Circle Park, Downey, to Somerset Blvd, Compton

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Circle Park in Downey lies on the east side of the lowermost section of Rio Hondo just before it joins the Los Angeles River.

Join me for this Xootr Scooter ride from Circle Park

My plan today is to ride my Xootr scooter from Circle Park on the Los Angeles River Trail down to Industrial Highway, then continue to Somerset Blvd in Compton, and back. About 7 miles RT, with a possible stop at the Tamalería la Doña on Somerset to eat, or maybe not.

The weather’s perfect at 10:30 am

Overcast, temperature just right, not much wind. On the trail I pass several people walking their dogs, some homeless guys, one of them sleeping on a bench beside the trail, exercise nut bicyclists in their helmets and black Spandex shorts, and other bicyclists without helmets who I assume are homeless.

We all nod as we go by each other

Beside the cement-enclosed river, I scoot past different kinds of neighborhoods: some are industrial, and there are also parks, plus blocks of suburban residential homes. Industrial: warehouse type factories, nurseries.

Parks: designed for horses and field sports, with some dog areas. Residential: nice homes, one house built to look like a little red barn, and more houses than I’d expect with swimming pools in the back yards.

I find myself thinking about the John Cheever story, “The Swimmer,” where I, like Neddy Merrill, could swim from to pool to pool in a surreal backwards journey through a dark review of a failed life.

Thoughts of previous rides

Graffiti murals painted where anonymous street artists find unprotected blank wall canvases.
Graffiti murals painted where anonymous street artists find unprotected blank wall canvases.

As on previous rides, I can’t help but notice the numbers of tents where the homeless live. Also the graffiti murals painted where anonymous street artists find unprotected blank wall canvases.

At Somerset, there’s an elaborate residential tent where drug transactions may be occurring: cigarettes being exchanged, maybe more. And right there on a bridge support in the river bed there’s a fancy mural reminiscent of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico.

Covering the whole Los Angeles River trail

What I’m trying to do, I think, is cover the whole Los Angeles River trail, all the way to Aquatic Park in Long Beach, opposite the Queen Mary’s berth. i do three or four mile segments, starting each ride a mile or two before the previous one ended.

And why?

In some weird way, this gives me a reason to be living. Especially now, in the quarantine, when I don’t have any day time job, and nobody expects me to show up at the factory every morning at nine. Nobody expects me anywhere. It’s strange. Surreal.

Thank you for joining us

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Jonathan Kelley
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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