Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tree House Bed and Breakfast

If you are looking for a really unusual road trip in the Oregon woods, you've got to factor Out-n-About, the Treesort, into your list of potential destinations. Located practically next door to the Oregon Caves, a wonder themselves, the Treesort is an eclectic collection of amazing treehouses, tree-pees, platform campsites and cabins. There's a natural swimming hole in a meadow surrounded by Oak and Madrone, just below the Doug Fir and Pine forests on the hillsides around the valley.

But it's the tree houses that are mind boggling. One, for example, consists of three rooms; including a full-bath with claw-foot tub, a separate bedroom, and a sitting room with French doors onto a substantial balcony. Another, the subject of a Japanese TV spot, is 36 feet above the ground, again with French doors and a balcony. There's a "family compound" of treehouses, connected by rope bridges and equipped with bunks for the kids. And this is not Disneyland. There are dirt paths, horseback rides and hiking; river rafting and just plain hanging out. It's a low-key, laid-back place that often hosts overseas guests seeking that "out-of-the-ordinary" experience. And take it from me, it is totally out of the ordinary.

Like every truly unique location there's a fascinating story and a singularly unique individual behind the treehouses in Takilma. Proprietor Michael Garnier has lived in the area for over 30 years. He's a former Green Beret who does things his own way, without a lot or regard for the opinions of others. In other words, he's a real Oregonian. You need to have him tell you the stories about how his dream became a reality. I wouldn't even go there, it's his story to tell. Suffice it to say there was an epic struggle with some clueless bureaucrats over decades covering a variety of issues. Bottom line: Michael won. The guy's made a significant contribution to the area's economy, created jobs and maintained a pretty light footprint on the land in the process. He's got serious cred as an early environmental activist, and roots in the oldest and best known commune in the state.

So here's the trip. Fly or drive to Medford. Stay a night or two, visit Crater Lake and Ashland. Then, head out through Grants Pass to the Illinois Valley and Cave Junction. Stay at the treesort and visit the Oregon Caves. If you've got the time, cap off the trip with a visit to the Coast and a night or two at the Best Western on the beach in Brookings. Come on by, you know you want to. Just to check out the treehouses. The rest is cake.

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