Here is the play set, as it began in the Fall of 1996. Mother-in-Law wanted to buy our kids a swing set, and DH told her to give him the money instead and he would purchase lumber to built a sturdy structure that would last versus a painted pipe contraption from the (discount) store that probably wouldn't still be usable when the eldest kid outgrew it in 5-7 years.
What he bought, was 8-foot long 4"x4"s, a few 2"x6"s, a few 2"x4"s, a long 4"x6", and some wolmanized deck boards. Also, a really thick dowel that he used for making the ladder rungs. My parents donated the 'curvy' slide (which, I think cost about $90 at the time.) In the above picture, he has gotten the platform and ladder built, the attached A-frame arm for the swings had not been put on yet. The platform (and footprint of the structure) is 6' x 8', with the platform being about 5' off the ground.
As you can see, the kids were anxious to start playing on it! DH hadn't even put on the safety pickets around the platform to keep them from falling off yet. Honestly, he'd run out of money for them, so the safety features were put on hold and we hoped none of the kids (ages 7, 3 and 2) would fall off. (They didn't, then or at any time in the future--we never did get the top enclosed to be 'safe'). A few months later, we purchased our first house (the play set was erected at the house we had been renting), and we borrowed a flatbed trailer to move it (in two pieces: swing arm and platform) to our new home.
The next picture, taken almost five years later, you can see the swings. The big kid swinging his little sister was the one in the red coat going down the slide in the previous picture. The little sister spider-swinging with him wasn't even a twinkle in her father's eye at the time the first picture was taken. I don't think a 100 pound almost-teenager could swing his 40 pound little sis on one of those 'normal' pipe style swing sets without bending the frame. As you can see, this play set isn't stressed in the least by that much weight pulling on it.
The next picture was taken the next spring, after an ice storm knocked a fairly large tree limb down onto the top of the play set. The slide came apart slightly (and was easily fixed), but that was the only damage.
That summer, we moved to this little place here. For the move, the swing arm was detached, and the platform section laid down onto a trailer to be driven the 25 miles to this little place here from the old house. The cabin you see in the background of the above photo was also moved to this little place here. It was built by Mother-in-Law, from pine she cut out of her woods, cut to length, and hauled the three-hour drive to our house so she could built my kids a log cabin playhouse.
Fast forward nine years. The biggest kid hasn't played on the play set in about seven years. The next biggest kid, who is the background of the first picture, climbing up the ladder, hasn't played on the play set in about three years. The third kid, who was the youngest at the time the play set was built in 1996, has only used it to sit on the platform with friends and have private conversations for the last three years. The little girl who wasn't even born yet when the play set was built, is going into her sophomore year of high school. The slide was given away to a much younger cousin five years earlier when my kids all exceeded the weight limit of the plastic slide. Only one swing remains, the other having come up missing years ago. My children are grown; the time has come for the play set to be retired.
Or not. Not retired, as the structure itself is still as sound as the day it was built, sixteen years ago! The time has come for the play set to be re-purposed, recycled into a hunting blind! My idea, conceived back about 2006, was that if we removed the swing arm, raised the platform to the top of the 8-foot tall 4x4's, and closed in the bottom, the play set could be an awesome blind--you could sit in the enclosed underside during nasty weather, or up on the platform for an elevated view during good weather.
It took DH a few years (six, to be exact), to agree that I had a good idea for the future of the play set. He still hasn't come completely around to my way of thinking, but he did come around enough that he removed the swing arm this summer, and raised the platform to the uppermost extent to the 4x4's. Then we loaded it onto our flatbed trailer--lying down, hauled it out to the edge of the woods, and stood it back up, nestled in to the backside of one of the wild apple trees that edge the field. He put up some cross braces to the 4x4s, then used some old OSB as sides/cover so the deer won't see much of us up on the platform, and salvaged half of an old wooden extension ladder to use as access to the platform. The enclosing of the underside is still under debate, since he located the play set/hunting blind close to an existing enclosed blind we all ready have a little further back off the field.
view from on top of platform
looking at existing ground blind