This autumnal journey is one that I’d planned to undertake and one that is quite unexpected. My writing of SILVER DAGGER this past October necessitated that I, as novelist, return to the locale of my first novel, NORTHSTAR. The setting and time are 100 years earlier for this Western, but the ambiance is pretty much the same: Crime’s afoot in the marginally civilized mountain town. I’d not planned to write SILVER DAGGER this year, but, during the beginning of October, the composition of ten chapters was underway, and completed within the space of two weeks. It’s always a bit of a surprise to me, when I have to set aside other activities to write a novel. My reward for the completion of this Western, which took root in my psyche a little more than twenty years ago — is this trip to a mountain town that I first encountered upon moving West in 1979.
Many of the stores and shops, businesses and proprietors that I’d come to know, enjoy, and appreciate, from the 1980s through the early 2000s are no longer in Truckee. Audrey Dygert, longtime resident of Truckee and acclaimed watercolour artist, passed away in 2010. In 1994, I’d purchased a limited edition print of hers. That artwork formed my tangible reward for having completed my first novel, NORTHSTAR. Truckee was little Truckee during the time when I frequented the town, initially by myself in the early 1980s; then on work assignments (field inspections) with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; next, with my husband and my very young tykes during the 1990s, and, then, in the early 2000s with my much older children. By 2012, when I e-published NORTHSTAR, little Truckee had undergone barbaric real estate changes (EXPANSION) due to subprime spending. I’d learned that an entire city-centre was planned, smack dab in the middle of Commercial Row, by the railroad station, with a humongous hotel and visitor’s center!
Mercifully, that land development plan fell through. I am not anti-development, or anti-renovation. I am fervently against plastering preposterous pieces of ghastly architecture where they definitely do not belong, all for the slimy purpose of enriching politicians on the city council, or county board of supervisors or State Board of Whatever. With all of the open space that’s still left in Truckee, there’s still a chance the place might maintain its original character which was, and is, a bit seedy! The Bay-Area Effect has taken hold in many tourist traps, towns, and landmarks along I-80 East. I try my best to accept this marketing strategy of pitching your wares to the fat-cat wallets of the Citadins, but I always find it distasteful. The citizens of any town are irrelevant tokens in that ploy to sell to the Out-of-Towners, most of whom do not care for the ethos of the country folks from whom they buy. In reality, the city slickers mock the morality and the mere existence of those horrible hicks, clinging to their guns and religion.
There’s a term, to Weekend-ize a Town, that applies here, which is why I do not travel on the Weekend to any usually desirable open-air destination along California freeways and highways. Driving anywhere in California has become an expensive proposition, in the state that invented the Proposition as feel-good propaganda and virtue-signaling among the non-virtuous. Each year, California, Inc. continues to lose more and more citizens, and businesses, and citizens, and corporations, and citizens, and real ballots and actual taxes. It is quite possible that my Truckee, the little Truckee of the 1980s, will, one day soon, look a whole lot more like the way station to which the Donner Party tragically found its way during the winter of 1846-47. I don’t advocate any cannibalism among the socialist/Marxist trekkers who escape their urban pits to flock, on The Weekend, to the Sierra Nevada. Those feeding frenzies are nonetheless savagely underway among the power-monger zealots and pigs in the political class in my country. At least the Donner Party worshipped God; the god of these mendacious hypocrites is mammon.
Little Truckee will always hold a very fond and very firm place in my heart. My introduction to California, a rough ride at best, began with road trips on I-80 through that stretch of the Sierra Nevada. To this day, I can still recall my wide-eyed amazement at the grandeur and phenomenal beauty of Donner Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the “snowy range,” la Sierra Nevada, those granite mountains that were blasted through to build Interstate 80 in this glorious portion of California. Shops, stores, restaurants, and eateries nowadays come and go along Commercial Row. One basic always remains: the works of nature that witness the sublime art by the Creator. That prime mover truly can move mountains. For me, the return to Truckee is always the return to my roots in the West. Not too many girls from New Jersey can claim such a spectacular granite bedrock as a fount for creativity.