Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Segway to a Different, Peaceful World

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Segway to a Different, Peaceful World

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Capitano

You can explore the undeveloped Fort George Island by foot, bike or car, but I like to take the Segway.

So do Greg and Maren Arnett, island enthusiasts who operate Ecomotion Tours. They'll guide you on a 4-mile historic and ecological exploration of the maritime forest and Kingsley Plantation via Segway.

Yes, Segways, those two-wheeled self-balancing magic scooter-type things you stand on and power with the slightest lean of your body. Illusionist Gob Bluth from Arrested Development drove one.

The Segways used on Fort George Island are XT cross-terrain models. They're pollution-free with fat, low pressure tires that truck through the backwoods of the island without much disturbance of the forest floor. And Ecomotion is technically a backwoods business. To get to the tour starting point, you take a narrow forest road for nearly 2 miles, traveling under the canopy of twisted and arched tree branches, one of the few visually pleasing results of hurricane winds.

Soon you'll arrive at the Ribault Club, which roared in the '20s and still looks like a place where you could find the Great Gatsby standing on its terrace drinking highballs and referring to people as "Sport." Across from the Gatsby mansion is the Ecomotion tour fountainhead and Segway practice field.

Maren and Greg are kind enough to provide you with bug repellent, and I recommend you load up. They don't spray for skeeters out in those protected forests, and my too-light misting of repellent led to lots of itchy days.

A helmet and a headset top off the tour group's preparations, and then Greg gives a simple Segway demonstration. I can't stress enough how easy the vehicles are to operate - even the slightly nervous grandparenty couple on my tour were smiling and cruising comfortably within minutes.

When everyone has the hang of the Segway, your bad-to-the-bone scooter gang zooms off down the nature trail. Through the clear and comfortable headsets, Greg points out the more impressive forest features - the vegetable soup smell of the bay tree, an armadillo's burrow, bobcat tracks and the eerie, treeless patches of Gatsby's long-neglected golf course greens. …

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