Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 13-15, 2017 - 2017 North American Heartland Owners Rally - Goshen, IN

June 13-15, 2017 -  2017 North American Heartland Owners Rally - Goshen, IN

Tuesday, June 13
Dean and I walked the perimeter of the fairgrounds this morning, then returned to Bentley for a little breakfast.  Each morning Ann (one of the Heartland group) is presenting a Wake Up Workout for 30 minutes, and at 8:15 or so I headed up to one of the pavilions where it is held.  It was a nice workout that includes head massage, facial movements, arms, torso and leg exercises - either sitting or standing.  We had to move from one station to the next between each exercise (rows of chairs - front moves to the  back and then up a station between each exercise) and with about 20 ladies participating it really was a lot of fun as well.  I can really feel the burn in my thighs and learned a few new exercises that I hope I'll keep up - because it's apparent I needed them!  

It is getting hot here and quite humid, but fortunately early morning has a nice breeze and other than walking to and from the rally hall for presentations throughout the day it hasn't been too bad.

After exercising I returned to Bentley to change clothes and about 9:45 I headed to the rally hall for a session called "My RV Kitchen".  It was an interesting class.  The lady who did the presentation is a full-time RVer and is known as "Lady E".  She full-timed with just her daughter for several years after selling her restaurant and home.  She later met her husband, who was an RV maintenance instructor.  Through his knowledge of RV related components (especially kitchen - refrigerator, stove, convection ovens, etc) she expanded her kitchen knowledge and now provides training at a number of rallies to women (and men) who are interested in utilizing their RV kitchens to their maximum ability.  There was a large group attending this session and it was really informative.  

I enjoy cooking so when we purchased Bentley I wanted to learn how to use the oven and convection oven.  The oven isn't like your normal home oven where you walk in and turn the knob and the oven automatically ignites to come on.  It is a bit of an awkward moment to light it.  You have to be on your knees to the side of the oven with the door open.  You must have one of the long handled butane lighters lit at the place of ignition in the middle part of the very bottom of the stove, and turn the oven on, pushing in on the knob and wait 10-15 seconds to ensure the oven lights. Then you get to struggle to get up and go on with your cooking.  Sounds fun doesn't it.  It wasn't much fun the first few times I did it but now it's not so bad as I know what to expect.

I learned from reading other blogs that if you add either a pizza stone or unglazed tiles to the shelf right above where the ignition is located that whatever you are cooking will cook more evenly.  I chose to use 4 - 4" terra cotta unglazed tiles and they have worked great for me. I also had to purchase an oven thermometer because there is nothing with the oven to tell you when you have reached the correct temperature.  I usually give it 10-15 minutes to warm up before adding whatever dish I have made.  I also usually set the oven about 25 degrees higher than the actual temperature called for to allow for opening and closing the oven, and that has worked well - of course, that was after a few trial and error baking sessions.  If I bake, it's usually in cooler weather or early in the morning (like before 7am), otherwise I use the convection oven.

The convection oven keeps the heat down as most of it is distributed directly out the back of the RV to the outside rather than warming up inside like the oven does.  We do have to remember to open the outside vent before using the convection over though and you don't want to leave it open all the time or creatures can get into the RV, or the vent might blow off as you are going down the road.  

A friend of mine who has convection oven in her home told me she always just followed her original recipe for time and temperature.  I've done that from the beginning and so far I've had no problem making whatever dish I wanted without fail.  It has taken a bit to feel comfortable with both of these appliances but I like to eat, I like to cook, and so I had to learn.  

I was amazed at the number of women who had never, ever used their RV oven or the convection oven in their rigs.  WOW!  A number of them only use their oven to store stuff in. I do store my cast iron skillet in my oven - for the convenience of a place to put it only.  Dean and I use the cast iron skillet, for the most part, on the grill to make pizza.  We like it better than any pizza we can buy.  We prefer a nice crispy crust and it works great for that purpose and we have the luxury of making it exactly the way we like it.  I like to try new things and for the most part Dean doesn't mind.

Lady E will be doing a few other classes throughout the week including one on Instant Pot Cooking, Convection Oven Cooking, Food Safety and Induction Cooking.  

