Our humble home sits at the dead end of two miles of gravel roads. We have almost complete privacy out here, enough so that we can use our outdoor bathing facilities without worrying about being intruded upon in our birthday suits. The road system is also very scenic, especially in May, June, and July when dozens of different wildflowers are at their peak of showiness.
Though the roads may be pretty, they are also rough. When coming from town, the first half mile of gravel is on what is probably the most poorly maintained road in the county (as declared by our local UPS driver). At certain times of year, it had potholes that would swallow small children and tons of washboards. When we turn off the county road, we enter another mile and a half of privately maintained road. We have to pay in several hundred dollars per year for basic upkeep, and still the road is ridiculously steep and covered in washboards much of the time.
Our driveway is really steep as well. Anytime I go out to take a walk, I know that I have to climb that crazy hill on the way back. It’s definitely good exercise, but sometimes I kinda wish we lived somewhere flat.
All that gravel road has affected how and what I drive. I’m a slow driver in general, but I am old-lady slow on rough roads. Driving too fast on bumpy roads (or really driving on bumpy roads at all) puts a strain on a car or truck’s suspension system, and it unnecessarily damages the road itself (which we have to pay to fix). It takes me a full eight minutes to get from the top of my driveway to pavement (four turns later), and then it’s still six miles, two turns, and 15 minutes to get to the first small town. Because of all the turns, it takes me at least as long if not longer to get anywhere than folks who live significantly farther out in the boonies but are able to drive straight and fast.
The first car I ever bought when I was 18 was a ’91 Subaru Loyale, and it served me well for eight and a half years. Last summer, I finally decided that I was ready for an upgrade, but I needed something with both 4WD/all wheel drive and good fuel efficiency. We would have been good candidates for an SUV (unlike most suburbanites), but I really didn’t want something that big. In the end, I got an ’01 Subaru Forester, which is basically the same as my old car but newer, nicer, and with slightly poorer fuel efficiency. On a good day, I can get about 27 MPG.
The other bummer about gravel roads is the dust. This part of the county is particularly dry and dusty, so sometimes in the summer, it takes about three trips to town and back before my back windshield is completely opaque. I pretty much never wash my car because really, what’s the point? The dust also manages to permeate my house and cover its windows. Ugh!