Biobus Day 3: fuel system repair + a solar-powered concert

For the duration of the week and the begining of the next, the Connect the DOTs Biobus Tour is teaming up with The Wiley One - a Pheonix based band that delivers acoustic hip-hop and groove music. Of course, the pleasure of new friends and more adventures didn't come without some pain.

To start the day, we needed a new alternator for the bus - the thing that helps the engine charge the battery so that you have electricity to start the bus. (Remember our battery failure on Saturday?) Basically, if we didn't have the solar panels (bonus thanks Sungevity!), we wouldn't have been able to start the bus and get going. So, back to the alternator... "should be no problem," Ethan assures me. "I'll make it happen and we'll be on the road in no time." He looked confident.

An hour came and went, Ethan was covered in engine grease and sweat in the hot California sun, he'd bent a steel tool, and my heart was beating a little faster - because we weren't even close to our destination in Carlsbad, California (near San Diego).  We were fighting the clock.

The band caught a little shut eye after a late night and we were scrambling to figure get the engine back together. Ethan asked me to go into the truck shop and ask for a mechanic, and as good mechanics go, we had to wait. Nothing was a rush in the shop. After 20 minutes of watching the manager type out a 3 sentence form, we got our mechanic. He took one look at it, got a power tool that we didn't have, and in 20 more minutes we were on our way.

We were making good time down the 5 towards the Academy By the Sea - our hosts for a solar-powered concert and presentation - when we started to smell grease. Lots of grease. Too much grease. We had to pull over.

With 15 minutes to be where we had to be, Ethan, Matty (from The Wiley One), and I raced to repair the engine: we had a problem with one of the fuel return lines - the tube had torn and we were bleeding vegetable oil.

We tested the lines, cut new tube, had the tools at the ready, and in the 13th minute, we got the engine up and running - no leak! With 2 minutes to spare and 1 mile to go, we got back on the road... such a rush to get there on time. And we made it!

The campers were from 20 countries and a bunch of states, interested in surfing and oceanography, and ranged from age 8 - 18. What a powerful place. Check out some pictures from the concert, presentation, and the night with the students.

Stay classy, San Diego.