I went to a local sand and gravel yard this morning to look at what types of river stone are available and what they cost. They had two types on hand that had smooth surfaces; a large white kind that was a little larger than a softball, and a small black type about the size of squished golf balls.
I snapped a photo of each type -- and said I would call him back (upon which I immediately begain emailing photos to poll my friends for validation of what I really wanted: the black stone.) He said he could deliver today or tomorrow, and that delivery would be $75.
River stone is sold by the pound. When I showed the guy a photo of what I was doing and gave him the measurements, he was kind enough to help me calculate how much I would need:
78 linear feet x 1.5 for coverage = 117 square feet
10# per foot x 117 = 1,170 pounds
(He did those calculations at speed similar to what my mortgage banker did to calculate my mortgage payment when I was buying my house. I was forever asking him to talk slower and on a really bad day to write it down, so that I had some hope of following... This morning was no different.)
Pros and cons of each stone were as follows:
White - Less expensive by half. A larger size than I had envisioned. Due to its size, more likely to stay in place. Too large to be comfortable to step on in bare feet. (I hate shoes.) Not as much color contrast with the wood as I would like.
Black - As mentioned, twice the price. Extremely smooth and more polished than the white, more of a Zen look. Black will attract more heat. Smaller stones will likely slide out of the border space and will have to be corralled. Small flat stones will feel pleasant on bare feet. Great color contrast with the wood and green paint.
Votes from friends were fairly split, but in the end the black got 4 more votes. Ultimately I chose the black stone and it's called Mexican River Stone. Even in a dusty bag (a bag roughly the size of my car...) it looks beautiful, smooth and very Zen. Plus being just so pleased with how the platforms have turned out, it seemed wrong to me to not get the perfect stones for the border for a couple hundred bucks more. "For Heaven's sake, don't cut corners at the very last step." I knew that every time I stepped out I would be wishing for the black stone and be disappointed.
I called him to place the order and make delivery arrangements and the whole deal came to a screeching halt. "We don't deliver a quantity that small."
I was flummoxed. Hadn't we just had this conversation not 2 hours prior? There was no mention of a minimum...? I reminded him we had just spoke of delivery and that he had not mentioned a minimum....? He was clearly irritated with himself -- he recalled the conversation as clearly as I did. He said he hated to tell me no, that, in his words, "No is such an ugly word..." I reminded him that I am a repeat customer, and that I would likely come back for future purchases.
And so, I am pleased to report -- his truck will arrive tomorrow morning to bring me 1,170 pounds of Mexican River Stone.
I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow...