Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September 2-3, 2016 - Shipshewana South Campground, Shipshewana, IN

September 2-3, 2016 - Shipshewana South Campground, Shipshewana, IN

Friday, September 2, 2016

It was a nice sunny day with a low of 61 degrees when we pulled out of RV Village Camping Resort in Mercer, PA a little after 9am with the GPS (Bobbie) set for Shipshewana, IN. Fortunately we are very close to the Ohio stateline and since we are traveling I-80 west almost all the way to Shipshewana we are hoping the miles will fly by fast on our 300+ mile trip today.

With today being Friday before Labor Day we noticed a slight increase in traffic as we traveled, in fact enough that I decided to keep track of the semi's and the different RV's on the road to help pass the time.  Amazing how quick the trip went since I was busy doing something even if it really amounted to nothing.  I have a hard time reading for very long in a moving vehicle and if I am checking FB or reading emails we are using data so I try to limit what I do on the phone too.  We use it for back-up to the GPS in the vehicle to look ahead for places to stop, etc.  At least this way I was awake and Dean had someone to talk to and tease me a bit on my quest!  By the way I was keeping track every 3 miles and the semi's averaged about 30 in that time period.  That's a lot of semi's.  I told Dean it was a good thing I wasn't tracking the cars though - I could not have marked them down fast enough.  We did see a pickup in traffic after noon, especially with cars and many vehicles were pulling an RV of some type or they had those travel compartments on top of their vehicles so we are assuming they were headed out to enjoy the long weekend.

We passed this General Motors plant where they apparently manufacture the Cruze vehicle by the sign on the building.

I remarked soon after arriving in Indiana that you could sure tell a difference in the upkeep along the roads.  It is not near as welcoming as the other states we have driven through. I told Dean I think we talked about this last year when we arrived at the other side of the state on our way to New York.  Too bad, but if they are suffering with finances like Kansas then I suppose this is an easy thing to take out of the budget but it sure does not make a welcoming impression on this visitor.

However, once we drew closer to the Amish community of Shipshewana that took on a different landscape - we began to see pristine farms, houses and outbuildings.  I wish we all had as much pride in our properties as the Amish do.  I loved this tablet of the 10 Commandments.

We arrived at our site and unhooked in Shipshawana South Campground by 3:45pm.  Soon we were set up and relaxing a bit.  It felt good to sit in our comfy reclining loveseat versus the seats in the truck that seem to get harder as the day goes on when we travel these long distances.  We picked up a booklet on the community when we checked in so I took the opportunity to browse through it.  We like to go out to eat on the night we arrive so we decided to check out a restaurant here in Shipshawana, called the Blue Gate Restaurant.  It is quite large and you can choose to eat from the buffet, order a family style meal or order from the menu.  We chose to order from the menu with hopes we will not overeat.  Dean ordered fried chicken and I had the fried cod.  Dean said his chicken was very good and I thought the cod was okay.  Nothing over the top but it was good and filling. Afterwards we walked through a few of the shops that were abundant around the restaurant.  We didn't find anything we needed and some of them were beginning to close up so we will come back and visit again before we leave.

Our site.
The park is large, with over 150 sites.  We are in a pull-thru site with full hookups.  Our site was pretty level and only required a board under the tires on one side.  They have wi-fi that works pretty good early in the morning but is slow during the day.  It's not bad for checking facebook and some emails, however if it requires downloading information it can take awhile.  The Verizon signal here is great!  The park is very busy for the holiday.  When we arrived in the office they had all of today's reservations laid out by site number in three columns that covered the entire front desk.  I would estimate between 30-45 reservations of RVer's were pulling in for the long weekend.  I overheard one lady ask if they got the last campsite for the night and they told her that was correct.  Glad we made those reservations in advance!

We walked around the park this evening for awhile just to check it out then returned to watch a little TV before bed.

We'll see what we can find to do tomorrow!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

We didn't go anywhere to eat breakfast yesterday morning since we wanted to get on the road early so we saved that for this morning.  There is a little restaurant down the road called Wana Cup and we decided based on the reviews we found, we would give it a try.  I chose two eggs/bacon/toast and Dean had a sausage and cheese omelet/hashbrowns/toast.  Mine was quite good and Dean said his was pretty good except for the sausage.  He didn't care for the seasonings they used.

From here we traveled to Goshen, IN to make a Wal-Mart stop.  Once we arrived though we decided to go ahead and drive up to Elkhart, IN.  We want to go to the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, drive by the Elkhart Fairground Camping grounds and the Heartland Recreation Inc. plant.  After that we'll stop at Wal-mart.

Since we were in Goshen we decided we would go ahead and find the fairgrounds first and that was pretty easy.  Next year the Heartland National Rally will be held here and Dean wanted to see how we would get to the area to get an idea of how to manuever.  He was soon satisfied with this so we moved on to our next stop, Elkhart and the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum.  We had a bit of a problem finding it.  Bobbie took us down a dirt road to reach the paved road I think we should have arrived on, but when we got there the wording on the building said it was an Event Center.  We drove out the paved road, re-checked Bobbie and now she tells us to go back, and we find it is on the backside of the event center!

What a treat this stop was!  Rather than go in to any detail here I'll make notes as I show you the pictures I took.

RV/MH Hall of Fame

We've discovered so much.  We love RVing!

1954 Shasta Travel Trailer

Miniature showing steps of  how an RV is constructed today.  I worked for a RV manufacturer in Chetopa, KS between my junior/senior year of High School.  At that time almost all work was done in-house including making the cabinets.  My job was to stain the inside of the cabinet doors before they were hung on the cabinets in the RV's.

