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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > SUMMER 2018 > have road, will gravel

have road, will gravel

Sooner or later, your cottage road will have one of these 8 problems. Do some work now to keep it in shape and smooth out your ride

Heading down the Atlanta highway, maybe. The four of you are back in the car, sunroof open and tunes blaring. You’re feeling nervous about revisiting the funky old shack—can it live up to all the crazy memories? After all, it’s just a little place with a rusted tin roof, set way back in the middle of a field. As you turn off the asphalt onto gravel, you see a faded sign at the side of the road. Enough alligatored paint remains that it’s still partly legible: 15 Miles to the—

Lost in thought, you don’t feel how smoothly the big-as-a-whale Chrysler minivan rides over what had been a semi-permanent gully across the gravel road. You notice that the soft stretch, with ruts that used to steer for you, is now dry and smooth, and there are ditches where there used to be a mud bank. The brush is trimmed, especially at that dangerous blind curve. The van bounces in spots because of washboarding, and Cindy tells you to slow down, but the obstacle course of potholes is gone.

It throws you off a bit, because the stressful, uncomfortable drive down the cottage road used to bookend every weekend here. What happened?

The same thing that happened, in reality, to the 17 km gravel road maintained by an association of about 150 cottagers on Malachi Lake in Northwestern Ontario. “Over many, many, many years, we’ve upgraded our boggy old one-season logging road into a year-round serviceable road,” says Al Campbell, the association’s road manager and collaborator with Howie Adams, whose company, Devlin Timber, maintains the road. “In the beginning of May,” says Campbell, “we cruise down the road together, and I tell Howie what our budget is for the year.”

“And I tell him what should be done first,” says Adams. The commitment to slow, steady improvements on this road— which sees about 200 cars on summer long weekends—has paid off. “When I was a kid, it was a muddy old track. Even 20 years ago, it was more like an ATV trail,” says Adams. “Now it’s almost a highway.”

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About Cottage Life

Summer is the time to kick back and relax in the pages of the Summer 2018 issue of Cottage Life. You’ll read about a unique book club of remote islanders that comes together each year to bond over the love of a good story. Then, take a page out of their book and dive into our summer reading guide with all-star book suggestions and summer must-reads. Plus, do you have the classic cottage bookshelf? Enter to win a prize by taking our cottage bookshelf quiz and sharing your Cottage Shelfie pics. Then, meet cottagers who aren’t satisfied with just a quick dip, and find out how to take on a swim challenge at the lake. Feed unexpected guests with our 7 easy dockside treats: happy hour recipes and solutions to make your next dock party a no-sweat affair. That said, if you’re the type to relax by keeping busy, we have a tool box full of puttering projects to consider: fix a broken cooler hinge, build a marshmallow catapult with the kids, quit stubbing your toes with this clever new dock hardware, get on top of exterior maintenance, and be inspired by a 20-something who DIY’d a sweet little cabin of his own on his parents’ back 40. Plus, read our essential guide to keeping your cottage road in shape—how to finally tackle potholes, washboarding, and beaver dams. Grab our Summer 2018 issue, fire up the old autoreply, and lie back in the hammock. Summer’s finally here!