Sunday, February 28, 2010

$500 Car

Though unregistered and without a Warrant of Fitness (both are required for cars in New Zealand), my 1983 Mitsubishi Mirage from last year, known by many names including the Green Lantern and Safety Car, was back in action for a few days. I had left the car with a co-worker when I headed to Indonesia last year and was hoping to have it during my stay again. Unfortunately, it didn't pass inspection due to more stringent car standards.
I was finally able to find another $500 car after a week of cruising the Green Latern. My "new car" is a Hyundai Excel 1.5 GL; its younger (1989), not painted high-vis green (sun-faded blue), has a 5-speed transmission (not an automatic), and is legal to drive (registered).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wheatgrass

The common wheat plant, Triticum Aestivum, is referred to by many as a super food, with a myriad of health benefits such as detoxification, appetite suppression, and cancer prevention. The nutrients contained in 'wheatgrass' read like a multi-vitamin ingredient list: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B12; nutrients phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and beta carotine. Its extremely high content of chlorophyll (70%) also provides eight essential amino acids and over thirty enzymes.
Wheatgrass has become increasingly popular at cafes and restaurants around the world since the 1970's, though it was first introduced into Western culture in the 1930's. Today, a 1-ounce shot of wheatgrass may cost upwards of $6. That's why some people have moved to home cultivation. I was intrigued when I moved back to Gisborne and found Mark working on his latest project in our backyard.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Harvest Update - Just a Few Days Away

Gisborne's wine industry is gearing up for another vintage as grapes begin pushing through the last stages of ripening. I was quickly back into the swing of things on Monday when I started back at the winery, though I don't think I had much of a choice given my extended job duties. As usual, none of the equipment seems ready to process fruit yet and just about everything needs a thorough cleaning. I find it interesting that wineries are always running behind as harvest looms around the corner, but everything always comes together in time. I spent a good portion of my week working on our flotation unit with the company's representative, who was quite a nice fellow and taught me a few new things about this intriguing piece of machinery.
The vineyard team told me that most of our vineyards are ripening quickly, suggesting that we could have a rather fast harvest this year. Our first load of grapes will be arriving on Tuesday, so we'll have a chance to work out any problems in production before the trucks really start lining up on Wednesday. We're expecting to process nearly 800 tonnes by the end of next week, so hopefully everything goes smoothly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back To Work

My three-flight journey to New Zealand seemed to go by rather quickly; I guess I've just grown accustomed to 26 hours of sitting in cramped seats and waiting in airports. I arrived in Gisborne at 8 AM last Wednesday (11 AM Tuesday in California), and met up with my old flatmates Mark and Peter. I spent the rest of the week settling into my old house and surfing my brains out (yes, I am wearing boardshorts). After a bit of partying over the weekend, I hitch-hiked my way into town Monday to start work at the winery (I'm still working on getting a car).
Oddly, my return to Gisborne has felt like a homecoming. Gisborne is a lovely place, filled with good people who have welcomed me back with open arms. I'm looking forward to the next few months as I settle into my new, old life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SLO Memories

Just before I headed off for New Zealand, I made a short visit to San Luis Obispo on my long California road trip. It was bit hazy but the bright sun illuminated the rolling green hills made lush by the recent rains. I took a short hike up Madonna Mountain to get a view of the city looking south towards Edna Valley.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lake Cachuma

Lake Cachuma is a large, artifical lake located just north of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley. With over 200,000 acre-feet of water storage and nearly 1,300 acres of surface area, Lake Cachuma is a popular holiday destination. A large campsite on the southern shore provides single campsites, cabins, trailers, and yurts for rental. Located just of Highway 154, I frequently pass the lake while traveling between San Luis Obispo and Nick's house.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a San Diego landmark; home to fifteen museums (including San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, and Centro Cultural de la Raza), sprawling gardens (including the Japanese Friendship Garden, California Native Plant Garden, and Australian Garden), and several other attractions (including the San Diego Youth Theater, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and the San Diego Zoo. The park is located just outside of downtown, making it a nice escape from the hustle of the city.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gone and Back

I finally made it back to San Diego after a long week visiting friends around California. Unfortunately, I only had so much time and didn't get to see everyone I would have liked. It was still great to see all of those I did.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sunsets in SD

I can't remember the last time I visited this spot, but it's certainly been a long time. It's one of my favorite places to watch the sunset in San Diego.