My parents never owned an RV, however we borrowed a pop-up camper from some friends and took it to Grand Lake, OK for a long weekend one year.  We had the most fun spending time there with friends.  Typically we just went down for one day and came back home but that long weekend is one I'll remember for a long time.
When I was in High School, my step-dad worked for the same RV manufacturer in Chetopa that I worked at for awhile.  They had a long bed camper that went on the back of a truck they allowed families to use.  We took that to Georgia to see my mom's sister and her family.  It doesn't bring back quite the fuzzy memories of the pop-up but it was still an adventure I remember and there were good times with it as well.
Dean and I bought our first RV not too long after we married.  It was a small travel trailer.  We placed it on a lot at Grand Lake, OK and enjoyed it with our kids for a few years before we upgraded to a large TT that had bunk beds, and of course the table made into a bed.  As the kids got older those bunk beds really shrunk with 6' boys and we upgraded to a mobile home.  We sold it a few years after the kids graduated from High School.  We found we were not using it as much as we used to when they were at home.  Several years later we bought another TT on a lot at Grand Lake and we had it until we sold it in 2013 in order to buy Bentley.  So while we have not always traveled in an RV we have enjoyed them so much.  Now that we are actually traveling the country in one I relate even more to "The American Journey".  We've enjoyed taking the grandkids with us and hope to experience many more good times with them enjoying "scenic places across our vast wonderland".

Pretty snazzy for 1931, don't you think?  Wish my woodwork looked this nice and, what about that wood flooring!  How would you feel about using a potbellied stove?

A lot of changes occurred between 1931 and 1954.

This is similar to the pop-up camper we stayed in at Grand Lake that belonged to some friends of ours.  We thought it was great.  Not sure I could stay in it today unless I had to.  I'm a little spoiled now!

Lindbergh did not like to stay in hotels according to the docent.  So someone would drive this mobile home to the next stop where he would spend the night.  Interesting!

Of course I could not leave this Housecar of Mae West's out.  

Last year when we visited my cousin Kathy in Delaware I learned that she and her family lived in a mobile home all through her school years.  Her dad worked installing gas lines and they traveled along with the crew as the work was done.  I believe this might have been similar to what they had and so I wanted to share this.  Kathy, let me know if this is anything like the one you lived in. 
Airstream Ranch in Florida.

Eldo "Bud" J. Coons
Bud, as everyone in Oswego knew him, was well known in the RV industry.  Besides Bud's business in Oswego, his brother Bob later owned and operated Huntsman Campers in Chetopa, KS where I mentioned earlier I worked one summer.  Bud's nephew Deryl Bentley has been in the RV sales and repair business for over 30 years and currently sells Heartland Products in Chetopa, KS at Chetopa RV Center - where we purchased our "Bentley".

The following is from an excerpt of the history of Diamond Coach, Oswego, KS: " In 1957 Eldo J. (Bud) Coons and his brother were building campers in Pomona, CA, with distributors nationwide. To expand the business, Bud relocated to Southeast Kansas to open a midwest branch of Coons Custom Coach. The first "Dreamer Coach" for pick-up trucks was manufactured in Oswego, KS, in May 1959. "
Bud sold Coons Manufacturing in 1984 and it is now Diamond Coach Corporation.  You may remember I have mentioned them in previous posts as we have seen their "people mover" passenger buses during our travels.  The RV/MH Hall of Fame's first inductees were in 1972.

Overlooking the museum floor from a balcony above.

I had to include this picture.  When my step-dad worked at Huntsman he got one of these cushions for us to use in a tent we had later I believe.  We still have that cushion.  It has been passed down and now my niece has it for sleepovers when her kids have friends over.  

Memorial Sidewalk on the grounds of the RV/MH Museum

Dean and I both enjoyed the museum about as much as anything we have done on this trip.  I suppose it was not only for our enjoyment of the RV life but knowing our little town was mentioned due to what "Bud" Coons brought to Southeast Kansas.

One last thing, I hate to admit this but after viewing these RV's I find I am most definitely spoiled. I'm so thankful for my normal size shower, the double door refrigerator, the double air conditioners and all of the other little perks we enjoy as we travel.  I am even more thankful than ever for those pioneers of recreational vehicles that brought us to the point we are today where we can travel in true comfort!

From there we drove to the Heartland Industries offices.  I did find the Big Horn plant on the map but by now we were about ready to head back.  It was after 2 and we had not eaten any lunch.  We still needed to stop at Wal-Mart's.  We quickly gathered up what we needed and I drove back to Shipshewana.  Dean enjoys it when I drive, especially if there is scenery to enjoy so he has the ability to actually look around.  When we returned I had Dean take me over to the laundry facilities here at the campground and I did two loads of laundry.  Only one other person was using a dryer and they soon picked their things up and left.  I played some games on my Kindle because I couldn't pick up anything with the wi-fi here. 

Soon after I returned Dean grilled some chicken and I used it to make orange chicken.  I also made some rice to have with it.   We must have really been hungry because it tasted better than the previous times I've made it.

After dinner we walked around the park a few times.  I really wanted to hit 10,000 steps because we have been really slack on exercising since shortly after we arrived at Matt's.  We managed to get a little over 9,000.  We set outside for awhile enjoying the cooler temperatures and finally headed inside where we watched a little TV before heading to bed.


  1. Nice post about the museum. Sometimes it seems they were more inventive with how they used the space back then, compared to how they use the space in 40 footers today.

    I've always wanted to know why you have to put boards under a tire to level it? Does this have to do with the side to side?

    Also, do you drive up on the board or raise it off the ground with the jacks?

  2. Thanks Mark. It was really great.

    Yes we do use the boards to level from side to side. Dean angled the ends and we drive right up on them.

    He plans to eventually get these levelers. You can find them on amazon. They have good reviews and are less weight to carry around.

    Anderson 3604 camper leveler.

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