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07-23-2014 at 05:54 PM
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Where the Wild Games Are (In ChicagoLand it Seems) - Part I

Well, despite my best intentions, it has been almost two months since my first (and only) blog post here at Twin Galaxies since the relaunch of the site. I was hoping to bring you weekly updates on my video game related shenanigans, but a move back to the States (my wife and I now reside, quite happily I might add, in Myrtle Beach, SC), a new job, a long-awaited, planned and desperately needed vacation AND trying to get our new home in order has kept me AWK and AWG (Away From Gaming) since May 11th. That is until this past week. As mentioned above, my wife and I have had a week long vacation planned for some time. After working insane hours in Canada for over a year to open a new facility for my company, this was the first opportunity that I have had in over a year to truly relax with no deadlines, no responsibilities and no itinerary beside making sure my better half enjoyed her 25th high school reunion. I was able to negotiate a day trip focused primarily on tracking down several of Chicago's numerous "Bar Arcades", giving me the opportunity to mix two of my favorite pursuits (micro-brews and classic video games). To be honest, the "negotiations" were truly non-existent as my wife fully supports both of these Peter Pan-esque tendencies (Bless her).

Now I must warn you out of the gate, this is going to be a LONG blog post. So go get a pint of your favorite beverage and settle in. Trust me, you want to see all of the gaming goodness that I was able to take in during our trip.

Our trip began with a week in and around Madison, Wisconsin (where my wife grew up and began her college studies before relocating to NYC). If you have never had the opportunity to visit Madison, I HIGHLY recommend it. In addition to hosting some very cool Geek-focused venues, this college town offers some of the best micro and nano breweries in the county, amazing restaurants and incredible places to just chill out and relax.

Whenever my wife and I travel we love to take time to check out the back roads, stop in antique stores and visit flea markets. Not only is this a great way to get the feel for an area and meet some interesting people, but it also offers a glimpse into a given region's video game and memorabilia market. In addition to collecting and restoring classic arcade games, I am also an avid hoarder of pop culture items from the 70's and 80's (the decade in which I grew up).

After landing in Chicago, we boarded a bus for the 90 minute trip to Madison, where we met up with my in-laws (who are awesome by the way) and had some dinner. After that we headed straight to bed as we had plans to explore Door County and the other regions north of our base camp. The first antique mall that we stopped on our way north offered up an eclectic array of old furniture, gas station signs and a few nerd gems.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with Door County, it consists primarily of the peninsula of land that sticks out into Lake Michigan on the eastern side of Green Bay. Door County is steeped in old mid-western traditions like the Fish Boil, a communal form of meal that was brought to this area by Scandinavian immigrants as an easy way to feed large groups of very hungry loggers between runs.

There are only a few ingredients that go into a true Door County Fish Boil: Lake Michigan Trout & Whitefish, salt and potatoes. That's it. These are combined in a MASSIVE cauldron suspended over a open wood fire.

The "BoilMaster" adds the potatoes first and then the fish to the cast iron cauldron once the water is at a raging boil.

After the fish is added, copies amounts of salt are dumped into the mix. The salt raises the specific gravity of the liquid, causing the fish oils to rise rapidly to the surface of the cauldron. Once the oils are at the surface the BoilMaster tosses a generous "swig" of kerosine directly onto the fire, causing the heat to flare up and the cauldron to boil over, dispersing the fish oils and leaving famished diners with a light and rather hearty meal.

What's that? "Enough food!" you say? "Where are the games?" Well, I did happen across a rather respectable little arcade in the lodge where we were accommodated during our time in Door County. Though there were only a few "classic" arcade games (including Ms Pac-Man, Galaga and surprisingly enough Crystal Castles), the fact that this establishment had close to ten games of any type was certainly a happy surprise.

We spent three incredible days in Door County and though I did not find the Mother Lode of arcade games in this land surrounded by water, I did consume copies amounts of amazingly crafted beverages and expertly prepared food. But that is ok because the true arcade Shangra-La was to be discovered back to the south. And for THAT you will have to check back here tomorrow for Part II of this journey.
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