If your car breaks down at the t-junction of Nevada 50 and 305, grab essentials and walk one mile east to Austin. This tiny-population-150-surprise-of-a-town on “the loneliest road” in America turned out to be my summer 2020 lesson in acceptance. Just before we ran over road debris that tore off an essential fluid cap on the bottom of our rental, my 17-year old asked for a drawing prompt; ”Skeleton,” I said. She said she needed a reference…and then we were overheating and sputtering to stop in 98* heat.
Earlier in the ride we had been listening to Andy J Pizza’s podcast on how you can only find so much inspiration on social media before it becomes referenced, re-referenced, re-referenced, and so on. To be original, Andy advises, get off social media and get out.
We were 180 miles from the nearest tow truck, car rental, repair shop. Luckily the intersection where we stopped had a wide pull off, across the road from a silver boom-era cemetery. In the distance to the east was a bright white church steeple. The only cell reception was on the top of an ant hill under a bit of shade. An RV towing a red Jeep slowed, the driver rolled down his window and asked if we were okay, suggesting we wait out the Sunday in Austin "just up the road" at The Cozy Motel. “Thanks," we replied, "We’re going to try to get fixed and move on.” It was 1:30 pm.
Thirty-seven phone calls with roadside service and the rental agency later, as the sun was beginning to soften and to set, we finally accepted that nothing would happen that day, and called The Cozy Motel who immediately dispatched a car with a covid-masked driver to collect us. At The Cozy we were greeted by two skeletons relaxing on a bench outside the reception office. The lovely, energetic owner offered us water, checked us into two of her 14 motel rooms, asked us not to mind the roaming chickens, and showed us her outdoor kitchen. She also told us about local hiking trails, where to buy ice, and her recent eight months in Indonesia including a favorite diving island.
It was easy to find beauty in Austin. Once a community of 15,000 mining for silver, this quiet, original oasis of a town is full of color and eye-catching detail and is actively beautifying their already beautiful main (and pretty much only) street. We had worked hard to keep moving on our road trip. A better choice would have been to hours earlier settle into Austin and to, as Andy J Pizza would say, "Get out!" and accept the gift of a layover in a little gem on 50, the loneliest (and likely friendliest) road in America.
View Ann’s Austin, NV pics below and tune into Andy J Pizza’s Creative Pep Talk podcast; it’s great fun and super encouraging.
Happy trails, chattra founder, Ann