Today’s Adventure in Rural Living

We re-graveled the driveway. 

For those of you who don’t live in rural parts, when you have a long dirt-based driveway (as we do), in time that dirt can develop ruts and potholes and otherwise become difficult to drive on. To avoid that, and to give the driveway an overall consistent driving experience, we pay a dude to come and drop several tons of gravel on the driveway with a dumptruck that distributes the gravel in a consistent orderly fashion. The gravel also gives you traction (useful in winter) and allows for drainage (useful the rest of the time). Plus, it’s cool, in a “feel like you’re five” sort of way, to see just an unfathomably large load of crushed rock being poured out onto the driveway. Even Lopsided Cat is impressed!

So, yeah: Gravel. It’s a thing.

48 Comments on “Today’s Adventure in Rural Living”

  1. And blacktopping a driveway that long would eat up a noticeable chunk of the advance on your 10-year contract, I’d wager.

  2. I totally get where you’re coming from. I grew up in rural arkansas, and we had to do this for our driveway. Several times. I just wish gravel would stick around longer and wasn’t so expensive!

  3. bskinn beat me to it, so follow up: is there a reason not to blacktop the portion closest to the house? Perhaps this creates an unstable pathway that is only mitigated when all the nearby roads are also paved?

  4. We had 100+ yards of driveway graveled not long back. It was not a pleasant thing for the wallet. I’m sad my kids missed getting to watch the truck, though.

  5. I really like the photobomb effect of Lopsided Cat. You have to wonder if he was thinking “you know, this picture would be a thousand times more interesting if there was a cat in it.”

  6. Once we found a trilobite fossil in our newly dumped gravel. There’s treasure everywhere!

  7. Time to sing a round of that Louis Armstrong classic:

    Nobody knows the gravel I’ve seen
    Nobody knows my driveway
    Nobody knows the gravel I’ve seen
    Glory, Hallelujah

  8. There is a problem with blacktopping part of a drive. I live in an area where roads are randomly paved, and randomly not. Where the blacktop meets the dirt (or gravel in some parts), weird and wonderful things happen to the unpaved part of the road. Every see a really muddy river bank? Big holes, and ruts and many other car torturing manifestations develop where the two meet. I think you are better off sticking with gravel.

    Although I could be wrong.

    I wish gravel would solve my drive problems. The never ending rain (I might as well be back in the northwest) has washed the dirt away from the rock ledge. Pretty soon we’ll have to drive on the grass to get down the drive at all.

  9. That big yard of yours generally looks pretty good. Do you cut it yourself? Do you enjoy cutting grass? (I hated it growing up, but we had a push mower. I pay a guy for our yard and am happy to write that check, I’ll tell ya.)

  10. Hey, I did that once, that graveling the driveway thing, in my first house. I think your driveway has more area than my total property back then!

  11. Hey, if you were in Louisiana, you’d have crushed oyster shells instead of bits of boring ol’ rock. :)

  12. I live out in the sticks too. On the advice of my neighbor, (an old timer in the area) I ordered a load of scalpings from the gravel yard. Scalpings are a mix of all gravel sizes. (Someone said they had only gone through the crusher once, with no screening/ separation, but I don’t really know.) The scaplings pack down very nicely and give a good firm surface. (Well except in the spring when every thing is “mushy”.) So when you do this again in ten years you might ask about scalpings. I think they were a bit more expensive than gravel… higher density.

  13. @Luther M. Siler: I was wondering the same thing.

    I use to live in a house with a gravel driveway, but that was shoveled by hand, so I guess you could judge how deep to go. But I can’t imagine a snowplow not sending rocks flying.

  14. Lotta gravel driveways where I grew up; the big problem is people who wait waaaaay too long to re-gravel. Sure, that was probably a mighty fine graveling job back in the day, but now it’s just a dirt road with deep ruts and some rocks embedded in it. Love to visit, but I don’t drive Big Foot, so why don’t you come on over here, instead….

  15. Oh, don’t gravel!

    Whenever I want to talk to someone it’s always “Sorry” this and “Forgive me” that, and “I’m not worthy.”

  16. Okay just figured out how to get to comments. Not that it was hard. Not. Just that I was used to the other way (on the bottom).

    Anyway, love lopsided’s ‘is this thing on?’ look. Might make a fine sidekick for Bill the Cat. Cuz, you know, they’re back.

  17. I don’t know from the technicalities of gravel, tarmac or dirt, but the sound of a car slowly making its way up a gravelled track is one of my favourites. Because for me it tends to mean ‘I’m finally, properly on holiday.’ Or ‘Oh, what a great day at the beach, can’t wait to get in the pool’. Or, early in the morning, ‘Great, they’re back from the patisserie’. Etc.

