Truckee: Kind of like the Islands, only different |

Truckee: Kind of like the Islands, only different

There is an old saying that opposites attract. I guess I’m attracted to opposites, considering that for a good part of the last seven years or so I worked as a journalist in the Caribbean – all sun, all the time.

Now I am the new editor of the Sierra Sun here in Truckee, where, I’ve been told, it snows.

Nah, this is California, right?

As different as the Caribbean and our mountain town may seem, there are similarities. Both places can experience cold, slushy conditions, albeit in the islands the only time that happens is when ice, a blender and rum are involved.

Here, such icy conditions are savored in a more vigorous manner, like skiing. And, come to think of it, there’s an excellent chance that an adult beverage or two is involved as well – apres, of course.

Then there are the powder days. Down around sea level near the equator, nothing beats being the first person to stroll on a beach so white and fine that your bare feet sink into powdered-sugar sand.

Up around 8,000 feet, nothing beats being the first to lay tracks on your favorite hill in what feels like, yep, powdered sugar.

Both experiences are kind of the same, but only different. One difference between the locales is spring, which doesn’t occur in the islands (no fall or winter either). In the Sierra, spring means you can wear the same amount of clothing on the slopes as when you’re lolling next to the pool at Squaw. (Go try sitting on a beach on Virgin Gorda in your snow suit.)

Then there is the amazing natural beauty of both places. It’s a draw that attracts people to visit – and live. What we all know is that Truckee’s annual growth rate over the last decade (and then some) has outpaced that of the state. Since I last lived in the Sierra – over in El Dorado County during the mid-1990s – thousands of people have decided to call Truckee home.

Of course, more people translates into more homes (expensive new ones, expensive old ones), businesses and traffic. That growth can also foster resentment in “locals,” a sentiment lightheartedly expressed at the Truckee Follies last week. (I wonder how many of the people who were roasting Bay Area and Southern California transplants are originally from those places themselves.)

Some native Truckee folks just aren’t going to like the change in their town, on their roads, in their schools or, for that matter, in their newspaper.

On my second day on the job about 10 days ago, a (really steamed) reader called and hammered me for running a South Lake Tahoe-related story in the paper. The person went on to explain that we shouldn’t bother running stories about the South Shore, Reno, Sacramento or even Nevada City, which, last I checked, was where our county government is headquartered. Stories about Tahoe City might be OK, said the (really steamed) reader.

“You must not be from around here,” the (really steamed) reader concluded.

Well, other than moving here from the Grass Valley/Nevada City area recently, no, I am not. And that reminded me of lyrics in a tune by a great singer/song writer, James McMurtry:

“I’m not from here

but people tell me

it’s not like it used to be

they say I should have been here

back about ten years

before it got ruined by folks like me…”

I’d venture a guess that most Truckee residents are from some place else, so the definition of “local” would be a fun one to hear. (You natives, please drop me a line!)

Growth in California, it is said, is inevitable, and Truckee is no exception. It will mean – and has already meant – challenges and compromises. We here at the Sierra Sun will strive to chronicle that change and be a forum for the debate that will ensue. And while we surely want to hear from our readers about what they want covered and agree that Truckee should – and will – be the focus, the idea of approaching the news with an island mentality is short-sighted.

To tweak another old saying, no town is an island.

Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. E-mail him at

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