Friday, June 14, 2019

Update on the gut-busting Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant near Silver Lake, Oregon

Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant is RV friendly. (Julianne G. Crane)
The Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant, about four miles down a county road from no where in the high desert of Central Oregon, is a well-known secret around many a campfire where full-time RVers gather in the Pacific Northwest. When talking about the top five places to (over) eat a mouth-watering steak, the Cowboy Tree is frequently mentioned, followed immediately by the sound of smacking lips.

About five years ago, I read about this destination eatery in an RV Short Stops post by Russ and Tina De Maris, and it went on our Bucket List for whenever we might be moseying through that region.

Hungry folks waiting in front of Cowboy Tree Restaurant. (Julianne G. Crane) 
Fast forward to earlier this spring when I asked my husband, Jimmy Smith, where he wanted to go for his 'very special' upcoming birthday--without hesitation he said the "Cowboy Dinner Tree."

Well, one does not just pop into this place.  First of all it is located near a wide spot on state Hwy. 31, called Silver Lake, about 80 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon.  Second, while it is open year round, it is not open every day (see hours below).  And lastly, reservations are mandatory. 

When I called to make our reservations about a month in advance of our desired date, there were only two spots available, one at 4 p.m. and one a 7:30 p.m.  We opted for the later time because we were unsure of our travel plans that far ahead.

One of three small intimate dinning areas. (Julianne G. Crane)
We decided to make Jimmy's birthday celebration really special and planned a full week of camping at various state and BLM campgrounds across Eastern Oregon. The Cowboy Dinner Tree was our first stop and what an amazing kickoff to seven days in June.  There was delicious food,  friendly service, and authentic ambiance. All magical.

Menu - Fresh and Homemade Daily:
This is just part of the cow poke spread. (Julianne G. Crane)
  • Salad - with special Honey Mustard or Ranch Dressing
  • Hearty Soup - served piping hot with Old Fashioned Sweet Yeast Rolls
  • True Cowboy Cut 26-30 oz. Top Sirloin Steak or
  • One Whole Roasted Chicken
  • Baked Potato with soft butter, sour cream
  • Topped off with a delicious dessert. Coffee, Iced Tea or Pink Lemonade

  • One strong suggestion, because there will be leftovers, bring your own food storage containers.  On the night we were there, the wait staff provided plastic bags, but no twist ties. It's a definite challenge to transport soup in a baggie.
    Cost: $33 / Per Person
  • Children's prices: 7-13 - $11; 6 and under - free
  • No splitting of dinners is allowed.

  • RVer Jimmy Smith digging in.
    Reservations Required: (541) 576-2426
  • No Credit Cards - No Debit Cards - No Kidding

  • Open Year Round 
    Hours: 4 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • Dec 1 - Jan 31: Saturday Only
  • Feb 1 - Feb 28: Saturday - Sunday
  • March - May: Friday - Sunday
  • June 1 - Oct 31: Thursday - Sunday
  • Nov 1 - 30: Friday - Sunday 

  • Free Boondock RV parking across road

    Boondock RV parking in turn around across from restaurant (Julianne G. Crane)

    One huge bonus is the free, overnight parking in the turn around area across the road from the restaurant. It's dry camping, no frills, no facilities. But it was a great safe spot to sleep off a few of those calories. There is easily space for at least half-a-dozen RVs of various sizes.  On the Thursday night we were there, we were the only boondockers.

    If you go:

    Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant
    4 1/2 miles south on East Bay Road
    Silver Lake, Oregon 97638
    County Rd. 4-12, /Forest Service Rd. 28

    Click on here for a map.

    --Julianne G. Crane
    To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to

    Thursday, May 30, 2019

    Pedestrian Bridge connecting Omaha and Council Bluffs' family-fun waterfronts

    Pedestrian Bridge connecting Omaha and Council Bluffs (Omaha.Net)
    Years ago, almost half a lifetime, I taught one academic year at the Omaha campus of the University of Nebraska. I definitely wish the waterfront development featuring Lewis and Clark Landing and Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge would have been there for weekend escapes.

      Lewis & Clark Landing on the banks of the Missouri River
    The 23-acre Lewis and Clark Landing park on the mighty Missouri River was finished in 2003. Located just north of Omaha’s downtown, it features open space, benches and historic exhibits. Its convenient access and numerous events make it a frequent destination for Omaha residents. Among other facilities, it features a plaza, with bench seating, exhibits, a water jet spray fountain (perfect for the very hot summer days), a Fiber Wave Sculpture, play area, and a National Park Service Visitors Center.

    The 3000 foot long, 15 foot wide Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was finished a couple years later in 2008. Spanning the Missouri, it  connects Nebraska with Iowa and is perfect for leisurely bicycle rides.

    The footbridge "is an s-curved cable-stayed bridge with a striking, modern design, perfect for a midday stroll or refreshing night time walk. It's something of a must-see for visitors, especially at night, when the multi-colored lights are turned on and spiders spin impossibly long webs between the bridges many cables," according to

    For 10 RV Parks near Omaha and Council Bluffs, click here.
    Click here for a map.

    If you go:

    Lewis and Clark Landing
    Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
    705 Riverfront Drive
    Omaha, NE 68102
    United States
    Phone: (402) 444-5900
    41° 15' 49.3488" N, 95° 55' 27.6996" W
    (402) 444-5900

    --Julianne G. Crane
    To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to
    Photos: Courtesy of