Thursday, March 25, 2010

As Seen in the Palisadian Post Travel Tales

The Treesort

“Someday we’re going to stay in a tree house,” I told my kids. Wide eyed, they said, “Really?”

I said “yes. High, high off the ground.” For years we had this conversation. Soon the response took on a new tone. Instead of a question, “Really” became a sarcastic exclamation. I’d been talking about it so long they no longer believed me.

Finally, in 2007, I had the reservations in hand, airplane tickets booked and we were on our way.

How does one find a “Treesort”? Well, that all began when my brother in law (who was spending a sabbatical year in Germany) asked me to put his name down on a waiting list for a Mini Cooper when they first came out in the US in 2002. As I investigated where to find a local dealer, I noticed a link on the Mini Cooper website, “interesting places to stay in the United States”. Intrigued, I clicked on it. One of the sites mentioned was the Treesort in Southern Oregon. I had to check it out. The website was amazing. This is a place designed by people who LOVE trees, run by people who want to share their love of trees, and visited by people who are curious about trees. And Southern Oregon is so beautiful, I knew we just had to go and stay.

My two daughters (ages 13 & 7), and I were really excited about going. We started off our Oregon adventure by rafting down a gentle section of the Rogue River, and a cursory visit to Crater Lake (the deepest lake in the United States, and in my humble and limited opinion, the most beautiful). Everywhere we went there was lush greenery and rushing water. For my Southern California kids, a river that rushed rather than trickled was an exquisite novelty.

The road to the Treesort was long. Longer than I thought. And pretty remote. We seemed to be leaving civilization behind Further and further behind. At last we arrived. It was truly an arborist’s paradise. And very laid back. The dog on the porch beckoned us into the “office”. Outside were sign up boards for horseback riding and a zip line. Wheee.

Our treehouse (which I’d picked out from a very descriptive website) was accessed by walking across two suspension bridges (think Tom Sawyer’s island at Disneyland) and was 43 feet up in the air. It was one room -if you don’t count the curtained off ensuite bathroom, toilet & shower. We had a front porch, loft beds, small refrigerator and a wonderful 12 foot wide tree as a centerpiece. I have a real fear of heights, but I never felt afraid. After all, there were barriers between falling and me. We could see the other treehouses, the stables, the main gathering house, (which was on the ground), and a forest beyond. Getting our bags up was an adventure in ingenuity. They had a rope with pulleys installed on the side of the balcony, so we loaded them up from the ground. A luggage elevator if you will.

Days at the Treesort were a laid back, communal living kind of camp experience. We picnicked the first day, splashed in the natural (and cold) spring rock pond, picked wild blackberries, laid on wooden swings, and at night roasted marshmallows under the stars. I was unprepared for that last activity, but everyone was extraordinarily generous –more and more S’mores.

We had thought we’d want to make a bee line for the zip line, but after living life in the soaring treetops, we concluded we’d had just enough vertical exhilaration for now. Instead, the nearby Oregon Caves were calling. We answered that call. From up high, we explored deep down under. I like a well rounded experience.

Back at the Treesort, a few of us Moms (who had become fast friends) conspired to not cookout that night, but rather call a local caterer and pitched in together for some sumptuous baked ziti and fresh local greens and caramel bread pudding. A few shared bottles of wine, more stars a twinkling, kids running free in the darkness, and it seemed our wish on a star was there before our eyes.

Upon our return to LA, we looked at trees a little differently, but have managed to keep our feet on the ground. Most of the time. Now I’ve heard there’s a place where you can stay in an igloo,,,,,,