Walk Across Connecticut — Day 3

In case you missed it, I decided to walk across Connecticut. I started in Killingly near the RI border and ended in Danbury. Check out my recaps from along the way — Day 1, Day 2, Day 4 and Day 5.

I’ve officially passed the halfway mark and I’m already in the twilight of my walk across the state. Today involved one giant hill and two aching legs, but ended with a really incredible town hall in Waterbury. Let’s get right to it.

Made it through another marathon day (literally). My legs are in revolt.
Welcome to day 3 of the walk. It’s raining! Today, another 24 miles. Portland to Waterbury.
I grew up 15 minutes from here but have never crossed the Arrigoni Bridge by foot. I got to do it this morning!
I listened to Brian and Joe tell stories of childhood in the north end of Middletown and had some killer French toast at O’Rourke’s Diner. This place is a Middletown gem.
Sat down and talked w these gentlemen for a while. They bemoaned the lack of summer jobs for teens. “Kids don’t learn to work anymore.”
I was supposed to be in Meriden by noon but there are so many friendly people here in Middletown! Gotta get a move on.
As far as I can tell, Westfield Road in Meriden is just a test track for gigantic dump trucks. With no shoulder. Is there a chance I won’t survive this walk?
My friend and neighbor Rep. Esty walked with me for a little while in Meriden. Fun fact — we live closer than just about any two members of Congress.
Had a great lunch at Hubbard Park Pizza in Meriden. I tucked into some pepperoni slices with my new friends Ben and Maddie. They’re getting ready to start kindergarten and second grade next week.
Snapchat selfie! This is Trent and Riley. Trent was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma when he was 10 years old and he will have this pre-existing condition for the rest of his life. Trent and Rylie tracked me down and waited for me because they really wanted to talk about health care. This isn’t a game to them, this is life or death.

Walking the state reminds me again and again that the headlines that dominate cable news at all hours of the day and night aren’t necessarily the things that are keeping people up at night.

No one waited for me on the side of the road because they wanted to talk about Anthony Scaramucci. They tracked me down to talk to me about health care, about our public schools, and about housing. I heard from parents who are worried that they won’t be able to afford health insurance for their kids. I heard from small business owners who have put so much of themselves into their businesses and who are struggling to keep their doors open. I heard from people who are working full time, who are doing everything we ask of them, and they still can’t afford to pay their bills. These are the issues that drive people and they need to always be at the front of my mind when I’m in Washington.

This is it. Probably the biggest hill of my entire walk. Maybe the picture doesn’t do it justice, but I’m not alone in my fear of Southington/Wolcott Mountain. In 1780, Rochambeau and 6,000 French troops took one look at this hill and put off their march for another day. I don’t have that luxury — I can’t be late for my town hall at 7:00.

When I finally crested the hill, I saw my phone dinging like crazy and I stopped on the roadside to read President Trump’s latest remarks on the violence in Charlottesville this weekend. Honestly, what I read made me want to throw up. I heard the President of the United States offering a defense of white supremacists — and that chilled me to the bone. This moment is a harsh reminder to all of us that just because we’ve erased discriminatory statutes from our laws, it doesn’t mean we’ve erased the evils of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and sexism. These resentments are alive and well in our country and while they went underground for a long time, they are coming back to the surface. I’m still processing what the president said today, but I know that it’s going to be hard to come home to my kids and try to explain this to them tonight.

During my walk I’ve heard from a lot of people about how the issues raised by Charlottesville are weighing on their minds. I’ve been proud of how Connecticut has spoken out in the wake of the tragedy, but this moment is a call to action for all of us.

People asked some really amazing questions at my town hall in Waterbury tonight. Everyone from four-year-old Vivian to 80-year-old Nick got up to share their ideas. If you need your faith in humanity restored (and I did a little bit today) spend an hour hearing stories from people like the ones who assembled here tonight.

I’m past the half way point and on to the home stretch of this walk. My legs are hurting A LOT. But every step of this is worth it for the stories I get to hear and the people I get to meet. There’s a reason why, after walking 126 miles last year and dealing with an array of blisters and bruises, I immediately said, “Let’s do this all over again next year.”

I’ve got a day and half left on the road and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Onward through Waterbury, Middlebury, Southbury and Newtown.