Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

The Way of the Seg

To begin with, you have to understand that Sanibel is flat. No, flatter than that. msmemory and I have a default eight-mile route that we tend to bike each day; the hilly part of that is going over a bridge with an elevation of, oh, about three feet. And the traffic on the roads can be miserable, especially in the late afternoon. So it should not be surprising that those in the know get around by bicycle. There are two main rental companies, Finnimore's and Billy's.

Now Billy is a clever and observant guy, and I gather that, a year or two ago, he noticed his demographic. Broadly speaking, the renters are fairly well-off, and while there are some kids, they're not the rule. So he went and spent a fair bundle of money, bought a small fleet of HTs, and created Segway of Sanibel. Four tours of the island daily, up to ten people per tour, conducted entirely on Segways.

The toy lives up to its billing. We started out with about a five-minute lesson on how to mount and dismount, move forward and back, and turn. And then we were off, zipping (rather slowly) around the bike paths. Within half an hour, the thing became completely second-nature -- rather like riding a bike, it works best if you don't really think about it much.

The Segway turns out to have three "gears". We started out with the black "beginner" key, which limits your speed to about 6 MPH -- a sort of moderate jogging speed. Once the tour guide was confident that we had a clue, he advanced us to the yellow "intermediate" key, which boosts the speed to a more respectable 8 MPH and improves the turning response. We never got to use the red "advanced" key ourselves (island policy apparently doesn't permit the full 12 MPH speed on the bike paths), but at the end of the tour he let us try out his machine at full speed in the parking lot. That is a *lot* of fun. In the lower keys, the machine sort of fights back when you try to go fast: you lean forward, and it leans you back to slow down. With the red key, it just keeps accelerating to what feels like the natural speed of the device.

The tour itself was a pleasant wander around the central district of the island. The highlight was a stop by the informal Aviary. Apparently, the island is prone to twits who buy parrots and other exotic birds, utterly failing to understand that (a) they require a fair amount of work to treat properly and (b) they live for a *long* time. So stray parrots turn up from time to time, and this family takes them in and cares for them. They also had a few other exotic animals -- a couple of ring-tailed lemurs and the like.

Here are a few representative pictures of the excursion --

msmemory goes tooling along on the Old Bailey Road, the ruined original road on the island. (Half-washed away by Wilma, and gradually being reclaimed by the sand.)

jducoeur tries out the instructor's "dune buggy" Segway. This newer model has double-life batteries (about 24 miles, in theory), and big nubbly tires that work off-road quite nicely. While we were riding along the edge of the road, the guide was typically tooling along in the mud and sand next to us.

A couple of birds in the Aviary:

Tags: diary, sanibel, segway, vacation

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