    It’s probably still quite a nice sound even if it’s not unusual, if it means ‘my loved ones are home.’

  18. Kathryne is right. Far from being impressed, Loppy is pointedly ignoring all your gravel. He’s impressed by your camera and wondering why you’re trying to take a photo without him front and center, thereby perpetuating his nickname.

  19. “So, yeah: Gravel. It’s a thing.”

    Technically, isn’t it more like “a whole lot of little things”?

  20. That’s a loooong driveway! And I realise I’ve been reading Whatever long enough to remember the last re-gravelling!

  21. Lived in the country as well with a long (1/4 mile+) driveway. Finally went ahead and had it asphalted. Was significantly cheaper than you would think it would be, and all of the previous loads of gravel mixed with the clay made a great base for the asphalt (may have been why it was so reasonably priced–didn’t need to do anything besides smooth it out to get a good base to pave over.) Made snow removal so much easier–was finally able to use a snow blower without spreading the gravel all over the field up to the house.

  22. Nice driveway, but that driveway pales in comparison to those verdant fields other either side of it. What is that? Grass? Do you have to mow it? Around here, open fields like that just turn into 3 foot high weed fields in about a week.

  23. Another vote for gravel. We also had a long driveway at my parents’, with the extra crunchy fun addition of a hill in the middle. Without the gravel (or when the gravel started to get mashed down), getting out of our drive sometimes required a running start. I remember a few storms where we had to park at the top of the hill and walk down, or we wouldn’t have gotten out again until Spring.

    I’m pretty sure Our Host has figured out the trick of placing marker sticks along the edge of the drive before the first snowfall, if needed. Snowplow, yes; snowblower, no. Did you make Athena pick up gravel out of the grass on either side in the spring? That’s what Dad used to have us do.

  24. I confess this is one of my favorite things to watch. That, and hay being baled. It’s a rural thing.

  25. Have you considered painting the gravel in rainbow stripes the length of the driveway?

  26. That’s a freaking awesome photo (but then, we knew you were pretty good with a camera, for an amateur). I like the driveway, too. Things I like include new tires (so grippy!) and fresh gravel (it’s like a make-over, for your driveway!) and also pizza and beer. i got 7 tons on my 3-car deep driveway in May–I was like a kid.

  27. I clicked the link to your z-turn, btw, (shakes head),…I’m a Country Clipper man, myself; but my true love is the ’76 IH Cub Cadet.

  28. I think we should start a club of people who remember the last time Scalzi re-graveled his driveway. As I recall it was right about the time one of his earlier novels came out (Agent to the Stars? or Old Man’s War?) and SOMEBODY worked out that everybody who bought a copy contributed approximately one handful of gravel to the driveway…

  29. My parents live out in the woods and used to gravel their driveway regularly. My mom finally looked into various options and costs, and as a result, they switched to thick, ungrouted pavers. The initial cost is slightly less than blacktop or cement, and lasts longer than either, as well as longer than gravel, while draining as well as gravel. The maintenance cost is exactly zero, which means the overall cost of ownership is much lower. Those Romans, man, they knew what they were doing when they built roads.

    Note: My parents drive is a half mile long through a Polly Pine forest in red clay country. Most roads, driveways, etc., are red clay based, and my cousin owns the gravel pit, so I think the ‘Rents got a discount. You are probably paying more for gravel than they did.

  30. Way, way back in my middle school days, my parents purchased a house in need of some renovation and much landscaping. We, too, had the experience of watching trucks haul in ridiculous amounts of gravel for our new driveway. But these trucks did not spread the gravel where the new driveway was to be! No, these trucks dumped said gravel in huge piles, which my sister and I, luckless peons, were required to help our parents shovel into wheelbarrows and distribute where my parents wanted the new driveway to be. It really was a lovely driveway, when all was said and done.

    Enjoy your nicely spread gravel, buddy, that’s all I’m saying.

  31. A few years ago, when the North Dakota oil boom was all over the media, at least once every two weeks I’d get fly-by-night grifters offering to perform services on my house. “We just finished a big job and we’ve still got some asphalt left over!” Now the oil price has crashed and I haven’t had a single con artist all summer (knock on wood). Here’s to hoping you have a large No Solicitors sign at the end of that gravel driveway…

  32. “Hey can someone photoshop this so it looks like Scalzi repaved his drive with chunks of gold?”

    I wonder how much it would cost to have a driveway paved with 100% pyrite (fool’s gold) gravel.

  33. Until you’re a little too heavy footed in your FWD car, and you spray gravel all over your paintwork…. (Got the TShirt) #DriveItLikeYouStoleIt