Review: The Atomic Arcade

I looked up lots of things about the Salt Lake City area months before moving there: schools, housing prices, utility prices, jobs, restaurants, retro arcades.

Retro arcades? Well, yes. I’d think you would have to be completely new to the blog to know that Fayetteville, Arkansas’ own Arkadia Retrocade was quite rightly regarded by the entire family as “the happiest place on Earth”. Before or after the divorce, if we needed a stiff shot of undistilled happy, we headed up I-49 to Fayetteville to visit Arkadia’s vast collection of working vintage arcade video games, where you pay five bucks at the door and get a great big dose of happy.

Both of my boys have been weaned on the classics of the ’80s – Little C is a Q*Bert and Ms. Pac-Man fan, while E is a fan of more elaborate console quests like Super Mario and Legend Of Zelda. Finding a good family-friendly retro arcade along the lines of Arkadia on our new turf is seriously a top priority. I’ve heard a lot about Flynn’s Retrocade in Roy, Utah, but that’s further away from our current home base than Fayetteville was from Alma – it’s at least an hour’s drive north, closer to Ogden than to Salt Lake City. Much closer than that is The Atomic Arcade in Holladay, just slightly east from Salt Lake City. Online reviews were a muddled mix of positive and negative. My overall impression from a brief visit with my kids tended very much toward the negative. Read More

Everybody’s geekin’ for the weekend, part four: do it again!

Whoosh!In February, the fine folks at Oklahoma City’s Starbase Studios announced another of their open house events, during which all and/or sundry are invited to tour their exquisitely detailed replicas of the original Star Trek shooting sets, free of charge (though it’s hoped that visitors might be impressed enough to drop a few coins in the hat, donating to the upkeep of those sets so future fan-made productions can make use of them. My wife was pregnant with Little C when Little E and I tagged along with some friends to visit the sets last year, and that was before they had built sickbay and started work on a transporter room (!). There was no way she was going to miss out on this open house.

As the date got closer, Little E expressed disappointment that we weren’t going to repeat the entire trip with the Martins – i.e. Friday night at Arkadia Retrocade, and a visit to the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma (almost an hour further west from OKC). Since he was so keen on doing it all again, we reserved a hotel room in Weatherford and decided to make it a whole geeky weekend getaway. (It should be pointed out that the timely arrival of a tax refund was pretty much the pivot point where we went from “go to OKC and back” to “make a whole weekend of it.”)

What follows is a ridiculous record – over 60 photos – of the geeky weekend in question. Ready to beam up and go to the moon?

OKC+WXford trip
Click on any photo below for the full-size version – I took “the good camera” this time and didn’t rely on my phone for much of the picture-taking this time around.

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Everybody’s geekin’ for the weekend, part one: Space (invaded)

As a rule, we tend not to do weekend getaways and vacations here, and being flat broke is typically the culprit. Last weekend the Mrs. and Little E got to go on a road trip with her parents, though it was more of a business trip Pongwaterthan anything, without much sightseeing. Early last week I learned that a special event or two was happening out toward Oklahoma City, and started trying to pull a road trip of my own together out of sheer willpower. Sheer willpower, it turns out, doesn’t solve all the issues with my occasionally wonky loaner car. I’m grateful to have it, it gets me to work and back home again, and it’s driven a lot in the past week as I’ve gone to various far-flung work sites. But Oklahoma City? Not so sure it’s up for one continuous 3-4 hour journey. I started trying, far too late, to see if I could land a rental car, but it’s Memorial Day Weekend: they’re all spoken for.

Nathan and Chandra Martin contacted me via Facebook earlier in the week; they were making a rare return to Fort Smith with their kids and wanted me and Little E to show them this arcade that I’ve spent so much time talking about in Fayetteville. The thought honestly hadn’t occurred to me to say “Well hey, wanna go to OKC too?” That’s a bit like showing up at someone’s party and saying “Hey, let’s make this party about me!” As it happens, the thought had occurred to them too, and the whole weekend became a massive singularity of geeking out.

But on Friday night, it all started with keeping all of our kids up way too late at the local arcade. Read More

Have fun storming the arcade!

It’s almost Christmas, the boy is on break, I’m mentally fried from this new job that I have, and mom is in a mood to blow things up. To help keep mom within the confines of the law, and to assist her in the blowing up of things, we all piled into the vehiclemobile and set out to conquer a place we haven’t visited in far too long – Arkadia Retrocade!

Arkadia Retrocade Read More