Greetings from Concrete, WA. Today is July 15th and we are exactly halfway through our epic escape room trip! Time has flown by! Only four months left to go before we are scheduled to be back in Florida on November 15th.
We have decided to make some changes to our travel plans based on recommendations from the escape room community. Instead of heading straight east from Washington, we have decided to head south before heading east and add stops in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. That is five more stickers for the map! We have also decided to add stops in Toronto and Montreal. We have heard about so many amazing escape rooms between those two locations, that we decided that we had to make it happen!
On this leg of our trip, we traveled through the beautiful state of Oregon and up into Washington. Along the way we visited some amazing places and, of course, played lots of escape rooms. The good, the bad and the ugly about those are below, but first, here’s an update on our RV life!
States Visited This Leg: Oregon, Washington
Total Miles Traveled: 13,907
Total Escape Rooms Played: 141
Our first night in Oregon we stayed at a Harvest Host site. It was a Potato Farm - Gold Dust Potato Processors. The woman who owned the facility (her son now runs it) met with us and the other RV couple staying there for the night (a young Aussie couple) to give us some history of the place. Come to find out, they supply potatoes to Lays, a few other snack companies, and even In-and-Out Burger for their fries. (We got some potatoes to cook up and a bag of chips. Yummy!)
Then we headed up to Fort Klamath and Crater Lake National Park. Tina was very excited at the prospect of hiking to some waterfalls and taking the boat out to Wizard Island. Little did we know that most of the roads were still closed for the winter because they were still packed with SNOW. In JUNE! It was actually pretty comical. Temperatures were in the 70s when we left the campground and headed up into the mountains and Curt was wearing shorts (because June is summer!). As we got closer to the park, we saw some patches of snow, and then we passed a car that had skis on the roof. What?! We made it to the park entrance and found out that only part of the main road was open due to the snow and we saw several people wearing snowsuits! While we were still able to drive to the lake for some picturesque views, everything else was closed. Still, it was the most beautiful lake we have ever seen, and seeing Curt jump out into the snow in his shorts (just long enough to take a few pictures of the lake) was priceless!
From here we traveled to Redmond, OR, which was our basecamp to explore Bend, Eugene, Sunriver and the quaint little town of Sisters, named for the Three Sisters volcanic peaks of the Cascade mountains.
While in Bend, Tina suggested that we visit the High Desert Museum, however, Curt was not as enthused. Come to find out, it was very cool. They had some really neat exhibits that celebrated the local history. They also had river otters and a porcupine that we fell in love with.
There was a Birds of Prey exhibit that we found very neat and we attended their Raptors show. During this show, we got to learn about and see 5 different raptors. Each of the birds (an owl, two hawks, a turkey vulture, and a falcon) flew right over us a number of times. It was amazing.
Next, we traveled to Salem, OR and met up with Tina’s friend Suzanne that she went to graduate school with. We had dinner with them at their restaurant, West Valley Taphouse in Dallas, Oregon. If you are ever in the area, make sure you visit. The food is very good, and they have arcade games and pinball machines in the back (where we spent a lot of quarters).
After Salem, we traveled over to the coast for a week In Seaside, OR. During this leg of our trip, we went on a bit of a Goonies kick. First, we went to the visitor center in Astoria so Curt could get a new Goonies t-shirt. Then we visited Mikey and Brand’s house. The house from the movie, that is. Next on our Goonies adventure, we visited Cannon Beach, where they filmed the scene where Mikey holds up the skeleton key that matched the rocks in the ocean to show they were in the right place. A few scenes from other movies were filmed there also, including Kindergarten Cop. (“It’s not a tumor!”)
From Seaside we headed up into Washington to visit Olympic National Park and to check out the many escape rooms around Seattle. We’ll talk about those in our next installment, but here are all of the rooms that we played in Oregon. We hope to be able to visit Oregon again in the future. It is such a beautiful state. So.Many.Trees!
Trapdoor Escape Rooms (Eugene, OR)
The owner here, Jamie, is super nice and opened up for us at a time when they aren’t usually open. Thank you Jamie!
The Mystic's Lair - This one-room game was all about finding eight names to escape the Mystic's trap. There were a few puzzles that required some leaps in logic and a couple that we felt were time sucks. There was also some searching that we needed help with. Ugh! However, some of the puzzles were pretty cool, the lighting was good, and the theme was fun.
The Toymaker's Revenge - This multi-room game had a whimsical feel. After all, it has toys. The setting and decor could have been better, and it would have been nice to have music or background noise, which neither game had as far as we can remember. Also, neither room had intro videos or audio. However, we liked this one more than Mystic's Lair. The puzzles were interesting and enjoyable. One thing that we had mixed feelings about was the winner's cards. They have this thing where if you escape Toymaker's Revenge in time, you can sign a playing card and place it permanently in the room wherever you want. So the rooms were filled with playing cards that had team names and their times on them. We thought this was a very cool idea, however, the cards were a bit distracting. At times you weren't sure if they were clues or not. Especially since there was a playing card puzzle in the game.
