Walk Across Connecticut 2018 — Day 2

In case you missed it, I decided to walk across Connecticut. I started in Hartland near the MA border and will be ending in New Haven. Check out my recaps from along the way — Day 1.

In the three years I’ve done this Walk Across Connecticut I have been VERY lucky when it comes to weather. I was worried that my luck had finally run out when I saw the forecast for today — hot in the morning and thunderstorms all afternoon — but it ended up being another great day on the road, full of good conversations.

Here’s what I saw along the way on day two of my walk across the state:

Only 14 miles today! I spent most of the day in Hartford, before making my way through Wethersfield and Newington and New Britain.
I get started bright and early at the University of Hartford but the sky is already looking ominous. Not a good sign. I set out and make my way toward Albany Ave, one of the main streets in the North End of Hartford.
Mayor Bronin and Rep. Brandon McGee meet me for breakfast at Scotts’ Jamaican Bakery, which has been serving the North End for more than 35 years. While I eat my spinach and cheese patty we meet Nigel, who talks with us about the importance of mentorship programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Halfway down Albany Ave it starts pouring rain. Luckily, I’ve got a big umbrella and there are plenty of businesses to stop in to talk with people. I visit a laundromat, a barbershop and a bank before making it to the Wilson-Gray YMCA for a meeting with local students.

The kids take me for a tour of the YMCA before our sit-down and I’m blown away by all of the services they offer — childcare, fitness, camps for kids of all ages, career readiness — it’s amazing.

“I’ve never lost at ping pong,” says one of the students giving me the tour. I challenge him to a quick game. Unsurprisingly, he wins — but I do manage to take a point off him!
The meeting with students is the highlight of my day. We talk about public schools, trying to afford college, urban trauma and feeling safe at school (they’re overwhelmingly against arming teachers but agree we need to find ways to make schools safer.) We talk about the challenges they’re facing, but they also tell me about the dreams they have for themselves. One girl wants to be a physician’s assistant. One is planning to be an OB/GYN. I leave with the feeling that our future is in good hands.
Lots of people in the North End tell me and the Mayor that they’re working harder than ever but it’s hard to meet ends meet when jobs don’t pay well.
I get a tip that Capital Ice Cream is having their grand opening party tomorrow. I’ll be walking, but I stop by to say hi to the owners and congratulate them on their new business.
After a quick lunch at Sol de Borinquen on Park Street I stop into El Mercado. Many of the people I talk to in the South End are upset about Trump’s immigration policies — especially family separation.
Before leaving Hartford I had to stop into my favorite pizza spot in the city, First and Last. And I ran into good friend and Hartford celebrity, Marilyn Rossetti!

One of the perks of today’s route is the chance to walk through Wethersfield, the town where I grew up. I pass by my childhood best friend’s house, our old sledding hill and the fields where I played little league as a kid. I even get to walk by the house I grew up in, where my parents still live.

A great surprise when I hit my street — my brother Ben and wife are in town and he and his twin boys run up the street to meet me! I catch up with them for a little bit before hitting the road for the last leg of the day.

For all of my fear about the weather it ends up being a beautiful day. The storm earlier in the afternoon doesn’t last long and it finally breaks open the heat wave we’ve been experiencing. All of a sudden it’s a great evening for walking.

I head into Hard Hittin’ New Britain for the last couple miles of my day.
My last stop is Taste of Jamaica on Arch Street in New Britain. The owner Miss George said the jerk chicken would be too spicy for me so she sends me on my way with some curried chicken to enjoy for dinner.

As I end my day, I can’t stop thinking about one guy I met this morning in Hartford. Glenn had just finished a shift at KFC at 2 am and was getting ready to start a 9 am shift at a restaurant in the North End. He’s working 60+ hours a week and still can’t pay the rent each month.

It’s a story I heard a lot today, and it’s one I’ve heard every single year I’ve done this walk. People are working hard, they’re doing everything we ask of them, and they are still struggling.

It’s not enough to just have a job. We need to make sure that these are good-paying jobs that pay the rent and put food on the table. Jobs that have benefits like health care and that allow people to save for retirement.

Talking with Glenn reminds me exactly what I’m fighting for in Washington. And it leaves me feeling ready to hit the road again tomorrow.

U.S. Senator, Connecticut