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My anticipation was high. I had been looking forward to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Wisconsin state conference in Green Lake for months.

Going away from home was the only drawback. I’d be leaving Bob alone with our critters — poor Bob. I cooked up a bunch of food for him to reheat, so I knew he would survive.

Packing for the three-day conference took time. The night before my trip, I tossed and turned. I was so excited.

Friday morning I needed no alarm. I was up early and ready to go. After breakfast, I kissed Bob goodbye and wished him good luck, but in the end, I was the one who needed good luck.

My early morning drive was beautiful. I chose a route that would take me through rural Wisconsin. My idea was to return home with harvest updates for Bob. He was waiting for combines to arrive to take off our soybean crop.

In Fremont, I took a break for coffee but was only off the road for five minutes before continuing. The complete trip took less than two hours. A sign for the conference center appeared on the road, and I turned into the driveway.

BANG! POP! SIZZLE! Noises came from under my hood. Dash warning lights blinked: Battery not charging.

Something big had gone wrong with my car, but I couldn’t stop. I was surrounded by trees. The drive down to the center still lay ahead. My car continued to run, so I pointed it south, down the long driveway.

The area was a maze of narrow roads, and I was frazzled by a failing car. After one wrong turn, I found myself on a dead end.

The steering felt stiff. I could barely make the wheel turn, but after struggling, I did manage to return to the proper route.

By the time I found a parking place near the buildings, the power steering was completely out. Steam was pouring from under the hood. I parked, not knowing if I’d be able to start the car again.

My first phone call went to Bob. I was sure my car was toast. As I waited for him to check out our road assistance plan, I registered for the conference. At least I had made it there. I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight.

Bob arranged to get our car towed back to Seymour, but my troubles weren’t over. After seeing the car taken away, I started to haunt the conference halls. “Anyone heading back to the northeast? Can you give me a ride home?”

I wanted to attend the whole conference. A couple friends could take me close to home where Bob could pick me up in the farm truck, but they had to leave early. My search for a ride continued.

Bob said we had three days to figure out how to get me home. “Just relax. We’ll get you home one way or another.” He was sure things would work out. The combine was on the way to our farm, so life was getting interesting there.

I had the word out I needed a ride. Friends from Milwaukee and Madison would have helped but were heading in the wrong direction.

I couldn’t concentrate, until I found Nancy. She would be returning to the east side of Green Bay after the conference and said she would take me home. Yay!

FYI: my car made it to JJ’s Auto Clinic in Seymour. The water pump had gone out. When it went wild, it had knocked a belt off, which affected the power steering and the alternator. All was fixed by Monday afternoon. Another yay! My car wasn’t toast after all, but maybe it should be. I’d be getting a different car that wouldn’t be a black hole for repairs.

Oh well, I’m mobile again. Let's just say I’ve got JJ’s on speed dial. Let’s hope I don’t have to call them again any time soon.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;Sunnybook@aol.com

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