Shut your eyes and see. ~James Joyce
I’m a little late in telling about our escape room experience two weekends ago, but I believe it’s never too late to tell a good story.
Why am I so late? Between Thrill of the Hunt, my garden, the bees, and just keeping up on every day life, the hours are limited and the days run together.
On May 28th I had the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in Winchester, Virginia. It was a great event! Shortly after wrapping up, I headed back to Latrobe, knowing my sister came home and Kyle was hanging out for the weekend. My parents were camping, so it was an eventful weekend of the three of us.
Saturday night Nicole, Kyle and myself went to see X-Men: Apocalypse. Nicole wanted to see Captain America: Civil War, however I took Kyle the weekend prior, which was his second time seeing the movie anyway. Regardless, we had a nice time.
Now the big highlight of the weekend, Sunday, Nicole made reservations for us at Escape Reality in Latrobe. You know those increasingly popular facilities that create a mystery to solve, and riddles and puzzles to figure out, in order to escape a locked room? None of us had ever participated in an escape room, and certainly not in Latrobe. Why not?
At this particular facility, six people were permitted in a group. No one else signed up to join our trio, so the pressure was on. We had the room to ourselves! They had two different experiences, The Discovery or The Experiment. We chose The Experiment, whereas we were captured by a doctor who spent his life trying to find a cure for the common cold. Sounds good!
Upon arrival and check in, we were given safety instructions and basic overall goals of the event. They informed us no one has yet to escape the room without the assistance of clues. During our hour long mystery experience, we were permitted to ask for clues to move us along. How did we ask? Simply by saying, “We need a clue.” Each room is equipped with security cameras, as well as a monitor. The wall mounted monitor displays the remaining time through a countdown. It also communicates with the participants by typing messages to us or giving us clues. The monitor also keeps a tally of the clues requested and those left. I believe we were permitted to ask for six different clues.
Upon entering the relatively gloomy windowless room, I immediately felt like I was placed in our story. It was fairly chilly and almost creepy. The facility stated that anything not bolted down is permitted to be moved and investigated and used for clues. Great.
Surprisingly, Kyle wasn’t shy about digging in a getting started. He was the first to really go to town, opening up drawers and digging through papers. Nicole and I simply laughed at his sudden enthusiasm. Prior to arriving he was very blasé and didn’t seem to care about hanging out with his aunts. He was also very adamant about his plans later in the day, the typical Kyle. Well, all that changed the minute we were locked in the room and the clock started ticking.
Honestly, I was the one who wasn’t aggressively looked through the supplied material. I felt like I was prying in someone’s person stuff and it took me a while to get past that aspect. Once I did, I was totally on board.
At first we didn’t really work as a team, but instead scattered independently trying to find the first clue or something that pointed toward a clue. Kyle surprised us by literally crawling all over the floor, digging in every drawer, and even pulling out a variety of coins from a bowl and counting the change to see if the total dollar amount was a clue. He was on a mission and he did a great job! Kyle was able to look at the room from a different perspective that scored us our first major clue, a notebook of clues hidden under the desk. Nicole and I looked at each other with wide eyes and the biggest surprise ever. The funny part? Kyle missed the clues leading him to the notebook, he only found the leather bound note pages stuffed under the desk. While he was down there digging under the desk, I commented, “You look like your in National Treasure.” Kyle didn’t care, he was focused.
Eventually, we found a few more clues that lead us to others and others. Kyle scored us with another major breakthrough, without the aide of a previous clue. He actually found words written in invisible ink on the baseboard around the room! Seriously! Among the phrases were missing letters, which contained letters to another clue. Soon we opened a lock box that housed the black light. A little late, but the fun of turning out the lights and using the black light to read the glow-in-the-dark letters was worth it. It really made the experience and Kyle beamed with excitement.
At one point there were two lock boxes with four digit number combinations. We found a four digit number that we hoped would unlock one of them. Kyle tried the one lock and I the other. However, due to Kyle’s due diligence, we realized that even with the correct lock combination, I still couldn’t open a lock. After Kyle checked my work and realized I failed the test, I got the famous Kyle eye roll and ornery grin. That’s my buddy! Apparently, I’m lock challenged too.
I swear the entire time Nicole was stressed out and couldn’t handle the countdown of the clock, while Kyle was anxious and very energetic. Those two cracked me up. Eventually, we began working as a team, as we found more clues and answers were revealed. That was exciting, getting closer to solving the riddles.
Did we escape? Nope. We were told we were about half way, using all six of our clues. At the end, they asked us if we wanted to know the answer. In unison, all three of us said, “NO!” Actually, at first Nicole asked, “How often do you update the rooms?” When they commented, “About once a year.” we chose to make plans to come back, take on the challenge and figure it out ourselves.
One the way home, we even recapped our discoveries and how we came to them, committing the event to memory to be later called upon.
Everyone was very nice and energetic. I was impressed how they created the clues and guided us from one clue to the next. They were very mindful of details, which really made the experience. I hope we turn this into a yearly tradition, if not more often. Maybe we can start hitting up different locations.
Nicole and I agreed that Kyle was the biggest surprise. He basically mopped the floor, and really dove in without reservation. I highly recommend trying an escape room. Being a scavenger hunt enthusiast, I love solving puzzles and the adventure of it all. I’d love to incorporate an escape room to one of my scavenger hunts. Maybe in the future.
All that fun spoiled me. The following weekend Kyle didn’t grace us with his presence at all. I know he wanted to do his own thing, but I do miss him terribly when I don’t see him. Maybe now that summer is upon us and school is out, he’ll surprise us by wanting to do more, or not.