Overall, this is an interesting local venue that is priced right and the owner was great. You should check them out if you're in Eugene. We didn't finish either game in time and even took multiple hints. So, we suggest a group larger than two, maybe four for Mystic's Lair and three for Toymaker's Revenge.
The Puzzle Effect (Bend, OR)
The Puzzle Effect has multiple locations throughout the western side of the U.S. The games are not polished like other multi-location escape room businesses; they have a more mom-and-pop feel.
All of their staff (four that were there) were super friendly and that's always appreciated.
Curse of the Emerald Seas - The first thing we were told was to ignore a puzzle on the wall that wasn't working. Okay, that happens. We get it. The room was dark but we were able to use the flashlights on our phones. In fact, they encourage players to take pictures in their rooms. This is unusual. Many venues still ask you to lock up your phones before playing their games. Puzzle Effect has taken the opposite stance. This was maybe the third escape room business we have come across that does this. The game was fun. The puzzles were good and the scenery of this small two-room game was on point.
Sideshow - This game also had a puzzle that no longer worked, and one puzzle prop that was falling apart. Despite that, we enjoyed this game, as well. It did have what seemed to be fragile items. We were a bit surprised at that. When you go to a multiple-location business like Red Door, Escapology, or The Escape Game, the props seem bulletproof. Not in this game. The second part of this game was very neat and whimsical. The puzzles were good and the flow was, too. We recommend Puzzle Effect and would definitely visit their other locations.
Portland Escape Rooms (Portland, OR)
We were a little confused when we showed up at what seemed to be an office building. Most of the companies there were medical in nature (dental, physical therapy, etc.). We found the escape room business, but we were told to wait in the main building lobby where there were simply a few chairs and some plants. The strange thing is that they have their own very nice lobby inside one of their office spaces. Yet, players are not allowed to wait there.
Another thing they do differently is that the game master is in the room with you. They are playing a character, but it’s not like games at other venues that have live actors that are crucial to the story, like Weeping Witch, The Man from Beyond, Servants of Sleight, or The Last Supper. They just give an intro in character (which is cool), but then they stand there the whole game and watch you until you need a hint. The staff were all very nice, but having them in the room was very awkward and we weren’t fans.
Fortune Teller - This was our favorite game at this company. It had some neat puzzles and was the only game with multiple rooms. The game master played a couple of characters, and it worked for the most part. Though, in this game, you really felt the awkwardness with the second character following you around, only speaking when you needed help. If you were going to play a game at this venue, this would be the one to play, though.
SunDown Saloon - Ugh! This one-room game had a decent set design for what it was, but the puzzles were not great. There was also some unnecessary searching. We spent 5 minutes searching for one thing that was hidden. When we asked for a hint, our game master just gave us an area of the room we should be looking in. We wouldn’t go so far as to give this game a thumbs down, but we would advise that enthusiasts skip this one.
Arcade - Despite the name, this one-room game was not set up like an arcade (for the most part). The games involved one arcade game, but also card games, home console games, board games, etc. Some of the puzzles were fun, some were out of place, and some were just searching types of puzzles (not fun). This game was a mixed bag for us. We both thought it was meh.
Escape Space Games (Tualatin, OR)
This venue has recently changed ownership…like a week prior to us playing. We really hope the new owners can turn it around. The space has so much potential, but the props and décor are in need of serious repair, and the rooms do not get great reviews (but we thought we would give one a shot anyways…lesson learned.)
Toy Museum Heist - Based on the time we had, this game was the only one we could play. There was no intro video. We were given a walkie-talkie to ask for hints (a pet peeve of ours). The walls of this two-room game were white with no paint or décor. Toys were the puzzles and they were all around the rooms. There is the main game, if that’s what you want to call it…we didn’t see any storyline play out, but you have to solve a series of puzzles to finish the game. Then there were the bonus puzzles, which consisted of the other half of the toys in these rooms.This was an awful game. A couple of the puzzles were clever, we’ll give it that, but then some were really bad. The first “bonus” puzzle was nearly impossible. In fact, the game master couldn’t even show us how to solve it. This game had no flow and the overall design of it was a disaster. We don’t give a thumbs down lightly, but this one gets a big thumbs down from us.
NW Escape Rooms (Vancouver, WA)
We really liked this place. We will say that the games here are on the easier side. We got out of all three games with 10-17 minutes left on each of them. Even though we have played a lot of rooms at this point, times like that are not the norm for us.
Polybius Lives - This game is based on the urban legend of a video game called Polybius. Check out the story on Wikipedia. We think there is even a documentary on it. The gameplay was fun, the puzzles overall were enjoyable and the “storage unit” atmosphere worked well.
Jurassic Tours - Of the three games we played, this was Curt’s favorite. It’s just a one-room time machine, but it was delightful. The puzzles were good, the storyline was fun, the “hint system” character was adorable, and there are alternate endings. We don’t want to give any spoilers, so you’ll just have to play it.
Ronnie’s House - This horror-themed game is the one that gets their best reviews. Tina liked this one the most. While it is horror-themed, it’s more creepy than scary. Yes, there are a couple of haunted house-style jump scares, but that’s it. The puzzles, for the most part, were good, too. We both really enjoyed this multi-room game.
Escape Astoria (Astoria, OR)
This one is hard to write about. When you meet an owner who is passionate about what they do, it naturally tends to skew your review of a place. But we are going to be honest here.
This is a venue that is less than a year old and it’s in a town that has no other escape room businesses.
Red flags first went up when we went to book a room on their website and found out that the rooms are not private. We ended up paying extra to have them private. Then during the checkout process, we were asked to leave a tip…we had so many choices when it came to the amount of the tip, from a small amount up to 100% of the total price of the room. The worst part is that it automatically chooses the 20% option. You have to uncheck that box if you don’t want to leave a tip. And it is easy to miss. Thing is, we’ll give a tip to a game master that is fantastic, especially if there is acting involved, but we won’t tip before the game. That’s just ludicrous.
We got to the place and the lobby was small but well decorated. We spoke with the owner a bit (she’s also the game master) and she was very friendly. She told us that the space used to be a tanning salon and that each of her two (one-room) games were in former tanning booth rooms. Now, if you have ever been to a tanning salon, you know how small those rooms are. There is NO WAY we would have been comfortable in one of those small rooms with people we didn’t know. These rooms should not be public.
After playing both games, we were not happy with the amount we spent to play them and have them be private. We definitely did not get our money’s worth. We cannot, in good conscience, recommend playing at this venue. The one exception would be Sibling Shenanigans if you have never played an escape room before. It is an acceptable game for new players. With all that being said, the owner knows that the rooms have issues and she said she has plans to build bigger and better rooms in the future. This place has a lot of potential and we hope that she makes the improvements she talked about.
Sibling Shenanigans - This very small, one-room game is set up like a child’s bedroom. The intro is cute, the décor and set are cute. The puzzles are easy, but not bad. There is some excessive searching. Good for first-time players only.
Break Room Breakout - This was one of the worst rooms we have ever played. The owner knew we were not happy and were frustrated with this game. You are in an office break room and a zombie apocalypse has started. However, you don’t see or hear zombies, in fact, you don’t get any sense that a zombie apocalypse has started. You’re just locked in a simple break room, trying to find items of protective gear. The puzzles in this game are things you would have seen in a game from 10 years ago. A couple of them are very frustrating. Also, there is unnecessary and excessive searching, including inside, under and behind furniture. In fact, we needed hints on where to find a few things. The game flow and design were as bad as the puzzles. Skip this one for sure…especially at the prices they charge.
Cannon Beach Escape Room (Cannon Beach, OR)
Having just played at the small town “mom-and-pop” type of venue in Astoria, we were nervous about playing at this venue in another small town, but there weren’t many options around. Thankfully, these games were much better and the price was good.
Escape from One-Eyed Jack - This game is what you might expect from a small town escape room venue. It was a one-room, mostly generation 1 game with a low-budget set design. We are okay with that as long as the game flow and the puzzles are good. Well, the game flow and puzzles were not bad. We did enjoy ourselves during this game. Many of the puzzles were standard ones we’ve seen in many other rooms like this. One thing we really liked about the two rooms here is that they have dog tags on each lock with a symbol to let you know which puzzle that lock goes to. For example, if you solve a puzzle that has to do with ships, the lock with the dog tag that has a sail or ship wheel on it is the one to use your code on. This allows the room to be non-linear with several combo locks, but prevents you from having to try the code in every lock until you find the right one. Much appreciated!
Escape from Camp Haystack - This was another one-room, generation 1 game. We liked this better than the pirate game (even though we are suckers for a pirate-themed room). The puzzles were better than the other room and the flow was good. Both rooms are good for newbies, but as enthusiasts, we enjoyed them as well for what they were.
ParadigmQ (Vancouver, WA)
Sasquatch On Site - This game was a lot of fun. We’ve had good luck with Sasquatch-themed rooms we’ve played. We’ve liked them all so far. The flow was pretty good for it being a non-linear game, and the puzzles were interesting. A couple we had not seen before. The setting and décor were quite good, too. We definitely recommend this game.
Hour to Midnight (Portland, OR)
The Pharaoh's Lost Relic - This game has gotten a lot of great reviews and the set design is fantastic. We thought the gameplay was just okay. There was a lot of searching, for items, yes, but mostly for hieroglyphics around the rooms. While we were thankful that we didn’t have to translate symbols, we did have to match symbols…A LOT. We also didn’t get anything to write with and the game masters don’t give nudges there. We had one instance where we used a key and thought it opened a particular drawer. When in fact, you had to lift up something else after using the key. In our opinion, this is something a good game master should make you aware of. Though we finished the game in time, this is something that cost us a few minutes.
Next up is Washington, where we will be playing at the famous Locurio on Tina’s birthday!
Tina is a former city and transportation planner turned escape room owner and Curt is a podcaster/blogger/content creator for the summer camp industry. Their worlds collided when they were handcuffed next to each other in a pirate themed escape room while attending an escape room enthusiast meet up event.
Greetings from Traverse City, MI! Now that we have had a week to recuperate, we’re ready to give you a recap of our twelve state, thirty-five escape room marathon that we completed in just sixteen days!