The Perils of Living on a Dirt Road

dirtroadproblems

Yes, in this day and age, dirt roads still exist in much of the world. Specifically, I speak of my part of the world, the rural Southeastern United States. And it’s not just driveways, either–in some places, unpaved roads are all the road you’ve got to travel on. (For instance, there is an actual public road near my house that was not paved until the late 1980s. People who lived on that road had to turn off the pavement and then drive on out a few quarters of a mile to their own driveways.)

I understand that most people who live in cities or more built-up suburbs may not even grasp what I’m talking about when I say dirt roads. (Another way to phrase that: “Y’awl city folk don’t know squat ’bout dirt roads.”) So, straight from the annals of my own experiences, here are the (funny and crazy) perils of dirt road living:

#1: Washing your car is an exercise in futility.

When you have a dirt road, especially here in the South, you’re just going to have to get used to seeing AT LEAST the bottom third of your car coated in dirt all the time. Your tires especially will be coated in soil. For instance, North Carolina has a ton of red clay soil that looks like this when muddy:
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Image source

And unless you have perfect driveway conditions–meaning that the driveway isn’t too muddy OR too dusty–then as soon as you get home from the car wash pit, most of your hard work is undone. (Why don’t I wash my car at home, you might ask? Well, washing one’s car on a completely dirt driveway leads to more mud than you could ever imagine, so it’s even MORE futile to try to wash your car at home if you have a dirt driveway. Unless you want to create a mud-racing track, which some folks do…in which case, you’re all set! LOL)

#2: Every rain changes the topography of your driveway.

lake_allison
Here’s “Lake Allison” (which is our affectionate nickname for the GIANT pothole in our driveway which pretty much stayed filled with water during the years of 2006-2007).

Yearly driveway “scrapings” (resurfacing with a tractor attachment) are just about necessary with dirt roads, since every time it rains, the water can wash out big holes and “dips” in the dirt. (Especially if you’ve got a big hill as part of your driveway, like we do.) These giant holes can tear up tires, suspensions, and shocks, leaving you with big-time car bills if you don’t get them fixed–but getting driveways resurfaced can be just as much of a monetary pain. (Here in the South, dirt driveways are often longer than a few dozen feet, so getting a driveway paved is cost-prohibitive, too–to the tune of $3,000 or more!)

Heavy rains plus big potholes and dips in your dirt road can also mean that your car can get mired up before you’ve even left the house. Having to be towed out of your own driveway really happens sometimes when you have a dirt road!

#3: You just CAN’T shovel a dirt driveway free of snow and ice.

driveway_frontporch
This is my driveway, seen from the front porch right after a fresh snowfall. (This is approximately the first third of our driveway–the length and steep slope of the driveway alone is prohibitive to shoveling.)

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This is the bottom of my driveway hill after 3 days of snow melt and refreeze; here, you can see some of the dark orange mud showing through. If you TRY to shovel the snow/ice, it will move, but you will also get your shovel absolutely STUCK in the mud underneath…not to mention the danger of slipping and falling in the mud/slush mix.

driveway_middle
This is taken from about halfway up my driveway hill (where my little car got stuck and couldn’t go any further). The giant ruts you see are the third reason you can’t shovel a dirt driveway–often, because of bad sun angle/deep shade, overnight refreeze, and the depth of the ruts, there is much more ice caked in there than it looks like, and it’s often frozen a lot harder than it looks. We have literally broken shovels and shovel handles (and twisted ankles) trying to clear the driveway hill before.

This is why we and many other dirt-road folks often elect to stay home at least 5 days after a snowstorm. (Most of my city folk friends didn’t understand this and would razz me about me being lazy or exaggerating about how snow keeps me homebound–I showed them these pics and haven’t heard a peep since. LOL, pwned!)

#4: DUST CLOUDS…that is all.

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If you’ve got a dirt driveway and dry conditions, you might think you’ve got it made…and you mostly do. But watch out for those dust clouds! They will obscure the road behind you and settle on your car when you stop, making your windows look frosted with dirt. You literally have to bring a bottle of Windex and paper towels with you everywhere you go while it’s dry out, because every time you drive over your dry dirt road, your windows will get caked up again and it will actually be dangerous to drive your car because you can’t see out. (I wish I was kidding. Fail! LOL)

What Do You Think?

All my fellow dirt-road people, have I hit the nail on the head? (And “y’awl city folk,” have I blown your minds with these strange and true tales? LOL)

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