Take the Buena Vista Ferry across the Willamette to Hopsville

      INDEPENDENCE, Ore. - On the drive to Independence, you can get off I-5 and take the scenic route down Talbot Road.

      There's no bridge to get across the river, but there is a ferry - one of only three still operating in Oregon. If you can see the osprey nest, you're in the right spot.

      "People come down and take a ride on the boat. It's a fun little trip. Kids love it," Ed Watson said. Watson is the operations crew leader for the Buena Vista Ferry.

      The ferry is run by Marion County, taking locals and day-trippers across the Willamette River all but two days a year.

      "It's a public service, but it's really about the historic value to the ferry," Watson said.

      The toll is only $3 to get you and your car across the river on the ferry. So you're guaranteed not to spend all of your money in one place. And you certainly don't want to, because once the Buena Vista drops you off on the west side of the Willamette, you have landed in one of the hot spots for some of the biggest, sweetest cherries you'll find in Oregon.

      "These are called sweethearts. It's kind of cool. So you say, hey sweetheart! No, I was talking to the cherry," Terry Drazdoff joked. Drozdoff sells hand-picked black cherries at River View Acres, a third generation farm.

      "We've been farming for over 100 years," Drazdoff said.

      He has large wooden signs on the road pointing you in the right direction.

      "They're the best cherries we've had in a long time," cyclist Jean-Luc Devis said.

      "Always look to the stem. A green stem means a fresh cherry," Drazdoff said.

      The season on his cherries is almost over, but he's quick to point out, every day is a new day.

      "I can't wait until tomorrow. You know why? I get better looking every day," Drazdoff joked.

      But tall tales aren't the only things that grow pretty high in this part of Oregon. Locals know the area as Hopville and it's where Rogue Ales grows most of its hops right on its farm on Wigrich Road.

      "It used to be that all through Independence, there used to be hops years ago. But it kind of went away and now it's coming back," Dave Weir said. Weir traveled to the farm from Salem.

      "We hadn't had a chance to make it up here. We're hoping this will sort of be the now we know our way, we'll get here more often," Josanna Holzapfe said. Holzapfe was visiting the farm for a friend's wedding.

      It's a working farm, turkey and all, but there's also room to play. Just a few off the road highway destinations that you can find all in a day's drive.

      The Buena Vista Ferry runs every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It only closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas.