A Halloween Howl

We were awoken early this morning under starry skies in Death Valley National Park to a chorus of coyote howls. It was the perfect way to start Halloween. For five of the last six Halloweens we have been on the road and it is always fun to fit that days location and destination into our Halloween festivities. Being in “Death” Valley definitely started this Halloween off on the right foot.

Thanks to our early morning wake up (courtesy of the coyotes) we headed to Zabriskie Point to watch the sun rise. We then put on our Halloween costumes and headed to Las Vegas for a stop-off at two of our favorite Vegas attractions, Ronald’s vegan donut shop and the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Our hippie, werewolf, and super-knight had a blast enjoying amazing vegan donuts and playing some serious pinball. While Ronald’s Donuts didn’t feature any specially decorated Halloween donuts we played plenty of spooky pinball machines including The Adams Family, Monster Bash, and Ghost Busters. All in all it was another howling good Halloween on the road.

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Full Tilt at the Pinball Hall of Fame

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Where do pinball machines go to retire once they leave the arcade? We think we may finally have an answer to this age-old question. If the pinball machine is lucky, it ends up in the Pinball Hall of Fame just a few blocks off of the Las Vegas Strip. We were lucky to spend an afternoon playing these beautifully restored arcade favorites as a family.

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The Pinball Hall of Fame is an all-volunteer labor of love that aims to do good work both in and out of the arcade. The machines in the collection number in the hundreds, and they are constantly being reconditioned and repaired so as many as possible are available for visitors to play and enjoy. In addition to the Hall of Fame being 100% family friendly (smoke-free, alcohol-free, and plenty of stools and chairs to help smaller players see and play), all of the proceeds left over from maintaining the machines go to local charities.

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Deciding which games to play first was probably the hardest part of our day. Of course, our old favorites got the first few quarters. Five String was beside himself when he discovered that his two favorite games were not only on display, but also standing right next to one another. For the Younger Fives, this was their first real pinball experience, so they spent their time trying out different promising machines and selecting their favorites. In the end, Shrek became our new family favorite for its overall value (it is very forgiving with saving balls that go between the flippers) and the overall fun of the playing experience.

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The more modern, flashier pinball machines are by no means the only stars of the show. The Younger Fives became close friends with KITT, the Knight Rider car that graciously took them for many rides. We also tried out some older and very fun pinball machines from the 1970s and 60s. While they weren’t as forgiving with lost balls, we really enjoyed learning about their history from the index cards placed on each of these machines.

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While we have for the most part avoided the casinos that make Las Vegas famous, we are by no means immune to the charm of bright lights and flashy games. Spending an afternoon in the Pinball Hall of Fame, knowing that every quarter we played was helping people in the local community, felt like the perfect way to build some lasting Las Vegas memories as a family. It turns out that pinball and charity are a pretty classy combination.