Bob and Susan's 2016 vacation begins

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

Bob and I don't go away often. Our last big vacation was in 2013 when we took a bus trip to the southwest to see canyon country. Earlier this year, I thought it was time we took another ride. After researching possibilities, I chose a Nationwide bus trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

The decision was made months ago. As some do when anticipating a big event, I penciled in a countdown on our calendar. But instead of getting excited as the trip neared, I became nervous.

I'm such a homebody, I have trouble leaving the farm. Bob is literally planted here. This shouldn't have been an issue. Our daughter, Rebecca, and our son-in-law, Andy, would be staying here while we were away. They would take care of pets and critters on the farm just like they did when we saw the Grand Canyon, but still, I worried. Worry is my middle name.

We have a certain pattern of taking care of our chores. Rebecca knows this and asked me to write everything down. Of course, I put this off until the last minute, though I thought about it daily. As I walked through my chores, picking up last night's dog and cat dishes, opening canned cat food, scooping out dry dog food and cat food, I tried to figure out how to write all the quirky parts down.

Bob feeds the barn cats in the morning, but that would be inconvenient for our working helpers. It would be dark in the barn when they went out each day, and who knows what creature they might find outside besides cats — raccoons, skunks, woodchucks? Better to go to the barn after work when it was light. We decided morning food would go on the front porch.

Taking care of Sunny and our three inside cats might be more of a challenge. The can of cat food that is added to dry food for barn cats is first parceled into three bowls for Othello, Pete and Cruella. They don't get much, preferring dry food, but they do eat a dab each.

After giving them their tablespoonful, the rest is mixed into the barn cat food. I scrape out the can in that bucket, and then I put Sunny's dry food into the empty can and mix it around. He can't eat cat food, but he likes thinking he's getting some. The flavor from the can makes Sunny happy.

Rebecca also had to give Pete the cat insulin shots twice a day. It's not a difficult job as long as Pete shows up and isn't sleeping in.

Sunny is our spoiled kid. He also needs to be taken for a walk morning and night. Sunny has a spot in the ditch where he does his business — he's a creature of habit. And let's not forget his daily cart ride to look for deer.

Chicken care isn't much. With only a rooster and hen left, all they needed was to be let out in the morning and locked up at night.

We also reminded our helpers quirky things about the house: where to wrap on the water pump if it stops pumping and how we get one window air-conditioner to cool the whole house.

Our last days at home, I almost ended our trip before it started. Just by a fraction of an inch, I caught myself before falling down the basement steps.

On July 11, Bob and I met our bus in Appleton. It seemed only fair that Bob should sit by the window so he could check out farms and crops as we crossed Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Stops always involved food and restrooms. Our driver, Wendell, and our tour director, Jerry, always made sure we were as close as possible to location entrances and exits when they dropped us off and picked us up. They took good care of us every step of the way.

Our first real destination stop came day two. At Jamestown, North Dakota, we saw a white buffalo along with other buffalo (bison) and the World's Largest Buffalo statue. This is the point where our vacation really began, but I've run out of room so …

Continued next week.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;