I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area like a lot of Tahoe locals. From Marin, Tahoe was a short three hour drive away. How did I end up with my roots planted here? It is a familiar story, but mine is plain and simple. I love Tahoe, and have since I was a small child.
Every summer since I can remember, my family along with 2 other families, would rent a cabin in Agate Bay on Tahoe’s north shore. I looked forward to our 2 week stay each summer all year long. From about age 6, I can remember many days spent on Moondune’s Beach swimming and hunting for crawdads with my friends. Being raised in a Marin tennis club, we were hearty swimmers and would also enjoy exploring the East Shore, swimming from boulder to boulder. As time went on and we were old enough, our horizons were expanded to include hiking to small Alpine Lakes, fishing, rafting, camping and bike riding all of Tahoe’s paved paths. (mountain bikes were yet to be born) As a teenager, it was all about hanging out on the piers where we were offered rides on boats with the local riff raff, some of which are still my friends today.
In the winters, my dad (sporting Scotchguarded Levi’s) would haul us to the Hyatt in Incline Village for ski-skate week, which Marin schools also have. I learned to ski at Ski Incline when I was about 10, though I can’t say I exactly loved skiing at the time. Northstar soon became my favorite resort where I would ski with friends every New Years. From what I recall I fit right in with my Vuarnets and that special day glow ski parka. I longed to be at Lake Tahoe if for nothing else, it’s sheer beauty.
While attending college and working as a Sales Manager for The Gap in San Francisco, I became an enthusiastic mountain biker, living at the base of Mount Tamalpais at the time. Every chance I got I would throw my mountain bike into my car and drive up to Tahoe to ride, usually staying with friends in Squaw Valley or Kings Beach. With my independence established, I decided during one of my congested commutes into SF that it was time to set a lifelong desire into motion…a plan to move to Tahoe for a summer.
So, in May of 1990 I hauled on up, found a place to rent, a full time job at Porter’s Ski Shop, and lived as a local. I was young and poor, but happily exploring the terrain and living the lifestyle. I could not possibly pull myself away after that summer, so I stayed for a winter and to my surprise, LOVED it. Even with free skiing at my fingertips, I often opted for a jaunt in the woods on cross country skis with my dog. Nordic skiing is my winter passion today, with some snowboarding in between.
You will hear this theme over and over as you talk to the Tahoe Truckee community; “I moved here for a winter, and decided to stay for a summer but never left” or vice-versa in my case. Married to a man who was born and raised in Tahoe City, I can honestly say that I can’t imagine raising my two boys anywhere else. Today I enjoy showing them why I fell for Tahoe back in the 70’s, while my husband reminisces about what Tahoe was like way back when. Life in Tahoe is always an adventure, one of which I savor each and every moment, and have since I was a child.
Samantha Swigard circa 1969