Battling the battered driveway blues

The driveway from hell (photo from a previous year. This year is worse).

When we bought our house in Floyd County in late 2004, one of the first things we did the following Spring was hire some experts to repair the gravel driveway with new grading, new base rock and a layer of new gravel.

The driveway, cut into a steep hill that rises 500 feet from the private road that snakes off Sandy Flat Roads, has been a challenge for the past 16 years. Heavy rains during the Spring and Summer have washed it out and plowing pros applied fixes that lasted, for a while, but Mother Nature normally have her way and turns it into an off-road trail.

This year has been the worst. Strong storms with driving rain, hail and frequent onslaughts by unrelenting storms, have kept the ground too wet to plow with any success.

Yet, our trusty 40-year-old Kubota tractor and a blade, keep trying.

On Wednesday, I spent nearly four hours and most of a tank of diesel fuel in an attempt to bring the driveway back into some semblance of passable use before calling it a night with knowledge to try and continue Thursday and, probably, Friday, if weather permits.

The man who commissioned construction of the house in 1987, we’re told, ignored recommendations to put in a curving driveway and not one that goes straight up a steep hill. We continue to pay for his stubbornness.

Assuming we can believe the forecasts from the National Weather Service, we might have two more days to work on the damn thing before rain arrives again. Some new gravel would help, but that is unlikely in the pandemic times unless income-producing projects increase in the coming months.

Julius Dickerson, who knows a lot more about plowing and grading than I do, helped restore the driveway at one point and his efforts kept it smooth for a couple of years. Nearby neighbor Kevin Sowers, our county’s Emergency Management Coordinator, put his tractor and blade to it one year and helped a lot.

Others who know a thing or two about drainage and driveways have offered suggestions, but they have been too expensive for a couple who depend primarily on a fixed retirement income.

Admittedly, I’m in over my head on this one, but this is our driveway and our problems. So I’ll swallow some Tramadol and other pain meds and climb on the trusty Kubota again today and Friday and see what an amateur with limited capabilities can accomplish.

Will the driveway win? Probably. It usually does, but such challenges are part of living in the country, and we have no desire or plans to move

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