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 So I said my next post would be about the Richmond Slave Trail. I lied. How was I to know there would be breaking news in the meantime?  While writing the Museums and Art Galleries chapter of Insiders’ Guide to Richmond this past winter and spring, I wanted to know the status of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s old money museum that was closed, but in the process of being renovated within the Minoru Yamasaki- (architect of the World Trade Center Twin Towers) designed building.

Spies on Segways looking for clues.

More emails and phone calls than seemed strictly necessary ensued, but as my deadline approached, the Fed was willing to tell me only that they wanted to be included in the guidebook and that there would be an exhibit open to the public sometime. In the interests of secrecy however they weren’t inclined to give me any information.  No name, no hours, no description. Easiest entry to write in the whole book. “Don’t miss something, I’m not sure what, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.” Finally, at the last minute, without so much as a background check, I was sworn to secrecy since the employees themselves had not been told what the name of the attraction would be.  Somehow I managed to smuggle out a press release. 

For months now I’ve struggled to keep this to myself, but now that the story broke in Saturday’s T-D, I can finally let out my breath:   The Fed Experience is the name of the new museum at the Fed. You wouldn’t believe how keeping that secret ate up my insides. Starting tomorrow, The Fed Experience will be open during the week. It’s geared toward middle-school aged children, but let’s face it, most American adults don’t have a handle on money and finance, including many who work in the financial industry, so I bet most people could learn a thing or two there.  Admission is free, pre-registration  is suggested, and security screening is required. You heard it here first–or second.

When I signed on to write the Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, like any good freelance writer, I figured I would do as many fun things I’ve always wanted to do as I could and write them off for tax purposes.  If there is another reason to be a freelance writer, I haven’t found it. Since I started the project just before Christmas and had no time to shop for my children who don’t need anything, I also figured it would be thoughtful of me to include my family in my work and make them do (I mean give them tickets for) a Segway tour of downtown Richmond.  Segway of Richmond    

I’d been on a Segway briefly once, and it was really fun, so I honestly thought they might like the zooming about our town on wheels. (Has anybody staged Our Town using Segways? Be my guest.)   I booked us a 4-person trip to see the landmarks of our fair city. Couple problems. The mere mention of the gift was met with groans–yet another attempt at forced family fun. My children were home December and January and between busy social lives, frigid temperatures, lots of frozen precip, and zero interest, there was never a good day to do the tour. They didn’t want to go AT ALL. Perhaps it had something to do with the fear of not being cool. How’s that? How could riding on a Segway with a bike helmet on with a hipster tour guide and your parents not be cool? 

So with my children’s blessing and sighs of relief, my husband and I finally took the tour this beautiful, balmy Sunday morning with a couple of fun friends who had no qualms about looking goofy on Segways. That’s kind of a pre-requisite. I admit I was a little nervous after another friend told me she had seen a woman wipe out nastily on the tour we were about to take,  and then when the very patient tour guide mentioned it was “all about balance–just like skiiing”–I had to laugh since the last dumb thing I had done in a series of dumb things that usually involve propelling myself inappropriately out-of-control was tear two ligaments skiing–but the die had been cast.  And I’m happy to report that nobody died–or wound up in a cast. One woman tried to repeatedly, but she was unsuccessful.

Let me be clear. A cute 23 year old on a Segway is cool. The rest of us—not so much. When we arrived at the shop and saw our comrades-in Segways were four women in their late 60’s and early 70’s, it suddenly didn’t seem like we were living on the edge quite so much anymore. Ah well.

I’m back!



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