When we purchased High Ridge Haven the drive along the ridge to the home at the end wasn't always easily accessible. This was especially the case given our daily driver is a 2012 Kia Sorento with front wheel drive; a four cylinder no less. The home is along a ridge and sits atop a hill at the end of a drive. We were obligated to hit the accelerator pedal to ensure we made it to the top. In truth, some folks in the Western NC mountains have it far worse and manage just fine.
There was room for three vehicles, but we watched the poor UPS & FedEx drivers back out down the hill to a pull out where they could drive the rest of the way forward. What a pain! Watching them gave us an appreciation for their skill in driving. On more than one occasion we spun out on the gravel drive and even managed to fail the task of backing out to the pull out, as the UPS & FedEx drivers frequently did and broke a tail light hitting a tree.
What might our experience portend for our guests?
We knew the right thing to do was to improve guest access to the star of the show, the stunning mountain views. And when your brother, who is your landscape advisor at the top of his profession (i.e. American Society of Landscape Architecture Council of Fellows) says it would be best to pave the drive, you bite the bullet and pave the drive.
Achieving a finished drive had a number of sub projects. The first of these projects was ensuring we had nine plus feet from the start of the drive to the end. Johnny of Tornado Tree Service was already on site helping us with improving our mountain views and removed some of the trees that were closest to the gravel drive. In fact, they took revenge on the tree that took out our tail light.
Being in the mountains, it is rarely possible to have workmen come whenever needed. And if you're able, it is often more cost effective and timelier to take on aspects of projects you can tackle yourself. We were able to rent a large stump grinder and tow it from Franklin, NC to Cashiers in our Kia Sorento. For sure, it was nerve wrecking winding through the mountains with it in tow! And with our road still being gravel, we couldn't make it out of the property to return it. We had to unload the stump grinder and drive it to the top of the drive and then load it back on the trailer. It took some brain power to figure out what to do with the trailer and grinder in a ditch. What a pain! But it was worth it.
Having the machine on property for a couple of days allowed for the removal of all manner of tree stumps, both along the drive and in the landscape. Knowing it could cost $300 or more per tree stump, we got the value in removing a dozen or more with the rental.
Day 1: With tree stumps removed, S.O.S. Paving came in and scraped the existing gravel drive, amending with additional crush run, and compacted the base in preparation for paving.
Day 2: The asphalt was delivered, laid and rolled for a flat finish. There is no denying how nice the finished result is, which will make access easier for all. What was once three parking spaces is now five spaces. The photos below show how we used existing resources toward sustainability, by using cut logs and soil from the property to make a log layer cake as a parking pad. S.O.S. Paving did the final grade with gravel and then paved over the top for the final finish. Seeing the pad support a dump truck full of gravel and a paving machine was proof enough we used a good recipe.
Day 3: The last of of the sub projects is landscape lighting. We installed landscape lighting ourselves with an eye to highlight some of the rhododendrons, the drive itself, and to not contribute to light pollution.
We hope these additions to the property will enhance your vacation experience in accessing the home and enjoying the views.
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