One of the other things she discussed during this session was RV refrigerators.  A lot of the newer models are now putting regular residential refrigerators in RV's.  Ours is not a residential model.  We have an electric/gas model which for now we prefer as we do not have the battery power to run a residential refrigerator if we are unplugged - no electric, including going down the road.  So there are a few things you have to keep in mind with the model we have.  You always want to have it good and cold (at least 24 hours) before you ever add food - and your food should be cold when you add it to the refrigerator if possible. It takes about 1 hour for the temperature to recover every time the refrigerator is opened.  If we do add drinks we try to add only a few cans/bottles at a time and refresh as needed. Since we've now added a portable ice maker to our rig, we don't have to worry as much about adding warm drinks in the refrigerator and that has been a big help.  Again, like the oven, I had to purchase a thermometer to add in the refrigerator so I can monitor the temperature and keep it in the "very small window of 38-41 degrees" that is best for keeping food safe.  We used to travel with our propane on to keep the refrigerator at its max, but we no longer do this, as it can be a fire hazard.  I keep some frozen ice packs in the freezer and we place them in the refrigerator as we travel to help maintain the temperature.  Once we close the refrigerator before we leave for our next stop, it isn't opened again until it is back on at our next stop.  Since we typically only travel 3-5 hours a day we've not had any problem keeping things cool.  We have turned the refrigerator on when we've stopped for lunch before if we are traveling further than our normal time frame and have even left it on for an hour or two while driving if we have a long travel day (like on the way from Robertsville State Park, MO to Kokomo, IN) but again we prefer not to do this. We do maintain a small battery operated fan at the lowest point in our refrigerator to help keep the cool air moving throughout and up.  There is the option of wiring a 12 volt fan into the system and we will probably add one at some point to just ensure we keep our food at the optimal temperature.  Lady E also stressed that food should not be packed so tight that there is not air flow between the items, and should not be against the inner walls of the refrigerator.  She also said you should not use saran wrap or foil to cover items in the refrigerator---who knew?  One last thing, someone commented on how hard it was to keep ice cream frozen in the RV freezer.  Lady E told us that you should always put ice cream on the lower left hand side, and if you have a cold pack, place it next to it and it will help keep it freeze a little better.  However, the higher the cream content the less hard it will freeze.  So I learned a few things but overall most of this I had either read about in blogs I follow or in the information that came with the appliances when we purchased Bentley.   It's always good to do a review though and it was an enjoyable class.

One last thing that may revolutionize the RV kitchen is a company called Furrion.  One of the technologies they have been working on and is now being included in Heartland RV's (and I assume other brands) is the self igniting oven.  We will actually get to tour the Furrion Center later this week and I'll be anxious to see what all they have to say.

Following the presentation, Dean and I took a break and ran into town to Wal-Mart. Tomorrow night the South Central Region (Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri) will be having an appetizer meet and greet, so I needed a few groceries.  

Later in the afternoon I attended another presentation by Kelly Barnett on Instant Pot Cooking.  They prepared pulled pork, macaroni & cheese and hard boiled eggs in 3 separate instant pots - and they were all delicious.  They shared the recipes with everyone so I am anxious to try all three myself.  Dean bought me an Instant Pot for Christmas and I have experimented with it a bit and I like how easy it is to use.  So far I've made roasts and chili but haven't ventured much further, but it's time to take that step and learn to use it more.

Today was a good day and we enjoyed the presentations we attended.  Tonight Heartland held a Dessert Welcome Reception at the rally hall.  They went over agenda changes to the various events for the week and we had some really wonderful desserts.  We orignally had planned to go eat dinner at the "South Side Soda Shop" here in Goshen.  Their Philly Cheesesteadish Limpa Bread, and Seafood Feast were featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  They also have a huge menu of homemade desserts.  Since they are having the dessert reception this evening we just grabbed a quick meal at Dairy Queen and returned to the fairgrounds.


Wednesday, June 14

Dean and I walked this morning but we cut our normal walking time back just a little as we got started a later than normal.  I needed to mix up my corn dip this morning so it would have plenty of time to set up before the meet and greet this evening, and since I want to do the wake up workout I need to get back in time for that as well.  After the workout this morning I also did 30 minutes of zumba.  That was quite a bit of exercise for me - 1.5 hours almost straight.  It took me about an hour to cool down enough I even wanted to do anything, but it felt good I was able to do it and keep up!  

