We Moved Fourteen Arcade Games Across Nine States in Three Days.
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
It was no small task. In case you're new 'round these parts, in January my wife Adrienne and I experienced some serious hospitality while stranded in Arizona. A guy named Kent Ponterio let us stay with him, and we got to play in his insane home arcade. We were so impressed with the area, we decided to uproot our lives and relocate there! A few weeks ago, the entire inventory of Screen Play Arcade was loaded into a 26' Penske truck and shuttled over 2,000 miles from upstate New York to the Phoenix area of Arizona. The only thing left in the arcade was the payphone, because while I may be old school, this isn't the Dark Ages.
Joining the arcade was the vast majority of my Transformers shrine and console gaming area. (That's two separate rooms.) Due to needing to sell the house, a second trip was unavoidable, so I wasn't concerned with getting every last thing on this venture. We could have gotten a smaller truck, but I'm not good at spacial math.
The first day of moving was met with pouring rain. As soon as a game was inside the truck, it was wiped down. I was just wiped. The main reason for my fatigue was that we didn't know the ramp of the truck went flush with the floor of the trailer. I was deadlifting cabinets over the bumper! (See second picture.) The next day, the oversight was realized, and the scooter was loaded with no issues. I paid a couple of neighbors to help with the whole process, and my folks also came to our aid. (For free. Maybe they were eager to get rid of us.)
The video below details all three rooms before we decided to do something certifiably insane.
We loaded every machine in seven grueling hours, navigating a couple of tight turns and three porch stairs... fourteen times. These stairs make cameos in the site's features on Tiger LCD video games and George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, but every article involves taking steps!
Making the trip with us would be:
Neo-Geo (Big Red)
Centipede (early sideart)
Scramble cocktail (converted Nintendo table)
Vapor Trail (rare dedicated cabinet)
RoadBlasters (the same one I played as a kid!)
Golden Tee Fore! 2004 (custom cabaret)
Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (Big Blue)
I couldn't have lifted a paperclip at that point. The rest of the stuff would be packed the next morning. My arms felt like spaghetti for days.
We left in the early afternoon to cross New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico, finally arriving in Arizona on day three. Adrienne was initially nervous (OK, terrified) about my driving the truck. I was fine after I got out of our city, with its eternal construction, omnipresent potholes and pointless roundabouts. I was parking at truck stops with the pros before the second day was over. The trip was a great experience, as I'd always dreamed of being a cross-country trucker.
Meanwhile, the once-glorious arcade was left looking empty and sad. Fixing up the house was a labor of love, and leaving will be bittersweet. It's been a great headquarters for over a decade, but we're ready to move on.
We parked the truck at Kent's place, and he helped us move a couple of days later after coming back from a business trip.
The 2014 Kymco 200i LX scooter would be our main transportation while we were in Arizona. It had a dead battery when we loaded it up; we drove the truck to an Arizona motorcycle dealership and dropped off the bike for a battery change. The Harley guys loved the humble scoot. We then trucked across the street to Wal-Mart to kill a couple of hours and grab a bite. When riding again later that day, I couldn't believe how much more muscle the Kymco had with its new battery: We were doing 70 MPH on the five-lane interstate. Yeah, people were passing us, but no one honked! (I wonder how many people thought we'd ridden from New York?) Late-night rides on an empty highway felt surreal. Having the scooter in the truck was like the poor man's Knight Rider.
While in Arizona, we had a terrifying experience when someone tried to break into our ghetto Air B&B at 1:00 AM! I was glad to be armed, and we scootered away immediately afterwards. We'd booked the place for four nights, but were there for only an hour. For the remaining three nights, we stayed in a proper hotel. We had to pull teeth to get a refund from our Air B&B host, and I'm done with slumming in random people's houses. Once our place sells, we're buying an RV for our long-term housing! Adrienne is excited to customize the vehicle into a tiny house, and I'm psyched about the game rooms getting their own building. The RV will be a vintage piece, so look for a proper Retro Injection feature.
Kent assembled a crew comprised of his brother-in-law and Allen, a fellow arcade nut. The guys showed up at our storage unit with appliance dollies and helped me get this stuff loaded in record time. We had fifteen minutes left before the storage place closed, which would entail motion sensors, alarms and police. I owe Kent and company some In-N-Out burgers! On our final night in Arizona, we added the scooter to the inventory. I don't think we could have crammed anything else in the space. My wife snapped the "closure" picture on her Nokia 3310 3G. She loves her '90s throwback phone, and she's promised to write an article about it replacing her smartphone. (No pressure, hon!) Everything remains in cryostasis, awaiting our return.
Here's the former Screen Play Arcade. All vestiges of fun have been eradicated, and the room is ready for someone else. It looks a lot better than it did when I bought the place in 2008. Adrienne painted the room, including the ceiling, by herself while I was at work. The disco light has disappeared and the windows are visible for the first time in years. The other rooms featured in the video tour were also whitewashed.
We returned to New York via plane, carrying only two backpacks. When the house sells, we'll buy that RV. (UPDATE: Here it is!)
We'll meander for a week or two as we make our way back to Arizona. I don't even have a job arranged, as we have no idea where we'll be setting up shop. But with hardly any expenses and no debt, with a place to live, we'll be fine. We're taking it by faith, peeps.
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