Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘new asphalt

Going Again

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Guess where we are going today. It will be my fourth weekend in a row at the lake and I couldn’t be happier about that good fortune. I feel a little sorry for Pequenita though because she seems really starved for contact with me and I keep disappearing on her for days at a time.

The horses don’t seem to mind. Yesterday while I was on the lawn tractor and Cyndie was using the trimmer in the labyrinth, we spotted all four horses out “horsing around” in the hay field. What first caught my eye was Mix making aggressive moves toward the chestnuts but instead of running away, all four just rearranged positions while staying in close proximity with each other.

Then one of them laid down, rolling back and forth a couple of times before hopping right back up. Suddenly they all took off in a run back toward the paddocks. It looked like they were having fun on an otherwise uneventful day.

I came inside for lunch and scanned a few news headlines. That had me thinking how nice it is that horses don’t pay attention to headlines about search warrants or the reaction commentaries from extremists on both sides. Maybe the new national pastime has become unnecessarily overreacting to news releases with inflammatory trigger words and accusations about the nefarious motives of the “other side.”

There is a wonderful distraction awaiting our arrival up north in a few hours. It is called Round Lake. I plan to immerse myself in the rejuvenating water of the lake to do some back-floating and cloud watching. No headlines will be viewed during this news-free time. It’ll be my version of horsing around.

It will also be a nice break from raking gravel and rocks into a supportive shoulder for our new asphalt driveway. We made some good progress the last few days and I’ve set a goal of trying to finish 50 yards per day whenever we work on it. I’m guessing we’ve completed about half of the 600 combined yards of asphalt edges for both sides of the driveway.

That would be just six days if we achieve 50 yards each time we work on it.

If we keep going away for long weekends at the lake, it might be October by the time we get all the asphalt shoulder covered. Somewhere in the next 6 weeks we will have a fiber optic cable buried along the length of the driveway, as well.

Sure hope they don’t decide to show up on a Friday when we are planning to depart for the lake place.

I don’t like the struggle of choosing between two highly desired options.

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Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2022 at 6:00 am

Low Shoulder

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I have a new appreciation for the road work signs that announce a “Low Shoulder.” We have almost 1600ft of low shoulder up and down the length of our new asphalt driveway. At one point I had visions of attacking the project with a vengeance to get all the edges finished in as short a time as possible.

Now I am thinking about doing small sections at a time and letting the completion drag out to as long as it takes. Preferably before we reach days of freezing temperatures.

Yesterday, I worked to fix the edging at the two turnouts of the loop around the hay shed. I got about one and a half done.

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The gravel of the base layer that remains visible beyond the asphalt has dried and gotten rock hard already, making it a struggle to scrape up and relocate. It would be great if we could simply rake the small rocks up against the asphalt edge without needing to muscle through breaking them loose from concrete first.

A quick onset of fatigue is one of the reasons I’m now thinking it will be accomplished in small portions over a long period of many weeks. I blame the unseen insect that stung me in the back yesterday for stealing my motivation to power through and get a lot done.

It’s funny how I can stoically maintain my poise while being stuck by a needle when getting a shot at the clinic but when that burning sensation of a sting hits while walking near the barn my arms start flailing, tools go flying, gloves get violently shaken off while high-stepping and wailing, hat and glasses get unceremoniously tossed, and shirt comes flying off.

It wasn’t clear whether whatever stung me was inside the shirt or out but I knew having the shirt in my hand instead of wearing it would give me something to slap my back with to address the pain and hopefully thwack any possible insect that still happened to be in the vicinity.

I don’t blame Delilah and the horses for staring at me like they were seeing a world class tantrum spectacle of epic proportion. The evil creature got me low on the back side of my shoulder where it is impossible to reach.

Poise was not an option.

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2022 at 6:00 am

Lotta Landscaping

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Enough already with the driveway subject dominating my posts of late. I’m as ready to move on as anyone but there is a lot of work left to get the new driveway to the level of completion we seek. Bear with me for just a few more days. There will be a little break from this topic starting tomorrow. We are leaving this morning for the lake. I get to watch live coverage of the Tour de France for a few days! I can write about how great swimming is in that precious Round Lake water.

When we return home, our plan is to begin cleaning up the edges. It is going to be a big job but we are looking forward to it. Achieving that level of finish will be a very pleasing accomplishment. I know this because I have taken a couple of stabs at what it might involve.

Before:

Old folds of sod from when the original asphalt was dug up need to be picked up. The gravel will be raked up and shaped to cover the exposed edges of the new asphalt.

