Anthony Chabot (4) – and treehouse

Thanks, Dad

This post will be very minimally about camping, and mostly about how change is sometimes hard, even when it’s good. I’m blogging about it for two reasons. First, it is sort of loosely related to Dory1, in the sense that we are still slowly taking steps to get her back, in her own permanent private campground, in our own back yard. The first visible progress happened this week and it was an emotional gut punch. Second, as this has become my personal online journal, it’s the only place I can ever find things. So I want to memorialize my dad’s treehouse here.

This thing was solid.

Back when I was still busy making home improvement plans, the offspring were still children, and my dad was young, I coaxed him into an ambitious project. It took weeks and probably a lot of money, not to mention some serious engineering. Dad was game and took on the treehouse project in the obsessive, quasi crazy, and definitely dangerous way that he approached most things. He sat up on our hillside with power tools and saws, day after day, until the light faded, and then he kept going for a few more hours. When it was done, it was a spectacular feat of craftsmanship. It had doors and ladders, and a trap door, and a porch. My contribution was in making custom canvas curtains and a basket-on-pulley sandwich delivery system. It was the kind of thing I dreamed of as a child and I was so grateful to him for creating this for his grandkids.

Nearly finished work

Fast forward twenty years and those trees have become fire hazards. The tongue and groove hardwood flooring, that was apparently the wrong kind of wood for outdoor use, had all fallen to the ground and was now a layer of well seasoned kindling. The huge beams that held the structure safely around the enormous tree trunks had long since split. The whole thing was massively unsafe and it had to go, along with the two big, beautiful trees that dominated the view I look at every day. The former children had stopped going up there years ago, but all of the other open space animals made good use of the habitat. Birds and squirrels, coyotes and foxes, deer and skunks and wild turkeys all liked to hang out around those giant trees. And my home desk sits in front of big windows that let me watch the nature show.

Tree #1 is down.

On Monday, crews showed up and I went off to work. According to Richard and neighbors (sorry neighbors), it was nonstop chainsawing all day long. They cleared out our hillside along with the forest above the property next door. I don’t know how many trees they removed, but the street was lined with lumber, despite the nonstop industrial level chipping that had been running full tilt. By the next day, most of it was down, and by the third day, they took down a ginormous Deodar Cedar at the front of our house. The one that provides shade and keeps the house cool when it is a hundred degrees. What was left seemed unrecognizable to me.

Ouch. No going back now.

I knew this was the right thing to do, but I sat outside that night, next to the pile of ex-treehouse lumber, and just sobbed. So much came to the surface. Grieving my dad, unfulfilled parenting dreams, climate change, nature loss, all of it. I eventually decided that I really needed to keep a piece of it. So I grabbed a 2×4 with only a few screws sticking out of it, because I could see the cuts my dad had made with his own hands. To be clear, I may have had a few at that point, which may have informed my decision to hold onto a piece of rotted wood with tetanus potential. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.

This is an ex treehouse.

I had the weekend to process. These plans we are making to ultimately get Dory1 into our back yard are akin to holding onto a piece of wood, except way more expensive. It’s all the lifey stuff, and it’s all a little crazy. But at least Dory1 has a solar powered fridge that we can rationalize would be handy when the power goes out. One notch more sane than keeping a 2×4, right? All the rest of the plans are normal, and something smart people would do. Like adding an ADU for our daughter or future tenant, and adding a bathroom for our bedroom. Definitely not crazy. This was the first physical step toward that eventual reality. And it hurt more than I expected. Richard has been adulting a lot to get all of these pieces moving. I reassured him that it was all going to be ok, that his adulting work was not going to be in vain. It’s the change in the middle that is hard. But that’s also the part that is your life.

So here’s to Grandpa Doug’s Treehouse, lovingly dedicated in July 2002. Thanks Dad.

As a camping P.S., the Anthony Chabot campground is very nice and smells strongly of Eucalyptus. Taking Pinehurst and Redwood Road is a bit exciting, as the roads are quite narrow and winding. Great for bikes and motorcycles. I knew them well though and just took it very slow. I had excellent cell service in the campground, which allowed me to complete the assignments for class #1 of 3. Since this place is almost literally in our backyard, a mere 14 miles from home, Richard rode from home and met me in the campground. He also rode home from there on Sunday. There were a lot of bikeys out, and he realized that he isn’t used to that anymore. Since we are never home on the weekends, and we tend to be in less populated areas when he rides, he’d forgotten that weekend riding at home is very popular in the Oakland hills.

Beautiful place, with views of SF Bay

We haven’t been there for a while because they were doing some work; probably removing trees actually. We had a hookup site and something was dodgy about the electrical. As soon as Richard plugged the cord in, the breaker on the power pole tripped. We were fine running off battery power, but that was the first time we could remember having glitchy electricity. The site had a sewer outlet, but we opted to use the regular dump, since it was nice and didn’t have a curb around it.

My friend Rita found me the perfect shirt. It’s my new motto. Maybe. Can’t remember….

All in all, it was a weekend that reaffirmed the importance of frequent camping, even if it is only fourteen miles away from home. Having that time to process through whatever went down the previous week is a precious thing. I take none of it for granted and am deeply grateful for all the things. All of it.

Total miles: 14.0, 57 min, 12.0 mpg (all uphill). Site 9 hookups. Excellent 5g for both, enough to download/upload. Site sewer was curby, but campground dump is good. Gate closes at 10pm and is 2 miles from campsites. Don’t get locked out.

2 thoughts on “Anthony Chabot (4) – and treehouse

  1. Alissa, This entry to your Blog is a loving tribute to your dad, your family values and to yourself. I could really feel the loving warmth of feelings you have for your dad. Thank you. It brought back wonderful memories of my own dad who my kids did not know (well, Matt remembers an elderly, kind gentleman with grey hair).
    I have trees dying in and around my property here in Walnut Creek, especially my birches. I expect to loose the remaining 4 out of the original 10 in the next 2-4 years, or so the arborist tells me. Sending hugs, Dee

    1. Thank you Dee. There is nothing quite like losing an old tree. They are time that cannot be purchased or replaced. All I can do is plant new ones, but I’ll be long gone by the time they grow up. And Dad…it’s circle of life stuff isn’t it? Hugs back.

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