MEET RUTHANNE: WHY LAKE TAHOE IS SPECIAL TO ME
Welcome to a series I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, and finally am pulling the plug on. Photography is personal, and you should probably feel like you know who you’re trusting to be behind the lens for you. I’m writing this series to help you get to know me + my roots.
I’m 7 years old, sitting on the shores of Tahoe building a sand castle with my 5 year old brother. My baby sister is playing under and umbrella, and I stop, look around, and squint at the mountains across vast expanse that is Lake Tahoe. I turn to my mom and say something to the effect of: “It’s pretty cool that there’s snow on the mountains and we’re at the beach, isn’t it mom?” It was a hot July day, and I remember this day as the day that I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to be in that exact spot at that exact moment. I think back on that realization often, to give me perspective and appreciation of where I am now.
I didn’t grow up in a particularly “outdoorsy” family. We were the kind of family that enjoyed long summer days at the lake followed by a bbq on the back deck and s’mores around the fire. I first set foot in Yosemite National Park for my 10th birthday (it was my one request) and loved the days I spent running wild, imagining what it would be like to live in the woods for real. I grew up fishing, driving back roads, and building forts in my back yard. I had a perfectly simplistic childhood, surrounded by beauty I didn’t comprehend. I always knew it was special, I just didn’t know how much.
Sometimes, even now, I forget how special this place is. I go through the motions and life becomes mundane - and I forget. To this day, my husband has to remind me that places like Lake Tahoe are fantasy to most of the world. My quiet town of Truckee, California and the Lake Tahoe basin are unique in the community they foster and lifestyle they allow. I mean, I work from home with a view of my favorite little alpine lake, and live the best life. My days are filled with so much goodness and beauty, and I take it for granted more than I’d like to admit.
I was homeschooled from 1st-12th grade. This is usually where people say “omg, how did you turn out so normal?!” - and well, I might lack some knowledge of pop-culture during my childhood, but that’s about it. Because I was homeschooled, we traveled a lot as a family. When I was 13 years old I spent a month in Washington DC during the presidential election. Talk about culture shock. The more we traveled, the more I fell in love with where my life was built. I was constantly stuck between wanting to see the world and wanting to just come home. I remember the first time I spent a significant time away from home, and the feeling of flying over “my mountains” into the airport, stepping off that plane, and getting to drive back to the perfect mountain air that feeds my soul. It’s a feeling I have every time I come home, to this day. Travel was such an important part of giving me perspective and understanding of why Tahoe was special to me — and it still is.
Lake Tahoe is amazing because of its beauty — but beyond that, it’s so incredibly special to me because it taught me what feeling alive really feels like. Sharing that feeling with other people through my photography and elopements, though? That feeds my soul, to its very core.