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Our Escape Adventure Part 13: Michigan Madness!

Our Escape Adventure Part 13: Michigan Madness!

Greetings from Colchester, Vermont! We’ve started our foray into the northeastern United States, but first we need to bring you up to date on our Michigan shenanigans.

Michigan is Tina’s home state, she was born in Traverse City, so we had A LOT of visits with family scheduled and lots of places she wanted to show Curt. Curt called these sightseeing trips Tina Tours. With all of these things to fit in, we spent three weeks in Michigan, our longest stay in any state other than California.

Trip Statistics:

States Visited This Leg: Michigan

Total Miles Traveled: 24,541

Total Escape Rooms Played: 194

RV Life

If you remember from our last update, we had recently found out that our RV had sustained some damage and that our newly fixed refrigerator had stopped cooling once again. 

I’ll start with the good news . . . the refrigerator was not broken again! We have two 30-pound propane tanks that the refrigerator is supposed to run off when we travel. When one bottle is empty, it is supposed to switch over automatically to the other bottle. Come to find out, our bottles are not switching automatically, which means that we have to manually swap the bottles to opposite sides and re-hook them up when one is empty. While it is a bit of a pain to do, it is not as big of a problem as not having a working refrigerator. They do not need to be changed out very often, so for the rest of this trip, we will just switch the bottles and deal with it when we are back in Florida. Crisis averted! 

Now for the roof . . . the news isn’t quite as good there, but there is a silver lining. The insurance adjuster confirmed that we do need to have the roof replaced due to what looks like damage from a large branch. The good news is that for the time being, Tina’s repair job with the Eternabond tape is holding up and we are not experiencing any leaking. The silver lining is that the insurance company will even cover the cost of replacing the roof after we pay our $1000 deductible! Of course we will still have to manage the logistics of taking it somewhere to be fixed and finding a place to stay while it is repaired, since this is our fulltime home, but we can do that once we are back in Florida and it is much better than having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket, which was our fear. Second crisis averted!

While in Michigan, we also had our trailer brakes looked at because they didn’t seem to be working well. We’ve told you that there is always something that needs to be fixed when you live in an RV and it’s true! Everytime we travel to a new location, our home is subjected to an earthquake as it bounces down the highway and things inevitably break. Well, this one was a bit more serious than the roof or the refrigerator. Come to find out we had broken a bolt in our suspension, which in turn caused the leaf springs to warp and twist out of shape. They were on the verge of breaking, which would have left us stranded alongside a highway somewhere. Our brakes and bearings also needed to be replaced. Although they cost us a couple of thousand dollars to fix, these were major safety issues and we are so glad that they were caught before they caused an accident or  left us stranded. Third crisis averted!

With all of our crises averted, we were able to finally have some fun, and we started our Tina Tours in the Upper Peninsula (the UP) where Tina showed Curt some of her favorite camping spots from her childhood. We visited the Porcupine Mountains (affectionately called The Porkies) and hiked to the Lake in the Clouds, we took a boat tour along the Pictured Rocks National Seashore, visited the Miner’s Castle sandstone formation and hiked to Munising Falls and Sable Falls. We also visited Big Spring Kitch-Iti-Kipi, which is a beautiful natural spring and went rock hunting along the shores of Lake Superior. Fun fact about the five Great Lakes that surround Michigan (Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie). Lake Superior is so large and deep that it could hold all of the water contained in the other four Great Lakes! 

We also visited Lakenenland Sculpture Park in Marquette, MI. This 37-acre roadside attraction is the home of more than 100 sculptures by artist Tom Lakenen. The sculptures are made from junk metal and scrap iron. They are whimsical and colorful and we really enjoyed walking around.

Another UP attraction that we enjoyed was Oswald’s Bear Ranch. These rescued bears are separated into four areas: Cubs, Yearlings, Males, and Females. We took a picture with a cub while feeding it ice cream, and fed apples to bears in all the other sections. The females were the best, as they would come up and sit down as a way to say, “I want an apple slice.” We rewarded their cuteness by going and buying a whole bag of apple slices just for them! 

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great while we were up in the UP and a couple of things we wanted to do got rained out, We did manage to fit in a trip to Mackinac Island. Even though it was overcast, we enjoyed our time there. We took a ferry over, went on one of the horse-drawn carriage tours (cars are not allowed on the island, except for a couple of emergency vehicles), visited the butterfly house, and walked around a bit. 

After that it was time to drive across the Mackinac Bridge (the 5th largest suspension bridge in the world) into the Lower Peninsula, where we stayed in Traverse City. Tina was born in Traverse City and has lots of family still living there, so we did a lot of socializing over dinners out. While in Traverse City we also toured the former Northern Michigan Asylum, which has since been redeveloped into the Grand Traverse Commons as a live, work and play community. The tour took us through one of the original buildings that has not been restored and into a steam tunnel. Super creepy! We’ll include a few pictures. We also did some sightseeing around Torch Lake (once voted the 3rd most beautiful lake in the world), the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, and Tina’s hometown of Kalkaska, which hasn’t changed a lot since she left almost 30 years ago. A third traffic light has been added, but her favorite pizza place, G’s Pizzeria, is still there! 

After Traverse City we traveled to our last Michigan stop, the town of Decatur, which is where we stayed for a week visiting with Tina’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and nephew. This family time was so special. We played board games, went bowling, played arcade games and just got to enjoy hanging out with each other and catching up. It was also while we were staying in Decatur that we took a day trip over to Novi, MI, near Detroit and played some epic escape rooms! 

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to play a lot of escape rooms while we were in Michigan.  For the size of the state, there really aren’t that many, but some of them were really good. So, let’s dive into our reviews!

