Opinion: We’ll always have Truckee
Truckee has been a mecca, a touch point, a benchmark for two families going back to before we were families.
This traces back to Santa Barbara for me, and Eureka before that, when my friend Andrea was a shy, pretty 19-year-old with big eyes for my dorm roommate at College of the Redwoods.It’s a long story, as you might guess.
Truckee comes into it with marriage and children, the best parts. I’m remembering our baby son before he could walk in their trailer next to the house Andi’s husband, Steve, so far had framed. He was excited about piping warm water under the floor as heat.
Downtown was modest then, more unpainted than not and well weathered in its faded glory. Old West cool, rugged and ragged, with a still-active train station.
As I understood, people who couldn’t afford to live in Reno found cheap housing in Truckee. Card dealers and strippers and such. Maybe some lifties and ski patrollers from Squaw and the newer place, Northstar-at-Tahoe. Around 2,500 people lived here in all.
But Steve and Andi said things were changing. The place was starting to grow. They weren’t the only newcomers building houses and aiming to make a life here. Steve, then a plumber, found enough work to keep them going while he built their dream home.
We lived in Quincy, where I edited the local paper. As before in Santa Barbara, we hung out pretty often, them coming to stay at our actual house in Meadow Valley and we to their homestead in the forested outskirts of Truckee.
Andi had sized up Mary, a classmate at U.C. Santa Barbara, as a perfect match with me, a wildland firefighter when not attending one community college or another during winters off.
She stuck with it, too, undaunted at our initial ambivalence until meeting eyes one sunset across the back of Steve’s vintage green pickup. Suddenly we knew. Andi had been right all along.
We married and moved to Quincy. It wasn’t too long before they married and moved to Truckee. There was a certain inevitability about all this, a hint of happily ever after.
But life does what it does. Opportunity came up and we left Quincy before their son, Nick, and our daughter, Rachel, were born a month apart, she in Holland, Mich., one of seven stops across the country in the 1990s during my migrant journalist phase.
Meantime, Truckee grew fast as our children in the ’90s up to not much less than today’s population of 16,000.
We finally landed just before the new millennium in Vail, where we’d spend most of the next 17 years. I’d often stay on extra days or a week with Andi and Steve after annual company meetings in Reno, Mary sometimes flying out. On drives to the coast, we’d push it to make Truckee our overnight stop. We watched Nick grow up in a sort of strobe light fashion, bigger with each blink. Same for them with our kids.
All of the kids now are adults older than us when we met, they growing up much alike in more and more similar ski towns. Our families are far from the only ones with direct ties between Vail and Truckee.
A Vail developer I was always friendly with, despite taking let’s say oppositional positions while I was the editor, built high-end homes and golf courses in the forest near Andi and Steve’s home, defacto wilderness no more.
Downtown has cleaned up … a lot. No longer quite so rugged or ragged, but still cool if edging maybe closer to Rodeo Drive than Old West. I still recognize it, though. Still like it.I don’t imagine many Reno casino employees live here anymore, though. The current of commuters has switched directions: 58 percent of Truckee’s workforce drives in from Reno now, I’m told. Truckee’s second-home population rivals Vail’s, which means a lot of dark houses most nights in certain neighborhoods.
As for our son, rolling around in their trailer before he could walk, well, he lives here with his wife and their own son born in Truckee’s hospital almost two years ago. He’s served as publisher of the Sun these past several years and is about to begin a new role leading our company’s magazine division in Reno.
We moved from Vail to Nevada City around the time our new grandson arrived. There were a number of reasons, but being near Andi and Steve again was a big one, a circle completed.
Don Rogers is the publisher of The Union, Lake Wildwood Independent and starting in March, the Truckee Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.