June 17, 1999 - Day 12 - Austin to Eureka, Nevada

Approx. 70 miles, other data lost
Roadkill - approx. 7

Well, it was a new day in Austin (Yeah, Bay-Bee!) and I was determined to make a fresh start (isn't that what new days are all about anyway?). I had breakfast at a delightful cafe called the Toiyabe Cafe on the east end of town.
But again, despite great food, the local advice was incorrect. I have a theory about this, since it seems to be a theme. I don't think a lot of the locals get out much, so they don't really know too much about their area. But because they've lived there all their lives, they THINK they know EVERYTHING about their area, and they dispense that 'wisdom' with total confidence. I think I know why so many died on the Oregon Trail.
Austin is near bottom of a long, steep mountain pass. I was assured I would be able to get water at the Bob Scott campground at the top of the pass. So I watered the shrubs at the Toiyabe Cafe with more than a gallon of the water I was GOING to drag up that hill, and started off with confidence.
It was a killer hill, too, and I was glad to not be carrying that water. But of course, you know the rest of the story. The campground did have water spigots. They had been shut off for at least a decade, by the looks of it. So now I had a sixty mile stretch of Nevada with only my two existing water bottles, one of which was drained on the climb.Hmmmm.
Well, nothing to do but go for it, and see how far that one bottle would go. I sure wasn't going back down that mountain again.

Gridley's sack of flour
Gridley's sack of flour
Imagine my surprise on leaving Austin to see this plaque attached to the building that had been Gridley's store. Mark Twain writes about this story in his fine book on the West called "Roughing It". I wanted to do a review of this book for the web site, but just didn't have the time before leaving. But I did read the book as a preparation for the trip, and have thought about Mark Twain often while in western Nevada.
Twain's description of what this man did is moving. I really thought he had embellished the truth, but this plaque proves (I think) the story true.

Looking Back
Looking back from Austin
This is about a quarter mile up Austin Pass, looking back on about 30 miles of yesterday's route. I try not to look back too often. Something about Lot's wife.

J.T. Wilkes
J.T. Wilkes, Good Samaritan
It was after crossing the second pass of the day that my water ran out. I cruised down the eastern slope of the pass, wondering just what I was going to do. There was a dirt road that turned off to the left toward a petroglyph site, and I saw a SUV with a man sitting in it. I thought it might be a ranger vehicle, so I pulled in to ask if he might have some spare water.
Turns out it wasn't a ranger; it was J.T. Wilkes, salesman for Cashman Equipment out of Elko, Nevada, taking a rest during a long day of driving. J.T. sells Caterpillar equipment, and has been to the Caterpillar plants in Joliet, Aurora and the mother plant in Peoria.
He didn't have water. He had Mountain Dew, semi-cold. I hate Mountain Dew. I drank two of them straight down the gullet and he gave me two more for the road, apologizing for not having water. Hey, no problem. Tasted great!!!
As we talked, a camper pulled down the road. J.T. said, "Try them." I was going to leave well enough alone with the Mountain Dew, but I held up a water bottle, and they stopped. It was a family from California on their way in to see the petroglyphs. They had plenty of water, so I filled my water bottles. I'm thankful to them, but I'm giving J.T. the credit.
J.T. gave me a Cashman Equipment hat (which I WILL wear) and he gave one to the California family for helping me. J.T. Wilkes, the man of the hour for me.

Eureka County
Eureka!
I entered Eureka County in here, and here is the welcoming little town of Eureka. Eureka is doing a really nice job of capitalizing on its old mining heritage for tourism. They have a lot of the buildings in town numbered and you can get a map that tells you the heritage of each of the buildings. They have maintained quite a bit of the feel of the "old" town. I checked into the Sundown Motel and had a good meal across the street.
Little did I know that the Sundown would be sundown for my computer....

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