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home : columns : rahn larson June 28, 2016

8/13/2014 10:38:00 AM
The Segway adventure
A couple of weeks ago, less than 19 hours after leaving the Windom city limits, I found myself wobbling on a Segway in Kansas City.
The Segway tour was the first event of the Larson family's "Road Trip 2014." It's among many new adventures we enjoyed on our trip.
A Segway is an electric scooter that is shaped like an appliance hand cart. You stand on a platform between the wheels. There's a front handlebar that can help with turning, but not much else. You generally turn, gain speed, stop and back up through slight weight shifts and body leans.
Paula, Andrew and I were joined by Paula's sister, Sue (of Kansas City), in a group of about 15. After a quick training session, we worked out the "wobbles" and were driving confidently within 10 minutes.
The two-hour tour was both scenic and interesting. We saw historical areas, sculpture parks, a college campus and unique homes.
Somewhere along the way, we came upon a sprinkler system which took our tour guide by surprise. He asked if we wanted to cut through the grass to avoid the sprinklers.
There was uneven terrain and some wet grass, but I made it through OK. Moments later, I heard my wife say, "Uh-oh."
I looked back to see that she didn't take the turn quite as widely. She got caught up in some grass and had no choice but to jump off the Segway.
"No problem," the guide said. "The sprinkler won't come over that far."
The words had barely left his lips when the sprinkler turned directly toward Paula, absolutely soaking her from head to toe. Paula let out a scream as the guide stammered an emphatic apology.
Meanwhile, two nearby Segway drivers, who saw the entire scene unfold, were doubled-over in laughter. One said it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen.
By this time, Paula was laughing as well - until I made the mistake of taking her picture. For a moment, I thought I was a dead man.
With some help, Paula freed the Segway and we were on our way. A half-hour later, we reached a park where the guide suggested we go on our own to explore the park's various trails, history and scenery.
If ever a tour group put the future of this "free reign" policy in jeopardy, it was ours'.
Prior to the tour, we were told that the Segways can reach a top speed of 12 mph. If you drive too fast, it will warn you by vibrating the handle bars. Apparently, that's not all.
Later, we saw Andrew on his Segway sailing down a hill toward an elderly pedestrian. There was a moment of confusion, followed by a near-collision. Amazingly, neither fell down. A few apologies later, Andrew sheepishly drove over to our group. Disaster avoided.
Concern over Andrew's near-miss was short-lived, however, as the guide suddenly received word there had been a Segway incident at the other end of the park.
Apparently, a driver decided to test the speed limit. A witness said that when he hit top speed, the Segway locked up, sending the man flying over the handlebar. He was fortunate to land in the grass, rather than the paved trail.
It turned out that the driver (who was one of the guys who laughed at the sprinkler incident) was OK, as was the Segway. But we all drove a bit slower after that.
The Segway tour was enough fun that we really didn't want it to end. Despite the mishaps, we agreed we'll do it again, if we get the chance.

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