Friday, October 12, 2012

There's a Seal on My Driveway

Gawd, I sure do love having the liberty to make up my own titles to these posts.  Like, you know, Seal can be anything.  Let's take a romp around homonym land and find out just what the heck I'm speaking of.

It could be that I invited a black, soulful singer over to serenade the chickens.  They love their R&B.  So does Tom, the cat, especially when he feels like dancing.  Or, it could be that I brought over one of them sea going seals, so that it's oarse "Ar Ar" barking could attempt to rival Goldie's loud and clear "Er Er" crowing.  Funny how animal sounds are spelled so similarly.

You know, I'm all about having wild animals over to the house, especially for dinner.  Seal meat typically isn't considered a gourmet opportunity though, unless, of course, you live way up there in that yonder north arctic area and there is nothing else to eat.  And of course if you consumed that soulful other Seal then you'd be no better than those idiots in the Donner Party.  And believe me, that was no party, especially if it was your femur they put in the soup.

I mean, if those fools had listened to their wives they could have wintered over at the Peppermill in Reno and drank, smoked and gambled instead of dining on one another.  What were they thinking?

Now, if I was considering keeping the seal as a pet that would be silly.  First of all, he's a grown man and I think there are laws against that sort of thing.  And if it was the other seal, then I'd have to get a swimming pool and throw a bunch of salt in it and get truckloads of fish delivered every day and it just wouldn't make any sense, not here in the country anyway.

What else doesn't make any sense is what sorts of wild animals pure and brazen buffoons choose to allow in their living rooms.  And a lot of these idiots don't necessarily live in a country location like I do, many of them live in apartments in the middle of a city.  Pythons, Piranhas, Panthers, Pandas, Parakeets and name a few.  Here's a link to a documentary movie about this subject aptly titled, "The Elephant in the Living Room."

Well, if it's not them two seals, and it's not Betty Martha Lou's seal of approval on a killer chocolate mousse cake or peach cobbler, then it must be Driveway Sealer 101.  Of course.  The asphalt kind.  Even I knew that. 

OK, straight away, it was a much larger job than I anticipated.  I also used almost twice the original estimated amount of goop (compiled from their estimated coverage area) It went from 15 to 17 to 25 to 27 buckets, and four trips to the store.  Ah chi mama!  What a colossal waste of time.  But, the parking area and driveway not only look great but should be good to go for travel for a another five years.

We've got a long, steep, uphill (from the road) driveway to the house.  The previous owner did a real good thing (probably to make up for the real stupid things he did) back when he had the first one hundred feet or so poured in concrete.  Not only is it the entrance off the road, but it's also the steepest part of the drive.

After that, it had been grey asphalt with a few bad, spidery low spots winding up to a large, gravel parking area next to the house.  We had the parking area asphalted a few months after moving in, and the asphalt guy also hit the five or six really bad spots on the drive with a nice layer of asphalt.   All patched spots have been good, solid band aids so far.  You can see more of this action in "Red Riffs of Rover..."

From Asphalt Kingdom, "Asphalt is a petroleum based product. It is very flexible when it is first laid. As time passes, the petroleum based products (Tar & Bitumen) get oxidized and dry out by the sun. The asphalt becomes brittle when the surface color turns Grey. It now has lost its flexibility and is going to Crack. Asphalt Cracks then lead to Spider cracks which look like alligator skin. Cracks then lead to Pot Holes and deteriorated areas. Then leading to asphalt replacement..."

I couldn't have said it better.  With the main degraded areas covered, over the last year I have been filling and patching smaller cracks with some store bought asphalt goop stuff.  And then, as if by magic, this stuff just appeared on sale at one of the hardware stores in town:

 The first fifteen... 

The concept is pretty simple.  Clean what your sealing then seal.  So, I borrowed a friend's pressure washer and away we go...
 Let the games begin!
 Little soldiers all in a row...
That parking area is about forty feet by eighty feet, give or take a thousand.

It took about an hour and a half to rinse off the asphalt.   After considering this product was supposed to be applied while the surface was still damp, I stopped the rinse at the top of the drive and then began the paint job.  Again, pretty simple.

Open the 4.75 gallon container (What ever happened to five gallons?  I'm glad there's no inflation.)  Stir the goop.  Dump out a manageable amount and then start spreading.  Simple, ya?  Ya...EXCEPT...

They make this squeegee/brush dealy-bob thing that came with a light weight, cheap aluminum handle, maybe fit for a two year old, as long as they were sleeping.  $7.99.

Well, I'm a novice at this sort of thing..or was a novice...I am definitely more than learned at this point in the game.  So, yeah, I bought that and fifteen barrels my first go round.  I think I figured eleven to twelve for the top and three to four for the drive, based on their coverage estimates.

This little task has been HAUNTING me for over a year now.  You are supposed to let new asphalt "cure" and harden for anywhere from three to six months, depending on your source, but not for the eighteen months ours has been languishing in.  Ingress and egress are immense items in my play book, and with a steep driveway like ours it is paramount to stay on top of the game.

I forgot to mention that after our asphalt guy did his extra patch jobs, I made sure there was a good, unobstructed channel for water to run alongside the drive instead of in and over it, which ultimately led to it's now patched complications to begin with.

