Wednesday, December 2, 2009
9.) Birds. Ulva Island is a wee little piece of land just off the coast of Stewart Island, which is a slightly bigger wee little piece of land just a few kilometers south of The South Island, which is a much bigger, yet still, relatively speaking, wee little piece of land). How's that for sentence construction? Ulva has been set up as a sanctuary for native NZ bird species, and has been completely predator free for many many years. As such, several species--that have been threatened with extinction--are thriving there. We took a guided tour there one day. Our guide? Why it was none other than Ulva--I think she was named after the island, not the other way around. On the tour we saw South Island Robins, Wekas, Keas, Saddlebacks, Tom Tits, and Tuis. And, while we didn't see one, we heard the call of the ever-elusive Kiwi. It was a fun day. Nice and relaxing.
8.) The Office. The one "must do" on M&D's agenda while in Wanaka was seeing where I work. Rippon Vineyard is a very special place, and I was so incredibly excited to share it with my folks. We had a brilliant blue-bird day when I took them out for the tour--couldn't have asked for better weather. We took our time walking all around the property, taking in the breathtaking vistas. I always like bringing people to the vineyard for the first time because I tend to take for granted what an awe-inspiring landscape my place of employment truly is. When newbees are on the scene, and taking it in for the first time, I kind of see the place afresh through their eyes and I'm reminded how incredibly fortunate I am to be surrounded by such beauty everyday.
7.) The Crew. Of course, while at my workplace, I got to introduce M&D to all of my coworkers. We hung out and visited with Shannon, Sione, Max, and Amy during their lunch break; Nick and Jo dropped in for a bit to say hello before heading to a meeting in town; Briar took us through a tasting of the entire range of Rippon wines in the tasting room; and Bret gave us the grand tour of the Winery and Barrel room, complete with a tasting directing from one of the barrels! This was an incredibly special day for me--introducing my folks to my coworkers--because my coworkers are more than just the people I work with, they are my very good friends, and it did my heart good for my parents to meet these wonderful people.
6.) Lunch time. One of my coworkers, Ned, had been recovering from knee-replacement surgery for the last couple of months, and I didn't know if he'd be back to work by the time I brought M&D out to Rippon. But it was very important to me that my parents meet Ned, and that Ned meet my parents. You see, Ned is the same age as my father, and he is the resident father figure at Rippon. He immediately took me under his wing upon my arrival at the vineyard, training me up on all the different aspects of the art of grape-growing. He's patient and kind and just simply a joy to be around. So, I was thrilled when I called him up to ask if we could pop by his house just to say hello and he responded by inviting us all over for lunch. We spent a delightful afternoon over at Ned and Gwenda's (his wife) house eating good food, drinking good wine, chatting, and just enjoying each other's company. That was another very special day for me.
Coming soon: 5-1.
As I said, my Mum (moms are mums down under) and Dad (dads are still dads) came for a visit. It was fantastic in every way, and we saw and did a whole heckuva lot of really cool stuff, but I've been struggling with how to write about it. "Why's that?" you inquire. Well, I'm glad you asked. So here's my dilemma: we saw and did so much I wanted to write about that my pre-blogging brainstorms just got too stormy. You see, I write all my blog entries, more or less, in my head during the work day (much of the work in the vineyard is solitary in nature affording many hours of quiet contemplation) long before I sit down at the keyboard. And for the past couple weeks I've had about five or six different entries vying for thinking time all at once. Basically, I've been suffering not from too little material, as one might assume from the complete lack of entries as of late, but from too much! It's funny how sometimes when one feels completely overwhelmed with too much to do, instead of doing what one can, even if it's just a little bit, one ends up doing absolutely nothing at all. That ever happen to you? Well, that's what happened here on the ol' blogspot.
