The first day my wife and I left home at about 9:30 am and got to Donner Pass a little past noon. It was a good feeling to be free of the city in such a short time. We ate lunch at the Nugget Diner in downtown Reno. It was cheap, filling, a little greasy, fitting my preconceived notions of Reno. I recommend it.
We continued on I-80 until Fernley, NV, where US 50 takes off. We were going to more or less follow 50, and later I-70 directly to Colorado Springs. Oddly enough, some Anglophile build a giant traffic circle at the intersection of I-80 and US 50. It seemed very out of place for such an out of the way place. We continued to Fallon, the last real town of any size we were to see until Ely, NV. We only planned on driving to Austin, an old mining town that escaped becoming a ghost town by being on Hwy 50. It used to be the county seat, but suffered the indignity of losing that to Battle Mountain, which is on I-80.
I really like this country. A lot of people think the dessert is just a wasteland, but I see many interesting things. For instance, a few miles SE of Fallon there is this giant sand dune called Sand Mountain. We saw a few dune buggies testing their skills on it. Nevada is full of mountain ranges that run north-south. We had to cross all of them. Lots of passes to go over, but the road was good and there was very little traffic. We got into Austin at about 6 pm. Th pictures below show Austin's main street, Stokes Castle (or what's left of it), and a view toward the west from Stokes Castle.
The Pony Canyon Motel had no A/C, so I wouldn't recommend it. There are two other places with A/C. There are 3 places to eat. The only one you want to go to is the one that is furthest east (uphill). Take advantage of the Indian jewelry stores in Austin. Prices are cheaper than you will find most anywhere else.