June 2nd at the Ottawa Pinball Arcade started like any other Thursday, but beneath the surface of what appeared to be just another day of Rock’N’Roll for Mike & Rob of Pinball Medics, a Grand Journey was already unfolding!
But to understand what was really going on, first we must go back in time.
It was an April morning when they told us we should go. As I turned to Rob, he smiled back; how could we say no?
Oh, the fun to have, to live the dreams we always had. Oh the songs to sing, when we at last return again.
The aforementioned April morning started when Mike was contacted by Rob Edwards, who along with Dave Astill, was in the process of putting together the pieces that would make up the First Annual Central Ontario Arcade & Pinball Fest in Wasaga Beach.
Wasaga Beach is an incredibly beautiful part of Ontario, offering a range of activities throughout the year. In addition to enjoying the stunning coastline and inland river and trails, visitors can engage in recreational activities such as hiking, biking, ATVing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, paintball, golf, and skydiving. The area is also known for its arts community, live theatre, intimate dining, and relaxation servicesand neither Mike or Rob had any trouble convincing their better halves that this would be an awesome weekend, and the plan was set; we would bring upwards of 20 fully dialed in, Classic Pinball Machines from the Ottawa Pinball Arcade, the Montreal Pinball Arcade, and the soon to open Ottawa-Montreal Pinball Museum. Not just any games, but our personal Faves, Collectible Classics, and Rarities, including Bally KISS & Rolling Stones, Gottlieb Black Hole, Stern Stargazer, and the uber-rare unobtanium Williams Joust!
On the afternoon of June 1st, the process had already begun. Nick Belisle, Pinball Medics resident Electro-Mechanical Pinball Specialist, was at the Ottawa Pinball Arcade helping Mike tear down 16 of his personal hand picked faves.
They carefully disassembled, packed up, and organized all the legs, bolts, and other breakables, and staging them near the door for the next morning.
After a light adrenaline filled sleep, finally, it was June 1st.
It was 5:00 AM, and Rob was already getting ready for the road. After loading up Captain Fantastic, he and Claudia left the Montreal Pinball Arcade on their way to the Museum.
Upon their arrival, Rob transferred the contents of his van into the Pinball Medics Mega Truck & Trailer, loaded up a couple of games we had been storing for Mike Hanley from the Church of the Silver Ball, and continued his Journey to the next stop; The Ottawa Pinball Arcade!
Mike and Sharon were already waiting, and between the four of them, the trailer was loaded to the hilt with as big a slice of 70’s Nostalgia as can possibly be crammed into a double car trailer and 8’ Pickup Box!
They climbed into the air-conditioned, leather wrapped, Heavy Duty Dually Deisel truck, and Rob put the Hammer Down hard all the way along HWY 7, an absolutely beautiful highway, with breathtaking scenes of pristine beauty like beaver dams, lakes, river, on a road cut through the sedimentary rocks and hills, punctuated by quaint small towns
After checking in to a great little room at the Saga Resort, mere steps from the beach, we set out for our final destination; the First Annual Central Ontario Arcade & Pinball Fest!
We were greeted by Rob Edwards, Dave Astill, and a super group of enthusiasts, who helped us unload the trailer.
We headed back to the Saga Resort, where we connected with Rob K and his young son Evan, a pair of honorary Pinball Medics themselves, who had already checked in.
After a stroll on the boardwalk and beach to take in the incredible sunset, we were very fortunate to find that upon our return, right across from the Resort, was Sierra’s Mexican Cabana.
Not just another franchise outfit making Americanzed pseudo Mexicanish whatever, this place is the real deal. Authentic home made Mexican food with quality ingredients, at an amazing price!
The owners were incredibly friendly, and when they told us they were out of the first drink Claudia ordered, they set us up with a round of Tequila shooters for free!
Beyond that, the frozen Strawberry Margheritas were beyond the best; Jimmy Buffet’s liver would have been right at home!
The following morning came fast, and we headed back to the show, ready for a day of Pinball Action!
We were met by a room packed full of People, Pinball Machines, Classic Arcade Video Games, and Smiles.
The day was filled with the lively chatter of enthusiasts and the resonant echoes of pinball machines. Maple Pinball hosted a Tournament for the attendees that was enjoyed by all, including our own Rob K.
We broke for lunch at Chuck’s Roadhouse, where we enjoyed hearty burgers, refreshing beers, and crisp salads, leaving us refreshed and ready for even more Pinball and Arcade action!
Beyond the games, there were many vendors, inside and outside, including PINBALLROM (Dave Astill), London Pinball, Pinballleds by DRAPL, Church of the Silver Ball, and many other Hobbyists and Sellers.
The rest of the day was spent at the show, a lively hub of Pinball Enthusiasts and Arcade Aficionados. The festival attendees were treated to a vibrant array of games, their pulsating lights and resonant echoes creating a nostalgic symphony that echoed throughout the venue.
There were new and used parts, complete games, parts games, and projects; something for everyone.
We bought a huge pile of parts from Mike Hanley, Nick, Mike, Bruce, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember, but the one common thread was; everyone was an absolute pleasure to deal with!
We even got to meet the World Record Holder on Super Sprint, and play his actual personal machine!
However, as the sun began to set, the team faced the monumental task of tearing down 18 games.
Undeterred, We pressed on, running on week old adrenaline and fumes, our efforts rewarded with a well-earned meal as we retuned for the second time that day to Chuck’s, where more libations and food were eagerly consumed, to return to the Saga Resort for a well-earned night’s sleep.
After one last night at the Saga Resort, we embarked on the return journey on June 4th, smoothly cruising through the incredible scenery between Wasaga and Ottawa.
Most of the games were unloaded back at their home, the Ottawa Pinball Arcade, which was once again returned to its former glory.
Rob and Claudia then drove back to the museum, the Mega Truck & Trailer concluding its noble duty.
At the end of the day, it was a monumental task, but it went as smooth as silk, not one game failed over the entire show, other than a broken flipper bat on Roller Disco that was replaced on the floor by Rob within minutes.
After analyzing the whole process, involving thousands of dollars, weeks of blood and sweat, and all the logistics, we are left asking ourselves the obvious question;
Next year, should we bring the BIG Trailer?