The Differences Between San Jose and Reno

We’ve been here in Reno for about seven weeks and may have finally unpacked the last of our boxes.  Except for some garden stuff, camping gear, the emergency supplies and everything for my wood shop.  Other than that, we’re unpacked.  Heather’s also been busy hanging up our pictures and this afternoon declared that the last one is up.  It’s the kind of statement that a husband doesn’t question.

This morning we did some organization in the garage so I can finally park my car there.  Which is really amazing as this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had a garage where I could park my car.  Normally any garage I have is filled with tools and/or junk and the car lives on the driveway.  Strange to have a garage for a car.  I mean the car gets a house to be in, odd.

You need understand a thing or two about Reno and this part of Nevada – it’s what we call, “high desert.”  High because the city is at about 4,500 feet (and not because of the large number of bars here) and desert because the average rain fall is about 7.5 inches.  Some of you live in states where you get that every month.  The landscape is rock, sand, and sage bushes.  If you have a lawn, you’d better water it every two or three days because in summer it’s going brown if you don’t.

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised about how many folks up here have lawns but there are also a lot of front yards filled with rock. Decorative rock, nicely shaped and in interesting patterns, but still just rocks.

The summers are hotter here than San Jose.  So far there’s only been a couple of days where the high is below 95.  Fortunately we bought a house with AC or I would have melted six weeks ago.  We’ve commented to a few of our neighbors that it seems like we’ve moved here during the hottest time of the year.

They’ve assured us that it will get cold soon enough, like really cold.  I’ve heard rumors that it snows here.  I still don’t get the concept. Frozen water falling from the sky …

Okay, that happened twice when I lived in San Jose.  Once in 1976 and again sometime in the late 80’s.

Now, I have been in Reno visiting family during the winter so I know how cold it can get here.  We’re talking freezing here.  It’s why you don’t find cactus or many succulents in this desert. Cactus just dies when frozen.

The weather is the most obvious difference between San Jose and Reno.  San Jose the weather is frankly, boring.  Summers about about 80 during the day and high 50’s at night with a bit of morning overcast before there is a nice sunny afternoon.  Reno is much more exciting.  Summer afternoons are often in the high 90s (100 a few times) while the night dips to high 50s.  Mornings can be clear and by the afternoon you get not only heat but sometimes a wind, something Mark Twain called the “Washoe Zephyr” when he lived here.

I don’t think Twain ever lived in San Jose so there’s another difference.

Back to the weather, sometimes we get afternoon thunder storms complete with thunder, lightning and rain. Maybe 2-5 minutes of rain, but the rumble of thunder can be impressive as it echoes off the hills behind the house.  Again San Jose is boring – rarely do you get thunder storm, let alone an afternoon one.  Even in winter it’s rare to see lightning.

There are a few things I didn’t expect to find in Reno.  Wild fires for one.  It’s amazing that there’s enough around here to burn, but the local fire companies have had a busy season fighting fires in the sagebrush hills and the Eastern Sierra where there are trees, grass and stuff.  One of our daughters had her house threatened by fire and it was only saved because of well placed drop from an air tanker and fast action of a ground crew.

It’s the kind of thing that is normal in California and we hear about all the time in San Jose, but I never thought I’d get that kind of call from family in this state.

Last week in the hills around San Jose came a unusual and massive lightning storm and those hills are burning.  Everyday I get messages from friends who are suffering from the smoke of those fires and even a few who’ve evacuated.  Fire has burned through one of my favorite places, Big Basin State Park, destroying the park headquarters built in the 1930s – one of those places you’d think would be there forever.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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14 Responses to The Differences Between San Jose and Reno

  1. Ray V. says:

    Great story. Sorry I missed it when it came out. Still chuckling about your reading appliance manuals. I don’t doubt for a minute that you read them cover to cover, including the Spanish, German and French sections.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dorannrule says:

    I have this feeling you and Heather will thrive there. It sounds like anything but boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what a lot of changes. Reno’s weather sounds similar to Calgary’s in its volatility – we always used to joke, “If you don’t like the weather, stick around for ten minutes”. Interesting is one word for it – I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christi says:

    I liked the post, but didn’t like hearing about Big Basin State Park. I remember visiting it once, that’s just so sad!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Baydreamer says:

    We used to live in the high desert in Southern CA and I remember enjoying a few white winters which was fun for the kids when they were little. Their snowman melted by end of day, but the building was fun for them. The fires are only 17 and 25% contained, but we’re grateful to not be in fire danger anymore. Dry lightning is very rare and scary, and the fires are unfortunately our new normal now, so we’re ready to move out of CA. Between those and anticipating the Big Quake anytime, we’re really ready. 🙂 We plan to retire and pack up in a couple of years if things go as planned. We shall see. Take care and stay cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I did look at Reno once as a retirement home but I think I missed the part you’re in. It sounds pretty good, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reno has improved a lot in the last few years, but mostly it’s the draw of family that has us here. I will say that we’ve meet a lot of folks here who’ve moved from the bay area to here.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. floridaborne says:

    As someone who has lived a few miles north of San Francisco, I know what you mean about the wildfires. I’ve been to Reno several times, for the nickle poker machines. There were geology class expeditions, two week classes I loved to take for the 4 years I lived in California. Nevada is a veritable haven for different kinds of rocks. You must have retired there to be near family.

    Liked by 1 person

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