Even though she doesn't yet know it, my Mum helped me come up with the solution to my 'too much material' problem. By the end of my parents' trip Mum had taken 1,400 some-odd pictures. I don't say that as exaggeration--she literally had over 1,400 pictures stored on her camera's memory card. I remember her wondering aloud how she'd ever be able to share them with people in a meaningful way (whether posting on facebook, publishing a picture book, or just scrolling through them on the computer) without boring them to tears. As gorgeous and interesting as her pictures are (especially the ones of me--totally kidding here), nobody wants to sit and sift through hundreds upon hundreds of someone else's vacation photos. Like me, Mum had the 'too much material' problem. Her solution? I remember her saying something to the effect of "I guess I'll just have to come up with my Top Ten from each subject." She chose her ten favorite pictures from Kaikoura, then her ten favorites from Fanz Josef Glacier, then her top shots from the Milford Track, and so on and so forth until she successfully winnowed down the entire collection into a more condensed and manageable format. Brilliant! I decided I'd take the same tack with my memories. So, coming soon, my ten favorite memories from Mum & Dad's visit. Stay tuned.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Now, I know I've only been to one class, but, if I do say so myself, I'm not half bad. Seriously! Kasha, our instructor, seemed fairly impressed when I responded in the negative to her query about whether or not I'd ever had a lesson before. She said I did extremely well for a complete beginner. And, trust me, she doesn't just say that to all her students. The majority of the class certainly didn't elicit such praise. In fact, there are a couple of folks I think will require Kasha to dig pretty deep into her teaching bag-o-tricks to find the pearls to get 'em moving with even the slightest modicum of grace.
I don't know if I'll ever get a call to appear on Dancing With the Stars, but I imagine I'll do alright. We'll see.
Hold on. Now that I think about it, thanks to my 15 seconds of screen time on Country Calendar a few months back, I have actually been on television--and in the kiwi version of DWTS, I think that's pretty much all that's required to be considered a "star." I'm not kidding, apparently the guy who won it last season is the weather man on the morning news program. Maybe, I'll have my people look into it--after a few more lessons that is.
Monday, October 12, 2009
All that being said, I can (and do) still appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making a good quality tequila. So, when I saw my friends 'shooting' some Herradura the other night down at Barluga, I was utterly aghast. Despite my personal feelings toward the sinister liquor, I know that a good tequila (such as the likes of Herradura, Cazadura, or Don Julio, among others) is not supposed to be 'shot,' but rather sipped. I explained all this to my amigos, after thoroughly chastising them for wasting such a fine tequila by throwing it as quickly as they could down their gullets. I then introduced them (by way of explanation rather than demonstration) to a particular method of serving/drinking tequila that I picked up during my time in Mexico. It's called 'la bandera,' which means "the flag" in Spanish. La bandera is a shot glass of tomato juice (red), a shot glass of tequila (white), and a shot glass of lime juice (green) served together side by side so as to resemble the Mexican flag--which is red, white, and green. One then simply takes little sips, in turn, of the three parts of the flag.
My friend Mike, the bar manager at Barluga, was quite impressed. He said he might even add 'La Bandera' to the drink menu. I won't be enjoying any banderas myself, mind you, but there might be a discriminating tequila drinker or two in the future that'll appreciate this little Kiwi bar's efforts to serve up the quintessential Mexican quaff with some authentic Mexican flair.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
-At the bar the other night, I saw a man who bore a striking resemblance to "The Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials. He was drinking an Amstel.
-For the most part, I thoroughly enjoy the Kiwi version of the English language. There are, however, two notable exceptions that I find incredibly annoying. They are:
1.) pronouncing the words known, mown, and grown with two syllables.
2.) using a "t" rather than "ed" for the past tense of certain words, i.e. spilt and learnt.
-Bazooka is such a fun word to say it's a shame one doesn't have more opportunity to drop it in normal conversation.
-As exciting as the courses entitled 'Agri-chemical Application Safety' and 'Agri-chemical Equipment Calibration' sound, I can assure you they are nothing of the sort.
