The Temptation of Arcades

Two years ago*, we took Jonathan on a road trip to celebrate his graduating high school. We stopped first at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, for Lance, then visited The Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy in Jamestown, NY. Our last stop, where we spent half our trip, was Niagara Falls.**

*How can it already be two years?

**The Canadian side. Always the Canadian side.

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We had stayed at our hotel, The Oakes Hotel, in a recent trip to Niagara and loved it for its perfect view of both the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls. The only problem was that it was a little over a quarter mile* from the main attractions off of Fallsview Road, as well as, the only walkable road leading down** to the falls. However, right across the way from our hotel was an incline railway which for a couple of bucks would save us the pain of walking up and down the steep road so far from our hotel.

*Which you basically need to double because we ended up walking the same distance in order to reach the best, closeup view of the falls.

**Keyword: down. The steepest, longest hill ever.

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Our view of Niagara at night

In our days spent with Jon in Niagara, we rode the incline railway once.

When we attempted to get our ride back uphill in order to spare us the long walk, we discovered the railway was closed for unexpected repairs…it remained closed for the rest of our trip.

It was August. We were hot. We had already walked a long, very unnecessary distance to reach the rails and had to turn around to not only walk half a mile longer in the hot sun, but to also trek up the painful incline.

The street of this incline is lined with shopping, games, and food–a typical summer vacation type of street made with only one intent: to make your children squeal with delight and simultaneously rid you of all that extra cash weighing you down.

About halfway up, Jonathan stopped and dragged me to the entrance of an arcade somewhere around three times the size of the largest arcade I’ve ever seen in Jersey. The room was filled with children and adults alike roaming back and forth across the room, tokens and tickets in hand, moving in blinded glee from game to game.

Desperately wanting to get out of the sun and find somewhere to have dinner, we told Jon that maybe, just maybe, we’d come back. On the first day of our trip, he had been loaded with spending money. But with each day that passed, he grew closer to becoming broke.*

*Translation: Therefore, I grew closer to financially covering any extra longings of his heart.

As fate would have it, we ended up passing the same arcade the next day, again after a sun and walking filled day. This time his grip on my arm took me into the heart of the arcade and I knew it wouldn’t be as easy to get him back out. We bought him twenty dollars of tokens, and after only about fifteen minutes, he had gone through them all.

Now, keep this story in mind, but prepare to switch gears just a pinch.

Last week, on our usual Tuesday together, Lance took a half day of work so that we could take Jon to Dave and Busters in Philly.

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Jon in a scary zombie game that I refused to play with him

There are two things you must know about this:

    1. I rarely go to Philly.
    2. I rarely play games.

Lance and I had gone quite randomly on a day he had taken off the week before I started working again. Previous to that, I hadn’t been to a Dave and Busters since we were dating. As we spent the day there, we noted how much Jon would enjoy it, our day in Niagara coming to the forefront of our minds.

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Star Wars!

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And the best part was that twenty dollars bought around an hour of play versus the measly fifteen minutes at the overpriced arcade in Niagara.

And there was no painful incline walking involved.

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The moral of the story?*

*Because you know I love a good moral…

Splurge a few bucks for a game or two while on vacation, but come back home and spend an afternoon devoted to cheaper game play than the kind a vacation tries to beg out of you.

I won’t promise you’ll end up on top in the end, but you’ll probably feel better about a few hours of arcade time costing you $30-$50 than only a few minutes.

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