Mind Over Miller: Nevada—home to far more than the WVC

Mind Over Miller: Nevada—home to far more than the WVC

Sure, there are casinos, showgirls, all-you-can-eat buffets and a certain veterinary conference—but the state is more than that. It's also home to endless vistas, many mustangs and poetry-telling buckaroos.
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Feb 09, 2018

The Nevada buckaroo is a breed of cowboy unto itself, says Dr. Robert Miller. Hallmarks include the hat, the style of chaps worn and the scarf around the neck, called a "wild rag." | Shutterstock.comThe enormous sprawling state of Nevada is probably best known in our profession for the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC), a large conference held early in the year in Las Vegas.

However, across the world, there are millions of people who have never heard of Nevada or WVC but have heard of Las Vegas—Sin City. This entertainment and gambling capital of the world isn’t even the capital of Nevada. That is Carson City, a rather sedate and quiet town. Actually, there are only two populous communities in this huge state, Las Vegas and Reno, which are hundreds of miles apart.

To me, Nevada typifies the entire United States because of its diversity, cultural extremes, size and geographic variety.

Take Las Vegas, for example. Known the world over for its frivolity, decadence and garishness, its growing population is largely conservative. It’s a military town, a university town and a mecca for retired people, and it has a large Mormon community. I know longtime residents of Las Vegas who have not been to the Strip, where most of the action is, for years.

Outdoor enthusiasts like Las Vegas too, and I don’t just mean because of the golf courses and swimming pools. There is skiing close by, Lake Mead is great for boating and fishing, and you can visit such wonders as Valley of Fire State Park.

Still, my personal visits to Las Vegas have always involved veterinary conferences. I find that after four days, I’m overwhelmed with the glitz, the glamour and the seedy side of human nature and am ready to go home. Yet it’s the decadence that prompts me to say that Nevada is pure Americana because, away from the casino-supported cities, the state is still Western frontier.

Although much of the state is desert, there are also beautiful snowcapped mountains and endless vistas of agricultural lands. Many of the largest cattle ranches in the United States are in Nevada, and here the buckaroo reigns supreme. The Nevada buckaroo’s attire, equipment and technique are different from that of most American cowboys. The annual cowboy poetry gathering held in Elko, Nevada, celebrates the startling talent that can be found in the nation’s hinterlands and is a nostalgic reminder that all of our frontier-born values still exist.

Home to most of the nation’s mustangs, thriving mineral wealth, abundant wildlife, great flocks of sheep and endless open space, Nevada is a great place to visit. My grandchildren live less than half an hour west of Reno, in the Sierra Nevada forest, so I visit Nevada periodically. (Reno, too, is host to an important veterinary conference, the Wild West Veterinary Conference.)

However, I’m pretty content living in California, at least until my next life when I’ll move to rural Hawaii just as soon as I graduate veterinary school.

Dr. Robert Miller is an author, cartoonist and speaker from Thousand Oaks, California. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at www.robertmmiller.com.