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Nye County, Nevada:
The Only Reason You Need to Join the Auto Club
"The next telephone is sixty miles from here, Mister!" replied the gruff bartender at the saloon, the kind of place that had a sign promising ROOMS as well as stiff drinks. We were in the one-building town of Warm Springs, Nevada, on U.S. Route 6. The announcement came as a shock. Sixty miles from here meant Tonapah, the seat of Nye County, Nevada. We were traveling from Ohio to Southern California. Our broken-down Chevrolet wagon sat among the sagebrush and tumbleweed. What in the world were we doing in this barren high desert land with the nearest telephone 60 miles away?
The bartender stared at me. "What does one do when one's car breaks down in this God-forsaken place?" I asked. With not the slightest hint of sympathy, he replied, "You might try asking one of those fellers at the bar to give you a tow into Tonapah." So, with no other options, I inquired. "Yep, I'll do it," volunteered one. "I'll get some chain and gather up a few things."
It was a uranium miner who was behind the wheel of the red Chevy pickup that towed our car with about ten feet of chain. From where I sat in the wagon, I could see his Stetson hat and a rifle racked across the rear window. Keeping our station wagon at a safe distance required all the driving skill I could muster. Breaking was essential on the torturous roads, especially on the downgrades. Occasionally, a beer can came flying out of the pickup's window and rattled past.
We made it to Tonapah, and after a weekend wait, a mechanic disappeared beneath our wagon. It would take some major engine work to get it running. To make matters worse, he'd have to get a short block assembly from Salt Lake City to complete the repairs.
Later, as we drove through the lush orange groves in the promised land of Orange County, California, my mind hearkened back to Nye County, Nevada - to the sage brush and tumble weed, to that sober bartender in the Warm Springs saloon. His words echo still..."The next telephone is sixty miles from here, Mister." On that trip, I was NOT a Savvy Traveler.