After I finish my chores tomorrow morning, I'm headed for Reno for the California Wool Growers Association annual meeting. I always enjoy the CWGA convention - I like catching up with other sheep producers and getting a brief break from a busy summer schedule. I also like going to Reno - not for the gambling or bright lights, but for the cultural experience of "old" Reno - which is closely tied to sheep and cattle ranching. One of the highlights of this trip (and indeed, most of my trips) to Reno will be dinner tomorrow evening at Louis' Basque Corner. If you've never eaten at a family style Basque restaurant, you haven't really visited the West! Or as Claire Vaye Watkins says in her book Battle Born, "If you come here [to Louis'] and don’t order the Picon Punch, you didn’t really come here.... One Picon Punch will make you buy another. Two is too many." Since I'll be in the company of other sheep ranchers, including my brother-in-law Adrian, I'm sure I'll have more than one picon punch over the course of the weekend!
Whenever I go to Reno for a convention, I'm reminded of a story that a rancher from Modoc County (in the northeastern corner of California) told me when I first started working for the California Cattlemen's Association. He'd been to his first cattlemen's convention in Reno in the late 1950s. A roving radio reporter approached him and 2 of his buddies in the street and asked, "Are you boys here for the cattlemen's convention? Where are you staying?" One of John's buddies replied, "Well, hell, it's only 3 days - we didn't think we'd need a room!" Fortunately, I have a reservation at John Ascuaga's Nugget!