-The book I just checked out from the library has an honest-to-goodness library card still attached to the inside of the back cover. You remember those, right? The librarians stamped it with one of those little dial-a-date stamps every time a reader checked it out. I found it fascinating to study the book's circulation. It got checked out two or three times a year, every year between 1978 and 1986. Then it apparently sat on the shelf untouched until 1992 when, all of a sudden, it resumed it's previous pace of two to three checkouts a year until 2002. At that point the date stamps disappeared altogether. I assume that's when the library abandoned the card system in favor of the present electronic one.
-Speaking of the library, when I first got my library card I had to pay a $40 bond that I was told would be returned to me if I stayed for six months. I forgot all about it until this Saturday, when the librarian told me the six months was up and I was due back my $40. SCORE!
-I wonder why nobody wanted to read Brave New World from 1987 to 1991.
-I love it when a plan comes together.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
See, what had happened was...
Actually nothing much really happened to cause the precipitous drop off in entries; and that's precisely the point: nothing much has really happened. At least nothing much worth blogging about. I think it was inevitable, really, that I got to this point. You see, after six months in this town, my life has shifted from more of a 'tourist' mode, where everything is new, exciting, and different to more of a 'local' mode, where everything is more routine, familiar, and comfortable. That's not a bad thing, mind you--I rather enjoy the laid-back little life I've carved out for myself here--it just doesn't make for very scintillating reading is all.
However, the hew and cry about my virtual blog abandonment (ablogdonment?) have served to remind me that, while a comfortable routine is nice, it's most important that I break out of it every so often and revert back to my touristy ways, even if only for good blog-fodder. So, dear readers--if there are any of you left out there, that is--I will make it my charge going forward not to get too comfortable in my routine.
Friday, August 21, 2009
-Today is the first day I haven't worn long johns in two and a half months. Spring is in the air, and I like it!
-There are some phenomenally talented Kiwi musicians. Some of my current favorites are: Kora, Tiki Taane, Paul Urbana Jones (all of whom I've had the pleasure of seeing live here in Wanaka), and Gin Wigmore (who I'd love to see live, and will if she plays anywhere close by in the future).
-I popped down to Barluga last Friday night where I found my buddy Mike (the bar Manager) training a new bartender in the making of some very exotic drinks. He was just in need of a Guinea pig to drink them. Oh boy, did I have the heads last Saturday.
-My T Bar M Squirrel hat's status has recently been downgraded from "anytime" to "work only."
-I need to do a better job of remembering to apply sunscreen during my lunch break.
-I recently discovered a new dessert. Brandy Snaps--oh, so delicious!
-I need to find a new Tuesday night activity. Last week was Amy and Shannon's last basketball game for the season. Their record: 2-10. They weren't good, but they sure were fun to watch.
-When a friend asks you "What are you doing this weekend?" and you respond "I have no plans." to which they reply "Wanna help me move?" you immediately regret not having replied with something else to their initial query.
-I'm three quarters of the way through The Count of Monte Cristo. It's fantastic. The Three Musketeers is now next on my reading list.
-One of my favorite Kiwi-isms is "lost the plot." I definitely lost the plot after my stint as exotic drink taster last Friday night.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
About three hours ago, I was over at Shannon's house with Shannon, Mark, Michelle, and Paul watching a DVD of season one of Flight of the Conchords when, all of a sudden, I felt kind of weird. Sort of dizzy. Just the slightest bit queasy. Almost drunk even. I wasn't the only one feeling that way apparently. All five of us, all at once, just looked at each other for a few seconds, bewildering, confused looks plastered on each of our faces, trying to comprehend this strange sensation. What's going on? Why does it feel almost like we're on a boat? Why are the clothes hanging from the drying rack all swaying back and forth like that? Is this? Can it be? Yep, it sure is. This is an earthquake!
That's right. I just experienced my first earthquake. It was really trippy. There wasn't anything falling from the shelves or anything like that, and we didn't go running in terror to huddle under the nearest door frames. We all just rode out the three- to four-minute rumble smiling and laughing, not quite believing what we were experiencing.
