Thursday, May 1, 2008

Quagmired (Part 2)

We're back from our week in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The roads are unposted. We're rearing to go. Guns blazing. Things look good for earth moving. I line up a skid-steer (aka Bobcat w/a bucket) and some dump truck loads of material. And then two days ago we get more than three inches of rain. So instead of canceling I think optimistically: A couple clear days will dry it up, and it had been dry for a while. It's not nearly as wet as it was when I rented the excavator....

I got to Sedgwick first thing this morning. The machine had been dropped off yesterday evening. I tied a rope to a 20' length of culvert that had been languishing at the end our road since January and dragged it to the house site. I left the safety of the road to turn around and promptly got stuck, wheels half buried and spinning in same viscous muck that had nearly sunk the excavator a month ago. Chris came by to say hello and suggested I use some of the mountain of wood chips for traction. I ended up feeding several wheel barrow loads into the mud, and with less trouble than I expected I got out. I installed the culvert in the drainage trench, covered it and drove over to the other side. As I tried to spread a large pile of rotten rock over the parking area, I felt the skid-steer sinking deeper in the ruts I was creating. So I moved on to the trench I dug along the side of the road and tried to fill it in so the dump trucks could get through, and I came close to getting stuck again. Under the seemingly solid turf lurked more of the same mud. Not without reservations I decided to give up. I worked my way back up the driveway doing a little grading as I went. But I had to get stuck just one last time to make my failure complete. I got a little too close to the edge of the driveway, and the left wheels sunk deep into the shoulder. An hour and a half and innumerable expletives later I managed to extricate myself by lifting most of the machine in the air by the bucket and feeding a very large log into the deep rut. At one point the mud had completely swallowed the rear wheel. Free again I used Chris and Anna's hose to clean it up and called the rental place to tell them to come and get it. What I had hoped would be a productive couple of days turned out to be a complete waste of time and money.

When I got back to Brooklin, I called Louis Tapley, the excavator who'd built the road at the root of my troubles, and told him that it wasn't firming up. That it was more or less impassable. Oddly, he didn't sound surprised. He said he'd cover it with rotten rock within a few days. Unbelievable.

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