“Tuesday was the fourth day of Northern California storms amid ‘two atmospheric rivers’ …”
Sound familiar? While it aptly describes the blizzard conditions our region experienced as we went to press with this March edition, that quote is from a Sacramento Bee story published in 2017.
On that Tuesday evening, 75 editions ago, ’twas a doozy of a deadline for Moonshiners and we thought our dear members would delight in the story. Grab your hot cocoa and a blanket, as those of us who were there that night share the tale that proves the presses don’t stop for nobody.
Setting the scene: Moonshine Ink World Headquarters, Riverside Drive, Truckee, Jan. 10, 2017
Nina Miller: ‘Twas a snow day and my son was home. ’Twas also Moonshine press deadline. ‘Twas back in pre-pandemic days of going to the office for deadline.
So I packed up the boy, Levi, and books and an iPad and whatever else I could think of to keep a 12-year-old entertained all day, got into the car, and off we went. We live in Incline, and as snow would have it, Highway 267 was already closed, and we had to take the scenic route through Tahoe City.
Mayumi Peacock: After days of snow and rain overwhelmed roads and riverbanks across the region, the National Weather Service was calling for blizzard conditions. One of our freelancers, Tim Hauserman, a Tahoe City resident, reported that he had had a “a river that is not supposed to be there roar past the back of my house.” His power was out, but Moonshine had had power the whole time, which I told him was a “HUGE blessing.” I checked with the press about getting another time slot to print, but was told there wasn’t one any sooner than a week out. Noses back to the grindstone.
Nina: Most of the day went normally, aside from the child being bored. (It’s good for them to be bored once in while.) It snowed and snowed and snowed some more, and we all kept one eye on the weather, the other on the paper. It was thick, heavy snow. As roads started closing, we started talking about what to do if some of us weren’t able to make it home later, which was looking more likely by the hour. A tree or two fell onto Highway 89, blocking it for hours.
Mayumi: The power started flickering on and off around early evening. My car had become cocooned with roof shed over the day. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get out of there.
Nina: At some point after dark the power went out completely. Whatever illumination we could find — headlamps and flashlights, and even some candles — were put to use. With the server down, we resorted to using USB sticks to pass ads, stories, page layouts, and PDF proofs back and forth. Everything took for-ev-er. Good thing we all had laptops that could run on battery power for quite some time!
Levi: My mom kept telling me to go to sleep. At least there’s a couch in the office!
Mayumi: The crew was in good spirits (and I don’t mean just because of the whiskey). Despite all odds, we kept moving the paper toward the finish line. We squeezed out every ounce of battery power from those computers. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out, if we got these pages done, how would we get them to the press in Auburn? I checked with a friend, Bob Gray, who at the time worked at the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency, which I knew had back-up power. He also happened to be roommates with our editor at the time, Sage Saurebrey. Bob graciously said, “Get me the files, and I’ll get them to your press.”
Nina: Click by click, thumb drive over thumb drive, we got it done, at around 2:30 a.m. We were so very tired and incredibly lucky to have found a way to send the paper to the printer at that hour during that kind of storm.
Mayumi: Now we all turned to the business of getting home. I attacked the snow cocoon on my 4Runner with the ferocity of someone who was greatly missing her dogs and bed. Most of the staff’s cars were hopelessly stuck. Sage, bearer of the thumb drive with files, offered to take all the people who were stranded with him to his house not far away.
Ally Gravina: All of us except Mayumi piled into Sage’s Toyota truck — I think there were five of us. We barely got off Riverside Drive.
Lauren Shearer: I felt like a refugee.
Nina: Good thing Sage had plenty of space for us, between couches and a guest bedroom. It was cold, though! I was worried about our gecko at home, who needs heat (somehow, the power outage in Incline didn’t last nearly as long, and he was fine).
Mayumi: The 6 miles to my Ponderosa Palisades house was one of the most harrowing drives of my life. The snow was a thick, heavy slop and hadn’t been plowed for eons, likely because everyone was busy dealing with the multiple power outages. I fishtailed my way up the hill, every roll of the tires feeling like a victory. I considered heading back to be with the refugees, but I didn’t dare stop. At one point a power line was down in the road and I barely squeezed by. Weirdly, when I hit the Placer County line, the roads were beautifully cleared. Then I arrived at a driveway buried in feet of Sierra cement. I shoveled and toiled for about an hour and a half. When our snowplow guy showed up just before dawn, I might never have appreciated another human more. I sent a final wrap up email to Bob at 4:19 a.m., closing with: Arrrrrooooouuuuuwww… crazy storm (storm emoji). Off to bed, Mayumi. He got our files to the press.
Nina: The next morning, we made coffee or tea or something hot (thank goodness for gas stoves), clambered back into the truck, and went to dig out everyone’s cars. I drove around town with Levi looking for a place to get food, but it was deserted. Nobody had power. All stores and businesses were closed. So eerie.
Ally: It was an absolute thrash trying to get our cars out. I remember using old carpets to try and get traction. Basically everyone on the street was stuck!
Nina: I can’t remember how we were eventually all able to get back home, but I sure will never forget copyediting with a headlamp.