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Father and son bond during walk across the state

Published 12:53 pm, Thursday, November 8, 2012

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  • Eleven-year-old Christopher Wilton  sits at the Darien Town line during his walk across Connecticut with his father Chuck. Photo: Contributed
    Eleven-year-old Christopher Wilton sits at the Darien Town line during his walk across Connecticut with his father Chuck. Photo: Contributed

 

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Think of the places you've walked recently. Was it up a flight of stairs to get to the bathroom? Or maybe it was down the block to grab a sandwich? For Chuck and Christopher Hilton, the last place they walked was from Port Chester, N.Y., to Westerly, R.I.

Chuck, 48, and his son, Christopher, 11, took a 120-mile walk across Connecticut along Boston Post Road over eight days. The trip was inspired by a friend of Chuck's who did the same thing but in a car.

"You can see so much more walking than driving. If you want to stop and see something, it's hard to stop and see in car," Chuck, who has three kids, said on why they preferred to walk than drive.

They started walking on Aug. 10 and walked over the course of four weekends ending their trip on Sept. 29.

"My girls were away at camp and my wife was going away so we started on Friday and did Friday, Saturday, Sunday all in a row," Chuck said, adding that they finished the trek in late September.

Christopher is a sixth grader at Middlesex Middleschool.

The pair's usual game plan was to take the train to a certain place along their route and walk home. On the first day, they took the train to Port Chester, N.Y., but the trip was delayed for a few hours because of rain.

"We were going to start around noon and it rained for a couple hours," Christopher said.

"Hard," Chuck added with a laugh, "so we got delayed a little bit then."

The first day they took Metro-North to Port Chester and walked home about 13 miles. Along the way, they stopped at Port Chester, Greenwich, Stamford, and finally in Darien.

"We replaced our sneakers after the first day," Chuck said.

They spent a fair amount of time in Greenwich visiting Pas Polpo Restaurant, Petengil Park, Second Congregational Church and Putnam Cottage, passing by "Put's Hill" where Gen. Israel Putnam rode to escape the British.

"Putnam Hill was pretty cool," Christopher said when asked about his favorite stop. "But there are too many to choose."

On their second day, they walked from Southport to Darien -- exploring Southport, Westport and Norwalk -- which was about 12 miles. They spent Saturday evening around "lots of crazy drivers" and "dodging kids zipping out of liquor stores," which stirred a conversation about partying and drinking and driving.

They were hoping to make it to Rowley's Tavern , a sports bar in Norwalk, for dinner only to find that it was closed. They ate at Rio Border Cafe, a Mexican restaurant, instead. They also explored a wooden covered bridge by Interstate 95's Exit 13 that they had only seen at a distance from a car.

The following weekend they only walked for seven miles from Southport to Bridgeport. They took a train to Southport, walked to a Bluefish baseball game in Bridgeport and rode home with friends.

They did get to see Southport, Westport, Fairfield, Black Rock, which is a part of Bridgeport, and Bridgeport as a whole.

"The day trips were planned around a reasonable walking distance and around the travel and times to stop and take breaks," Chuck said. "We'd try to get halfway or a little further and get something to eat along the way."

The next weekend, they were dropped off in New Haven on the way home from a vacation in Maine and walked to Bridgeport before taking the train home. They saw New Haven, West Haven, Orange, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport.

In New Haven, they met a man who claimed he'd just been released from jail.

"He said he needed money to go back on the train to go home," Christopher said. Though the pair never confirmed or denied giving him money, after their encounter with him, father and son did spend a lot of time talking about whether he was telling the truth and why people go to prison.

They then walked from New Haven to Guilford, which was the first day of an overnight trip.

"We had a couple days, we got started later than we wanted to go and got caught walking in the dark," Chuck said. "But we had a day up in Guilford and we were going to start much earlier and we brought three flashlights ..."

Christopher was quick to interrupt.

"We thought we brought three flashlights. One didn't make it into the bag, and then one of them broke, and then we brought the wrong sized batteries for the third one," Christopher said.

They saw New Haven, East Haven, Branford and Guilford, but the failure of all three flashlights resulted in a "long and somewhat dangerous end to the walk" in Guilford.

They saw Bill Miller's Castle and it "appeared like a fairy tale in the pitch black night and provided a welcome stop off the dark road." They spent the night at a Comfort Inn before continuing their walk from Guilford to Old Saybrook.

On the way, they saw and stopped to tour Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook and Old Saybrook.

"The east side of the state was beautiful. It had lovely coastal scenery," Chuck said.

The longest walk of the trip was their second to last from Old Saybrook to New London, which was 19.75 miles. They walked through Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Flanders, which is a part of east Lyme, Waterford and New London.

Their last walk from New London to Westerly, R.I., was 17.5 miles where they saw Groton, Mystic, Pawcatuck, Stonington and Westerly.

They saw signs for Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, watched sailing races in Groton and had lunch at Mystic Pizza.

"Mystic Pizza was so good," Christopher said.

In Pawcatuck, they almost ran into more bad luck when a head-on collision between cars took place directly behind where they had been walking only 30 seconds prior.

"We looked behind us and then we looked behind us again and there's people, and two cars hit," Christopher said.

Chuck said he thought everyone was OK.

"We had walked by there just seconds before," Chuck said.

When the pair finally reached Westerly, R.I., it was smiles all around, and Christopher said it felt good.

"When we first started he was really excited and then, by the end of the first day, he got quieter and quieter," Chuck laughed.

"But we made it!" Christopher said. "There were lots of graveyards, lots of bait and tackle shops, and lots of car dealers."

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4407; twitter.com/megdariennews