A Journey Around Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island was practically made for personal transporters, more commonly known by the brand Segway. Karen Hanson, owner of Jekyll Island Fun Tours, thinks so too. Growing up in Georgia, with roots on Jekyll, Karen saw an opportunity to bring Segwaying to Jekyll after learning about the fun of this personal mode of transportation through several of her friends, who plan all of their travel around Segway tours. "If an area doesn't have Segway tours, they won't go there," Karen explained.
Wanting to get back to Coastal Georgia, Karen decided to court Jekyll Island on the idea of allowing Segway Tours, not only down the paved paths, but also off road for nature tours, and into the historical district, too. A novice at the time, Karen's dream awoke into reality, and Jekyll Island Fun Tours was born. Now, with more than 4,000 hours of personal transporter experience, Karen trains and gives tours several times each day.
That's where we come in. Karen invited Meredith Millen Deal, Regional Manager for Paisley Magazine, and I to give it a go. Of course we had to bring along Paisley photographer Mike Force to prove that we actually did it. In addition, I had my son, Conner Millen, and his girlfriend, Caitlyn Lankowski, with me, who Karen welcomed with open arms.and helmets. We were all very excited, as none of us had ever driven a Segway before or experienced the beauty of Jekyll Island's flora and fauna. Obviously though, we were all familiar with Segways, since we had seen Kevin James as Paul Blart, the Segway riding security guard, in the movie Mall Cop. So, we showed up full of confidence, since Paul Blart made it look so easy.
Not so fast. There's serious training one must go through before setting sail on a Segway. There are actual skills and safety measures required to ride this unique machine. One must find their "center." Fortunately, it's not the "center" that Yogis seek their entire lives. It's much easier than that! The Segway machine (each valued at $6500) balances on a gyroscope located right under your feet! It is completely controlled by where you distribute your weight. It takes a little getting used to, as most of us are conditioned to steer by turning the handlebars, however, on a Segway it's all about the art of leaning. Karen taught us how to mount the machine-not an easy task-and then put us to the test. We were trained how to stop and start, how to go up and down hills, how to turn 360∞ on a dime, and how to balance on and off road. We trained in "turtle mode," which only allowed us to go up to five miles-per-hour. However, once we took off, we could go wide open-up to 12 miles-per-hour. Each rider received personalized training, and once Karen dubbed us ready to go.we were off! Talk about fun. It only took about three minutes to acclimate to the higher speeds, and then, as a huge smile that felt like childhood spread across my face, I fell in love with my new ride. First we toured the beachside park, where Karen told us the nuances about the area. Then we went open road toward the maritime forest, where we left the pavement behind to be at one with nature. We intermittently stopped along the way to listen to Karen's interesting bits of history and lore about different plants and trees, and fascinating tales about the Indians and pirates of Jekyll's past. Once in the historical district, Karen told us all about the famous aristocratic families, which Jekyll Island is known for.
After the historical district, it was back to Karen's to call it a day. None of us wanted to give up our Segways. We had become one with the machine. It was too fun to stop. But like most things, our special day of Segwaying was done. But here's the good news.we can go back and tour with Karen anytime. You know what? So can you. You just have to do it.it's one of those bucket list must-do experiences.
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going to love it!