By CARY ORDWAY
If you’re like most people, you either had a treehouse when you were a kid, had a friend who had a treehouse or knew someone in the neighborhood who had a treehouse where the kids would go to get completely away from everything and be in your own little world. It was just part of growing up.
Well there is no reason you have to give up on that just because you happen to be, say, 40 years older. You can still go to a treehouse to get away from everything but, in this case, your treehouse will be just a bit more comfortable. If you do a getaway at Treehouse Point, just a few miles east of Seattle, you’ll be treated to a comfy bed, lots of picture windows looking out into the forest, and a certain charm that just can’t be duplicated anyplace else.
It was all Pete Nelson’s idea. He’s the one who can’t let go of the past and decided one day that he just wanted to become known as the treehouse guy. He’s built treehouses since he was a little boy and, guess what, he’s gotten a lot better at it over the years. He’s so good, in fact, that people come from all over the world to Fall City to watch and learn how he builds treehouses. His treehouse building school has made him internationally famous among those people who are fascinated by living up in a tree.
They’ll even hire Pete to design and build real homes built in the trees. If you can imagine, some people spend as much as $350,000 to create a home eight or ten feet above the ground. The homes may vary greatly in design and amenities, but the common denominator is that they are always in a tree.
Visit Treehouse Point and you can get an up-close look at several of Pete’s creations. Most are finished models but, while we were there, there were also some that were still under construction. Not that it detracted at all from the environment. If you enjoy being under a thick forest canopy surrounded by dozens of tall trees with a meandering stream and little hansel-and-gretel trails all over the place, then you’ll like Treehouse Point.
There are a half-dozen or so options for your stay and they vary a lot in space, layout, and amenities. There are houses built way up in trees, others closer to the ground. Some are set off by themselves, while others are more clustered. Every room design seems a little different, but all of them interesting and unique.
We stayed in the Trillium, a treehouse that is very tall and narrow with a sleeping loft many, many feet above the sitting room. Windows are everywhere so be sure and turn out the lights before you crawl into bed. Not ready to retire yet? Enjoy a quiet few hours of reading in the sitting area. Chairs and lights make it easy to stretch out and page through a good book. There’s no TV, but somehow that just wouldn’t seem right anyway.
Trillium is one of a few treehouses on the property that don’t have a restroom in the treehouse, requiring a walk down the spiral staircase (which circumnavigates the tree trunk several times) to the ground below where nearby there is access to a restroom and bath area in a separate building. It’s a little funky, but no different than staying in a bed-and-breakfast inn that has a bath down the hall. Well, there is one difference – you do go down quite a few stairs to get there. Our advice: Try to do anything you would do in a bathroom before you go to bed so you don’t have to make this little journey in the middle of the night.
So what’s it like sleeping in a treehouse? Well even if you did try that when you were a kid, this is likely to be quite a bit more comfortable. The beds are truly the same quality as the five-star hotels we’ve visited. Normally, we would guess, the forest is pretty quiet and dark, but this night we had some wind and rustling trees so, interestingly, the house swayed just a little bit. And it creaked. Not enough to keep anyone away, but enough that it was noticeable.
In the morning, we awakened to a couple of inches of new snow during our late fall visit. We enjoyed a breakfast of homemade yogurt and granola, fruit and juice and then spent a little time playing in the snow. Soon it was time to leave these childhood memories and go back to the real world, just like we remember doing a few decades ago.
WHERE: Treehouse Point is located in Fall City, Washington, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle and within a few miles of the main east-west highway, Interstate 90. This also is quite close to the town of Snoqualmie, which is a tourist destination of its own with the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad, Snoqualmie Falls, and the Salish Lodge. Numerous restaurants are located in the area.
WHAT: Treehouse Point is all about dreams and making them come true. There were the dreams of Pete Nelson who always wanted to be the Treehouse Guy and there are the dreams of anyone who has wondered what it would be like to stay in a fairy-tale style treehouse.
WHEN: The beauty of this type of experience is that it’s not so dependent on weather. With the forest canopy you may get a little less sunshine on a sunny day, but you’ll also get less rain on a rainy day. Given Seattle’s weather pattern, the canopy probably is a net plus. And it’s perfect to visit any time of the year.
WHY: As mentioned, this is a bed-and-breakfast stay for dreamers or those who want to stay someplace they may only experience once in a lifetime. A stay in a treehouse is definitely a memorable experience and will give you great stories to tell around the water cooler.
HOW: For more information on Treehouse Point, phone (425) 441-8087 or go to www.treehousepoint.com.