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First Chair, Last Call

13 Rules for Life in a Ski Town
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Every year at this time, Tahoe sees an influx of newbie residents. Some people come just for the ski season, while others find that mountain life suits them and they never leave. If long-time locals could offer advice to these folks, what would it be?

With winter already well underway, these are my best tips, as a 15-year resident of Truckee, for happy living in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee.

1) Accept the weather. Most of the time in the winter, it’s gonna dump. Get your fat boards tuned. Get a snowblower, a big shovel, and a strong back. When it doesn’t snow, remind yourself how much you hate shoveling, and then go ice-skating, or mountain biking, or trail running.

2) Use creative currency and ask for the locals’ deal. Most stores will give you a locals’ discount if you just ask. You can pay with beer for a lot of services — ski tuning and boot fitting, most commonly — sometimes even work on your house or car. You can also trade ski-comps for things like haircuts, massages, and yoga. If you get turned down for the bro deal though, just smile and say thanks. People can’t pay their rent with weed and PBR, after all.

3) Drive a Subaru. Well, you might drive a Tacoma, but just make sure your vehicle can handle the snow. Get snow tires. Don’t be that guy that shuts down Interstate 80 because you spun out on that turn west of DLI. Don’t get yourself stuck on the unplowed streets of your neighborhood because, trust me, they will still be unplowed when it’s time to drive to work or the ski hill. When your friends are riding first chair at KT-22 and you’re stuck 500 feet out of your driveway waiting for the plow to come, you’ll wish you’d replaced that Honda Civic.

4) Don’t think you’re awesome. No matter how amazing your skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing, swimming, or running skills are, there will always be people who can kick your ass. People with Olympic medals and huge sponsorship deals. Small town, big talent. Your ego may take a hit, but at least you’ll have no shortage of partners willing to join you on your crazy endeavors.

5) Shop at the thrift store. Did you know a lot of Bay Area folks have swanky, second homes up here? Million dollar homes that they like to call “cabins.” These folks get rid of stuff on a shockingly frequent basis — stuff they’ve barely used. The furniture sitting outside Tahoe Forest Hospice Thrift on a typical Saturday would be a nice upgrade for your place on Moraine St. or your Tahoma “old Tahoe” cabin. Plus, thrift store shopping is Earth-friendly, and that’s how we like to roll.

6) Get a Patagonia puffy and a Big Truck hat. You won’t even have to ask for the locals’ discount.

7) Stay off I-80 in a snowstorm. Because you can bet some idiot is breaking rule #3.

8) Tip big. You plan to come back to that bar/restaurant/hairstylist, don’t you? Make friends, and it will serve you well in the future. Karma, baby.

9) Talk small. Your “private” conversation is never private. Be nice, because someone is always listening — someone who either knows you or knows what you’re talking about.

10) Shop local. The last time I bought brand new skis, it was from Alpenglow. Because they do a lot more for North Tahoe than just sell stuff. Supporting local business owners enables them to host events like demo days and films (possibly the only thing to do on a Thursday in November).

11) Be a good dog owner. Adopt from a local humane society. Pick up after him. Take an obedience class. Don’t bring him to indoor parties. And don’t even tell me he’s part wolf.

12) Don’t go to Safeway on holidays or weekends. This one is very important. It will be so crowded, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MIND! Once it took me 15 minutes to find a parking space at the Truckee Safeway. Then, I spent five minutes searching for a cart, but they were all being used — every last one! I finally helped someone unload her groceries into her car so I could have her cart. Needless to say, once I got inside the store, the experience only went downhill. Lesson learned. Now, if I run out of food between Christmas and New Year’s, I grocery shop at 6:00 a.m.

And, my most important tip?

13) Don’t bitch. There are downsides to living in a resort town, of course. But just remember: You live where other people come to vacation. It’s pretty rad.

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June 14, 2018