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Oregon treehouse resort makes use of statea€™s greatest natural resourceA At the Out 'n' About Treehouse 'Treesort' in Cave Junction, Oregon, guests stay in treehouses and get around on ziplines.
The Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort is the brainchild of builder Michael Garnier, who built the treetop metropolis in Cave Junction, Oregon - where trees are the number one natural resource. Michael, known as an expert in treehouse construction, uses sliding brackets which allow the trees to move without tearing the treehouses apart. The treehouses are accessed by a series of ladders and spiral staircases, and guests can roam around on catwalks connecting the various treehouses together. Because some of the treehouses are located as high as six stories above ground, the housekeepers at the Treesort use ropes and pulleys to raise and lower cleaning equipment.
Each treehouse offers different facilities with some featuring all the mod-cons from bathrooms, a fridge, microwave, dining tables with space to sleep up to 10 people. Some don't have inside bathrooms and are just big enough for two people while some of the bigger rooms have two floors, decks and are up to 35ft above the ground. The Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort also features forts made especially for children, five swings plus the Giant Tarzan, a swimming pool and over a mile of ziplines, with summer rates starting at $160. It's a dream many of us have cherished at one time or another - the primitive desire to escape to a simple, idealistic existence, living off the land - where Mother Nature, rather than Tesco, satisfies our stomachs.
Daydreams and adventure novels aside, most of us would never contemplate doing what author Nick Weston, a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, actually did - building and living in a treehouse in the woods of southern England, foraging for food, in a six-month experiment to see if it was possible to live as a 21stcentury hunter-gatherer.
Nick, 28, who appeared in Channel 4's Shipwrecked and is a self-styled survivalist, found himself short of work, thanks to the credit crunch, but chose to turn the situation to his advantage by seeking to fulfil a boyhood dream of living self-sufficiently in a treehouse he'd built himself near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
Nick duly trawled the internet, public library and local DIY stores for information about how to go about building his new life - and last April embarked on his challenge. So he allowed himself 'a few staples' to enhance the fresh produce he got from hunting or from the vegetable patch he cultivated next to his treehouse. He charted his progress in a blog which averaged 2,000 hits a day - and it wasn't long before his adventure captured the attention of the media. I spend the next couple of days digging the ground of my new vegetable patch, making my own fencing and building wigwams for my runner beans. It's been a horrible weekend of saying goodbyes and clearing out the London flat I shared with my girlfriend, Clare. Today has made me realise just how much work needs to go into the opening stages of a project like this. I manage to shoot a rabbit for dinner and eat it with some steamed nettles, but I hadn't realised how long the tree house would take to make. I've decided I can't live in the wood full-time until the treehouse is finished, though it feels a cop-out.
I'm a real meat-lover and I find I get extremely anxious - almost panicky - by the evening if I have no protein for the table. I've now made myself a comfortable bed and, thanks to my hard work, I am well-fed, so I am pretty content. I'd like to explore a bit further afield and hit upon the idea of making a trip along the river in a coracle I'm building myself.
I think there's a Huckleberry Finn deep in every boy who wants to explore a river and sleep rough - and this little excursion is my chance to do it. Today is my last night alone in the treehouse, and as I wander out to hunt a rabbit for supper, I think about how much the seasons have changed and how my life has been intertwined with them. Nick's biggest single expense was the A?170 he spent on lengths of new timber for the foundations of his treehouse. The rooms, some fully-equipped and 35 feet off the ground, are accessible by ladders or spiral staircases. It’s a perfect and dreamy kid’s own place to rest, read a book or just think about something on a sunny summer day. First, he set some ground rules: this was not supposed to be an exercise in all-out survival, nor was it a trial period as a hermit.
These included olive oil, salt, pepper, flour, vinegar, tea, coffee, sugar, rice and yeast.
A magazine column followed - and, much to Nick's bemusement, he was even besieged by TV crews for a week in July. I spoke to some family friends, who own a large farm, and offered to do some odd jobs in return for permission to build a treehouse in their woods.
The enormous pile of planks is daunting - it's time to turn my kitchen table sketches into reality.
In my excitement I wake at 6.30am under the tarpaulin sheeting I've erected to serve as base camp until the treehouse is ready. It's midnight and I'm listening to the crackle of the fire and the faint screech of an owl. Spending the day gathering and cutting materials, working on the treehouse and then having to hunt and gather food to eat is proving a real nightmare.
With a budget of only A? 30 0 for the bui lding project, I'm cutting down the wood myself with a saw.
I need to concentrate on creating my crops and home, so decide to crash out several nights a week at my parents' home nearby. He's not scared of me and, as I don't need him for the pot just yet, I decide to call him Jeff and feed him any meagre scraps.
It's not a one-man job, so my long-suffering friends, Tom and Chris, help me put up the corrugated iron and tarpaulin sheet. Dusk was announced by the 'tak-tak' of the blackbird and the wood settled into silence at about 9.30pm. Even though I lived here for years and have only been away for a month, I am immediately struck by the pent-up anger of my fellow commuters. The next morning I find I've caught an eel, which I stun, behead, gut and put into my portable smoker.
Usually there are plenty of rabbits and, within 15 minutes, I've bagged a medium-sized coney, which I marinate with lemon juice, wild garlic, herbs and a dash of cider vinegar before pan-frying it on Bertha along with rice, steamed hop shoots and wilted spinach from the patch.
