Northwest NEWS

March 29, 1999

Front Page

Sky-high haven

Treehouse makes for great weekend getaway


Ed McBee's treehouse that he built with friend Randy Geiger will be featured on an upcoming TV show.
Staff photo by Lisa Allen.

   by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   DUVALL--Forty-five feet straight up. That's about the only way to describe how to get into Ed McBee's vacation cabin.

   Its lofty height is reminiscent of a Jack and the Beanstalk castle-in-the-sky. Just looking up at it is a dizzying sight, even before thinking about the trek to the top. But McBee scrambles up easily using a series of two-by-fours and hooked spikes hammered into the tree trunks.

   And once there, he says, "not only is there a great view of the Cascades, it's also very peaceful."

   McBee, 44, built the treehouse on his five-acre property east of Duvall with friend Randy Geiger, a Woodinville telephone repairman. The pair tackled the job with great enthusiasm, beginning the project in August of 1994 and finishing in May of '95.

   "That particular tree (a big-leaf maple) is very well suited, with four trunks," he said. "It's hard to find a tree that would be easy to build a treehouse in and we tried to take advantage of its geometry, centering it in the middle."

   Using safety harnesses, the pair pulled up lumber and other necessities with ropes. After completing the structure and deck of the 200-square-foot house, they furnished it with double foldup bunk beds, table and chairs, and a TV and stereo system that runs on a "deep cycle" battery, the kind that is used in RVs and boats. A salvaged French door opens onto the deck, and a Dutch door can be opened to catch items that are brought up and down on a pulley system.

   For night climbs there are lights powered by a 12-volt battery. The series of lights operates on a three-way switch, so the lights can be turned off at both the top and bottom. Halfway up is a platform for barbecuing.

   Was all this a boyhood dream? "We just did it for fun," McBee says.

   McBee says the treehouse does sway in the wind, but "not as much as you would expect," admitting he has visited the treehouse during winds with gusts as high as 60 m.p.h., "just for the experience, which was scary."

   The treehouse has attracted attention from around the globe. It has been written about in both the German periodical Stern and the Smithsonian magazine, and will be featured in an upcoming Home & Garden TV (TCI basic cable) program.

   Filming for the TV show made for pretty cramped quarters inside, he said. "The treehouse is pretty comfy for two, but they had a five-person crew up there, plus the two of us for nine hours while they filmed," McBee said. "One of the crew hit a golf ball off the deck, then they filmed another ball rolling on the lawn below to finish the shot."

   The program is scheduled for airing on April 4 at 6 and 9 p.m.; April 7 at 7 and 10 p.m.; and April 10 at 2 p.m. on the Summit Channel (36) in the Duvall area.

   McBee, a barber, owned Avondale Barbers for eight years before moving to Haircuts Plus in Duvall three years ago. Although he still lives in the Cottage Lake area with his wife Carol, he says he hopes to build a "real house" on the Duvall acreage in the next couple of years.