According to the experts who wrote the history blurb on the back of my breakfast menu, Austin NV was named after Austin TX. Austin TX, as some of you know, was a pretty weird place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It served as a little island of hippie hedonism in an otherwise bleak, starchy wasteland of cactus, cotton, and cow poo.
Austin TX sold its soul and became a caricature of itself in the late 70s, sadly succumbing to corporate cowboy conformity thereafter. Contrary to popular belief, when you put lipstick on an armadillo, it is no longer really an armadillo.
Austin NV, on the other hand, keeps getting weirder and weirder. All three hundred residents make sure of it. For eight months of the year, going outside is risky business. It’s too flat out cold. Most folks just stay indoors and hone their nuttiness.
When the ice melts and the summer Sun penetrates the dusty windowpanes, residents strut around and celebrate. They have survived another year. Time to stretch those legs. Comb the beard. See what sort of commotion the highway brings to town.
There is a natural rhythm to this Austin NV weirdness, an underground, miner’s spookiness. Living here is a cautious, quiet experiment, like standing alone at night under a streetlight in a silent snow storm. The streetlight is all that stands between you and the sheer terror of being buried alive. But the yellow glow of civilization is comforting and somehow it seems that it will last.
The place to eat in Austin, the real Austin, is the Toiyabe Cafe, just up the street from the Lincoln Motel.
Characters abound in the early morning. Coffee-provoked memories are broadcast loud enough for anyone to hear, reaching a crescendo on about the third refill. It’s an eavesdropper’s paradise.
Mugs are tended with the patience of Job by Dani, the softspoken but friendly waitress. Ain’t she cute?
Maybe it’s hard to believe, but I have less than 200 miles to go until I reach the California border. Man, I cannot WAIT to see Lake Tahoe. Today is a zero day, though, to rest my feet, so I am holed up in a little cave in the Lincoln Motel.
I need to send a shoutout to some recent trail angels. Doug the machinist from Sparks NV gave me two burritos and a Mountain Dew in the Petroglyphs campground. Jim the Gold Miner’s encouragement near Bob Scott Summit was inspirational. And a nice couple from Oregon bought me lunch today at the cafe. I ♡ trail angels.
Midnight tonight is the deadline for the Name This Trip contest, buckaroos and buckarinas. There have been thirty or so entries thus far, but no one has really knocked it out of the park.
Can you summon your inner weirdo touring strollerist and capture the essence of this whacked endeavor? It might help to pretend you are Austin NV born and bred. These are my brethren, my soul sisters, my kin. They KNOW.
Peace, Love, and Focus,