Thursday, October 17, 2013


I’m feeling really excited this week because after six years, the Driveway from Hell finally is going to be paved. My driveway has been a proverbial thorn in my side ever since the first day it was created, back in 2007. I have never liked it, and obviously, it’s never been too fond of me, either, because all it’s ever done is cause me grief. I swear there is a family of evil trolls living underneath it.

For one thing, it never was supposed to exist. When I first checked out the land, all 7.5 acres of it, as a prospective place to build a house, it had a dirt, weed-covered driveway leading from a nice cul-de-sac with several houses nearby. The driveway ended in an area of the land that already had been cleared – a perfect spot for our future house.

It wasn’t until after my husband and I bought the land that we learned we couldn’t get a driveway permit for the existing driveway. The town informed us that the only place we’d be permitted to put a driveway would be on the far side of the property, in the middle of nowhere on a private road.

I still can remember standing at the “permitted” spot and staring at nothing but thick woods crammed with giant, towering trees, and wondering how on earth I ever was going to put a driveway through there. Images of Tarzan, carrying a machete and swinging through the trees, came to mind.

I ended up hiring a contractor and a surveyor and they set to work. Four months and nearly $20,000 later, I had a driveway – all 400 feet of it.  The darned thing was so long, it looked as if it should have had a tollbooth at the end of it.

 The contractor then decided to line the new driveway with truckloads of crushed rock. The rocks were pretty big and sharp-edged. Walking on them was like walking over a landslide. And trying to plow the driveway after a snowstorm also was a disaster, because most of the rocks ended up on my front lawn. By the end of the year, I was so fed up, I called in another contractor to get rid of the rocks and put down gravel.

The gravel driveway was much smoother underfoot, but it still made a mess when it was plowed. Instead of chunks of rock landing on my lawn, the plow spewed gravel everywhere, including on my front porch. After the spring thaw, I raked up over 40 buckets of gravel from the lawn. And even then, when I mowed the grass, the mower kept kicking up gravel and pelting me with it.

I also had a difficult time adjusting to such a long driveway. Where we used to live, I could run out in my nightgown to get the mail. But with a 400-ft. driveway, it was more like a hike. I had to put on my jogging outfit and running shoes just to make it down to the mailbox. The same with taking out the trash. By the time I wheeled the barrels to the end of the driveway, especially through all of the gravel, I nearly needed CPR.

And the cost of hiring someone to plow the driveway was astronomical. One month, when we had four snowstorms, I nearly had to mortgage the house to pay the guy.

The gravel finally irritated me to the point where I decided to replace it with something else – some kind of mixture of dirt and recycled bits of asphalt. The asphalt in the dirt was supposed to help pack it down and make it more solid.

It looked good and seemed solid, but I soon learned it caused another problem I hadn’t had with the chunks of rock or the gravel. Rain transformed the driveway into a 400-ft. strip of mud. When I walked down to get the mail, the mud would suck the shoes right off my feet. And every time a truck drove up the driveway, it left huge tire-track ruts that never flattened out. The driveway ended up looking like a topographical map of the Himalayas.

The year before last, when we had a bad snowstorm in October, the ground wasn’t yet frozen, so when the plow came to clear my driveway, I ended up with a mountain of mud in the middle of my front lawn. I’m not exaggerating, the pile was taller than I was, and a whole lot wider. While other people were shoveling snow, I was shoveling mud. And the dogs and I tracked so much of it into the house, I could have sprinkled seeds on the floors and grown a crop of corn.

The only reason why I’d never had the driveway paved was because the guy who built it told me it would cost over $20,000 because the driveway was so long. But over time, I came to realize that with the money I’d already spent on the rocks, gravel and dirt, I probably could have paid for enough asphalt to pave my entire neighborhood.

So this year I finally got brave and called several paving companies for estimates, even though I was pretty sure I’d need a defibrillator when I heard the cost. I was shocked to learn it was about half of what I’d anticipated. I even blurted out to one of the pavers when he quoted his price, “Is that all?”

“Boy, I rarely hear that!” he said, shaking his head and chuckling. “I can charge you more, if it will make you happy.”

Last week, the pavers I hired arrived to prepare my driveway for paving. They smoothed it and packed it down, evened it out and leveled it. A good portion of the job was done with some piece of heavy equipment that vibrated the ground. It also vibrated the house. By the end of the day, every picture on my walls was crooked, my kitchen drawers all had popped open, and I was reaching for the Dramamine.

But any day now, I finally will have a nice, smooth asphalted driveway. I can’t wait.

Hopefully, the evil trolls that live underneath it won’t poke up their ugly heads and crack it.


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