Tuesday, June 28, 2011

World's Largest Treehouse

Two weeks ago, my pal Sarah and I visited what might just be the world's Largest Treehouse.  Located in Crossville, TN just a mile or so off Interstate 40, this monsterous treehouse was created by Horace Burgess, a local minister who was inspired to start builing the treehouse eleven years ago, and essentially never stopped.  According to one of the treehouse employees, Mr. Burgess started with one tree, and now the house has expanded to encompass ten large trees.  Most of the materials have been donated.

Just one corner of the multi-story treehouse

When you drive up the gravel road to the treehouse and view it for the first time, it is just astounding.  Sarah and I stared at it in wonderment before exploring all its nooks and crannies- which include a bell tower, chapel, swing, and several trap doors.  A young man and his mother employed by Mr. Burgess patroled the grounds and treehouse in an effort to stop graffiti (despite their best efforts it is still pretty rampant).  There was also a tin teepee set up nearby that I assumed served as a bunk for overnight patrols.  Apparently they had just busted some teens the night before who had broken into the treehouse at around 3 a.m.

Sarah enjoying the 'swing'

Once you get to the very top of the treehouse, be sure to look down and you will see the word 'Jesus' written out in landscaping across the field below.  Mr. Burgess holds church in the chapel on most Sundays and there have even been several weddings in the treehouse. 

It amazes me that this place is open for free to the public.  It is a definite must-see if you are in Tennessee.  You can find directions by searching for 'the Minister's treehouse' at Roadside America.  Although entrance is free, there is a donation box and trust me, you will be inspired to donate after seeing Mr. Burgess's eleven-year effort born out of personal inspiration.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Running down Short Mountain

Earlier this Spring, my friend Sarah and I participated in the Stones River Relay, a 22-mile relay of running, biking, and kayaking across Cannon County, TN that benefits the Stones River Watershed Association.  Since my right arm was fractured only a few weeks before in a biking accident, and Sarah was having leg pains from marathon training, we decided that I would run and she would bike and kayak.  Together, our two broken bodies made a full team- and an excellent one at that, but more on that later. 

We arrive at the Cannon County Arts Center early despite a brief, unsuccessful attempt to find trail mix in the town of Woodbury.  The one gas station we stopped at was literally empty with the exception of one lone shelf that held a couple of old candy bars.  Why they needed two cashier's to handle my purchase of a circa 1990s Snickers bar is beyond me.  No luck at the grocery store either- but fyi, they do have quite an excellent selection of  refrigerated corn dogs. 

Once we signed in and tagged our gear, we loaded up on one of three school buses that take participants up to the top of Short Mountain to begin the relay at a mountain-top bible camp.  Although Sarah didn't run, she rode the bus to the very top of the mountain where the run begins. As we rode up the mountain and I saw the descent I would have to run back down, I realized:  Shit. I am so not prepared for this.  But, since I didn't plan on staying the night at the Short Mountain Bible camp, I decided to just go for it, and I actually made really good time (despite waking up with severe calf cramps the next day).  Once I made it to Short Mountain school, Sarah was able to take off on her bike as I waited for the school bus to take me back down to the Stones River. 

By the time I did get back to the kayak entry point for the Stones River, Sarah had already beaten me down there on her bike, so I hopped in her car and drove over to the finish line at the historic Readyville Mill.  I watched Sarah paddle in at 11th place, thus making our team the 11th overall and 1st all-girl team to finish this year's race.  I will definitely do this race next year- it was scenic, not too crowded, and the proceeds go to a great cause: preserving the Stones River watershed.  Plus, there's a catfish mascot.