an honest-to-goodness dump truck

I saw this old guy on the web, and he needed some more exposure.  Here he is.
Another gorgeous day in Northern California. If I don’t get some camping and hiking in soon I think I might lose it. This weather is just taunting me to get outside and get things done. Speaking of getting things done, the dirt-pile is gone! I thought it would never happen, but every last bit of rock and dirt is outta there. Before I go into the story, I just wanted to let you guys know that, as I write, I’m listening to one of the best albums ever made. Once upon a time in 1968, Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills got together to make a record. What resulted is, to me, a freakin’ masterpiece of free-form blues rock awesomeness. Honestly, I could listen to this album over and over and over. 1968 must have been amazing. The White Album, John Wesley Harding, Disraeli Gears, Super Session, Led Zeppelin (yeah, I know it was the first week of ’69, but that’s close enough), Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Traffic, Electric Ladyland, Astral Weeks, Bookends, Spirit, and so many more I’m probably leaving out. Yeah, what a year – and the Bloomfield, Kooper, and Stills album Super Session is just dripping with that sound. Turn it up.

So back to this weekend and the great dirt-removal project. All my planning and orchestration was wasted. I schemed with friends to borrow wheelbarrows, 2-ton trucks, dump trailers, shovels, and other implements of destruction. The plan was to use manpower to fill up the dump trailer, then drive the whole thing to the landfill and repeat until done. We got out there at about 8am on Saturday morning with shovels and picks and wheelbarrows – and starting filling up the trailer. After about 2 hours work it became painfully apparent that the shovel and wheelbarrow route wasn’t going to cut it. Around 10:30am I rented a Bobcat. I swore I wouldn’t rent one again, because I get nervous driving them around in my backyard. But the size of the project made it a necessary evil. The Bobcat filled up the trailer right quick. We hopped in the truck and headed to the dump. The trailer was extremely heavy, and the brakes on the truck could barely stop us. It was a little scary. Once at the dump, we backed into the dirt-dumping area and hit the hydraulic lift switch on the trailer. Of course, nothing happened. Turns out the trailer couldn’t handle the weight of the dirt. So Anthony and I spent the next half hour shoveling ? of the load out by hand. We were finally able to get the trailer to dump, and we took of back towards home.

One the way home, the realization that we wouldn’t be able to finish with the Bobcat/trailer model began to sink in. We dumped 9100lbs of dirt on that 1st run to the landfill, since a yard of dirt weighs roughly 3000lbs – we had only gotten rid of 3 yards? and by the looks of what was left that was only about a 10th of the entire job. Not to mention a round trip to the dump was an hour and a half excursion when you counted waiting in the line of cars to get in. It was obvious we’d need something with a bigger hauling capacity to get the job done right. So, I called up and rented an honest-to-goodness dump truck.

You know they let just anyone rent a friggin’ 10-ton dump truck? I mean, I was thinking – why not rent one and fill it with bombs and blow something up? Or go on a Vice City style rampage through the city streets? Anyway, the dump truck held 5 yards and could handle from 20-30 bucketfulls from the Bobcat. We were furthered screwed by the dump’s weekend hours – they closed at 4:30pm. By the time we got the dump truck filled up for the first time, they were already closed. That’s when I got the idea to call a buddy who had mentioned that he needed some fill. Turns out he wanted anything I could bring him, so we took it all up to his place. The trip was quicker than the dump too.

In the end, we removed about 28 yards of dirt. Five dump-trucks full and one dump-trailer full. Managed to get all the rented equipment returned on time, and finished the project to the tune of ~$450. More than I wanted to spend, but less than the $1k+ estimate I got from some professional hauling companies. Plus, it felt good to get it done under my own (and Anthony’s) power. As I was pulling out of the driveway this morning, I stopped, put the truck in park, and went to take a peek over the fence at the dirtpileless backyard. It just feels good to look at it. Next on the list is forming up the patio and trenching for drainage and sprinklers. If only we had unlimited funds? ’cause I can always come up with another project.

Pat pushes dirt around while I drop a load.
Anthony drove the ‘cat most of the time, here he is on break.

One thing I like about owning a house is that it’s given me the opportunity to learn how to do a lot of things I would’ve otherwise probably never tried. I’m not saying I’m a Mr. Fix It or a DIY posterboy, but I have gotten a little better with my mechanical skills. I’m nowhere near some people I know. A buddy of mine at work recently bought a house too, an older one that he’s really doing a lot of work on. Talking to him, it seems like he’s not afraid to do anything – he just takes a run at it and it normally comes out great. He recently redid the kitchen, and is talking about rewiring the whole house. Crazy. Maybe I’ll get a little more confident as I get some more completed projects under my belt. The backyard thus far has already done wonders.

Listen to Super Session y’allz. I implore you. Oh, and I don’t care what you think about the Stills – I love that album. Dave out.

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