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Reflections from a Treehouse

I didn't have a treehouse in my backyard when I was growing up. A few times, my aunt (who is only six months younger than I am and lived next door) and I planned to sleep outside overnight in a makeshift tent. We gathered blankets, pillows, games and snacks and actually lasted a few times until it was completely dark before scurrying back inside.

My Silver Fox, before his hair qualified for Silver Fox status, wanted us to go camping with the kids when they were small. His ideas of camping included sleeping bags on the bare ground and cooking over an open fire. My ideas tended more toward the deluxe motorhome variety. We compromised on an unairconditioned pop-up trailer (at least I'd be sleeping off the ground and inside something reasonably sturdy) and made some lifetime memories along the way. But, as a general rule, I'm not an outdoorsy, woodsy, commune-with-nature, roughing-it kind of girl.

In my role as a travel writer, however, I occasionally come across accounts of "glamping" accommodations in appealing places. Glamping (a.k.a. glamorous camping) is much more my style. Recently, Steve and I were invited to stay in one, and I picked out a "romantic treehouse near Chattanooga." Finally, at nearly 70 years of age, I'd get to do what I never did as a child.

The first thing I needed assurance about was having a bathroom inside, and since we were going in November, a source of heat seemed important. The one available through Treehouse Hideaways and seemed to have both, but when we arrived, there were other great amenities.

The tiny structure on stilts required a bit of a trek to reach from the parking area, but inside we found:

1) A shower with 4 jets and a glass-enclosed tree inside. We could watch the leaves fall all the way down while we showered.

2) A heated tile floor in the bathroom.

3) Wireless high-speed internet.

4) A s'mores kit -- chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, granola bars, bottled waters, a microwave and small fridge.

5) A tuft and needle mattress on the bed. I had never heard of such a thing, but it was actually quite comfortable.

6) A heating and cooling unit that was easily controlled.

7) Lots of windows and skylights. Even a floorlight in the shower. Very interesting to see the bed of leaves on the ground under the treehouse from INSIDE.

8) A sturdy ladder leading to an upstairs loft with two mattresses and large skylights. You can't stand up in that loft, but it would be a great sleeping spot for children.

9) An outside path led to a firepit surrounded by adirondack chairs with stacks of firewood and a covered container with kindling, matches and everything necessary to enjoy a nice fire. The fall day was warm and sunny, so this was the first thing we decided to do -- especially since the weather forecast warned of a big temperature drop coming during the night, along with icy precipitation.

10) There was another treehouse not far away, but it was unoccupied while we were there, creating a truly quiet, peaceful environment.

11) There was no television, but there was a deck of playing cards and several books. We played a few games of "Speed," listened to one of our son Matt's sermons on his church's website and talked. This was a great setting for communication and connecting.

12) It's good to get out of your routine from time to time. To deliberately plan a change of scenery and allow circumstances to force a disruption in normal activities. It's nice to be away from traffic noises and be able to hear the wind, the rustle of leaves, the crackle of a fire and the songs of birds.

13) I didn't want to actually cook, but we DID want to eat supper without having to get back in the car. So, we chose to pick up some chili and sandwiches from The Yellow Deli, on McCallie Avenue adjoining the campus of UT-Chattanooga. We used the microwave to reheat it when we got ready and enjoyed a tasty meal with no hassle. Voila!

14) Check out if any of this strikes a chord with you. In addition to treehouses, they have cabins, campervans, safari tents, tipis and yurts in over 31,000 locations around the world -- with varying amenities, of course. Pick a location, then explore the possibilities. Think of the stories you'll have to tell. :)

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