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Delaware trek is 5th on student’s quest to walk America

March 10, 2018

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Gilbert Hernandez is taking the scenic route through Delaware.

Since Saturday, the 22-year-old Texan has been hoofing it from one end of Delaware to the other on his quest to be the first person to walk the length of all 50 states.

When he reaches Ocean City, Maryland, there only will be 45 left to conquer.

“I know very little about Delaware. I wanted to come here to just experience the First State,” Hernandez said last Saturday morning, just before crossing Smith’s Bridge near the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the first landmark on his journey.

Though last Friday’s nor’easter canceled his flight into Philadelphia, Hernandez was able to catch a bus and then an Uber to get him to the Delaware state line.

From Smith’s Bridge, Hernandez walked to Wilmington through Brandywine Creek State Park and then on to Bear, where he spent Saturday night in a hotel room.

Sunday’s trek took him to Odessa, where he stopped for lunch at Cantwell’s Tavern before moving on toward Smyrna, Dover, Milford, and Milton. He said he’ll round out his Delaware adventure at the beaches before crossing into Maryland.

“It gets easier and easier with every state. I learn how to do things and how not to do things with every passing state,” Hernandez said. “So far, Delaware has been a breeze.”

The first states he’s marched across — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and now Delaware — are both small and close to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Massachusetts college where he studies.

He wants to complete his task by the time he’s 50, and said pretty soon he’ll be looking to New Hampshire, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania. He’s anticipating some of the country’s larger state could take him as long as a month to cross.

Hernandez said he isn’t overly strict about his trekking rules.

He rests when he’s tired. He camps out in friendly strangers’ lawns, but doesn’t mind having a roof over his head when it makes sense. He picks start and stop points that are more rough equivalents to a cross-state walk than geographically perfect markers.

What’s important, he said, is seeing the country and meeting its people.

“The conversations are what you can’t have in any other states,” Hernandez said. “The conversations you have in Delaware are different than you have in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and so on. I’ve found the people of Delaware to be chill and friendly.”

He said he’s been impressed by Delaware’s parks and natural landscapes, especially in Brandywine Creek State Park. But looking ahead, he said Dover’s historic district and the beaches around Rehoboth are high in his thinking.

When the Delaware trip is done, he’ll take a bus to visit friends in Baltimore and then to Washington D.C.

If they ask what he gets out of these walks, he knows the answer.

“The journey itself is the reward,” Hernandez said.

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com

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