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Responding to a two-flat-tire day

July 6

Three factors predict flat tires on rough roads – tire condition, road condition, and luck (or lack thereof)
— Travel Host at Northwest Territories Visitor Center

One of my goals for years has been to drive the epic Dempster Highway in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It is the only road in Canada that crosses the Arctic Circle. It is a 900-mile round trip through the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountains of the Yukon, ending in the town of Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It’s a gravel/dirt road. Through stretches, the “gravel” is actually sharp black shale, which can eat tires. Because there is only one service station with tire repair along the way, it’s wise to carry at least two full-sized spare tires. There’s no cell phone service, so if you have problems, you are basically on your own. We took the advice, loaded up our two full- sized spares and headed north on the Dempster.

We had no problems on our trip across the Arctic Circle to Inuvik. We had good tires with about 13,000 miles on them and I drove slowly, averaging 40 mph on the good stretches, slower on the bad stretches (which is fine, by the way, since the mountain scenery is beautiful!) Before heading back, we had lattes in what might be the only coffee shop in the North American Arctic. I must admit, I was a bit smug, talking to Jane about how I had avoided flats because of my careful driving.

About three hours later and 100 miles into the trip back, we had our first flat. Life has a way of humbling you when you get a bit smug. But no worries, I thought, we have two full-sized spares. Within an hour, we suffered a second flat — this time shredding the tire. This time I was worried – I really didn’t know what I would do if I had another flat, with both of my spare tires already on the car. We were more than 100 miles from the nearest service station.

So I drove very cautiously and limped into Eagle Plain, where we spent the night and had a patch put on the repairable tire. And the next day we drove back to civilization without any problems.

The travel host at the Northwest Territories Visitor Center was right when she said three things predict flat tires: tire condition, road condition and luck. I had control of the tire condition and could react to road condition, but luck was the wild card. Our lives are that way also. There are things we can control, things we can prepare to react to, and, then just plain luck.

A real test in life is how gracefully we respond to luck. In my life, much of my accomplishments could be called luck – being in the right place at the right time. Bad luck, to be sure, has thrown me off track, but I try to have the fortitude to do the hard work to get back on track.
It‘s human nature to take credit for good luck and blame others for bad luck. May we all have the wisdom to appreciate that luck does play a significant role for all of us. May we humbly savor good luck and take responsibility for solving the problems created by bad luck without looking for others to blame.

We have been blessed with good luck this trip – seeing and experiencing more glories than we can imagine. Today we saw the illusive Canadian lynx! A two-flat-tire day or the occasional bad weather has been a mere blip on the radar. These things do not define our journey.

(See also Jane Bahls’ Arctic Adventures blog).

2 Responses to “Responding to a two-flat-tire day”

  1. Fortuna, Tyche, “luck” — whatever we call that power, it’s worthy of reverence.

    Agatha Tyche to you, the College, and all of us..

  2. How true your thoughts about luck and our penchant to blame “bad luck” on something or someone and feel smugness when we experience “good luck”
    I also love your last statement..that “these things do not define our journey”

    Press on!


    p.s. That tire photo is amazingly scary

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