I'm finding it exceptionally hard to describe. The best I think I can do is to say that it felt like we were on a boat in particularly rough waters. But still, that doesn't really nail it. Because there's just something so completely indescribably strange about the ground, you, two seconds ago, took for granite as being immovably rock solid, moving right under your feet.
We learned from the news shortly thereafter that it was a 7.8 magnitude quake, with the epicenter being some 250 kms southwest of us and 5 km deep in the ground. It's amazing that even that far away we could feel it as strongly as we did. What's more, there were reports of tremors being felt as far away as Wellington, which is on the North Island!
I tell you, I'm glad I had four other people around when it happened. Had I been by myself somewhere when it happened I most likely would've been scared out of my mind, but for some reason, because I was amongst friends, and it was a shared experience, it turned out to be the highlight of the evening. It was certainly more memorable than your average Wednesday night, that's for sure.
Granite, get it? Granite? Rock solid? Huh? Huh? Anyone? Is this thing on? Oh sod off, I thought it was funny.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Of course, I've always been physically capable of eating ice cream on a daily basis. It's just that in my old life I didn't burn nearly enough calories to do so without potentially ballooning up to 400lbs as a result. But no longer is that the case. Now it seems all the physical work I do in the vineyards every day burns enough calories that I can eat all the mint choc chip, hokey pokey, cookies 'n cream, caramello, and raspberry ripple I want and never gain a pound. My scale hasn't budged from the 180lb mark for close to two months now!
However, it's not all peaches and cream, this dream of mine. Mostly because peaches and cream doesn't exist as a flavor here. Which brings me to my point. As much as I enjoy my daily bowl, I can't help but wish I was dishin' it up from a half-gallon Blue Bell container. Now, don't get me wrong; Deep South, Cadburry, and Tip Top make some fine ice creams. But they're not Blue Bell.
I thought about delving into the human condition and exploring that which keeps us from being fully satisfied when dreams or desires are achieved or obtained (i.e. I'm finally able to eat ice cream every day but it's not the brand I'd truly prefer), but then I decided I'd rather just go and take this new white chocolate raspberry flavor for a spin.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
A few random thoughts:
-The Letters to the Editor section of a small town newspaper is one of the most (unintentionally) hilarious and entertaining reads you can find.
-Heard "Look Away" by Chicago on the radio yesterday, and it really took me back. That sappy bit of 80's cheeseball fluff was the official "break-up" song of the fifth grade, and the soundtrack to my first broken heart. Look away, Julie Eldridge, look away. ;-)
-Cadbury makes some good ice cream. Caramello is my fave!
-My car wouldn't start two days ago, and I have yet to do a thing about it. Walking to the grocery store is good exercise.
-As of last Thursday, I can add 'driving a tractor' to the Other Skills section of my resume.
-Just discovered that I can watch every episode of this season's LOST on TVNZ's website. Sweet!
-Not counting this one or the one entitled "Is it Weird?," I've inserted a line (or variation thereof) from the Shawshank Redemption into my last five blog entries. Can you find them?
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I like it here and I've decided to stay...
...through winter that is. I haven't accepted Charlie's offer (yet) but I agreed to stay on through the winter and give it some serious thought.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
...that I don't have (and never have had) a key to the house in which I live because the door is never locked?
...that I'm now suprised when I DON'T run into someone I know at the grocery store?
...that on a clear, sun-shiney day the first thing I think is "ooh, it would be a good day to hang the washing?"
...that I filled up my car over a month ago and still have more than a third of a tank left?
...that it's less than a five-minute walk to the homes of most of my best Wanaka mates?
...that now, every so often, I get an extra stamp on my Brewski card (buy 9 and your 10th is free) at my favorite watering hole because I'm a "local?"
