Why I Love Nevada by Karen Cazier
By Karen (Lani) Cazier
This Nevadan’s family has been calling the Silver State home for 122 years.
I guess you’d say I am embedded—it’s in my blood. Nevada is where I was born, where my mother and father were born, where my paternal grandfather was born; yes, we go back 122 years. Our family roots grow deeper, to when our forefathers emigrated from European countries, lured to eastern Nevada in the 1880s by mining and the hope of unearthing treasures.
NEVADA’S POETIC BEAUTY
My wisdom tells me I’m home, where I belong. It’s hard to say why; it is now, and has always been where I sought to be. I love the array of vibrant mountains, their never-ending vistas, and ever-changing hues as the clouds appear and roll across infinite valleys as far as the eye can see. The valleys cry out to meandering ice-melt streams to make their way through trees, boulders, and rocks passing through twisted gulches to their grassy meadows below. My very being needs to smell wild flowers in bloom; and pine, cedar, and mahogany trees while taking in the wonderfully clean mountain air. All the while, pine jays squawk warning of our presence to mountain blue birds, crows, grouse, nectar-seeking hummingbirds, and all wildlife nearby.
The pinyon pine branches so heavily laden with sticky pitch-coated cones remind me of the significance pine nuts played for Native Americans who endured life within the Great Basin with its sparse plant life for centuries. The quivering leaves of aspens with their intriguing, meaningful carvings are evidence of the ethnic diversity, yet similarity, of our people. We learned early in life to appreciate and revere all ethnicities and specially our Native American friends, acquaintances, and neighbors; above all, we honor their traditions.
My soul mate, who brought me back home many years ago, and I bounce along the rock-laden, crevice-worn roads in the foothills and mountains heading to Hamilton—my grandfather’s birth place. Our winding drive takes us along the hillsides were we see mustangs on a faraway hill scavenge for any sparse vegetation found at this high elevation. Further yet, we draw awareness to mule deer, elk, and their offspring browsing in the small meadows and watering in a bubbly spring spewing out beneath a large boulder. Now a ghost town, Hamilton is all but overrun with sagebrush and a few skeletons of homes and businesses in a once thriving silver ore mining district and county seat. It is but one of Nevada’s ghost towns with untold history of paid-out mines.
Once out of the mountains and into the valley, we catch sight of antelope sprinting in the vastness. Jack rabbits and cottontails frequently bound across the road as we continue our journey; then we see a wily coyote in his quest for a scurrying chipmunk, as he sneaks across the road in the expanse before us. Our home is a place of solace, where we can get away for a day without seeing another person, just us, the sun, superb air, and denizens of far-flung mountains.
Nevada also provides a domain if one yearns for bright lights and big city! The world’s greatest destinations are but a few hours away: Reno—to the west—nestled in Sierra Nevada Mountain foothills, and Las Vegas—the world’s entertainment mecca—brilliantly glows in the fascinating desert of southern Nevada. No ocean, but Nevada has so much more!
My remote hometown of Ely is one of the friendliest towns in the country. Yes, we have numerous relatives here, but many other inhabitants were also born and brought up in our little community. Others have been lucky enough to find us and join our quiet and down-to-earth way of life. Many left for years and now return to stay; that something special beckoning them back home. White Pine County High School reunions call the most faraway alumni back every July Fourth for 10-year high school class reunions. It’s a must to take in the July Fourth parade, renewing acquaintances with old friends, and then heading up to kids’ games going on at the ball park. At dusk the festivities finally close the day’s activities with fireworks. On a trip back home after a few nostalgia-filled days, alumni realize Ely hasn’t changed that much; it is still home.
During warm summer evenings, at our out-of-the-way ranch, we sit outside under crystal clear skies surveying innumerable bright, twinkling stars above; we listen to the quiet of the night, the great horned owl’s hoot revealing its departure on an evening hunt while serenading coyotes howl at a distance. As darkness deepens, we head inside to retire for the night where nearby crickets, in time, lull us to sleep.
We are fortunate indeed to have such a diverse and beautiful state to call home. I love my Nevada for myriad reasons: it is here that my roots are deeply planted. We have ethnic diversity and acceptance, enjoy a multitude of wildlife, wide-open spaces with never-ending mountain scenery, sparse population, pristine water, and unpolluted air.
Let’s keep it that way!