For dinner we figured to drive across the state. New Jersey's only about forty miles wide at that point. But on the other side of I-195 is Belmar, with Kaya's Kitchen, a vegetarian-and-vegan restaurant that's become part of our tradition. We got into town just as the pirate parade was busy going the other way, because apparently Belmar just has parades of people dressed as pirates these days. We also had to go several blocks away from the restaurant to park, which would add a bit of extra exhausting fun at the end of dinner when we realized we'd lost a marker pen we needed, and we had to retrace our steps.
Given the mass of pirates we worried the restaurant might be full, or closed, or something, but there weren't any problems. They could seat us right away. Surprisingly to me they didn't have anyone performing; we've seen small groups playing in a corner in the past. Maybe Saturday nights are too busy to give up the floor space. Kaya's has been getting a bit more successful and moving ever-so-slightly upscale with each visit; they'd dropped a while ago the simulated drumsticks that even included edible ``bones'', and they don't seem to have their vegetarian equivalent to pork roll anymore either. It's good they're doing well, and we'd love to have a place like this near home, but they did change a little bit away from what was probably our favorite. Or the chef got bored and might come back to pork roll when her spirits pick up again.
Belmar is on the Jersey Shore, just a little bit south of Asbury Park, which was of course our next spot, because on the boardwalk there is the Silverball Museum and its splendidly successful set of pay-one-price pinball machines. Between getting up late, spending time at Dorney, lounging about the hotel and not rushing dinner (why would we rush dinner?) we were getting there late, something like 10 pm, possibly the latest I've ever been at the Silverball Museum. But, heck, the place was open till 2 am, so how would we not have plenty of time?
This is also the first time bunny_hugger had been to the Silverball Museum since getting seriously into pinball. She'd been there at New Year's, yes, after a couple months playing in our league, but that was before she felt like the master of her pinball skills. It was also well before she got into Wii's Pinball Hall of Fame and fell in love with FunHouse, which of course they had and which she's wanted so much to play in person. (They have it at the Arcade, location of our other pinball league, and at Marvin's, but still, that's not enough access.) The game is harder to play in person than electronically --- the Pinball Arcade engine is fantastic, but it doesn't capture the grittiness and imperfection and variation of actual tables --- but it's still great reconnecting her to a game she quite loves playing. I could also point out some of the other games, like Road Show, that did their best to duplicate the FunHouse magic, not so successfully.
I managed to have a pretty respectable game of Doctor Who, which is gratifying since it's always been a table I admired more than mastered. Speaking of which, someone had taped to the backglass --- with its spreading array of the Classic Seven Doctors (the only ones to exist back when the game was made) --- a picture of Peter Capaldi doing his cape-billowing, finger-pointing pose.
The Silverball Museum has a Challenger table. This is one of those well-meant attempts to produce a two-player version of pinball, this one with a double-length table that tilts toward one player or the other. As with our attempt on the Joust two-player table, back in May, bunny_hugger handily beat me, managing something like triple my score.
Sometime after midnight the museum got really empty, opening up table to play and to hear, clearly. Around 1 am, one woman there did come up and start chatting with us. She explained she was the Gina B whose name appeared often on the boards listing people's high scores. She got into pinball through her boyfriend, who lives a few blocks away from the museum, and what with hanging out there she's gotten to be pretty competitively good with every game. I have to admit the conversation kind of went on past the point I could think of anything to say, and I suspect it went on past the point she knew what to say either, so we had that terrible bit of smiling and acknowledging that things in general exist to conclude our chat.
She also mentioned that the museum really closed at 1 am, although they weren't going to push people out too harshly. Still, they were turning off the radio and TVs and turning down the lights and turning off unattended machines and we were rather shocked to lose the hour of pinball we thought we might have. So, ah, oops. But that did give us the chance to make our apologies and get in a last game before heading out. They did turn off the last machines and most of the lights as we left, and that's the first time we've closed out this particular arcade.
We must've got back to our hotel somewhere around 2:30 am, and to bed right away.
Trivia: The term ``ball'' for a baseball pitched outside the strike zone (and not swung at) is an abbreviation for ``ball to the bat'', a warning umpires were to give to pitchers (to throw fair, hittable pitches) and for the batter (to swing at fair, hittable pitches) after concluding either the pitcher or batter was deliberately stalling. Source: A Game Of Inches: The Story Behind The Innovations That Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.
Currently Reading: The Future Is Japanese, Editors Nick Mamatas, Masumi Washington, Haikasoru.