A Familiar Scooter Route & Living On The Trail

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On this day just a few days shy of my eight-first birthday, taking advantage of perfect L.A. weather, I decided to ride my Xootr scooter on a familiar scooter route, not too far from home: The San Gabriel River Trail, from Ramona Boulevard in El Monte to Thienes Avenue in South El Monte. 3.3 miles each way.

Riding conditions going South on this scooter route

There are four or five short steep dips in the trail going south…. good for an easy half mile coast beyond each dip going south, but one has to walk up the steep ascent at each dip on the way north. The pavement’s generally pretty good: one or two wide deep cracks, but not on the underpasses where you’re rattling along at 12 mph.

It translated into extra scoots on the return. 520 going down, 640 riding back.

Meet Manuel

At the start of the my route, there’s a homeless guy I‘ve seen before, always in the same place, with his grocery cart heaped with his possessions, a blue plastic tarpaulin on one side for protection for when it rains, a cozy blanket, and other miscellaneous junk.

He always says hello, so I lingered to talk with him today before doing my ride. Manuel. He looks like he’s about sixty. Yes, he lives there. His bathroom, he said, is either the broad river bed or a weed-filled horse path in a narrow depression that parallels the trail on the side away from the river.

I asked where he gets his drinking water, and he showed me some plastic water bottles in his food box. Where does he cook? He pulled out a brief case sized portable stove from under his shopping cart, for me to see.

Taking my ride

I took my ride. It’s fun to pass a trailer park residential area, then a few schools with their athletic fields backing up to the trail, some modest homes all behind cinder block walls, a string of horse corrals with their interesting smell, and a chicken coop where the roosters were making a huge racket.

Few riders today, and only one or two pedestrians. One bicycle rider with his lady friend had gang tattoos all over his scalp and arms. An ex-con for sure.

My return ride

On my return, I greeted Manuel again, made sure I had his first and last name right, and told him I’d bring him some food on my next ride there. Maybe some deviled eggs, or a few croissants I might make, or a leftover portion of pasta.

Something, to join us together as two humans, two guys from the same species, each of us struggling to make sense of it all.

Don’t forget to check out my website at JonathanKelley.net.

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Jonathan Kelleyhttps://www.jonathankelley.net/
Jonathan Kelley, 80, was born in Boston, and educated at Exeter and Princeton, then Harvard Medical School, after a year teaching English in Cali, Colombia. He was a Navy anesthesiologist during Viet Nam. He spent the middle decades of his life working in a community hospital in Northern California. Besides his career in medicine, he’s a chef, pianist, and actor in his artistic life. In the kitchen, he specializes in croissants and cooking with coconuts. At the piano, it’s boogie woogie and Joplin rags. As an actor, he’s done fourteen seasons in a Mexican Christmas play in Los Angeles, plus the occasional movie role, as in the soon-to-be-released feature film “Amor en 266 Millas,” where he plays the hippie patriarch of a desert commune in the Antelope Valley. He has two books available on Amazon, “Counting Backwards from 100: My Life as an Anesthesiologist,” and “Short Stories by Jonathan Kelley.” Searching for improved balance and leg strength at age 77, Jonathan came by chance upon a Xootr scooter. Jonathan’s wife is the lovely Puerto Rican actress Gloria Laino. Their mix is like Puerto Rican arroz con gandules served next to New England style cranberry sauce.

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