Xootr Scooter Ride From Grant Rea Park

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May 31: Xootr scooter ride from Grant Rea Park, Montebello, CA 3.3 miles south, almost to Slauson Avenue in Pico Rivera, and 3.3 miles back. One hour.

The Xootr scooter ride from Grant Rea Park

The weather was perfect, including a gentle following breeze for the slight climb on the return ride.

This time, something seemed wrong. I’ve ridden this paved trail before, but never been hit with the starkness of the tragedy before me.

The river:

Beautiful Rio Hondo, starting at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia.
Beautiful Rio Hondo, starting at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia.

The beautiful Rio Hondo, starting at the Peck Road Water Conservation Park in Arcadia, flowing south to join the Los Angeles River in Lynnwood, is completely paved in, forming a stark sluiceway, with evenly sloping walls and a flat cement floor.

Up top, on the bike path:

Bike path with chain link fence.
Bike path with chain link fence.

Chain link fence along the trail. Really, I thought I could as well be in the exercise yard at Vacaville prison. Or the recreation area outside any of today’s public high schools.

Overhead, a few scavenger crows; no hawks today. There was trash left by the homeless population, and I’m sure the area teems with rats.

The rivers in Los Angeles were paved over around 1938

For flood control, they said. Man tames the natural environment. You better believe that some people with foreknowledge gained obscene profit from property dealings on both sides of the rivers.

What was the wildlife environment before the paving, and after?

Red-tailed hawks, snowy egrets, brown bears, eagles, orioles, swans, fish, rabbits, coyotes, deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and more? Today: crows and rats.

City fathers, well-meaning, but maybe not, ruined all of this, as they despoiled forever the lush Yangtze habitat with the Three Gorges Dam in China, or wrecked the Nile biosphere with the dam at Aswan in Egypt, or ruined the wetlands of the Rhine and most of the other rivers in Europe. At what price? For what gain? Was it worth it?

My chafing at the prison yard environment of the Rio Hondo no doubt arises from my chafing at societal restrictions imposed with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic that seems at worst to cause fewer than a twentieth as many deaths per head of population as did the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. I abhor the masks, the societal distancing, the elbow bump handshakes.

When is this going to end? When will the riots end? The Molotov cocktails, the looting, the baseball bats, bricks, the ranting and screaming?

Thank you for joining us

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Don’t forget to check out Jonathan’s 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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