Snow days seem fewer in Truckee |

Snow days seem fewer in Truckee

Life in our Mountain Town, Katie Shaffer

There was a time when I used to brag to my relatives back East that a foot of snow does not always mean an automatic snow day for my kids. In North Carolina, where my brother and his family lives, 6 inches of snow can shut down the schools for a week.

I know that it must be a hard call to make for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. I also know that some of the decision making depends on the timing of the storm, and the road conditions at 4 a.m.

However, when I first woke up on Wednesday morning and looked out the window and saw more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground, with more steadily falling, I thought to myself, “It could be a snow day.”

I hit the snooze button a few times on my alarm clock, thinking the phone might ring at any moment, telling us the news.

But the phone never rang, so I got up and turned on the television. With no school closure announcements being made, I checked the school district Web site and saw that school was open but buses would be delayed.

The thought of my daughter waiting at the bus stop for a delayed bus did not have much appeal to me, even though I trust the school bus drivers who are probably better trained to drive in snow than most of us.

My daughter and I left the house 50 minutes before school started. I thought that I had allowed plenty of time for a trip that normally takes 25 minutes on dry roads. I ended up dropping her in front of the school door as the bell rang.

I have to admit, I had a few moments where I questioned why a snow day hadn’t been called. The descent down our unplowed driveway became hazardous when we got caught in a white-out caused by snow blowing off the trees.

I felt safe in my high-clearance vehicle, with its studded tires and four-wheel drive, but the new set of winter windshield wiper blades couldn’t do much with the wind-driven snow. You just stop and wait until you can see again. I’ve noticed that when I drive in snowy conditions, this, my daughter will sit upright, at full attention, in the back seat. She helps me to see.

These Truckee kids know that this is not your average ride to school. They also know that life does not come to a halt just because more than a foot of snow fell throughout the night.

Living in the mountains can be an adventure, and it’s times like these when I am driving in a snowstorm that I actually find myself enjoying the moment. It helps to be driving in a vehicle that’s prepared for the snow, and it helps that I’m a careful driver.

There was a slow moving, steady stream of vehicles all along Glenshire Drive going into town and another line of cars and trucks that stretched bumper to bumper from the roundabout to the high school. I don’t know what happened to the six-car-length rule that is recommended that drivers keep between themselves and the vehicle in front, but when you’re all traveling at 7 mph, maybe you don’t need that much clearance.

I wasn’t the only parent who decided to drive my child to school. As I sat idling a full mile back from the stop light, I let a school bus pull in front of me that was trying to merge from the freeway exit ramp. The bus seemed to be transporting a handful of kids, at most.

There we all were, clogging up the roads, trying to get our kids to school.

My daughter got impatient at one point and begged me to pull into the Dairy Queen parking lot once we got across the intersection, so she could slip under the fence and get to school on time. I’m not sure if she said there was a gate, or she mentioned a hole in the fence, because I was concentrating more on driving than on listening, but the translation that occurred in my head told me that it sounded like an opening that you slip through. My “mother reasoning” quickly dismissed her idea of climbing through a hole in the fence. Being a little late would be a lot better than having to wear wet clothes at school all day I told her. She disagreed. Social time before school starts is apparently an event not to be missed, no matter what the weather, according to my seventh grader.

Being the grown-up and the driver, I did not drop my daughter off at Dairy Queen.

When I got back home the storm seemed to be letting up. I guess the school district knew what they were doing when they didn’t call a snow day. I guess it has to really snow for school to be canceled.

Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. “Life in our Mountain Town” appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.

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