Turns out the van had stopped taking its medicine, and was steadily getting rid of the fluid from the top of the power steering pressure hose that runs from the top of the fluid pump down and around to its destination near the driver's wheel. By this time, it had successfully covered most of the engine in the stuff.
Now, we're all can-do by nature, and love a good challenge, not to mention loving a good savings, so pretty soon the same thought was niggling at the back of all of our brains. If it's only a hose gone bad, could we replace the hose ourselves?!
Well, long story short, and several hours of wrassling later, the van is good as new again! We took the old hose out and replaced it with a new one, cleaned up the engine a bit, and flushed the system with fresh fluid.
And we were just in time, too, because the Cady Hill mountain bike trails up in Stowe opened a few days later, and we needed the van to get our bikes back and forth! So, after a good hard working day of studies, we threw our bikes in, and headed for the trails.
Only thing was, one of these trails was called "Bear's Trail," and this particular bear seemed to have woken from its winter hibernation a bit on the grumpy side. None of us are reckless, so we were all taking it pretty careful along there, until this one hole up and grabbed my front wheel, throwing me off the front of the bike!
Somewhere in the process, the gears in the front got a bite of my leg! So, my riding to injury ratio is at an unfortunate 1:1 right now - it looks like I'll have to get out there and improve that!