Growing Up Truckee
How’s being back home? What was it like growing up in Truckee?
Since moving back to Truckee five months ago, I find myself frequently asked one of these two questions. They’ve encouraged me to reflect on what it meant to be raised here, what it meant to leave, and what it means to come back.
Growing up in the Tahoe area, I never realized how lucky I was until I moved away. Everything was taken for granted; the snow days, the warm evenings on the Donner Lake docks after school, the exploration of the old train tunnels on Donner Summit, and the endless amount of hiking trails. These were all overlooked by my juvenile mindset. I look back now and realize I was spoiled. By spoiled I mean that all the experiences I had growing up, I thought were completely ordinary. However, I recognize now that my upbringing in the Truckee/Tahoe area was truly extraordinary.
I graduated Truckee High School in 2011 and soon after embarked on an adventure to UC Irvine. When making my way through high school, I was just so ready to get out of here. Once I was gone though, I found myself frequently talking to my college peers about what my childhood in the mountains entailed. I was shocked to meet people who had never been to the mountains, never gone hiking, never seen snow – let alone skied. For those I met who had visited Tahoe, many expressed how lucky I was to have grown up there.
Through that time away and the stories I told, I developed an appreciation for growing up in the mountains. Some of my favorite stories to tell were about family camping trips, endless bear encounters, and getting scolded for always playing in dirt. I would miss Truckee a little more each time I would share with someone in Irvine a tale of its magical wonders. It amused me how much my mindset had changed, but I was also disappointed in myself that I never had a full appreciation for the area as a kid.
Coming back to visit was always nostalgic. Maybe it’s a part of becoming an adult and leaving home for the first time, but throughout college I had a longing for my Truckee childhood. It was such a perfect place for a child’s imagination to thrive. I recall jumping off the first story roof into the snow with my brother one winter when it snowed eight to ten feet. I couldn’t tell you why we thought that was a good idea initially, but I blame the child imagination. I also remember when I was in the third grade, we had a power-outage for four straight days because of a massive snowstorm. My parents cooked dinner old school on our wood stove and they put an ice chest on our front porch to keep perishables cold. The drawback there was eventually the power came back on, and my parents remembered everything in the ice-chest except the ice cream. That poor ice cream, it never stood a chance. The following night we discovered a bear on our porch scarfing it down. There was just something about being a little girl watching a massive wild animal through the window sit there and eat all the ice cream. My parents may have been concerned or amused, but my brother and I were very sad.
At some point while reflecting on these memories in college, I realized that I did want to return to my hometown. I wanted to live and work here, experience the area as an adult. I was fortunate to begin serving as a Civic Spark AmeriCorps Fellow at Sierra Business Council here in Truckee four months ago. I reflect on my transition from college to the working world, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to gain experience at such a rooted organization that is tackling sustainability issues in the Sierra Nevada. The positive atmosphere of Sierra Business Council and the inspirational staff has made the transition of moving back steady and exciting.
Not everyone gets the chance to go home after college and work on projects that fulfill their passions. Of course, not everyone is interested in that chance, but it’s probably because they didn’t win the hometown lottery like I did. The combination of the great outdoors and the endless activities to choose from makes this area unlike any other. This is my second chance to take advantage of living in the mountains and to utilize every weekend to go out and explore, even if it isn’t quite the same as when I was a kid. Whether it’s snowshoeing in the remaining winter months (because we actually have snow this year!) or hiking in the coming summer months, I will definitely be out on the trails, soaking in every bit of it.