Monday, February 21, 2011

Play: What happens in Weirs Beach

Nine years ago my husband and I spent our February vacation week in Las Vegas.  We dressed up, gambled unsuccessfully, ate in restaurants with no children's menu, drove a convertible to the Hoover Dam, and saw Tom Jones live in concert.

Yesterday we commemorated our long ago trip with a day at the Guinness-confirmed World's Largest Arcade in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire --sort of like a kiddy Vegas.  Actually, as it is in a part of New Hampshire that sorely lacks the glamour of Vegas, it's more a kiddy Reno. Maybe a kiddy Laughlin? 

The arcade was a two-hour drive north, only a day trip but completely outside of our realm.  As snowy mountains came into view and the road dipped down next to a frozen lake dotted with ice shanties, my husband remarked, "This is a real adventure." 

And in that instant he reframed the day for me.  What I had seen as a way to pass a winter Sunday, a trip to a glorified Chuck E. Cheese, was lit with the spark of the unknown.  I love adventures, the novelty, the possibility, the discovery, and suddenly this was one.

The arcade, like Vegas, was a lot of bad carpet, dimly-lit rooms and people with cups full of change shuffling around glassy-eyed.  The girls and I left my husband in a dark upstairs room filled with towering rows of classic arcade games and blaring Boy George.  In this room, which intimidated me just as much as those roped-off areas in Vegas where high rollers play inscrutable games like Baccarat, my husband passed some time with Ms. Pac Man and recorded the high score on Galaxian.

Instead of spending the night blowing our cash at video blackjack in hopes of scoring a few free Heinekens, the girls and I spent the afternoon dropping $20 winning the tickets that we traded in for two ring pops at the end of the day.  Rather than spinning around on a thrillride 1000 feet above the Strip, my husband and I watched the girls take turns on mini ferris wheel that lifted them at least 5 feet.

On the way home, we did not have kobe beef carpaccio for dinner.  Instead my husband made a quick turn in to a strip mall "diner" with a rusted pink Cadillac for an awning, and before I could question the cleanliness or the menu he reminded me meaningfully, "This is an adventure."  The sides featured cottage cheese, mashed turnips and pickled beets and every plate came adorned with a frill of kale and an orange slice, and save for the newborn that the elderly hostess was cradling we were the youngest people there by 30 years.  We had breakfast for dinner and it was delicious.

Before we had kids our exploits used to go well beyond Vegas: snorkeling in foreign waters, flying off to Europe, bargaining with street vendors, navigating public transportation without the benefit of understanding even the alphabet in which our directions were written, riding a tuk-tuk through crowded Bangkok streets, riding an elephant through a Balinese forest.  I loved these trips, loved the thrill of stepping off the plane and breathing in the air of a place that I'd never been before and where I knew not a soul.

There are days when I really, really miss the grand scale of our old adventures.  But yesterday was not one of those days.

No comments:

Post a Comment