Archive for October 20th, 2012


Slow Down!!! Something May Die

Statistically speaking the stretch of road, where this sign sets passes through a ‘wildlife observation’ area, is quite dangerous. So, that said, I can see why the slaughter of deer, elk and people. Three crosses set along side the road way a short distance from this sign…probably in memoriam of the 3 mentioned on the lower right corner of the sign.  

Long, straight roads with slight up and downs beg pushing ahead. But there is little reaction time once one sees the animal, especially at night.


Photography: Aspens in the Fall


Saddles: No Wonder Their Rear End Hurts

Here again, I see but don’t really look. I have little understanding of what’s in a saddle’s makeup or the variety of saddles for various needs. I saw this old saddle and took a photo. Is this really the internal workings of a saddle? This is the beauty of travel and photography…to observe and learn. Observations beg more research and study. And, I am happy my skinny ass isn’t bouncing on that saddle and my knees banging into that “undercut swell”…yep, I did some research. 



Visiting Dogs: Don’t tell Emma & Harley

While staying at the cabins next to the Cowboy Dinner Tree, I noticed the staff had at least four dogs. Soon, I came to realize they had two smaller dogs that were quite adept at slinking out beneath the gate to roam free  and say howdy.

These two guys were frequent visitors and not the least bit shy entering the cabin and saying hello. We, of course, were comfortable with this and were free to shut the front door. The weather was just warm enough to enjoy and open door, hence, the pups.

This little pup was quite affectionate and glued to us near the cabin. He didn’t venture away from that area. Two friendly pups that intruded as much as we let them and the rest of the time they did what young, male dogs do: humping, chasing, biting, stalking, playing with the each other.


Photography: Fort Rock (Ancient Landmark)


I recently made a promise to myself that I would stop, pullover, turn around, turn off to explore sites that I would have previously driven right on by in a rush to get somewhere. Schedules, the clock, the next destination, commitments all conspire to make me push from one place to another and, of course, I miss out. Such was the case with Fort Rock on previous outings. Not this time, I took the turn off and did what I had always wanted to do…take a photo. 


Cooking: Leaf Lard…Did You Know?

Being a clueless city boy re rural life, I had never heard of ‘leaf lard’. Years ago, I recall a muggy, humid Summer visiting in Wisconsin as my grandmother rendered lard. It seemed to be a putrid operation. Years later, I had occasion to visit a ‘rendering plant’ and found myself wanting to…well never mind. In other words, I really know nothing about lard except it is supposedly unhealthy and a thing of the past.

So, I took the above photo of the old can in an old cabin. Then I noticed leaf lard on the can. That resulted in a little home work and for you city slickers and cooking/foodies here is a little information that might interest you.  

“Today, most Americans would sooner smoke unfiltered Camels while riding a motorcycle without a helmet than eat lard.” (more about lard)

“Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard (lard is pork fat, the term is usually used to refer to rendered pork fat suitable for cooking). It comes from the visceralmdash;or “soft”—fat from around the kidneys and loin of the pig. It lacks any real pork or meaty flavor, making it an excellent neutral-flavored cooking fat with a high smoking point. Leaf lard is particularly prized by bakers for use in producing moist, flaky pie crusts.”   (Baking With Leaf Lard)


Cowboy Dinner Tree (To Do List & Very Full Belly)

Many years ago, I heard about the Cowboy Dinner Tree. I wrote down the name on a piece of cardboard and pegged it to the wall over my garage work bench. It was something to do someday.

Every few years, I would mention the possibility of going there and each year there was a conflict, interruption etc. You know how it goes. Well, this year, out of the blue, my wife suggested we go to the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Amazing suggestion. I made the reservations for not only the restaurant but for one of the two little cabins near the restaurant. The plan was set and we recently ventured to central, Southern Oregon to fulfill this long time quest. It was a very wonderful outing.

The drive was about 5 hours with all the usual stops one has to make. The pace was easy going and we arrived just before the 3pm check in time. I had scheduled dinner for a bit later. 

The days/hours vary with the season so you definitely want to check in advance at the Cowboy Dinner Tree site or call them.

The rustic image is from a nice collection, spreading, of ranch life stuff. Don’t let the remoteness, decor or oddities confuse. Abundant hospitality and grub awaits inside.

We dined with about a dozen other diners this evening. You pretty well sit by yourselves and take in the interior decor, the low light and the amazing service from Connie…such a sweet, hard working woman. You can review the site for info re the meals, but suffice to say you can choose either from a whole roasted chicken or a large sirloin butt steak that ranges from 26 to 30 ounces. A salad, fresh baked rolls with a beverage choice starts you out (no alcohol here).

You are hungry so the salad goes down easy enough along with a few rolls. Then a large serving bowl of beans arrives with ladle. This blend of spices, pinto and black beans is some of the finest I have ever tasted. Simple, hearty and wait, you ate that whole bowl of beans! Hmmm. Before you can fully contemplate the beans, here comes your over flowing plate. My wife and I chose the beef. Next time we would do one chicken and one beef. It is a shockingly big cut of beef. You anticipate this because you’ve heard about it or read about it. But, no it is actually big. Count on left overs. Bring a cooler, ice and a container for inside the cooler. 

The meal is finished off, well you are finished off, with a nice reasonably sized dessert and you are done. It is immensely tasty and if you pace yourself and allow for left overs you will survive it just fine.

There is a gift shop but it was closed for repairs while we visited. It looked to have some art work, the usual T’s and other keepsakes to show you were there. I grabbed a cap from the restaurant.

The Beans. I love a good pot of beans. The combined pinto and black beans had some nice blend of spices plus something sweet? I had to add ground pepper to mine.

Ms. SwittersB with half a cow (actually I believe it is a Top Sirloin Butt Steak).

My steak and a perfect baked potato. There is a rub put on the meat. No steak sauces are offered. You don’t need it, but I guess you could cart in a small bottle if you had to have it. I opted for some sinus shattering, ear tweaking, eye closing, face making horseradish. A little dab ‘il do you! Butter and sour cream for the bakers. The rolls were perfect.

At this point, I was so full and almost delirious that I forgot to take a pic of the dessert, a little strawberry, sauce and cake affair. 

Now the whole dinner is admittedly over the top quantity wise, but this is a left overs situation. Plan on this so a goodly amount of food does not go to waste. There will be enough meat for several days of ‘normal’ eating.  Ok, you are done. So, don’t just rush to your car and drive away. If the weather allows walk around the grounds a little bit and take in the old ranch equipment and take some photographs.

The weather had cooled off considerably and a front was pushing in to the NW. We made our way down the road, a short distance, to the “small cabin”. It was a perfect shelter complete with a small fridge, coffee maker, wood burning stove, indoor plumbing and the world’s smallest hot water heater & a shower…hurry! Electricity, a heavy quilt and it is a cozy place to contemplate your stomach.

The morning was a bit chilly. We probably didn’t need a fire, but I got up early and made my way to the wood stove I have prepped the night before. It took the edge off the chill….especially after that hot water heater empties out fast!

The Cowboy Dinner Tree (south of Silver Lake, Oregon) was an enjoyable adventure. It has been around for 20 some years and has a devoted following. Any hearty carnivore should venture there once, or more. 


Photography: Old Building…New Hinges…Rustic Magic

A quiet afternoon in a Southern Oregon small town. Not a soul in sight. No noises. No sign of life. An old building worthy of a shot or two. The siding curling and buckling. Someone added a few newer hinges on the windows at some point. Rustic magic.

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October 2012

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