At 10:45 I headed back to the rally hall for the Convection Cooking presentation by Lady E. We walk everywhere here on the fairgrounds so between our morning walks, walking to and from presentations, exercise classes, visiting friends, etc. we are easily getting well above 10,000 steps everyday - well, at least that is what I get when I have my phone on me.  My Fitbit quit me almost as soon as we arrived and sometimes I forget to pick my phone up to track my steps.  

The Convection Cooking class was a bit of a disappointment to me.  While I enjoyed parts of it, I learned convection ovens come in various cooking levels and they can be quite different so it is a real learning curve on how to adjust your cooking time.  Fortunately for me, mine works almost identical to my oven as I mentioned yesterday.  There were lots of questions from the women attending and it was frustrating at times that you could not hear or understand what was going on for all of the talking over each other.

Basically they took two tubs of cookie dough purchased from the grocery store.  They put one tub on a silicone baking sheet (round) and placed it on a pizza stone on the round raised baking rack, and placed a second one on the oblong metal tray to see how each cooked.  The round one cooked very nicely as it was turning the entire time so the heat flow was constantly moving around it.  However, the oblong tray had to be taken out and turned part way through and some of it actually cooked over the side of the round pan sitting on the oblong metal rack.  It was an experiment that was interesting but again, I jut didn't get as much out of it as the Instant Pot presentation.

One thing I think is important to mention is, if you have a convection oven and the output is less than 1,000 you will probably need to increase your cooking time slightly.  If it is 1,000 it should cook very similar to a normal oven.  If it is over 1,000 - then you will need to reduce your cooking time.  I just stopped to look at the output on my convection oven and it is 900. So far, using normal time has worked pretty good but it's possible I should cook things a few minutes longer - I'll have to experiment with this more in the future.

When the session was over I walked back to Bentley.  We are taking the afternoon off to run a few errands.  We decided we would go ahead and try out the South Side Soda Shop for lunch, however we went with sandwiches for lunch rather than a full meal that we would have had last night had we visited then, then we shared a piece of pecan pie.  I had the turkey crossiant sandwich and Dean had a turkey roll.  I think I will be purchasing some crossiants in my near future and making these sandwiches at home.  The crossiants had been buttered and grilled, with turkey, cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato added.  The sandwich was delicious.  The slaw was okay.  Dean also had fries with his.  The pecan pie was pretty good as well.  
South Side Soda Shop

My turkey croissant and slaw


Dean's turkey roll, slaw and fries

Inside of South Side Soda Shop

A different kind of selfie!  HAHA

From Goshen we traveled to Nappanee, where we stopped at a woodworking shop to look at a desk we'd like to add to Bentley.  Dean would build it but we wanted to see some ideas of what others have done in their rigs.  We found exactly what we'd like to have and we took a few measurements that we'll check against the space we have available.  Right now we have a small table that I use mostly for the laptop and printer.  We rarely eat at it.  

What we would like to have is a desk unit that would be about 6' long.  It would have a flat top toward the back that could be used for setting things on - such as a lamp, storage of items, decoration, etc, and could also hold our laptops when we use the table top that would extend from the middle outward where we could then have our dinner.  On one side there would be storage for our printer on a pull out platform, and also a pullout for a laptop that is actually the right height for proper use - which I really need since my wrists tend to bother me if I use it at table top height on a regular basis.  On the other side would be two drawers for storage of desk type items and a large file drawer.  It sounds like quite a lot, but we do carry a lot of this stuff with us now.  We maintain medical files in case these are needed while we are on the road along with information on insurance, extended warranty on Bentley, maintenance files on Bentley and the truck, as well as our membership information on our various RV clubs and other personal papers.  I also do the quarterly newsletter for our Escapee Chapter so I carry a file tote for their information.  In addition once the table is extended there would be storage in the center behind the table leg and we always need additional storage.  This is not something we will do immediately but an add on we'd like to have.  When we are out for 2-3 months at a time it can get pretty cluttered with stuff.  I do not like clutter.  Dean does a wonderful job of woodworking and I know he will create a beautiful piece of furniture that will be a great addition to Bentley, and it would be similar to this.

We made two more stops, one at Nappanee Rise and Roll Bakery where we picked up some apple fritters to try.  I know, I know, all that exercise and then eat apple fritters!  But oh they were so good.  We will make one more stop at the Rise and Roll Bakery before we head home in order to get more of those cinnamon caramel donuts.  I can't remember if I mentioned that when we ate the full donut we like it MUCH, MUCH better than the small sample we had at the bakery.  We are definitely going to bring some of these home to share with a few special folks.