Nope! All just part of life in small town New Zealand.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Do you know how many times in my former job I would've loved to knock back a cold beer or a glass of wine at lunch? I don't either, but I can tell you it was more than five and fewer than 7,542. Not that my former job drove me to drink (alot), it's just that sometimes a little indulgence during the midday meal is just what the doctor ordered to lift one's spirits before heading back to the grindstone/keyboard/grapevine/whatever.
Well, one of the distinct pleasures of working the harvest at Ripppon Vineyards is the lunchtime libations. Lunch, in and of itself, is worth writing home, or in this case, blogging, about. Lois, the owner of the vineyard and the mother of the Head Winemaker (Nick) and the Vineyard Manager (Charlie), cooks lunch for the entire crew every day. And a good cook she is too. She always makes it so there's plenty available for seconds, and seconds are had by all. But the true treat of the noon-hour break is that accompanying our feasts are always several bottles of wine. Nick likes for the crew to have an idea of the final product that will result from the day's labor. So, if we're picking Pinot Noir one day, we'll have a previous vintage Pinot with our lunch that day. If we're picking Osteiner; we'll drink Osteiner. Picking Gewurztraminer; drink Gewurztraminer. Riesling; Riesling. You get the idea. In addition, Bret, the Assistant Winemaker, happens to be a master brewer; and from time to time, he'll bring out a couple jugs of his famous Harvest Ale for us to partake. You know, I think it really adds something to the (pardon this wee bit of corporate-speak here) "Teambuilding" when you can pour a glass of wine (or beer) for your coworkers, clink your glasses together, and toast each others' health with a hearty cheers/salud/slancha/prost!
Of course, given that my actual job during harvest involves driving the truck, one small glass is my lunchtime limit.
Let me tell you a little about Ned. Ned is year-round, full-time staff at Rippon. He's in his early sixties and enjoying the sixth year of his second career growing grapes after thirty-some-odd years as a school teacher. He's as strong as an ox and tough as nails, and as gentle and kind a man as you'll ever meet. He's been my mentor out in the vines for the past two and a half months; and it's been my distinct pleasure to work with him and learn everything he's had to teach. Ned's as straight-laced, salt-of-the-earth as they come. No outward vices. He prefers a night in reading a book or watching BBC World News to just about any other activity. And a big exciting weekend for Ned is a trip to Dunedin to see a movie in a theater. So, you can imagine my surprise when harvest started and, all of a sudden, Ned's a betting machine!
Apparently, proposition bets are a harvest tradition; and let me tell you, nobody likes a good prop bet more than Ned. When Ned thinks of something to bet on he rubs his hands together excitedly and a devilish grin appears at the corners of his mouth before he lays his proposition on us. Sometimes if I'm on the fence on whether or not to take his action, he'll goad me into it by saying "C'mon Stevie!" Ned is one of only three people ever in my life that I've allowed to call me "Stevie" with no hard feelings, by the way.
So what do we bet on? Just about anything. Who will be the first person to lose a full bin of grapes off the back of a moving vehicle: Ned or Amy with the four-wheeler/trailer combo, or me with the truck? How many days will harvest last? How many total loads will I take up to the winery during harvest? Who will be the first picker to cut his/her finger with the clippers? Can Lewis go a full minute without talking today? Will we have to jump start the Bedford this morning? How many bins will we get off of the Rieslings in H Block? Will anyone be dumb (drunk) enough to try and jump over the Harvest Party fire this year? Will it rain this afternoon? They're as good a things to bet on as any, I suppose.
And the currency for all these wagers? Pies! You heard me. Pies--specifically, ones from the Hammer and Nails Bakery (the best in town, I've been told). I'm already into Charlie for a sweet chocolate fudge pie (for dropping a full bin off my truck) and into Ned for three savory steak and kidney pies (for bets I can't even remember at this point). Alas, I don't seem to be very good at these bets and I currently don't have a single pie owed to me. No matter. When I go to the Hammer and Nails to purchase my payoffs, I imagine I'll pick up a little something to nibble for myself.