With cheap aluminum handled brush in hand, I poured my first slop of goop.  First goop of slop?  When stirred, it had the consistency of uncooked buttermilk pancake batter, or a nice, thick interior latex paint, depending on which room of the house you're coming from.

And here's one of the big's not so famous cooking tips, primarily for bakers.  Or pancake enthusiasts.  You can make 1 cup of butter milk by adding 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to 1 cup of milk.  Let it sit for a couple minutes, and wallah, buttermilk biscuits or pancakes without having to buy a whole quart of the stuff.

So, I poured the first slop in the top corner of the parking area, and hit the edges of the only right angle of the day and rocked from there.  Obviously the edges took a little longer, but it did spread very nicely and evenly.  I had to back and forth it every once in a while to make sure it was getting into all the nooks and cranny's, and then I flipped the brush and would squeegee it along.  Back and forth, push and pull.

Somewhere in the first bucket, the cheap aluminum handle bent.  It could not handle much strain, at all, or any more than a sleeping baby might offer.  Fortunately I was right by the garage and had several 1" thick, five foot dowels.  With a few rounds of duct tape strategically wrapped, I continued my quest.  This cheap thing ultimately wobbled and broke near the end of my project, looking a lot like this:

When I went to the store for my final two buckets, they were out of these cheap handled asphalt brooms.  There were at least twenty other unsuspecting suckers, although I'll bet most of them went through less than a dozen buckets and maybe the handle held on.

I ended up buying a nice, sturdy, wood handle with the same diameter male screw at the end as the female on the brush, and wallah, the BEST handle possible for the last two buckets.  Out of twenty-seven!  The last twelve feet.  Yay.

Anyway, back and forth, push and pull.  Not arduously strenuous, but just a shoot house howdy plethora of repetitions.  And then there was the weight of the bucket, fifty-three pounds each to start with.  So I lifted that weight twenty-seven times.  Then I lifted each bucket when it was 3/4 full, which weighs in at thirty-nine pounds.  Times twenty-seven.  THEN I lifted each bucket when it was half full and then one quarter full.  All told I lifted about three thousand five hundred and fifty-six pounds over this two day, brutal, body building home improvement exercise marathon from hell.  Every muscle on my upper torso felt the pain for a couple days. 

By the time I wrapped the parking area, it was already early afternoon and getting hot.  We've been having an Indian Summer heat wave here in Northern California, which is a great time to be applying the sealer but also getting a little warm for my receptacles.  Or tentacles. I typically won't work outside when it's in the nineties.  Get her done early and then come inside and expound and play on this keyboard. 

By this time I had already realized I didn't have enough product to finish the project, and my friend also needed to have his pressure washer back.  He was in the middle of a few fall projects as well.  So, I decided to finish the wash down the drive, then go into town and get two more buckets of goop and return the washer.  That way I only had a couple buckets to apply in the morning and I would be done...or so I thought.

The next morning arrived fresh and asphalt y clean.  I was sore but game.  I only had three buckets to spread.  Lickity-split.  It'd be less than an hour.  Whatever that means.

After the first bucket, about 9:00 AM, I realized I had no where near enough goop.  This was old, gray, crackly asphalt that probably had not been sealed for centuries.  I calculated I'd need another eight buckets and then jammed to the store.  Early.  Before the crowds.  I had a job to do. And eight buckets would be more than enough...

Continuing on, and getting about twelve feet close to the buckets in the above photo I freaking realized I would need at least one more bucket.  I got two.  Just in case.  I mean, I had been so good already with this estimating thing.  Just three trips, so far.  This would be the fourth.  At about noon.  And the goop store is next to McDonald's.   You know, the one where they serve food, not the Old one.  E i e i o.  It was gonna be chaos, what I usually strive to avoid, unless it is of my own creation of course.  Away I flew.

It was on this last run I also replaced the broom handle.  With twelve feet to go.  Out of a couple hundred.  The perfect, long, strong handle.  For twelve feet.

Well, it was a magical twelve feet I'll tell you.  The BEST twelve feet ever.   The blisters from the cheap, aluminum handle didn't even hurt during that last twelve feet.  Yeah, I got the handle now.  For when I hire someone else to do this in another five years.  Cause I'm gonna be in Mexico.  And it'll be done when I get back.

I ended up with about one inch of goop left in the second bucket...whew. In fairness to the product and their coverage estimates, I was not sealing new asphalt on the drive.  Or anywhere near new.  Their coverage estimates on the new asphalt up top were pretty close, but all bets left the stratosphere when I started on the drive.

And here's the down run towards the curve (below):

And the curve below with wimpy pump house compliments of homeboy.  I put the roof on, it was 1/8" dilapidated plywood.  It'll last another year or two, and then I'll probably enlarge it a bit.  Pump houses are always good for a little outside storage.  That is, of course, if it's not the size of a doll house to begin with.  I can fit a basketball in the one below.

Eggs Eggs Eggs!

My goodness we've got fresh, organic eggs for sale for $3.00/dozen.  Come on down to the farm and lets get eggy!