Dear visitors from near and far, 

Welcome to another winter in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe; we’re very excited to have you back.

Notice a few changes? Tahoe City has a bypass. Truckee has new apartments and fat, fresh sidewalks! And, of course, there are a few new roundabouts thrown in just to keep things interesting. We hope you enjoy the fruits of your 2019 investment.


While we always appreciate what you do for us here in the mountains, there are issues we should discuss. The opinions expressed herein are mine, but you’re free to share them. They’ve been gathered from years of observation of the human spirit and then mixed with snap judgements. I ride mainly at Sugar Bowl but have visited many a mountain around the west. So, with all due respect, here’s a short list of helpful advice to ensure a fun, frustration-free 2020.

#1: Traffic circles

Know that we don’t use these exotic traffic tools to merely brainstorm landscaping ideas or house giant, iron insects — they serve a real purpose.

In brief, treat a traffic circle as you would a polite conversation. If someone is talking upon approach, you wouldn’t interrupt. You’d pretend they’re talking about a new ride-share startup. Likewise, in the slow-moving conversation of a Truckee roundabout maze, wait your turn. When they’ve left the roundabout — or, stated their case — it’s then time to move forward with yours. Everything flows nicely.

With focus, and as long as the common sense oak trees grant acorns, we believe our roundabout Tesla-benders can be reduced by at least 25% this year.

#2: Tire chains

Ample discussions revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of this topic that we’re sorry hasn’t been broached in previous seasons.

Apparently, the overall marketing pitch of tire chains, news coverage of their requirement, and bearing witness to Caltrans-approved roadside installation zones, have fallen woefully short of communicating why, how, and where tire chains should be applied to an automobile. For the record: They go on tires. They are also rendered ineffective when in a vehicle’s trunk. 

That out of the way, we ask you dedicate time to studying what locations are suited for installation, a conundrum best solved by knowing where not to do it: highway entrance ramps, halfway up Northwoods Boulevard, traffic circles, turn lanes, stop lights, retail drive-throughs, or anywhere impeding a local’s access to powder — or home or work.

GRIDLOCK is common during winter months; remember that everyone has the same idea to get up on the mountain early as you do, and if you want to beat the inevitable car queue you’d better be ready to be out the door before the sun peaks over the mountaintop. Photo by Sarah Miller/Moonshine Ink

#3: Safeway

As with #2, please know we’ve only recently realized that Truckee is the only town within 500 miles of the coast to have grocery stores. (We’ll soon have five!) While Google, Yelp, and a general awareness of how capitalism functions suggest otherwise, we can only go on the facts provided us.

Given this new evidence, we retract the request that you consider shopping for your stay’s supply of food, life-line beers, and wine you can buy where you live before arriving on the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend. 

Should you find yourself troubled for a parking spot in the Safeway plaza, we’re pleased to announce that Save Mart — another large California retail grocery chain  — also exists and should be easily discoverable given its proximity to a Starbucks and the traffic line to Squaw. 

#4: Resort traffic

We suggest refraining from publicly complaining about traffic to our area resorts if you depart for one any time after 9 a.m. 

We know how kids malfunction without a daily dose of screen-time, and that you simply can’t go on without a fourth venti skinny latte, but please know that when conditions are good on the mountain, alarms need to go off in the dark. 

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s “skied out” or “the parking’s impossible,” know that it’s because you drink venti skinny lattes. 

Addendum A:

Pulling off a successful winter is a two-way street, which is why we ask that it not be blocked for chain installs. 

In exchange for fulfilling the above requests, we promise to offer increased patience and, at all times, a helpful demeanor. After all, we want you back next year. 

Need help with your chains? Just ask! Not sure what lifts offer the best tree runs, let’s look at the map. Here’s a pro tip for removing your car’s Jerry cap (the dangerous, windslab-in-waiting snow on your car’s roof): Stand on your tire. 

In short, we’re all in this atmospheric river together, so why not paddle in the same direction?

Lastly, remember to get groceries on your way home because, well, see #3.


Year-round residents of Truckee and North Lake Tahoe

Main Image Caption: AKIRA SAYS its equally important for locals to be good hosts as for visitors to be good guests. Photo by Mayumi Elegado/Moonshine Ink


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