Tale of 3,600 mile walk to be shared

By LISA CAPOBIANCO STAFF WRITER When people ask Joe Hurley how he survived a 3,600 mile walk on Route 6, he replies: “Luck.” Ten years ago, Hurley, a retired newspaper reporter who worked at the News-Times in Danbury, walked 3,600 miles (10 million steps) on Route 6, the longest highway in the U.S, passing through 14 states from Massachusetts to California. His decision to walk across the nation happened by chance years prior. In 1999, Hurley walked Route 6 in Connecticut to explore eastern parts of the state he never heard of. With the help of his photographer David Harple, he shared the experience with News-Times readers. “I looked at a map and saw all these places on the eastern side of the state I didn’t know existed,” said Hurley, who ran several marathons in the past. “We did 120 miles in six days.” After the walk in Connecticut, Hurley decided to take on the challenge of exploring other parts of the nation on Route 6 to inform others what he saw. “I got curious after the walk about where Route 6 went,” said Hurley, adding his biggest goal was to make it to Cleveland. After plan ning months before the walk, Hurley took off for his nine-month adventure with photographer Travis Lindhorst in late March, making the first stop to Cape Cod. During the trip, Lindhorst would drop off Hurley wherever they stopped the previous day. Hurley walked 20 miles a day while Lindhorst took pictures. They stayed in people’s homes and in hotels, where they received free or discounted rooms. Throughout the trip, Hurley published hundreds of stories about his experience weekly in over a dozen newspapers, which provided a source of income. Lindhorst published photographs of places they saw. Hurley persevered tough moments through the stories of people he encountered during his journey. Essie, a woman he met while stopping in Nebraska, inspired Hurley to continue his goal. Calling Essie an incredible person, Hurley said the woman was running from Denver to Chicago at the time to raise money for three Colorado charities. “When I met her she had sprained an ankle—she was on crutches, and she was still going on,” said Hurley, adding that Essie also slept on roadsides during her walk. “It made my 20 miles a day walking seem small.” Lloy Hand, also known as “The Corn Man” from Des Moines, Iowa, was another memorable individual Hurley said he met on the walk. An elderly man who sold corn from the back of his weather-beaten pickup truck, Hand had a surgically removed knee cap and two fingers on his left hand, recalled Hurley. “He was just happy to be out there working,” Hurley said. About two years ago, Hurley and Lindhorst published a book about the adventure called “Ten Million Steps on Route 6,” selling all 1,000 copies of the first edition. Since then, Hurley has conducted programs at local libraries throughout the state, providing guests a guided tour of the places he saw on Route 6. On Wednesday, July 16, Hurley will share his story at Bristol Public Library, where guests will take a virtual trip across the country. During the program, Hurley will lend guests a copy of the book, guiding them through each chapter. The second edition of “Ten Million Steps” will also be available for purchase. Recently, Hurley added that on average, every time he brings his program to a particular community, someone will become inspired to take a trip too, whether it involves walking or not. Scott Stanton, the programming and public relations manager at the library, said Hurely’s program serves as just one of many summer reading events for adults. Stanton said the library looks forward to hosting the program, especially since it is both educational and interactive. “We thought the human interest part [of the program] was wonderful,” said Stanton, adding he himself visited some of the places included in Hurley’s book. “The library is making an effort to increase community outreach to adults.” “Ten Million Steps on Route 6” will take place Wednesday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Bristol Public Library and is free of charge. To register, call the library at (860) 584-7787, ext. 2023.