dessert, my fellow expat friend emailed me from China to warn me of American weight gain. Her words came true. Along with my suitcase stocked with Paul Mitchel hair products, Shout stain remover, Vitamin C, Tylenol PM, and See’s candies, I also carried an extra ten pounds. Well, what did I expect? You simply just can’t eat two full sized desserts along with a plate of cheese a day for a month and expect no consequences.

I will take the roll with the lobster in it

We simply could not show much restraint due to the incredible generosity of our friends and family. On two separate occasions, we gorged on Burgers N’ Brew grilled-to-perfection jalapeno bacon cheese burgers while catching up with longtime friends A&I, Jiefu, Milan, and lil’ Ziwen. A&I attempted to fill the void in birdMAN’s beer heart with a field trip to Lagunitas and Russian River Brewing. Magpie Café did not disappoint serving up a savory fare of California freshness thanks to birdMAN’s parents footing the bill. Along with my parents, we savored Mikuni’s barbeque albacore and sushi rolls until we were busting at the seams. 

Beer tasting at Lagunitas Brewing Company
birdMAN feels at home at Lagunitas
Of course, there is no place like home, especially a home filled with good home-cooking. Rib-eye steak, filet mignon roast, pork tenderloin, or barbeque chicken wings accompanied with cheesy potatoes and butter-soaked bread. So delicious. We just could not stop eating. Some nights we went to bed so full of home-cooked goodness that we felt sick. Unfortunately, I simply cannot list every occasion of hospitality; so I hope we showed enough gratitude to every person who spoiled us with California deliciousness.

Without restraint. Ten pounds lost in one year, and gained back in one month.'
In addition to the food, we soaked up some good California sunshine poolside with the kids, biked along Lake Tahoe’s rim, listened to the Pacific’s steady waves in Carmel, returned to old hobbies like golfing, braved the crowds at Target and Costco, worked two days as a bona fide engineer, threw an anniversary party, etc., etc., etc.

Getting goofy with Lil' Ziwen
Despite the generosity of our friends and family and getting two free overnight trips to California hot destination spots, our pocketbook burned a pretty decent sized hole. We managed to spend more money in one month in California than four months living in China. America is expensive!

After one wonderful, spectacular month in the good ole’ U.S. of A, we are back in Beijing. Beijing welcomed us with pristine blue skies, not-too-hot weather, and a huge puddle of water in our living room from a clogged air conditioner drain pipe. Well, that’s China for you.

One more year of restraint. One more year to lose 10 pounds. And next summer, one month to gain it all back.

Thank you for the Californication! See you next summer!

Chinese word of the blog: 加利福尼 Jiālìfúníyǎ
                English translation : California

Summer fun at the pool with the kids. Click HERE for more pictures of how we spent our summer vacation.

 Click HERE to see J&G 10 Year Anniversary Chopped Challenge
Carmel by the Sea Click HERE and find out how we ended up on the coast
Click HERE and see the grandness of the Lake Tahoe family trip