What would we early risers do without places like the Toiyabe Cafe in downtown Austin, Nevada? I had just spent a starry, silent night in the back of my car in the pinyon-forested Bob Scott Campground, brewed a cup of marginal coffee with my one-burner stove, then watched an apricot dawn spill down the slopes of the 7,000 foot mountains to the west. It was just after 6am and I was too lazy to break out any more cooking gear but energized enough to drive down the steep switchbacks of highway 50 to the empty streets of Austin.
There was one other customer inside the Toiyabe Cafe. The television near the corner ceiling was transmitting a snowy telecast of the morning news out of Reno. Near the restrooms were a few antiquated video games. On the wall was the stuffed head of a pronghorn and signs touting “the loneliest highway in America”. But I didn’t feel lonely at the moment. I was ordering a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs to get me through the remaining 170 miles to Reno, an easy run compared to the 560 miles I’d driven the day before.
I have passed through this town dozens of times over the past 35 years and this cafe has always been a welcome stop. Now they serve lattes and espressos in deference to aging yuppies and modern travelers. I savored my breakfast and the familiarity of this little, local place before hitting the road once again....on the second leg of my trip back in time to the place where I grew up.
After leaving Austin, I would take a scenic detour through the Reese River Valley, photograph some living pronghorns, navigate through the Desatoya Mountains, and lose a telephoto lens somewhere along the way. I’d stop at the infamous Shoe Tree as well where I spotted the pair of old tennies that my daughter threw up there last month.
Continuity. Anticipation. And beauty all around me.
I push onward toward the San Francisco peninsula.