Vail Daily column: Yes, I know I’m nuts

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

My wife and daughter crashed the dinner party last Friday at a restaurant near Lake Tahoe.

Old college friends had gathered and invited my son and his pregnant wife, who live in Truckee, to join them. Some quite literally are lifelong friends of our kids, too. One fixed my wife and I up long, long ago.

No one knew the girls were in town, and so this was a big happy surprise. When the din settled down a bit, they asked what was going on. Whitney wasn’t due for a few weeks yet. Why here now?

So my wife and daughter told them. Then … pandemonium. The good kind.

This seems as good an explanation as any for why I’ve accepted an opportunity to move to our paper in Grass Valley, Calif., down the mountain a ways from Truckee on the Sacramento side.

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This all started a few weeks ago, over coffee at Yeti’s in Eagle with company President Bob Brown. He had some shocking news: Grass Valley’s publisher was leaving to join his dad’s real estate firm. While I was digesting this, a real loss for our company, here came the kicker. Would I be interested?

I don’t think I actually spit up my coffee, to be honest, this column being nonfiction and all. But I was surprised enough that I might have if I’d had the cup to my lips.

Let me think. Would I be willing to give up the crown jewel of the company with colleagues I wouldn’t trade for anything? Would I be willing to give up what my dad visiting from Hawaii told my mom was “quite a nice life he’s made for himself”? Would I be willing to trade all that to start over again at another paper, in another community?

Might as well ask if I’m completely, utterly nuts. When I told them about the offer, our managers at the Daily certainly did. Immediately and forcefully — and quite free of any hint of deference whatsoever to the boss, I might add.

The answer, of course, is probably yes, there is something desperately wrong with me. Well, as I think about it, probably not even probably. Just yes. Irretrievably.

But this is what brought me to Vail in the first place. I was crazy to leave a cushier job in San Diego for Vail. Crazy at the start to take a reporter’s job for $10 less a week than I got in unemployment between wildland fire seasons. Crazy to chase a girl to Santa Barbara from Hawaii at too young an age to know better.

Of course, crazy worked out pretty well, if sometimes only in life’s bruises for lessons. Crazy led me to my wife of nearly 32 years (already?), to kids who awe me as adults, to some measure of wisdom in a Will Rogers sort of way, to lots of fun.

And on to Grass Valley.

I’m not in the least ambivalent about this decision, but I am sober. This will be a bigger job than what I’m doing now. Already I feel all the anxiety of sailing beyond the lee of Diamond Head into progressively heavier winds and house-sized swells, as halyards clang and too much sail pops and bends the boat over. When I understand in the gut demands on me will peak. When I never feel more alive.

But hey, this is only my professional life at stake, not my, you know, life life. The worst thing is I’m going to learn a helluva lot, grow and get better at my calling.

I’ll sorely miss everyone here, friends and bitterest critics alike. I’ll miss bumping heads with my boss; throwing up my hands at our marketing guy’s latest, um, clever scheme; seeing people I know just about everywhere, even if I forget names much too easily. And of course the radio show, writers group, leader roundtable, snowboarding, trail running, bike riding, hoops, all that.

Yes, crazy to give it all up at a point everything is working as smoothly as it is.

Still. How’s that line go? “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for”?

And that damned star is winking at me.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at and 970-748-2920.

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