Saturday, July 11, 2015

07-11-201 - Riding Shotgun - Rainy-Day Hauling, Part 2

Two Friday’s before last wasn’t rainy in the beginning, but rain was predicted. Two of us went over into enemy territory to haul “topsoil” from a local sand pit to where a new home was being built about a mile-and-a-half away. We went down into the pit, and then wound around for a little while, before coming to the highwall at the back of the pit. There, the pit owner had constructed a crude road up the side of the dig to about 4/5 of the way to the top. There, he made a small turn around, so we could load and then drive back down the same road.

The road had an adequate berm on the lower side, but it was steep, with a decided hump in it. I had to try the third time to get up, and only then when I locked in the positive traction and all-wheel drive on the rear end. Once at the top, I saw there was barely enough room to turn and it required a bit of zigzagging, forward and backward, to get in position to load and then complete the turn and go back down. There was very little berm at the top, so it gave the impression of being on a narrow ledge of a sand cliff, probably because that was exactly what it was. I’d arrived first, but the second truck was waiting at the bottom of the grade when I came down. I laughed and told him that I reckoned that dump-truck drivers might be the only folks stupid enough to do such things. He had better tires and had less trouble with the grade than I did. Once he was up, I left to make the first delivery.

It started raining lightly about that time, and the next two trips up the sandy path became harder. The fourth time around, my truck wouldn’t make it, but kept spinning out just before the rear wheels cleared the hump, onto the flatter ground above. On the fourth try, I swear the front end left the ground, I was hitting the slope with such speed. If I’d had a confederate flag painted on the top of my cab, I’d have felt like I was on TV. (I think that was a day or two before all THAT stuff hit the fan.) I finally told the old fellow who owned the place that if we were going to keep hauling, we were going to have to go through the edge of his hay meadow, like his son running the loader had suggested. If looks could have killed, I’d have been dead on the spot.

Having been raised on a farm, I understood the fellow’s dislike of tracking up his meadow, but hey, he was selling the field a yard at a time; so what was the difference in the long run? A third truck showed up about then, so the loader man stayed a little busier which, of course, made the old gentleman money even faster. We drove as close to the edge of the dig as we dared, sometimes only five feet from the cliff-like sand slope to the bottom of the pit. We were as cautious as we knew how to be about chewing up the sod with our tires, and there was far less damage than I expected. Perhaps the sandy soil let the water drain so quickly that it just wouldn’t get gaumy.

As I looked at the meadow, I assumed it to be virgin soil, but the loader soon brought up terra-cotta pipes from an earlier era. Whether they had been part of a field drainage system or part of a drain from some long-gone house or barn, I had no idea. I wondered, also, how many arrowheads, flints tools and pot shards that I might be driving over from the days before the white man.

At 2:30, the builder called it a day, due to it getting too muddy for us to maneuver the trucks at his place. By that time, though, we had in eight hours and the pit owner had sold about 40 loads of dirt, so he didn’t seem worried about his meadow anymore. We each got a load of sand to haul back to the shop and agreed that it had been a pretty productive day to be so rainy. © 2015


Gail said...

I would have been scared shirtless trying to do that.

Here our pits are mostly clay and used on the county roads, when they get mucky no one hauls. After the first clay is laid the next rain shows how many people do not know how to drive in clay. It does pack after it dries and is no longer a problem except have a snow melt.

Gorges Smythe said...

We have mostly clay around here, too, Gail, though we don't use it for roads. However, at various places along the Ohio River, there are deep deposits of sand set down by drainage from the last glacier in the area, about 10,000 years ago.

Mamahen said...

Thirty yrs ago I would have called such a day an adventure i'd just say I quit!!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Why do you take sand back to your shop? I don't think I could manage your job, I'd be scared to death to drive like you had to.

Gorges Smythe said...

Mh, the older I get, the more I remember the words, "Tempt not the Lord thyn god."

The company operates a stone yard onsite, Kathy, and also sell sand and cinders there. As for being scary, that only happens when you think about it. lol