The driveway washout blues

Arrived home late Friday night to find what we feared:  A lot of damage to our driveway by the assault of rain and storms over the previous 36 hours.

So part of Saturday will be trying to fill in the gaping gullies and eroded gravel and dirt from a driveway that falls victim far too often to the increasing and rampaging storms with cascades of rain that defies attempts to keep the road in usable condition.

With the return of my Harley from the shop later Saturday after its latest round of service, and picking up Amy’s Mini-Cooper after repairs of a serious oil leak, I will need “quick fix” of grading by our tractor and plow to provide a smooth path up the 500 foot, steeply graded driveway Saturday for the bike and then more work Sunday to allow passage of the low slung Mini on Monday.

Readers of Muse know that keeping our driveway usable is an ongoing battle against nature and the elements over the past 13 years.  Work by Julius Dickerson, Retired from VDOT and a friend, put the driveway in its best shape about five years ago and additional help by Kevin Sowers, the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator and another friend, helped a lot earlier this year but the violent storms that have struck the area in recent weeks have taken their toll.

Each attempt to smooth over the driveway needs time for the surface to harden and we have not had enough of a dry spell to let that happen.

Our driveway when it is reasonably smooth and useful.

Hard-driving downpours quick fill the ditches with rock and mud and sent eroding rain into the center of the driveway far too often.

About seven years ago, a paving company estimated it would take $25,000 to $30,000 to pave the driveway.  Now I don’t even have to ask for another estimate because I know it would cost much more and when I see what happens to the surface of  Sandy Flats Road near our house, I realize that a sloping paved driveway would requires even more expensive repairs.

When we made the decision to move here from the Washington, DC, area in 2004, my memories of the weather during the days at Floyd County High School in the early and mid-1960s, did not take into account the changes in weather that have intensified the battle against nature.

High winds have broken three large trees in half and sent the top parts crashing down near our house and into the driveway close to our trailer and vehicles.  The creek that normally flows under the lower part of our driveway has flooded over twice in our 13 years here and the lower part of our yard has a washboard finish that will soon require plowing and resodding.

The three-and-a-half acre front yard now has four large and growing sinkholes because of rotting wood from stumps buried during clearing of the property to clear the land long before we bought the house.

While I know this is a big part of this is life in the country and I spent part of my youth living, and working, on a farm but I was born a city boy in Tampa, Florida, and spent the bulk of my adult life living in the St. Louis and Washington, DC, metro areas.

The condo where Amy and lived for 23 years in Arlington had a balcony with astroturf on it and an underground garage and upkeep on a country home has, to say the least, been both a continuing and humbling experience.

We love our home in Floyd County, we have good friends here and I am able to still work the profession tI love in newspapers but, at age 69, I still have a lot to learn about taking care of a gravel driveway on that goes up a sharp incline to our home.

Learn I will as I fire up our 30-year-old Kubota tractor this weekend and use its blade to plow our driveway for the third time in the last eight weeks.

The latest chapter in our continuing 13-year-long war between our driveway and us…and the driveway keeps winning.