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Rock-a-Bye Baby

Web only: Four more tree-house hotels

If the Merry Pranksters ran a camp for families, it would probably look a lot like Out 'n' About Treesort. A collection of tree houses in the woods of Takilma, in southern Oregon, the resort has room for 50 guests in its sky cabins—the Peacock Perch and Serendipitree among them. And the loose schedule of activities ("activitrees," in the parlance of this arboreal operation) is heavy on such sixties survival skills as juggling, batik, and mosaic making.

My wife and I weren't looking for a tie-dyed idyll when we considered the Treesort; we just wanted a summer place away from the theme parks and fried-dough stands. Somewhere new to us and our six-year-old son, Timothy, filled with car-stopping landscapes, oddball roadside attractions, and woodsy fun.

We check in at Out 'n' About simply by checking off our names on a grease board. There's no registration desk and no keys. No credit-card imprint required; the honor system rules here. Our adventure begins immediately: we must climb a spiral staircase, a regular flight of stairs, a second spiral staircase, then negotiate two lengthy suspension bridges to arrive at our room, the Treezebo, 37 feet above the ground. Girdling a sturdy Douglas fir, the hexagonal cabin has enough amenities to shame a Winnebago Chieftain: sink, flush toilet, electricity, mini-fridge, queen bed, and boom box.

"Where's room service?" Timothy asks.

I point to a pulley attached to the structure, with a rope for heaving up luggage. There's your bellhop.

I'm heartened by the fact that there's no television or telephone in the Treezebo, though I'm a bit unnerved by the altitude, the sheer amount of open air above the half walls—canvas flaps can be lowered in bad weather, but there are no windows or screens—and the knee-high bench where Timothy plans to sleep. Instead I make him a bed on the cabin floor with the bench cushions.

From this glorified crow's nest we have a panoramic view of the wooded property and its outbuildings, including stables, a bathhouse, and a stage for kids' performances. Nearby rises the massive black oak that inspired owner Michael Garnier to buy this spread in 1974 and open a B&B. Working without sketches or blueprints, the onetime college engineering major erected a tree house for his own use. But the cozy space proved so popular that Garnier started renting it out to guests—resulting in a lengthy battle with Josephine County authorities, who wouldn't abide a business, especially one in a tree, without a building permit.

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