As we indicated in a previous post about Timeline Arcade, we here at Next Exit Travel are big fans of arcades. It isn’t about nostalgia, our inner 12-year-olds just never died. We were in New Jersey for a family event and as we got in the car, WPT mentioned we were only a short drive away from Asbury Park – home to the Silver Ball Arcade Museum. Suddenly, we were detouring to the Jersey Shore.
The pinball machines were amazing – some over 60 years old and in perfect working condition. The variety of machines was impressive – from mechanical relics to Elvira offering sexy come ons to Charlie’s Angels. Galaga was my game back when I had to seek it out at mini-marts and game rooms and I probably played one of my best games in a decade on their machine. They also have Pong, Tetris, and an air basketball game that was a lot of fun. Most games have information about the manufacture and history of the machine, so it is a museum. A museum of fun where you can touch every exhibit.
The admission is time-based, so you can try a ton of games without worrying about running out of quarters. We only had an hour before we needed to hit the road, but it was enough to get a taste and want to go back.
This past winter the weather settled into a pattern of snowing on Sunday nights and the city shutting down on Monday. The first snow day or two were great, but then I started having to go into work instead of hunkering down and enjoying Mother Nature’s get out of work free card. On one such Sunday, we decided to get out of Baltimore for a few hours before the storm hit. The sky was leaden as we headed north. We were somewhere around Westminster, near the state line, when our inner 12-year-olds began to take hold.
An hour north of the city, in Hanover, PA, sits the Utz Factory. We decided that if was going to snow, that we might as well stock up on snacks. Wouldn’t want to resort to cannibalism, right? It was a spontaneous trip, so we didn’t plan around the factory tours, but we did walk into the Utz Factory Outlet and for people with a fried potato fetish the angels sang as the doors opened. Potato chips everywhere. <weeping with joy>
Our single basket silently morphed into two baskets. Restraint…What? Why? We were on a fried potato binge that had no bottom. No 12-step reform. And this was a bender we could take the 8-year-old on with us. We found tortilla chips, potato sticks, pretzels, popcorn, chips with olive oil, chips with voodoo seasoning. And when you check out they give you MORE potato chips. We joyously filled the back of our car with oily, salty carbohydrates.
From there we headed just down the street to Timeline Arcade, an arcade in an old bank building. When I was a kid I loved going to the arcade. I didn’t have a home gaming system, I had “my” Food Spot (local minute-mart) and its rotation of games (Joust, Wizards and Warlocks, Asteroid). The Food Spot near the flea market had Galaga and on weekends I honed my skills. There was also a game room in Miami I loved, despite that incident with the air hockey puck. As video games became personal arcade games began to disappear, but Timeline is a classic arcade and better yet, it has classic games.
For an hour or so, WPT, Garnet, and I were all children. We played everything from Galaga to Q*bert to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Simpsons to Tetris (I didn’t even know there was an arcade version!). They have games I haven’t seen since grade school and they are in great working condition. They also have pinball machines and old home gaming systems connected to TVs. It was like a living, breathing museum to geeky childhoods.
You pay a flat rate to play by the half-hour or can get an all-day pass. We wanted to stay longer, but the snow was on the way, so we piled back into the car and headed south.
We spent months working our way through the chip stash.