Bramble On: Time did not wait
The shift was strong and abrupt. Last Saturday I was playing a little soccer golf with friends in San Diego, enjoying the luxury of wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt after weeks of layering clothing, getting lost in the 70-degree weather with a cold beer in my hand and the company of friends I had not seen in more than a year.
A couple of days later, while covering a snow survey in the area of Sierra-at-Tahoe Road and Highway 50, I was struggling to navigate in knee-deep snow as the wind rushed particles of snow into my eyes and effectively froze the scarf covering my face. I could no longer feel my fingers wrapped around my camera, I was no longer all that sure I still had all my toes, and I staggered around TV reporters who walked around in snow shoes, avoiding the difficulties I faced in a simple pair of hiking shoes.
The shift was hard, but I loved the challenge. It was a challenge I’d been looking forward to since I was first hired at the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
This is not the first time I’m forced to face anticipated challenges in that manner. Before I got my first job as a reporter, I’d been unemployed for six months and living comfortably off the hospitality of my parents following college graduation. The job offer came suddenly and within the first two weeks of starting my new job I had covered crucial pre-trial proceedings in a case involving the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and a Sheriff’s alleged dishonesty, as well as a multi-agency manhunt involving tactical law enforcement teams following an armed robbery that resulted in a man being shot.
It seems lately that during times of nervous anticipation I always find myself with challenging extremes. I go from sitting around in considerable comfort to situations that challenge my will and ingenuity.
This time, it was the weather. During the last couple of months I have been going on and on to those who are friendly enough to listen about how I was both terrified and eagerly excited to experience winter in Tahoe. This latest cold front could not have come at a more challenging time.
Monday morning I was in San Diego, where I spent Christmas with my family. Before I left my parents’ house, I spent a few minutes in the backyard with the dogs — a slow moving and overly affectionate pitbull and an excited 8-month-old Belgian shepherd — under the sunny sky, on the green moist grass and by the palm tress that seem to scream SoCal to me.
The drive back to Tahoe wasn’t bad. Though I could gradually see the temperature drop on the dashboard as I drove farther away from the coastal lands I called home and weaved up Highway 395, the drive was pretty much what one would hope for. There was little traffic and no signs of weather-related road hazards. That was the case, anyway, until the last 15 miles.
I knew I was going to face the winter sometime. Those chains in my trunk were not going to remain in their original package forever. Given my luck with these types of experiences, it also seemed fitting it would happen after more than eight-and-a-half hours on the road and near midnight in a stretch of road I wasn’t familiar with.
After all the worrying, after the preparing and planning trips around weather forecasts, after all the anticipation and disappointment, after all the dwindled snow days I had waited for, there I was, at the mouth of Kingsbury Grade and figuring out how to put chains on my tires.
The drive was slow, and the rumbling the chains made the drive a bit tedious. There was a little sliding around, but nothing too terrifying. And, like always, time did not stand still. It didn’t wait for me to get ready, and I made it home all the same.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.