The final stop was in Goshen to take pictures of several of the sculptures scattered around the downtown area and their beautiful courthouse.  Some of these are so lifelike when you are just driving by them that you almost have to do a double take, especially the window washer which fooled me entirely when I first saw it.


The courthouse is such a beautiful structure.  

Information on the Courthouse.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)


As we walked toward this sculpture, a young lady told us there is much larger scale of this same sculpture located in Elkhart.  She said the suitcase is about half as tall or more than the people and often people will sit on the suitcase for pictures.



I loved this view of the Courthouse.



One of the quilt flower gardens around Goshen.  


There was someone sitting on the bench to the right of this sculpture so I could not get the shot I would have liked of this.  When we first drove down the street and I saw this I actually thought someone was washing the window.  

Just a street view as we walked toward the sculpture shown below.

Loved this one!  They are sharing an ice cream cone.

We enjoyed our afternoon but it was HOT today.  We were both glad to get back into the air conditioned vehicle and head back to the campground.

We had about an hour to spare before we walked up to our South Central Region Meet and Greet, where we had some great eats and good visit with friends.  Things began to clear out when some storm warnings started coming over folks' phone.  We were able to get a ride back to Bentley with our friends, and neighbor here in the campground before it rained.   We watched a bit of TV once we returned and then called it a night.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

It rained this morning so we did not walk, but it soon cleared up and I was able to walk down to the Wake Up Workout and today I decided to try the pole trekking which is immediately following the workout session and is given by the same instructor.  Dean and I enjoy not only walking but hiking trails when we are out.  I've wanted to learn more about hiking (trekking) poles and this was a good opportunity.  I was able to purchase a set of trekking poles from the instructor and I thoroughly enjoyed this class.  It still gave some great exercise, I learned how to use the poles and it was not quite as strenuous as the zumba was.  Not that I minded doing the zumba, it was really fun - it is the heat and so much at one time.  While I'm trying to improve the shape I'm in - I'm not sure my body handled the heat very well for doing all of that exercise back to back. 

After I returned to Bentley and changed for the events of the day, I made some chicken salad so we'd have something for lunch today.  I've got to go to Wal-mart soon!  

Dean attended several presentations today on various things to do with maintenance on Bentley, and we also visited the Heartland Marketplace where a number of vendors have booths.  We did not make any major purchases but enjoyed looking and visiting with people as we moved throughout the building.  From there we walked several blocks to where a number of new RV's were on display.  We went through all of the Big Country, Big Horn and most of the toy-haulers as well as a couple of Landmarks.  While we saw a few new things that Bentley does not have, we still by far prefer the layout of our rig to those we toured today.  The biggest plus is the new Furrion self igniting oven that is available.  I would love to be able to upgrade to this someday but it's not a deal breaker now that I've gotten used to the gas one.  

There were a number of vendor booths here as well and we signed up for the chance to win a new mattress.  Actually we like our mattress but it does have some "dips" where we lay that are beginning to be more noticeable after the 3.5 years we have owned Bentley.  

We walked back to Bentley where we had lunch and then we attended a couple more presentations on the technical side.  Tonight Heartland is providing a catered buffet dinner, entertainment and will be drawing names for prizes - everyone will win something.  The meal was delicious - roasted chicken and ham, broccoli salad, cinnamon applesauce, green bean casserole, rolls and a variety of pie (we chose coconut cream).  Once dinner was over, they drew for the door prizes - with 238 rigs present it took awhile to call out the names but they kept things moving pretty quickly.  We won a couple of cleaning rags - not a big prize but something we will use.  

The entertainment was a "Chicago" tribute band.  Unfortunately, by the time they got set up after the prize drawing, we were tired and only listened to one or two songs before we left. Our friends from the Oklahoma Chapter that we belong to, Orville and Barbara, who we set with at dinner, gave us a ride on their golf cart back to Bentley and we visited with them for about 30 minutes before they left for their rig.  

It was nearly 8:00 when we went inside and I think I promptly took a short nap, and then woke up in time to get ready for bed.  Unfortunately, then I had a hard time falling asleep and woke up early, finally getting up at 3:45.  I'll be dragging later today but I'll probably sleep really well tonight!

We have two more days of events and then we will head back home on Sunday morning.










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