Lauren and I decided to try something different on our Vermont drive this year. Instead of hiking all the way up to Weston, we stayed slightly closer to home at Manchester. They have a large, sprawling outlet mall and many other unique stores in a beautiful old downtown. After Lauren parked behind one of the outlet buildings, we strolled down the street to check out the small souvenirs store All Things Vermont. They lived up to their name, carrying retro toys, stuffed animals, candy, local honey and maple syrup, pots and pans, and lots of Vermont-branded clothing. Lauren bought nothing here. I picked up maple leaf sandwich cookies.
We really came to Manchester to check out Pastime Pinball, a combination museum-arcade in one of the outlet mall buildings. Pinball machines from as far back as 1947 and as recently as last year lined the walls of the first two floors. The third floor sported older arcade games and a small snack bar. Lauren bought the unlimited tickets that let us play all the games for as long as we wanted.
I had an absolutely wonderful time. I played games from the 60's based after the World's Fair in New York and figure skating ("Ice Revue"), a clear poker-themed console from 1976, and Elvira, racing, and taxi-themed games from the 80's. Did not expect to see a Shadow game from 1994, considering how badly the Alec Baldwin film did in theaters. Enjoyed early 90's games based after the Indiana Jones and Addams Family films and a magic-themed game from the late 90's.
I did best at Pirates of the Caribbean from 2006 and a Munsters game from 2019. Pirates was just as much fun as the weird movie series it's based on. If you hit the ball into the mini-ship hard enough and often enough, you could "sink the Kraken" as the ship actually "went down." The Munsters used the voices from the real show and even had a game-within-a-game where you could use mini-flippers on tiny balls. (It took me a try or two to find the mini-flippers.)
We had a quick hot dog lunch upstairs at the snack bar, then tried some of the older arcade games there. Two sit-down table consoles featured a wide variety of older games. I played Space Invaders and Pac Man, but didn't do especially well with them. I've never been any good at Pole Position II. Couldn't figure out a wooden shooting gallery game, either. Did much better with a wooden skee ball machine where you slid a very heavy puck instead of a ball. Even with the heavy metal puck, I slid it hard enough to get it into the top rung. Lauren even picked up a Pinball Pastimes t-shirt.
After we finally finished with pinball, Lauren led us down the street, over a bridge, and past a lovely rushing river to the Northshire Bookstore. This beautiful three-story bookstore once functioned as an inn, but now holds tons of books on every subject possible. I also saw clothing, accessories, notebooks, magazines, and records. (Though not DVDs or CDs, despite being listed on the sign painted over the entrance to the upper level.)
The second story is the children's section. I couldn't find the adult used books besides a spinning shelf of romances, but I did stumble on ones in the back of the children's area. Ended up with Understood Betsy, Return to Howliday Inn, and The Haunted House. The only Mercedes Lackey book I turned up was her most recent Elemental Masters story, The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley. Lauren's not really a reader and walked out with nothing.
We drove around for the next hour or so, checking out a TJ Maxx, a Jockey, and a two-story J. Crew. Pendleton is a Washington State-based store that sells t-shirts, woolen sweaters and accessories, home goods, and other things with soft southwestern colors and designs. No luck anywhere, for either of us. The trouble with the Manchester Center Outlets is the buildings are spread out all over town, and most of the stores are way beyond our budgets.
We were going to have dinner at the Manchester House of Pizza, but they were closed for their own vacation. We ended up down the street at Christo's Pizza and Pasta. Despite it being barely past quarter after 4, they were already busy with families and shoppers having an early meal. We ordered a 12-inch mushroom pie and two bottles of Diet Coke. Not bad. Doughy, and not much cheese, but it had a nice, crispy crust.
The traffic began picking up even as we strolled to the Northshire Bookstore. By almost 5, it reached near-city levels. We figured it was time to head on home. The drive through Vermont and upstate New York is the best part of the trip. Gorgeous country out there. The leaves are just starting to turn color; some trees are already awash in brilliant shades of gold, orange, rust, and lime green. Pumpkins and stalks of corn carpet fields and line farm stands. Beautiful weather today, too, windy, chilly, and sunny. Can't get much more fall that that.
Showed our purchases to Mr. and Mrs. Miller, then I took a much-needed shower before joining Lauren in her room. Tomorrow, we're heading in the opposite direction to Springfield, Massachusetts for The Eastern States Exposition, New England's state fair.