Life in Our Mountain Town: Truckee kids head to the seaside |

Life in Our Mountain Town: Truckee kids head to the seaside

Last week I had the good fortune to chaperone a four-day field trip with my daughter’s fifth grade class to the Marin Headlands Institute, an outdoor school that lies in a spectacular setting just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

At the start of our first evening meal, several of us parents headed for a table with the best view of the ocean. We had managed to quickly claim what we all felt was the best table in the room. The next day, as sunshine prevailed over rain, we discovered the patio. It was a small outdoor dining area adjacent to the dining hall-again with a glorious view of the ocean.

As is typical of human nature, when a good idea strikes one in a crowd, the rest will follow. But then it turned out that we adults weren’t supposed to be sitting outside in this wind-protected, sun-drenched spot. The camp coordinator informed us that we were expected to eat among our students, in order to provide supervision. There were few breaks for the adults on this trip, and mistakenly, we had thought that mealtime was one such occasion.

Anyway, one of the parents in our group remarked quickly, “Hey, we’re from Truckee; we don’t follow the rules.”

Being the type of person who tends to sometimes drift from steadfast rules, I could relate to this comment. I’ve noticed as my children get older, that they are far more inclined to follow rules than I have ever been. Sometimes I wonder if my penchant to not follow rules is a throwback to being a kid raised in the sixties.

I’m glad my children like to follow rules. I think my husband and I have made efforts in this area of responsible parenting. But it always surprises me when my kids question me when I am contemplating bending a rule.

Some things, I’ve decided, skip generations, including the tendency to follow rules or not. What’s interesting to me is that while I have a lot of influence on my children in some areas such as good citizenship, I have absolutely no influence in others.

Another interesting aspect of our trip to the ocean had to do with the abundant wildlife that was there, including skunks, owls, and deer. As deer grazed on the grass outside our cinderblock dorm, the students from the other Bay Area schools who were also attending the Institute would rush over in large groups to take pictures.

Our kids would look up and say, “Hey look, there’s some deer,” and then they would go back to what they were doing. I’m not saying they weren’t taken by the Marine Mammal Center, where we saw harbor seals recovering from shark bites, or by the giant display of whalebones, or with the views of the ocean from atop rocky cliffs. I think they marveled over the bioluminescent organisms that lit up in the sand on our night hike.

We should all be proud of the hardy Truckee kids who represent our town so well at these outdoor schools, because our kids are enthusiastic learners who show up ready to hike, wearing sweatshirts and sturdy footwear, and not bothered at all by wind, sun and fresh air.

But they aren’t too fazed by the sight of deer. And they all noticed that the water there tasted funny.

Each day before setting off on our hikes, we had to fill up our water bottles. One of our kids asked me if they had put bleach in the water. I didn’t know, but it did taste far different from what we’re used to.

On our last morning there as we packed up our cars to head home, one Truckee Elementary student retrieved some of her food items which we had stored in my vehicle. She took out her Thermos and declared, “Ah, Truckee water!” She had a secret stash of the good stuff. The rest of us had to wait until we got home to drink that delicious water that always comes out of the tap ice cold.

I don’t think it’s just my own personal bias that Truckee has the best-tasting water compared to just about anywhere.

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.

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