Lum: Scooting around Disneyland
November 5, 2014
I rented my first electric scooter for a Caribbean cruise. Between my fried back and my dysfunctional knees, I can barely navigate around a small room, much less the one-mile long corridors of Holland America's ocean liners; the scooter was perfect for scooting around the ship.
It had two speeds: turtle and rabbit; I strongly preferred rabbit.
When my friend Hilary and I arrived at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa (the higher the price, the longer the title), we were met with quite an entourage of equipment: 13 oxygen tanks, an oxygen concentrator and the scooter, just to get me through a four-day stay at The Happiest Place on Earth.
The hotel was enormous, with 948 guest rooms plus restaurants, conference areas, pools, shops, spas and endless miles of hallways to practice rabbiting on my scooter.
It's pretty amazing that you can rent one of these potential weapons of mass destruction without any kind of license or driving or eye tests, even if you're pushing 80 and might be mistaken for Helen Keller.
I injured Hilary on one of the Caribbean cruises and crashed the scooter into the elevator wall on a regular basis, but I was an old hand at scootering when we went to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago.
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Well, I did crash into the elevator wall the first time, and I had hundreds of close calls, but no blood was drawn — or maybe I just couldn't hear the screams over the din of the crowds. This was supposed to be offseason, but everything is relative.
If Aspen wants to get rid of the "shoulder" season, we should consult Disney's marketing department, and if we think Aspen is just too expensive for words, we should consult with their finance department ($23 for two corn dogs, a soda and a glass of water — not bad).
Anyway, scootering through the wall-to-wall hordes was no joke. Little boys, aged 8 to 10, were the most dangerous — walking straight out in front of the scooter (on turtle speed) paying no attention whatsoever to what they were doing or where they were going. Speaking of Disney, it was like trying to traverse a huge corral full of Goofys.
The whole scooter operation is counter-intuitive. If you're riding a bike and you want to slow down, you grab the brake handles and squeeze. With the scooter, you squeeze the handles to speed up and you completely let them go to stop.
When a small boy stepped in front of the scooter, I would react by grabbing the handles and thus speeding up, then by making such a sharp turn I would almost tip over and only then would I remember to let go. The Zen of scooter riding — just let go.
Meanwhile, Hilary was in her full-on protective of little-old-lady-on-oxygen mode, walking ahead waving her outstretched arms to create a swath for me, chastising the oblivious majority and stopping every few seconds to make sure I was safe behind her, so that I was not only trying to watch out for human impediments but lurched ahead, stopping and starting, trying not to run Hilary down when she paused to see if I was OK.
Backing up was the worst problem (I know, I'm supposed to say "challenge"). If I could turn my neck and look behind me, I probably wouldn't need a scooter in the first place, but I can't, so I did.
Mainly I tried to go forward, not backward. Riding the elevator, I had to go straight in (bang) and count on Hilary to tell me when it was OK to back straight out. We devised a code in which she would say "clear," meaning that the elevator doors were open and it was OK to back out.
The problem was, she was inside the elevator holding the door open, so she didn't know whether it was really clear or not. But we survived.
Su Lum is a longtime local who had more fun than this sounds. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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