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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Treehouse living

I set out to build a treehouse today.  I have this great tree that has a notch where two limbs branch in a "V".  The notch is about 8 feet off the ground and the tree is in the corner of my yard.  Because of the height, I constrained my design to a double decker treehouse and really liked this site:

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-build-a-double-decker-playhouse/index.html

This post has good info on digging postholes:http://www.familyhandyman.com/garden-structures/fences/how-to-dig-a-hole-pro-tips/view-all

In addition to the lumber and bolts, all I really needed was the digging bar (borrowed), clamshell digger ($40 at HD), and I got a short $10 utility shovel really for the kids but it turned out to be really handy to dig out some rocks and the like.

I got one of the 4x4s set in a posthole I dug - it wasn't too much work at all.  With the recommended 36" postholes, it looks like I will need a bag of rapidset cement per post.   This first post is inline with the tree notch, so the next step is to set the crossbeam joist from the tree notch, level it and attach it to the 4x4 post.  Then I will add the other 2 posts and put a deck on this platform.  I'm going to start there and add on modularly to spread out the work, and let the kids weigh in on what they want to go into the design.

The one open question is if I should just rest the crossbeam in the tree notch or tie it with rope by lacing around a figure eight around the beam and tree branches.  I've read some that rope can strangle a growing tree.  These sites seems to indicate resting in the tree crotch is fine:

http://www.ronhazelton.com/projects/how_to_build_a_tree_house_or_tree_fort
http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Treehouse/Phase_1/page.html

This site recommends adding some rope but I think that may be relevant if no ground posts are used:

http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/service/library/index.php3?docID=133&docHistory%5B%5D=2

For finishing touches, this site seemed thorough:

http://www.dorothyainsworth.com/tree/house.shtml

Do you know of any other good information sources for treehouses?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Loft Mountain Campground, Shenandoah National Park, VA

Loft mountain was a great introduction to camping for our 5 and 2 yo. It's car camping, so your packed up car is steps away, and 30 seconds more walking brings you to potable water and fully functioning bathrooms. A campstore stocked with any supplies you may have forgot, firewood and even great local beer is a 30 second drive from your campsite.  There are even showers, if it gets to that point!

Our campsite had a path connecting to the Appalachian trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine - it's interesting to see backpackers passing on the trail and the kids learned to ask "how long have you been out". Some since March! This cool memorial day week-end was the perfect time to go, with no bugs and just slighlty cold nights that made sleeping in a little more inviting. We shared our site with another family and split meal prep which worked out great. The kids brought scooters to push around the paved loop road. With a 2 year old, some vigilance was necessary for the loop road as well as a few spots with cliffs when on the Appalachian Trail - but overall the site is really kid-friendly. The activites ranged from hiking to waterfalls, sunset watching, stopping for ice cream at the campstore, ranger talks about birds and wildlife in the park and generally hanging around the campfire.  The drive from Takoma Park was just under 3 hours.  We got their on a Thursday of the Memorial Day weekend and obtained a great site without reservations.  Otherwise, we noticed a long line of cars unable to get it due to full capacity - so a reservation would be wise: http://www.recreation.gov/camping/loft-mountain-campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70852

 
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We stopped for lunch on the way there at the renowned red-truck bakery, rated one of the 50 best in the country! Order your sandwiches a day ahead as they are so busy they may run out!

 
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