So, you think you'll be tempted to order that drink at lunch tomorrow? A pie says you will!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
I had actually first met Brooke and Aaron, I think it was my third week in New Zealand, when they came up to Auckland for a friend's wedding. We had lunch together then went to a preseason rugby match. I really enjoyed my afternoon with them so I was quite looking forward to my weekend visit.
I set off for the three and a half-hour drive after work on Friday afternoon. With daylight-savings now over, the light fails pretty early in the afternoon, so most of the drive was in the dark. Much to my consternation, I discovered that the Chariot's headlights are not tip top, so much of the hilly, windy journey was spent in white-knuckled terror. Okay, so not really "terror," but there were a few spots that were of more than just a little concern. But ultimately we came through unscathed and I arrived at their apartment at a little past 9:00pm. I was greeted with a hearty handshake (from Aaron), a nice hug (from Brooke), a cold beer, and what turned out to be music to my ears--Brooke's Texas accent. As much as I enjoy the lilting Kiwi accent, I hadn't realized how much I miss hearing a good ol' familiar Texas drawl. I was also greeted with an unexpected little boost to the self esteem. The first time I met Brooke and Aaron was during the height of my quest for Auckland's best gelato, and was before seven weeks of good, hard, manual labor at the vineyard. Since then I've lost close to twenty pounds, and I have to tell you, when Brooke asked what happened to the rest of me, I couldn't help but smile.
With our Steinlagers drained, we moseyed down to The Octagon--an area of town with several restaurants, cafes, and bars--to check out the goings on of the Friday-night scene. We bar-hopped to three or four different joints, all of which were playing Kings of Leon over their sound systems. The Kings of Leon are huge over here. They had a concert up in Christchurch three weeks ago that I unsuccessfully tried to get a ticket to. Apparently the tickets sold out the first week they went on sale--last November!
Around midnight, our rumbling bellies led us to The Dragon Cafe for some late-night deep-fried sweet and sour pork (and chips). There was a table of about ten people sitting near us and Aaron knew a few (if not all) of them. Over the course of the weekend I came to realize that Brooke's nickname for Aaron, "The Mayor of Dunedin," is quite apt. Everywhere we went, it seemed Aaron knew everyone there.
On Saturday Brooke had to work until 3:00pm, so I cruised with Aaron down to the Saturday-morning Farmer's Market (the largest in New Zealand, I believe). Aaron owns a fish-supply business and has a stand at the market. Oh, and he also knows everybody there--did I mention he is the "Mayor" of Dunedin? Next we were off for a tour of his factory. Didn't care much for he smell--even though it was closed on Saturday and no fish were being processed at the moment--but it was quite an impressive facility. He has contracts with about a dozen boats that fish for his operation, and he told me if I came back in July or August, he could probably get me out on one of them for a day's worth of crayfish (lobster) fishing. You can bet that I'll take him up on it!
After the tour, we headed down to Port Chalmers where he plays rugby with the Harbour Rugby Football Club. While he was getting ready for his match I took the opportunity to explore this charming little port community. I hiked to the lookout point over the bay where I discovered a fantastic little sculpture garden and a commanding view of the harbour. After admiring the outstanding pieces of art, I just sat down for about a half an hour to observe the operations of the port below from my eagle's-nest-like vantage point. It's quite a fascinating sight to see one of those huge container ships being unloaded no more than 150ft away. I knew Aaron's game was about to get underway to I strolled back towards the playing field, stopping into a corner store for a Bundaberg's Lemon Lime and Bitters soda on the way. It's my favorite New Zealand soda. Followed closely by Bundaberg's Ginger Beer then Bundaberg's Sarsaparilla. Basically, I'm a big fan of anything made by Bundaberg's. With my Lemon Lime and Bitters in hand I cheered on Harbour as they cruised to a lopsided thirty to nil victory over I forget who. After Aaron had showered up from his match, we bought a couple jugs of Speight's and stayed to watch Harbour's premiere team play against I forget who's premiere team. The "Premes" didn't fare as well as Aaron's team and ended up losing to I forget who. But, I don't know that it matters because, win or lose, both sides end up afterwards in the clubhouse to drink beers together anyways. I have to tell you, of all the experiences I've had thus far in New Zealand, I don't know that I've had one more "absolutely Kiwi" as drinking jugs of beer in a Rugby Football Club's clubhouse with two opposing teams that just finished beating the hell out of each other for 80 minutes. It was fantastic!
