The Wheatland Ferry is a workingman's ferry that locals rely on to get from point A to B, not a tourist attraction- but for $2 it was a cool thing to do!
Bussie would cot $6 to cross, but I don't think it would clear the steep incline to load it, so we won't be trying it.

We haven’t put more than 50 miles on the bus in the last week, and it’s been a relief. We’re stationary at Grandma and Grandpa’s house near Amity, Oregon, plugged into a reliable 30amp electrical service, fed by clean well water, close to a gray water dump, and just a few miles from the cleanest, free-est RV dump we’ve seen in our travels yet- more on that later. We’re also tackling home school lessons, and hope to take in some vital sights for travelers later this week and into next- before we get the bus wheels back in motion and set out for….. ?

We're in line to use the cleanest RV dump we've come across yet. This one's in the city of McMinnville, OR at the wastewater treatment plant. Thanks to that fine city for this service.

This Grandpa has the kids figured out. Let them drive your pickup truck and they’ll love you forever. SO he takes them out on the farm, 2 at a time, and puts them behind the wheel - they even get to do the pedals. It’s pretty neat how serious they get when their turn comes along, and how much they talk about it after it’s over. Nice move Grandpa! (He did the pedals if someone was too short)

Everyone enjoyed the drive. Everyone buckled up, and everyone probably learned more that vehicle safety than they're ever heard from me. They were motivated to listen to the safety talk before taking the wheel. Yes, Trevor did drive, but he was alone and did a fine job, just before he went back inside to continue with his drivers ed class online.

The weather in this area has been unseasonably warm. Too hot to do much work on the sunny side of the bus during the day, but good at night- so, yesterday we tackled replacing the black water dump valve. If you’re not an RVer, or are and haven’t messed with that valve yet, you probably didn’t say ‘OH GROSSSSSS’ after reading the sentence that mentioned removing the BLACK WATER VALVE. Now, I will recollect from personal firsthand experience for you the fine details of this maneuver. No matter how much you fill and flush and drain and spray out and think you have cleaned the black water tank, it’s not empty. No, the black water tank (this is the one that is the ‘rest stop’ for poop once it leaves the toilet in an RV, until you get to the RV Dump station and set your load free at its final destination. Generally, that is a hands off procedure- merely attaching a hose to a drain opening and then lifting a valve or depressing a switch to open the black tank valve and listening to gravity do its job. I have written before about the perils and stink of this tank, and I must now tell you that I had not really experienced the full magnitude of responsibility of RV ownership a la Robin Williams in the movie ‘RV’, as he gets coated head to toe in effluent, or …… sludge. Remarkably, no more than my hands and wrists were subject to the mess that introduced itself once I pulled the bolts that held in the valve and lifted it from the drain line- which revealed the lowest part of the black water tank, that contained the surprises that my vigorous washing and rinsing were intended to flush out… With a replacement valve at the ready, I was ready to eradicate the drippy leak that had plagued our black water tank for 3 days. Just a drip……. drip……… drip- but unacceptable for a traveling family that didn’t want to create a stink when we stopped, so to speak. The culprit of this drip issue was not in fact a seal, or valve door- but a brown restaurant napkin that had become lodged in the space where the valve seals the drain closed when it slides shut. With the napkin struck there, a little drip would have kept happening for a long time. Good thing I opened that sweet drain up. After much thought about whether to replace the valve anyways- and avoid picking out the well seasoned napkin, I opted for the cheap mans solution, and picked it out, and wiped the seals clean, and reinstalled it with great success. The electric valve still works for us, and we have a manual valve backup in case we’re in the middle of the desert and someone flushes a nail or other dangerous object that causes damage. Or, we might make a few bucks on our $15 valve in the right place at the right time, out in the boonies next to an unhappy camper with kids that flush nails down HIS toilet. (Just kidding, we would hand it over as good Samaritans with thanks that it was someone else’s black tank valve that needed replacement).

As clean as the property was, this sign could not be passed up without mention. As a sign professional, I tried to make sense of this combination of messages from the city of McMinnville. I surmised that they were just making sure that if you were coming to the RV Dump, you were ONLY going to make a delivery, and if you were even thinking about making a pick up instead of a delivery, they have video cameras to prosecute the crime. For the record, we delivered quite a bit.

Now, dirty story #2 isn’t as stinky, but was a lot dirtier. Meila and I tackled changing the oil on the generator today- and found a job that made us look dirty, and took some time to get done- but thanks to the foresight of the folks that put this bus together- it was no problem. While working on the generator motor, we spotted the radiator fan for this motor, located in the middle, and facing down- which meant that it probably was pretty filthy- - I had no idea how bad it was going to be. Once we gained access to the radiator fins, I discovered that they were about 90% occluded. 90%!! It appeared to have a felt blanket soaked in oil covering the entire surface of the horizontal mount radiator, except for a few square inches in the middle. Wow, how did this NOT catch on fire or explode with anger? Full strength Simple Green soak, then gentle power wash removed all of it, nice enough to eat on- and we put everything back in time for calzones at about dark-thirty in the house. Another case of great timing.

... you start picking, and keep on going until you remember how small the bag we usually buy is (5 pounds). We left with 20 pounds of tasty, juicy apples- and will go back for more before we leave the area.

This afternoon had us in the U-Pick apple orchard collecting our gala and jonagold apples for thirty-five cents a pound. Within an hour the apples went from the tree to the oven in a delicious apple crisp. Today we also received word of an opportunity to pick our own strawberries- which is an opportunity Kelly has been searching for since we left the peach orchards of Palisade Colorado over a month ago. We’ll report back soon.

We have also been thoughtful about our direction after this pit stop. There is an incredibly fun pumpkin hunt among cousins and beloved family in Minnesota, but we’re struggling to plot a course that will drop us back South to pursue warmth, and states we’ve never been to as we make our way to the East coast in time for the spring thaw. My brother Greg’s family is in Florida, which sounds nice to us in the middle of winter…….. so we’re not sure if we’re going to take on 1,700 miles (that’s 40 hours behind the wheel of this big old bus) to get to a one day super fun event in MN that the kids are pressuring me to go to… We’ll decide that this week. In line with that discussion is the prospect of making Alaska our last stop before returning to Colorado next summer. That may become a trip in itself after the Big trip is over, or it may remain on the itinerary for this trip. We’re going to try and avoid zig zagging the country at 7 miles per gallon……. The trip has changed already for us, and we add and take away days at every turn. That is really one of the great things about this whole deal- we have enjoyed adding on time in good places, and hitting the gas when things don’t turn out like we expected, so we shouldn't make firm plans too far in advance. Hopefully our friends and family understand that strange position we’re in.

Biology starts tomorrow (I'm teaching this course- while Kelly handles everything else), so I’ll be off to continue planning for that lesson now- it'll be a half day this week, to catch up some lost time. Kelly’s been hard at school for 4 weeks (!), and Biology starts tomorrow. Fun schedule ahead for these students, and the field trips promise to be a valuable part of real life, from the road.