Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, October 02, 2015

Mini Mobility Scooters

A few years ago, David’s MS suddenly took a turn.  After 15 some years of being well controlled by medication, he started rapidly having increasing difficulties with walking.  He started using walking sticks gradually, but fairly quickly he lost the stamina to walk distances, even a block.  At home we accommodate for this largely by strategically driving the car close to where ever we needed to be, but when we planned a trip last fall to visit Acadia National Park – a park that features carriage roads that allow no motorized vehicles – I knew that we would need to devise a new strategy.

I discovered mobility scooters – scooters intended to aid people who do not need a wheelchair, but who need assistance getting around.   Cool!  AND – then I found a business in Bar Harbor (adjacent to Acadia) that would rent them by the day – VERY Cool!  So I reserved 2 scooters – one for David and one for his father Roy who would be joining us on that trip.  Long story short, the scooters were revolutionary – allowing us to explore a few miles of carriage road – the one that went to Hadlock Brook Bridge in fact. 
In the past year we have taken a few more opportunities to rent scooters.  With the sale of the kennel, we had plans to travel more – and we discovered that it isn’t always possible to find a place to rent a scooter at our destination (boy did we luck out in Bar Harbor!!)  So we started to think about purchasing one.  But again – for travelling, the scooters we had experience with were too big to travel with on an airplane.  Sure they broke down into a few pieces, each which could be put into a car easily, but the battery alone was about 30 pounds!  So back to Google. 

And then one day I discovered the TravelScoot – what I’m calling a “Mini Mobility Scooter”.  These bare bones scooters in total weight not much more than the battery of the more traditional models! And they fold down to a size that can fit into a shoulder carry-able duffle bag.   WOW – but how would they perform?  We rented a TravelScoot for our trip to Monterey in August.  And we were thrilled! 

So super light, it was no trouble to throw into the car (or trunk of a taxi, or shuttle bus at the airport, or to gate check at the airplane…).  And its little motor embedded inside one wheel was really amazingly powerful.  We went all over Monterey and the coastal path from Lovers Point into town.  For the first time in many years – when a call on my cell phone alerted us that the table we had been waiting 45 minutes for was ready at Lou Lous Griddle in the Middle, I could send David ahead to go claim our table… because he could return to the restaurant faster than I could!
But we did put that little scoot through the ringer.  Our plans were not such that we considered the scooter before making the plans – so it had a lot to live up to.  It didn’t necessarily live up to all the challenges, but we recognized a number of our choices were beyond reasonable to expect for it to succeed. 
The first challenge was a visit to the trails at the Research Center of the Elkhorn Slough in Monterey Bay.  When I suggested we meet my brother and sister in law, Keith and Sylva there, I had assumed the research center was along the river’s shore.  Huum – No, indeed.  It is a hundred feet or so higher than the river level in the hills.  Well, there we were – nothing to do but to take our chances on the fairly steep gravel trail down to the river side.  Thankfully David had already adjusted the breaks on the TravelScoot – and it handled like a champ on the way down.  We walked the trails for an hour, and then we knew we had to tackle the trip back up.  Keith valiantly offered to give Dave a push when the incline quickly grew too steep for the scoot.  Eventually that gave out and Dave dismounted to hike the rest of the way up.  But the scoot was easy to roll up the rest of the hill.

Then Dave and I went on to Sequoia National Park, and couple of days of seeing giant trees from paved paths.  Again some of the grades were more than the TS could handle, but overall it performed amazingly well!  I came home ready to buy a TravelScoot.
But… David was talking with the representative who rented us the TS, and he couldn’t say enough about the SmartScoot – a competing model of mini mobility scooter.  He was so adamant of the SS’s advantages, that Dave decided we had to try out that model.  The catch, however, was that the company (Scoot Anywhere) does not rent SmartScoot – ostensibly because they can’t keep them long enough because they sell quickly.  We resolved to purchase a SmartScoot, and return it after a few days for a restocking fee if that became necessary. 

However, the timing wasn’t working in our favor to action that plan.  We had a pending trip coming up – and upon initial trials around our neighborhood we figured the SS was fairly equivalent to the TS, so we took the easy road and kept the SmartScoot.
Our pending trip was… back to Acadia!  Yes, our trip last year was challenged by being late October and the weather and available services were less than ideal.  So we decided to repeat much of the same trip this year, in late September. 

Stowing the scoot on the Parking Shuttle
But this blog is about the scoots – and I can say we couldn’t be happier with the SmartScoot!  (Whew)  It has a number of design changes as compared to the TravelScoot which are distinct advantages to us.  Our biggest concern was over the front wheel drive – thinking that there wasn’t enough weight on the front wheel to give the scooter the traction that the TravelScoot, which uses the left rear wheel as the drive wheel, has.  Well, suffice it to say we saw no drawbacks on the traction on the front wheel drive.

Both the TravelScoot and SmartScoot are fantastic machines.  Both are easy to lift in and out of cars, simple to operate, can be carried up sections of stairs in a pinch, and are so small that you can easily enter stores and buildings to do your business.  They are in the same price range.  So one’s preference of one over the other I think comes down to the details.  For those interested, linked below is our fairly extensive list of comparisons between the two models of Mini Mobility Scooters  - all of these comments are based on our personal observations, after taking each model on a 5 day trip via airlines and rental cars.

Mini Mobility Scooters Comparison



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