Treehouse B&B is a Charmer
Sunday Telegram, Cambridge, MA
If given the
opportunity to stay in a treehouse, I'm going to stay in a
discovered when researching plans to canoe for a couple of days on one of the
rivers in South Carolina's sprawling ACE basin, which encompasses about 350,000
acres in the state's coastal plain and gets it name from the area's three
rivers: the Ashepoo, the Combahee, and the Edisto.
Christine, and I flew down from New England in early March for a wedding and
had some extra time. Looking online, all three of the basin's rivers looked
beautiful. But our decision turned out to be an easy one when I stumbled across
Carolina Heritage Outfitters.
his wife, Anne, and son, Beau, owners of Carolina Heritage, built their first
treehouse in 1995 on a hairpin turn in the Edisto River surrounded by a
wildlife sanctuary. Consulting an arborist, they chose three stout oaks and a
cypress to hold the house and its dining deck. They has been a popular
everybody, when they were little kids, either experienced some sort of
treehouse or tree fort or wanted to," says Scott Kennedy. "It's
I fell in the
We parked our
car at the outpost and were shuttled up river about 12 miles beyond the
treehouse. We'd spend a day paddling there and the next day paddle back to our
car. We launched at the junction of Highway 21.
The Edisto is
one of the longest blackwater rivers in North America, winding 300 miles from
its headwaters in Edgefield and Saluda counties to the Atlantic.
But unlike the
yellow-bellied slider - the Edisto's ubiquitous turtle, which is, in fact,
yellow bellied - the river's famous blackwater is not black at all. It's a
reddish brown, the color of strong tea. It's colored by tannin released from
decomposing organic matter in the surrounding swampland.
March, trees are still denuded from winter, and the moss-draped cypress looming
over the dark, slow-moving water creates the sort of Southern gothic portrait
that makes outsiders feel there's something eerie going on.
carries a canoe at a lazy pace, which was just fine by us. The sun was shining,
the bugs and humidity were still a month away, and we hoped to get a glimpse of
the river's wildlife, which just might mistake us for two of their own out
sunning ourselves on the Edisto.
birds obliged us nicely. Great egrets and their cousin the great blue heron
waded in the shallows or burst from their perches in the pines.
kingfishers, the Blue Angels of the Edisto, swooped inches above the water,
maneuvering with a quick bob and weave around fallen trees. Wood ducks skimmed
their wings along the water as they raced away, quacking like madmen the whole
river's most prominent species, the yellow-bellied slider, proved a much less
cordial host. Fifty feet away we would see five turtles sunning themselves on a
half-submerged log. And they'd see us. Like Navy SEALS on night time
reconnaissance, the turtles would slide their camouflaged bodies silently into
the drink. Every time we would even begin to get close enough for a good look,
they would disappear.
coming on a turn in the river, one actually let us get close. We soon realized
that he was stuck on the log, unable to gain a footing to slide into the water.
We helped him off the log and paddled on to the treehouse.
destinations look better in person than in the pictures. This was one of
canoe nearly at its steps, we carried our gear up. My wife walked in first.
"Oh, it's cute," she said earnestly.
If this same
structure were on the ground, it would be cramped. But 20 feet in the air, it's
cozy and special. You are up in a tree - and here's a little couch and a
to the spacious dining deck and had drinks. After trouncing my wife in a few
games of gin, we grilled the chicken we'd brought and had more
As we finished
dinner and cleaned up, the solar lamp on the side of the house came on and
lightning bugs started flashing. We went inside and read by gaslight until it
was time to climb into the sleeping loft.
An owl hooted
in the moonlight, something shuffled in the brush, and I locked the door
despite myself. Out in a swampy flood plain, I fell asleep imaging how I would
defend my wife against our attackers. I felt sure the cast iron skillet above
the gas stove would come in handy.
morning was calm, a light fog hanging over the babbling river. The Kennedys
leave a cooler with breakfast fixings for their guests: sausage, eggs, bagels,
juice. We cranked up the stove and cooked a big meal. We washed it down with
piping hot coffee and orange juice. Sitting there on the deck overlooking the
river we had that vacation moment you always hope for: pure
When we had
loaded up and gotten back on the water, the Edisto gently took hold and
escorted us down the river.
Sam Smith, a frequent contributor to the Boston Globe's Health/Science
Section, lives in Maine.
Located midway between Charleston, Columbia & Savannah
Convenient for overnight stays from Charlotte & Atlanta
Find us using Mapquest, Garvin, etc. by entering: 1 Livery Lane, St. George, SC 29477
Our physical location is on the river on Hwy 15 in Canadys, SC
TREEHOUSE & CANOE RENTALS: APRIL 1 THROUGH NOVEMBER 19