I miss surprisingly few 21st-century gadgets - though I do have my iPod with a solar-powered charger and a wind-up radio. I do miss running water - fetching supplies from the nearby farm a couple of times a week is a chore. Navigating the jungle-like tangle of plants along the river makes my surroundings feel more like Siam than Sussex. Looking back over my time in the woods, I realise I have discovered something new almost every day. The longest planks were bolted onto the side of the tree at a height of 2.3m (7A?ft), using five coach screws on each side, and the shorter planks were rested on top of them and also screwed into the tree. Builder Michael Garnier says the resort makes the most of Oregon's number one natural resource: trees. To make it you need a circular or hand saw, power drill with a philips screw bit, level, 6”-8” screws or nails (nails are stronger) for the frame, 3″ screws for the deck, 2-6 foot 2”x6”pieces, 2-filler pieces of 2”x6”, 8-4’ decking pieces or 1”x6”, small cut branch logs.
Life would go on as normal, except for his diet and living arrangements - because he wanted to enjoy the experience and not feel he had to struggle through a ridiculous challenge he had set himself. This also included spending a couple of hundred pounds on wood and equipment to make his treehouse, which Nick vowed to build using recycled and natural materials as much as possible. Nick also kept a diary of the joys and hardships of tree-top living, which have now been published as a new book. My new landlords seem intrigued by the idea - so now it's time to begin this whole crazy adventure. A local garage gives me an old one - and, with the help of a jigsaw, a drill, pliers, bolts, a hinge and a few L-brackets, I convert it into a stove I've named Bertha, after the extraordinarily capable factory machine in the 1970s TV show Bertha I watched as a kid.
I am pleased with my surroundings, but to be honest, I'm a touch anxious about living on my own in a wood.
There just aren't enough hours in the day and I am finding it more exhausting than I'd anticipated.
Over the next weeks I will be able to devote myself to making the flooring and building a shower from a bucket and a watering can.
We finish - just in time to retreat from a deluge of Biblical proportions, which sets in for the night. Tonight, I enjoyed my first salad from the garden: lettuce, spinach topped with wild garlic, bitter cress and a handful of garden peas added to a bowl of rice cooked in stock. I'm purposely avoiding the doom and gloom of the news and mostly listen to Radio 4 for company. But most of all I miss Clare and the company of my friends, though many of them are coming down at weekends to escape the city now the weather is hot.
While it's illegal to shoot one, I decided that this was my chance to try badger meat, so took it home to skin. I have become aware of the culinary versatility of our native flora and fauna - and now consider rabbits, pigeons, hop shoots and nettles as if they were everyday ingredients.
It was built by Michael Garnier a€?in an effort to make a living off of Oregona€™s number one natural resource [trees] without cutting them down,a€™ he said.
Basically, you need to attach the foundation on a strong but not too thick tree, then insert cross braces, lay deck, add some extra deck to make it easier to move around a tree, install staircase using small logs and decorate it with rugs and pillows. Now I'm worried about how I'm going to feed myself properly and build a tree house at the same time. Later in the month I splash out A?10 at a demolition yard on a mahogany seat for the loo I'm building over a pit I've dug. I offer them a bottle of my home-brewed nettle beer (which tastes more like cider) and we eat dinner. Looking out at a moonlit wood is a bit unnerving: the shadows form familiar shapes, but I keep waiting for movement.
I'd always thought that if push came to shove he'd end up in the pot, but Mother Nature pulled the strings not me. I made badger burgers from the meat and I tried them out on plenty of people - the feedback was pretty positive. And as my vegetable patch will only feed me until November and the wild larder only supplies 60 per cent of my food, staying here all winter is not going to be feasible. My bond with the countryside has also become stronger than ever, but, most of all, my time in the woods has given me confidence. Support posts were made by chopping down surrounding sycamore, hazel and ash treesA -A and these were fitted with a wooden foot to spread the load of the final tree house. We size up the tree I've chosen to build my house around and decide we need to cut down some trees to make support posts. I'm going to use sawdust and ash from Bertha as my home-made waste disposal system, but I reckon I need a decent loo seat - besides I also want to keep Clare happy on her weekend visits to the treehouse. As I listen to the rhythmic drumming of the rain, it feels more like being in a rainforest than the Sussex countryside.
These were dropped into a pit 30cm (12in) deep and covered with soil, which nick and his friends packed down with their feet. I am also craving company - I'm finding the solitary lifestyle harder to cope with than I'd thought. We build a fire pit and tuck into some supper before getting into our sleeping bags for a well-earned rest.
I now know that no matter how bad or desperate times become, I can always go back - to the woods, the fields and the places where wild things roam free - and not only survive, but thrive.GOING UP!
I'm lying on the hard ground, but I think a sore back is going to be the least of my worries.. He was determined to make his house as attractive as possible, so was delighted to hit on the idea of using dead y-shaped oak branches to add character to the balcony banisters.
Next came the roof lintel, which was fixed to the tree with coach screws and l brackets, while the other end rested in a convenient fork of the support post and was screwed into place using builders band. The rafters could then be fittedA -A and came from birch trees from a different part of the wood, so as not to denude the area. Birch was also used for the ladder, which had seven rungs, split in half to ensure a tight fit in the ladder notches and a flat surface for screws.
When fitting the sheets together it was important to ensure they overlapped by at least two 'peaks and troughs' to form a weatherproof seal. One of the firms he had once worked for donated some Perspex for the windows, which he fitted into frames he had laboriously made himself.
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