Birthdays have always been a problem. I like my husband to make a small fuss. But restaurants aren’t my thing these days–do I really need another helping of Hazelnut Crusted Sea Bass with Truffle Scented Artichokes? And our taste in movies, music, and plays is, well, different. If the two of us are sitting together in audience mode, it’s a pretty good bet that one of us would rather be home listening to the faucet drip.
So this year, I told Roger I wanted to try something new–something I thought he’d like too. I wanted to go segwaying.
I’d made myself a promise to get out of my rut in 2006--to try new things. And I guess you could say this was something new.
For those of you who don’t know, a segway is officially described as "a self-balancing personal transportation device with two wheels." In actuality, the segway looks like a cross between a mechanical lawn mower and a moped. The idea is simple. You stand on the Segway while it glides effortlessly around the office, or–in our case–the streets of Santa Barbara. Your job is to make every effort NOT to fall down and crack your head open.
Roger, who's always up for an adventure, called and made a reservation. And on April 27, the two of us found ourselves at the local segway dealership, where a lovely young woman named Trish signed us up for a three-hour ride.
Uh-oh, I thought when I saw the Segways parked around the shop. These guys are BIG! I suddenly remembered that I am, what you might call, physically challenged. This means that, for me, doing anything physical–such as talking and chewing gum at the same time–is challenging. Why had I forgotten this important point?
After signing some documents absolving Segway of any liability should either of us be hit by a bus, we proceeded to the back of the store to watch a video detailing all the things we should NEVER do on a segway–wheelies, riding the dog on the handlebars, etc.
Trish explained that the segway worked by using tilt sensors and five gyroscopes to keep us balanced and upright. Hills, grass, inclines and dirt–wherever we wanted to go–the segway would take us there with grace and style.
At last it was time for the hands-on training. During the next hour, we learned to approach the segway gently, offer it a carrot, and then mount from the left side. We learned to turn, accelerate, to ride up or down a slope, ease the segway over bumps, and stop. Then came the final test. Roger and I maneuvered through the obstacle course with the ease of veteran beginners–though it was clear to me that Roger had graduated first in our class of two.
We were now allowed out on the street to dodge the real obstacles–skateboarders, SUVs, and innocent bystanders. Trish led the parade as we took off toward the bicycle path on State Street. She pointed out landmarks and narrated the history of Santa Barbara as we rode along. I learned, for example, that the Morton Bay Fig tree near the freeway is the largest in that world, and that a group of folks, who used to camp under it in the sixties, tried to get their mail delivered there.
However, I really didn’t hear much of Trish’s patter. My feet were starting to get numb from all the segway maneuvering and (I hate to admit this) I was getting a bit carsick. Carsick? Maybe I should have had lunch after all. Hazelnut Crusted Sea Bass sounded good.
Thinking of lunch took my mind off my segway, and I almost fell. At that moment we were moving up a grade from the street to the sidewalk, and I made the mistake of trying to turn too quickly. I had forgotten the rule that you can’t turn on a slope.
The segway swerved, then rocked from side to side, while I tried to regain my balance. A vision of the form we had signed flashed through my head. These babies were worth $5000 a piece! I couldn’t let it fall.
"Good recovery," said Trish, after I’d righted myself again. "You didn’t jump off–some people would have."
I glanced back at Roger–was he having trouble too? Nope. The valedictorian of our class was gliding across the surface of the street like a pro.
It had turned into a beautiful, sunny day with just a touch of mist in the air. I didn’t need my sweater. We passed fountains and bougainvillea. What a great way to spend the day–street surfing in gorgeous Santa Barbara.
At the courthouse, we turned around and headed south toward the ocean. The way back was, literally, all downhill.