|Upper Peninsula Tire, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan|
|International Bridge across St. Mary's River|
|Wilderness Lake Gibson, Ontario|
|Brant Lake, NY|
|3,523.4 miles - Longboat Key to Brant Lake|
The setting: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
The plan: Drive 8 hours SW through remote areas of Ontario to Ottawa
The challenge: A nail barely visible in the side but near the tread of our right rear tire, spied by Jane
The complicating factor: Monday, May 21 was Victoria Day
What is Victoria Day? In 1845, during her reign, Queen Victoria’s birthday was celebrated as a holiday in Canada. After Victoria’s death in 1901, the Canadian Parliament declared her birthday a federal legal holiday. Like the American Thanksgiving, it became recognized by a calendar formula – on the last Monday preceding her actual birthday, May 25th. Interestingly the holiday weekend is called May Long and the term, Firecracker Day, is used in Ontario.
But enough of the history…..what was really important to us was that every Canadian commercial enterprise was shut tight on this holiday. A very different scene from the U.S.A., where if there is opportunity, usually some one is trying to serve a customer’s need and get paid for it.
So where could we turn for advice on what to do?
1. The front desk of the riverside Delta Hotel gave us several local numbers to call –Canadian Tire, CAA, a towing company. We could be towed (but we did not yet need to be) but where could we be taken?
2. Hotel guest #1 -- a gentleman who was heading on an 8-hour journey to Winnipeg in his truck. He suggested leaving the nail in place as the tire was not leaking. To check that out, he put water around the nail and it did not bubble.
3. Hotel guest #2 – a fair-haired, handsome young man, an underground gold miner traveling with his wife, a nurse. They were leaving Sault Saint Marie to return to their home in the bush north of Lake Superior. He both loved the remote setting and his work. Unsure of the depth of the puncture, he pulled the nail out and we heard a soft whooosh as some air left the tire. He quickly put the nail back in to keep the rest of the air from leaking, at least for the moment.
Our first decision: Tell the front desk to hold our room as we feared driving off into remote areas with all services closed on this holiday. We might have to spend a third night in Sault Ste. Marie. A flash of insight led to a second, much better solution. We could drive across the Sault Set. Marie International Bridge, the tenth biggest passenger crossing that links Michigan and Ontario, to get to America. Very lucky that this option existed as the bridge was the only link to the United States within hundreds of miles either east or west. All commerce would be open in Michigan. With a quick cell phone call to nearby U.P. (upper peninsula) Tire, we made an appointment to have the tire repaired. Then we crossed the bridge, U.P. Tire speedily sealed the leak and then we re-crossed the St. Mary's River to begin our eight-hour drive through the wilds of the province of Ontario to our overnight destination of Ottawa.