From California to New York
Rick Hammersley waits to cross Stockton Street and Kettleman Lane on Wednesday. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

A 60-year-old, colon cancer survivor walked through Lodi on Wednesday as part of his trip across the United States to promote cancer research.

Rick Hammersley and his wife, Valda, left Bodega Bay on April 1. Rick is walking and Valda is driving the couple's RV. When Hammersley needs a break he phones Valdo, tells her where he is, and she picks him up. It isn't hard finding him. He sports a bright orange shirt and matching orange baseball cap.

It's been pretty easy for Hammersley so far, as he's faced mostly flat terrain, but on Friday, he'll begin heading up the mountains on Highway 88 toward Kit Carson Pass.

He walked from Suisun City to Rio Vista on Monday, then another 21.5 miles from Rio Vista to Flag City. On Wednesday, Hammersley walked from the Flying J parking lot at Flag City and stopped for lunch in Lodi, just outside the Plummer Auto Mall on Kettleman Lane, just east of Highway 99. He had reached Highway 88 and Brandt Road in Lockeford by late afternoon.

Hammersley learned first hand the hazards of Highway 12, noting the speeding drivers and the dangers of the highway between Suisun City and Lodi. It's even more dangerous as a pedestrian because the shoulder is small, and he often walked in the weeds to avoid oncoming traffic.

Hammersley's typical routine is to walk three hours in the morning, take a lunch for an hour and 15 minutes before walking another three hours. Walking at a rate of 3 mph, he aims for 20 miles per day.

"I consider any step that's not on my route a wasted step unless it leads to a doughnut shop," Hammersley said with a laugh.

You can follow Rick Hammersley's trip across the United States through his Web site, www.rickwalksamerica.com. He tries to blog every day, and there is a link for people wanting to make donations to Gateway for Cancer Research.

- Source: Rick Hammersley.

Others who have walked through Lodi

Rick Hammersley isn't the only one to walk through Lodi on his way to a much longer journey. Here are some of the more recent walks:

  • B.J. Hill, 31, a teacher from Massachusetts, who began a cross-country walk at the Golden Gate Bridge on March 1, was in Lodi on March 11 and plans to arrive in Boston on Nov. 2. He is asking people along the way to write personal messages for the next president of the United States, whoever that may be. He was in Ely, Nev., on Wednesday, according to his Web site, www.walkamerica2008.com.
  • A group of 50 American Indians walking cross country to raise awareness for Indian issues. They were in Lodi on Feb. 13 and are headed to Washington, D.C.
  • Tim Hatch, 53, who lived in Central Washington, planned to take his 6-year-old donkey, Rosie, to a town 80 miles northwest of Houston, Texas, in 2005. And of course, they made stops in Woodbridge and Lodi along the way.

    However, according to Hatch's Web site, www.donkeywalk.com, the journey ended in Wilcox, Ariz., due to tumors in Rosie's neck that were inoperable and slowly began to interfere with her breathing, according to the Web site.

  • Ron Rinehart of Fresno walked from Sacramento to Fresno in 2002 to promote literacy. He planned to walk from the Fresno Public Library to the New York City Public Library in 2004. Internet searches don't indicate whether Rinehart ever made that trip to New York.

    - News-Sentinel staff

Actually, his wife makes sure he eats healthy meals due to his cancer and diabetes. However, she treated him to an In-N-Out Burger on Wednesday.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Hammersley was in the construction business for 24 years until he fell 32 feet off a scaffold. Then he and his wife moved to Marietta, Ga., where he worked in advertising and she was a correctional officer.

But in 2000, they bought a motorhome, sold or gave away their furniture. They also sold their second car.

"And we hit the road," wherever the road took them, Hammersley said.

In 2003, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and endured seven months of chemotherapy. After his recovery, he talked to Valma about taking a cross-country walk. It took her two years to come around.

While walking, he looks for loose change and collects it for an organization called Gateway for Cancer Research.

"I can't walk by a coin without picking it up," he said. "I will donate it to Gateway and ask people to match it. I'm finding $1 to $2 a day."

As of lunchtime Wednesday, he picked up $10.19 since leaving Bodega Bay.

From Bodega Bay, the couple took Highway 12 from just off the coast through the Sonoma Valley and Napa to Suisun City, then across the Delta to Lodi.

They're headed to Jackson today and then up Highway 88 over Carson Pass to Carson City, Nev. Then it will be across Highway 50 through some remote parts of Nevada.

The rest of the trip will take them through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. They plan to end their journey by October or November at Coney Island.

"I'm going to have a Nathan's hot dog (at Coney Island)," he said. "I don't care how unhealthy it is."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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