Here is a section where I did just that:

As we finish them, along the lengths of both sides, I will be visualizing what it will be like when I am trying to plow snow beyond the edge of the asphalt, which needs to happen to maintain a full drive-able width through the full winter season. It will be good to have the gravel base along the edges for that purpose.

A few days of lake life bliss will help us to be fresh and ready to go for a few days of landscaping next week. I’m looking forward to both.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

That’s Done

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We are thrilled to have a new driveway and even more thrilled to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet today. While the paving crew was working on Tuesday, we needed to choreograph access for the regularly scheduled delivery of a pallet’s worth of 50lb bags of feed for the horses.

Yesterday, it was allowing access for the farrier to get in and trim the horse’s hooves. All this was achieved under a constant soundtrack of propane burners, diesel engines, and backup beepers. We ended up using a back route through a few gates and across the hay field to move some people and equipment in and out.

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Actually, we’ve decided to use the back route across the hay field from now on and not let any vehicles ever drive on the new asphalt. It looks too good to mess up with traffic driving on it. It’s like having a brand new car and freaking out over the possibility of the first scratch or dent happening.

It was very rewarding to see the new asphalt laid all the way to the road. Maybe the township will notice the road is beginning to look as bad as our old asphalt did and schedule repair/replacement sooner than later. I’m beginning to feel like a pavement snob.

Honestly, even though I’ve longed for this new driveway for years, I’m suddenly becoming aware that I now have to adjust my attitude from complete disdain and intentional neglect to actually caring for it. I shudder at the thought of rolling the big tires of the Ford New Holland diesel tractor over the pristine surface of asphalt on a warm, sunny day.

If a parked delivery truck has an oil leak, I’ll become distressed. Most of all, I’ll labor over deciding when a new seal coat is needed.

Ah, but that is not living in the moment. Today, I will focus on the present. The project of getting the old driveway fixed is done. Well, mostly done. We could only afford to have the asphalt applied. The landscaping of the edges remains for us to do.

I may dabble with picking up loose big rocks today, but most of all, I hope to allow time to enjoy the comparative quiet of having no big machines rumbling for the first time all week.

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Million Bucks

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It was an asphalt ballet as workers seamlessly moved around obstacles and each other to wield their specialty tools or switch them out with another to work the hot material into the perfect final form.

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In the areas by the house and the shop/garage the new asphalt was overlaid on top of the old driveway surface. We were able to do that because the base in these sections had stood the test of time and not fallen apart like so much of the rest of the driveway. I had no idea how they would start the process and was duly impressed to see what they could achieve using just their hand tools.

The Bobcat would deliver a bucketful of loose hot asphalt and the crew then made quick work of shaping and packing the first edge with their “T” poles. The big machine would then move in and set up directly over what they started and slowly roll away leaving a perfect layer of pavement behind it.

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At every seam or corner edge, the guys wordlessly collaborated to fill gaps, shape edges, and perfect the finish of the surface. They all demonstrated an impressive attention to detail.

The garage gained a new piece of equipment.

Almost looks like it belongs, although I’m not sure I would be able to put it to good use beyond flattening all the mole hills and tunnels annoyingly prevalent everywhere we turn.

By the end of their workday, they stopped between the shop/garage and the turnout to the barn. Today, they won’t have to deal with any more corners. It’s just a straight shot to the road now. If all goes well, they should complete their work today.

Already, the portion they have completed has our place looking like a million bucks.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Ever Closer

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We got closer than ever to new asphalt yesterday. With great anticipation, starting right from the moment I first woke up, we awaited the arrival of heavy equipment. I drove Cyndie’s car down to the road first thing, just to have it available in case we have reason to go anywhere in the next few days.

Then I watched the hours tick by. It was about ten o’clock when I finally heard big trucks down on County Road N. Any lingering doubts I had about the timely continuation of this project were put to rest.

They unloaded machines from trailers and started moving them up the driveway. The first day would be all about preparation. Using a Bobcat skid steer tractor, the grading expert, Dan, was an artist of control as he worked to perfect the surface left by the excavating crew. They had left one small depression that he was able to quickly eliminate with the addition of another small load of gravel.

Dan said the curve in the driveway makes this job a little trickier because his Bobcat doesn’t have a blade that can be set at an angle. It just has a small bucket that he uses to grade the surface. Grading through the turn takes extra focus and attention to detail. In the high heat of a cloudless day, it would be much easier to just zone out and drive by muscle memory.

It felt great at the end of the day to see their compactors parked at the top of our driveway, ready for what comes next.

Today, it will be putting down new asphalt.

I’m feeling rather giddy to be this close.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2022 at 6:00 am