Riding the current

Moms of Stillwater columnists Alicia Donovan,left, and Marny Stebbins give thumbs up to their recent Segway excursion in Lakeland. (Gazette photo courtesy of Alicia Donovan)

Baby turtles, I chuckled to myself.

That’s what we look like. All lined up on the shore, ready to take off into the big sea.

Of course, I don’t have flippers and the closest thing I have to a protective shell is my 10-year-old’s cracked helmet. And the sea was a strip mall in Lakeland But yet, the picture stuck.

Freedom was almost mine via Segway?

When I made a promise to use my first “kid-less hours” in 11 years on something for myself, I’m not sure a Segway tour was what I had in mind. I’m a realist after all. And I’m really used to falling down without the help of machinery. Add a self-propelled, five-foot robot to the mix and no amount of safety gear can protect me from myself.

“The Segway sensors auto-adjust to your body 1,000 times a second”, insisted our guide.

I’m sure this is meant to be reassuring, but what if my body tells it to bee-line for the ditch? Or, worse yet, someone’s front porch or goldfish pond? And when you say, “Find your body’s center balance,” all I can think about is how hard it is to golf with a chest full of boobs. I’m not sure I even have a center balance. I’m pretty sure I’m top heavy. This could explain my history of tripping.

And yet, it’s just five little hours out of the week. I will not go home and do laundry. I refuse to address the linen closet door that won’t fully close. I will brave something new. I will remember my own voice, even if it is screeching as I crash into a sewer embankment. I will add some grit to my life, even if its in the form of gravel in my teeth.

I mount the Segway. Honestly, it’s a little like a horse (a feisty horse, not the usual stop and eat leaves horse I am used to) and despite the patient coaching of our guide, I have no reason to believe that this stallion won’t run me face first into the dumpster 20 yards ahead. He’s touchy (which is supposed to be a good thing) and I’m grateful he only reaches 8 mph.

All the baby turtles take the first swim in the parking lot behind All American Segway’s storefront and then we are off to the highway. Dear God, the first thing we do is cross a highway? That sounds reasonable.

“Single file. No bumping. No texting,” she protectively barks.

Texting? I’ve yet to look beyond my shoes and my toes are numb from gripping the sensor treads.

And yet, not a single fellow turtle has left the current. We are all upright and moving forward respectively. There is no (audible) swearing. By all accounts, we are seven middle-aged women in helmets conquering the paved bike trail. Trail blazers in yoga pants.

I’m not going to lie, there were a few moments of downhill panic. And the thigh hold I had on the steering wand would have made Annie Oakley proud. But even in, or maybe even because, of the uncontrolled dips, I found joy in letting go and trusting I could manage the unexpected. Recklessness didn’t equal automatic failure. Unmapped didn’t mean lost (this time). And I didn’t have to hold the world together so tightly for a few hours; I could just enjoy the ride.

Enjoy your own Segway experience with the wonderful staff of All American Segways located at 400 St. Croix Trail South in Lakeland. Or call 507-206-0988.

Marny Stebbins lives in Stillwater with her husband and four children.  She is a stout believer in early bedtimes, caffeine enhancement and humor therapy. She never takes the last slice of pie and makes a mean brandy slush. Visit Chronicles of a CaveMom (http://marnystebbins.blogspot.com/) to read more of Marny’s work.