Of Cemeteries, Segways & Common Sense

A friend convinced me that it would be a great idea for us to rent Segways and then move through a large cemetery known for its unique tombstones and mausoleums.  

We’d be doing this at sunset on an evening when the cemetery closed all the roads to car traffic and encouraged visitors to walk, run, bike, move through the roads.

I hesitated because I’d never ridden on a Segway, but I loved the idea of seeing this cemetery, known for its history, on a more personal level.  So I said “yes.”  

At first I doubted whether I’d be able to master a Segway, but I did.  Sort of.  Or at least I did enough to be allowed by the rental company to go move around a cemetery without car traffic.  

• • •

If you’ve not been on a Segway, there are 3 things I learned:

1)  You have to stand completely still on the device, with your feet locked into a perfectly aligned specific place, or you’ll cause the gyroscopes to reposition you.  This means that if you do shift your feet at all, the Segway wiggles underneath you.  Uncontrollably.

SO DON’T MOVE YOUR FEET, EVEN ONCE, WHILE ON IT.

2)  Going up hills on a Segway is easy to do because all you do is lean forward.  [MSNBC would approve.]  Going down hills is more difficult because you have to lean back while never moving your feet, yet while softening your knees, so that the impact of any hole in the road doesn’t cause you trouble.

THIS IS NOT AS SIMPLE TO DO AS THE INSTRUCTORS SUGGEST THAT IT IS.

3)  Turning a Segway is an unnatural skill that is nothing like driving a car or maneuvering a bicycle.  While I was able to easily do it in large movements, such as turning right or left at a 4-way intersection, it was difficult to do on a smaller scale, such as wandering over to look a specific object.  In fact, at one point the machine stopped responding to me altogether and took over steering so that I was thrown from it.

YES, I WAS THROWN OFF OF A SEGWAY ONTO THE GROUND BECAUSE IT INSISTED THAT WE WERE GOING TO THE RIGHT WHEN I TOLD IT TO GO TO THE LEFT.

• • •

So did I have a good time on our adventure through the cemetery?  Well, to be honest, not really.  

I mean I enjoyed spending time with my friend and we did cover a lot of ground in the cemetery, but we weren’t able to see any tombstones or mausoleums up-close because once on a Segway you’re stuck there. 

And because it doesn’t go onto grassy areas many of the monuments we wanted to explore were way too far away to get to, let alone photograph.  So the whole adventure seemed pointless to us.

Common sense suggests to me that I wouldn’t rent one again unless (maybe) it was part of a guided tour on paved paths (perhaps in a well manicured city park?) that were far away from car traffic.  And even then, I might just pass on the whole Segway thing and go for a walk by myself.

It really wasn’t much fun at all.  Not recommended. 

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

24 thoughts on “Of Cemeteries, Segways & Common Sense”

    1. AfterTheKidsLeave, exactly. We’d have seen more things in-depth if we could’ve gotten off those darned Segways. But instead we covered a lot of miles. So there was that.

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  1. Agreed – a nice stroll or lovely three-wheel bike over that contraption anytime. Seems like a very symbolic piece of technology – replaces simpler yet effective devices and keeps you from enjoying the moment because the technology itself requires more attention than the reality it is supposed to help you view.

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    1. Zen-Den, you have perfectly described the difficulties with the Segway experience. There was too much need to focus on the machine & let it dictate where we went, while not enough time to focus on the world around us. meh

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  2. We have a local Segway store that did a big promotion at a local festival. Of course I had to try it and I was never comfortable on it. It’s counterintuitive for me and I couldn’t do circles at all. You may have to go back to read those tombstones. My mother loved old cemeteries and I have a lot of childhood memories of walking around making up stories about the inhabitants.

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    1. kate, I agree that riding on a Segway is counterintuitive. Not so fun.

      I promise that we’ll go back and see/read what we were trying to see in the cemetery. Some of the tombstones date back to the Revolutionary war which amazes me. Think of the stories we’ll be able to create!

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  3. I’m sorry; I must be terribly ignorant. Can you not get off of them and then back on? Or is it just too much trouble to do that when using a Segway?

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    1. nance, it’s not easy to get on and off of them. Plus once they stop moving for a few seconds, they turn themselves off. This means that without the official key to turn them back on, you’re not going anywhere. You are just supposed to stand there on the Segway and let it move you around. That’s all you do.

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      1. I see. Well, at least you gave it a go. I remember when the Segway was first introduced; it was supposed to be the most intuitive people mover ever and the vehicle of the Future. So much for that!

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  4. I’ll mention this post to my husband the next time he suggests a Segway tour when we’re on vacation. I always think they look silly, and after reading your post, I suspect I’d have trouble navigating one. I’m rather clumsy. But a stroll through a cemetery, especially in the evening, sounds like something I’d be in for!

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    1. Carrie, I felt silly riding on one, to be sure. After I got thrown off of mine, the rental company employee, who had to come find us in the back part of the cemetery to restart our Segways, told us that getting tossed off of one happens often. Great, huh? But now I know, for sure, what they’re all about.

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  5. Sure hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you fell off the Segway! I always thought they looked silly, too. Now there’s no way I will get on one! Thanks for the review. I hope you get to go back to the cemetery and meander through it on your own two feet!

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    1. Beth, I think that I’m okay after my fall, but it didn’t make me love the Segway. The darned thing would not, would not go in the direction I wanted it to go in– even though I did as I was instructed. Apparently the gyroscopes within the machine will override you if they want to do so. Like you said, next time I’m going to use my own two feet. Much safer. Much easier.

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  6. Huh. I’ve always wanted to try a segway, but I think I’d like to just segway around, not try to actually look at things while I was doing it. Because I’ve a feeling I’d need all my concentration to just stay on it!

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    1. Cassi, if I just wanted to get from point A to point B in a straight line, then a Segway would do the trick. But who does that? It’s the looking around that makes life entertaining. And you’re right, using one takes concentration.

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  7. I remember when everyone said that they would be everywhere and the FAVORITE means of transportation! 😉 Now I see why I rarely see them and understand my instinctive fear of them. I hate feeling out of control and your post made me shiver with empathetic dread. I cannot see myself ever segwaying.

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    1. Margaret, I remember all that hype, too. I only see them in airports when the security officers go zipping around the gates doing something or other. Thank you for your empathy. I probably will never use one again, but at least I know for sure what I think of them. [NOT. MUCH.]

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