We met back up with Brooke, now off work, and went and had Turkish food for dinner. I don't know if the number of Turkish restaurants in Dunedin constitute an inordinate amount (Neil), but I have learned that Kiwis like kebabs! We stayed in to watch a movie that night, and I think all three of us fell asleep halfway through "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." Weeooweeoooo, woaw, woaw, woaw.
Sunday morning, Aaron tells me that we're going for a "wee walk" before breakfast. What he fails to mention is that by "wee walk" he means we're going to scale a mountain! Alright, so it wasn't really a mountain, but The Pineapple Track traverses some rather large, steep hills. Aaron just strolls along like it's nothing. He looks back every so often toward Brooke and me, breathlessly trying to keep up, and tauntingly asks "No hills in Texas?" I certainly don't remember any on the Katy Trail. Our planned after-walk breakfast morphed into a light snack as we were heading to a friend's barbeque soon. At every New Zealand barbeque I've been to, it seems the rule is to cook enough food to feed twice the number of those in attendance. This one was no exception. That's no complaint, mind you. Just an observation.
With our bellies full and the day getting late, we said our goodbyes to their friends and headed back to their apartment so I could gather my things and get on the road back to Wanaka. We took one small detour on the way, to drive up, then back down, Baldwin Street--the Guinness Book of World Records record holder as the steepest street in the world! It was pretty cool.
I thoroughly enjoyed my big city weekend, and my hosts were positively top-notch! I'm greatly looking forward to visiting them again. I just need to get used to climbing mountains before I agree to any more of Aaron's "wee walks."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sufficiently sated (read stuffed), we were in no particular hurry to get out and about any time soon, so we spent the next couple of hours just lounging about camp, reading and talking. When our breakfast comas finally subsided--well after lunch time--we went for a nice walk down in the Black Forest. Passed a spectacular-looking swimming hole that we would have been more than keen to strip down to our skivvies and jump in were it only a wee bit warmer than it was. After about three hours trekking through the woods, we were decidedly hungry again (we had forgone any type of lunch, having had such a big breakfast) so we went back to David's house to check on the roast mutton he had put in the oven first thing that morning. Ummmm, mutton! It was fall-off-the-bone tender, and went very well with our roast potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Yes, Brussels sprouts. What? They're good. We roasted marshmallows for dessert, and good times were had by all. It was another good day.
Once again, on Monday morning, we were serenaded at the dawning of the day by our magpie friends. After a not so hearty a breakfast as the day before (there was still some chutney to go on our toast though), we went for a little drive through Danesby's Pass and St. Bathans (both old mining towns built during the great gold rush in the 1860s). David owns a little piece of land in St. Bathans where he recently felled a huge pine tree. With winter looming, the gathering of fire wood was of pressing concern, so David asked if we wouldn't mind helping him cut up his downed tree into fireplace-appropriate size chunks. We didn't mind in the least, because it meant learning how to use his chainsaws--following the requisite safety lecture of course. Chainsaws are fun, I have to admit; and I'm happy to report that I still have all my fingers and toes.
With the firewood cut and split, it was getting late, and we Wanakans needed to start heading home, so we said our goodbyes to our dear friend David and set off, back through the Kingdom of Rohan, toward our little berg? burg? burgh? (I still don't know). It was a fantastic weekend filled with good food, great friends, and gorgeous scenery--all well above worry level.
I'm looking forward to my next visit to David's little piece of paradise.