to simplify     notes from the open road

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


This was supposed to be something of a pilgrimage for me, but I suppose by now, I should probably have enough sense to expect to be disappointed.

I had just pulled into one of several empty spots right in front of the Walden Pond visitor's center when a park employee suddenly appeared at my window.

"Are you gonna walk down to the pond and cabin site?" he asked.


"Then you should probably just drive down to the paid lot and walk back over here afterwards to see the visitor's center."

"But...I'm at the visitor's center now..." turning my head back and forth to draw attention to the empty parking spots surrounding me.

"Yeah, but you can't park here for very long, and if you're going to do both anyway, you might as well go park there first."

"Okay, but...I want to see the visitor's center, and I'm parked at the visitor's center right now..."

Stymied. "You've got 20 minutes then," and he turned to walk away.

"Glad I don't feel too rushed," I replied. He stopped in his tracks for a split second, apparently ill-prepared for that hallmark of Thoreau's writing: sarcasm. And just for good measure I added "...and thanks for the welcoming vibe."

Idly wondering what Thoreau would have had to say about this exchange, I walked inside to find two rooms full of cheesy souvenirs, the words "Simplify! Simplify!" emblazoned across one useless trinket after another. Maybe it's not so bad that they penalize you for spending more than 20 minutes in this place.

Five minutes later I was back in the van where, committed to riding out every second of my remaining 15 minutes, I sat and did absolutely nothing. Then in another small act of Civil Disobedience, something of an homage to St. Henry, I resolved to get to the site of his Walden Pond hideaway without forking over the $10 parking fee.

Walden Pond
Not as simple as it sounds it turned out, and I ended up leaving the spaceship about a mile and a half away and Walking back. Fine, but then a mere tenth of a mile from where Thoreau built his famed cabin in the woods, I found myself standing at an insanely busy state highway crosswalk waiting for the light to change. Masses of cars screaming by chasing after lives of quiet desperation. Ironic, perhaps fitting, and a bit depressing all at once, but hey, I did save ten bucks, and I'm pretty sure ol' HDT would've dug that.