No, really, it's just a pile of dirt

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Nobody can doubt that the prospects for a Highway 12 bridge over Spring Lake are deader than Jack London?s horse.

But Gaye LeBaron?s definitive piece, the one laying to rest the old idea for a highway flyover, left some folks ever more puzzled by the impressive mound of dirt Caltrans has erected where eastbound 12 descends onto Farmers Lane.

The manicured man-made hill looks like it could be an abutment to lift up the highway and propel it toward the lake. But, honestly, said Alicia Sequiera of Caltrans, it?s just a handsome heap of the dirt that?s been excavated for the Highway 101 widening project.

Eventually, she said, the soil will be used as fill for the Wilfred Avenue phase of the 101 work.

Once the great pile is gone, maybe Caltrans could place at that spot a tasteful memorial marker: ?Here lies, forever, the notion of bridging idyllic Spring Lake.?

GIVE A LITTLE HONK if you spot a fellow of 60 who?s dressed in safety orange and walking along 12 toward Sonoma and points east.

He?s Rick Hammersley, a retiree and cancer survivor from Indiana. Tuesday at Bodega Bay, he opened an empty peanut-butter jar and filled it with Doran Beach seawater and sand. Then he commenced walking.

?When I get to Coney Island, New York, I?m going to dump it in the Atlantic Ocean,? Hammersley ( said Wednesday. ?I hope I don?t get arrested for polluting.?

His wife, Valda, is following along in an RV as he attempts to walk coast-to-coast, lose 50 pounds and generate some money for cancer research. He?s shooting to cover 20 miles a day.

Day 1, he did well to complete the 17 miles from Bodega Bay to Sebastopol. ?I tell you what,? he said on Day 2 from the sidewalk of Santa Rosa?s West Third Street. ?I was tired and my feet were hurting.?

He figures he?ll toughen up in time for the Sierra Nevada.

THANKFULLY, NO EGGS: The kids had their hunts on Easter weekend. Now it?s our turn.

The Puzzle Hunt, a popular community game at colleges and towns across the country, premieres in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

Teams of two to six will set out from Railroad Square at 11 a.m and scour downtown for answers to questions about Santa Rosa. The hunt ( is free, and the walking won?t hurt us.

IF SEBASTOPOL?S COUNCIL designates the city an Airport Shuttle-Free Zone, here?s why.

Airport Express and have announced that all the shuttle company?s SFO buses now feature wireless Internet access.

Tony Geraldi, general manager of Airport Express, said that if passengers from Sebastopol or elsewhere are worried and can show ?that WiFi fears are legitimate,? he?ll take another look at the new service.

Until then, the buses stay hot.

NOVELTY WEARS OFF: Louise Joost said it?s come to her attention that all the while George Bush Sr. was president, the street signs on Santa Rosa?s Bush Street were constantly ripped off.

But all through the current presidency, Louise said, not one Bush Street sign has disappeared.

THE PHONE?S BEEN RINGING in Donald Clouston?s Santa Rosa apartment since the Net spread the 81-year-old combat vet?s account of counter-attacking a young thug armed with a knife.

?You know who I got a call from?? he said Wednesday. ?Jay Leno.?

If the comic says something about him on the show, he?ll miss it. It?s one thing to fend off a mugger, another to stay up past 11 for TV.

?I?m too old,? Donald said.

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and

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