Monday, March 15, 2010

So How Does One Get Up Into the Treehouse?

In the dreaming-about-it phase of the treehouse, we had multiple ways up. There was especially a rope net ladder - very piratey. There was a fireman's pole; a big brass post for sliding down.

The reality became what you see on the right. The trees in the rainforest grow slowly. Unlike other parts of the island that are very warm, the temperature is cool here on top of the volcano. These trees are about 200 years old, but their girth is not sufficient to prop up a house in their upper branches. The treehouse gains almost twenty feet of loft from the bubble of lava in the lava tube over which it is built. The trees grow directly out of the bubble, and are the largest trees in the area. To get into the treehouse, you first ascend the lava tube.

Our rock designer Tony brought in massive chunks of lava rock that he moved by leverage. He studied the rise and absorbed the feeling of the structure. He said prayers to Akua and moved the stones into place.

Our builder wanted steep steps up to the first platform. He said that people entering the treehouse should know by the way up that they are entering a treehouse and not a ground house. So as you walk up, you must hold onto the railing. Even in the slippery wetness of the rain, there are good firm handholds, as you grip behind the bamboo posts. You are glad you are not trying to bring too much in with you.

Whether you are staying at the treehouse or elsewhere in the rainforest of Kilauea, consider bringing along a waterproof lightweight jacket, closed-toed shoes that easily slip on and off but fit your foot snugly, pants that roll up and stay up, sleeveless shirt and long sleeved tee shirt, and socks or indoor slippers. A hat with a brim. A microfiber jacket or vest or sweatshirt will be welcome. You will not need bug spray, and the hat and jacket take the place of the umbrella.

Rain in the rainforest: like snow to the Inuits is rain to the Hawaiians. We have lots of different types of rain. Here at 4000 feet, we frequently have pineapple rain. The tiniest misty droplets fall. You can barely feel it on your skin. You can be outside in it for several minutes and not get wet. It comes and goes so subtly you may not be sure you are in mist or in a cloud. Some call this area the cloud forest. When the raindrops are more formed, you may be tempted to treat it as if it is pineapple rain and linger outside, probably trying to get some outside work done. After awhile, you notice you are getting wet. You feel the rain in your face, and may be tempted to tip your head back with your mouth open and drink directly from the sky, but realize there is not all that much water coming down. The varying stages of rain continue, all the way to monsoon, where the sky opens and sheds water in such quantities that you are not sure you want to see what walking in that downpour would feel like. You will get drenched no matter what you are wearing, and the feeling may be like being under a waterfall. As you contemplate it, you wonder if you have ever seen such rain before, and if you ever will again. It is seldom, and it does happen, and you marvel.

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