Escape Rooms

Know Way Out (Petoskey, MI)

  • Medieval Mayhem-When we first walked into Know Way Out it felt like a doctor's office. The TV in the lobby that plays the rules video is the smallest TV we've seen in any escape room. Yet, the TV in the room, which gives you the intro story, is even smaller. We did not have high hopes for the games we were about to play; however, we were pleasantly surprised. This room is perfect for new escape room players. Enthusiasts will find it easy; however, we still enjoyed it. The flow was good, and it had some fun puzzles. The set design definitely had that small-town escape room vibe, but that was fine with us. If you have only played a handful of games or less, or you have younger players with you, we highly recommend playing this game.
  • Eyeland-This was a fun game that had a few neat puzzles we hadn't seen before. It's a good small-town escape room. We really liked the beginning part of the game, especially the first puzzle. It's best for groups of 3 or more and is more difficult than Medieval Mayhem, which we played first.

One thing we would like to see Know Way Out offer is unlimited hints instead of the archaic three hint system. While we didn't need more hints than that, I am certain groups of new players will. Side note: the staff are very friendly.

Alecatraz Escape Rooms (Traverse City, MI)

  • Dr. Picaloo's Lab-This is a good game for a group of beginners. Many of the puzzles are ones that enthusiasts will be familiar with. There is some excessive searching, which we aren't a fan of, and the flow of the game could be better as could some of the puzzles. Overall, though, it was a fine game. The co-owner/GM is very friendly and isn't shy about nudging. We would have liked the hints and nudges to be more in-theme, but that's a small gripe. The storyline is good, and the set design was decent, too. 

Grand Traverse Resort – The Den (Acme, MI)

  • Pharoah’s Revenge-This is a 30-minute game in the small amusement area of the Grand Traverse Resort. The game itself is okay. There is a red herring and the puzzles are on the easier side. The room is small, four people would be the max, and that’s pushing it. The real issue is that the “game master” is the attendant who is also running the axe throwing, arcade, VR, and duck bowling. One person can’t possibly be effective at any one of the tasks if it’s busy, which it was when we were there. One of the electronic puzzles was not working for us. We entered the correct sequence multiple times, and we were waving at the camera for help. Nearly 5 minutes went by as we tried different variations of the code until one of us finally went to find the attendant. He came in and fixed the issue. I don’t blame the attendant. He was doing the best he could while running all the activities. You can clearly hear the axe throwing that is next to the room. Also, there was no sound in the intro video or during the game. All that said, the game is fine for hotel guests who have zero to limited escape room experience.

Escape Room Novi (Novi, MI)

  • Candy Factory Challenge-This game was a lot of fun. It was whimsical and colorful. It hit all the check marks (good puzzles, sound, set design, etc.). It’s not the best candy factory-themed room we’ve done, but it was solid. There is one multi-step puzzle that is frustrating because there is no indication of what you really need to do. That put a slight damper on an otherwise really enjoyable game. A great game for families.
  • Neverland-We had a lot of fun playing this Peter Pan themed game. The set was fun, most of the puzzles were good, and it’s a neat theme. Along with Candy Factory, this is a great game for families.
  • Professor Bleehall's Odditorium Emporium & Pie Shoppe-This was a unique experience. There is so much you can do in this game, yet the space is small. We would not suggest more than four players. Your game master plays an important role, so they can make or break this game. Ours seemed like he was newer, but he did a good job. While the set design feels cluttered, especially as the game goes on, the puzzles and game design were interesting and usually fun. It’s a game you can play a second or third time, because the goal is to solve as many puzzles as you can and earn points. At the end of the game you will get a punchcard showing you what puzzles you completed, so you can come back and play the other ones.. Overall, we had fun and would recommend this oddly different game.
  • The Illusionist-Of the four 60-minute games we played here, this one was our least favorite. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, just not as fun as Neverland, Candy Factory, or Odditorium. The rooms are dim and we needed to use our phone lights to see a lot of it. The puzzles were okay. The set design was a little bare compared to the other games at this venue.
  • The Butcher-This 15-minute mini-game would be fine at a festival or outdoor venue. It’s a great, basic introduction to escape rooms, but for us it was a bit of a letdown compared to the set design of their 60-minute games. Also, there is no game master to help you out. One of the props didn’t work and we had to go find someone to help us. But, again, it’s perfect as an introduction for new escape room players. (Unfortunately, Tina got hit on the head with a plastic brain from above when she pulled on a rope, and she hit her head on one of the metal props. Curt can only do so much to save her from herself, lol!)

Five Senses Escape Room (Novi, MI)

After we did the five rooms at Escape Room Novi, we drove over to Five Senses to play the area’s top-rated game (on the Morty app). The owner was incredibly kind enough to show us the behind-the-scenes areas of where they are building their next two games and the system they use to run all their games and high-tech puzzles. It was all very impressive. When their new games are ready, we would love to return and play them.

  • Starship: Final Voyage-What a neat experience. It’s unlike other rooms we’ve played. The immersion is excellent, especially given there were no live actors in the room. This game has no traditional locks or puzzles. The lighting is dim, but we had no problem seeing what we needed to. The set was great, and the puzzles were fun even though we tended to overthink some of them. It was all so well done, BUT for us, it was a bit too chaotic (which actually enhances the immersion). Some of the sounds were a little too loud and made it hard to hear important information. We’re good with a little less immersion, I suppose.  Still, we had to give this game a LOVE. It was that good.

So that wraps up our Michigan leg. After Michigan we headed to Indiana and Ohio, which finished out our midwestern states, before we headed into the northeast. 

Because we are writing this from Vermont, part of our northeastern leg has already happened and I will let you in on a few spoilers, which we will cover in depth in our next article. It has been an eventful leg already, including an overnight stay in the emergency room (super scary!), a big last minute change to our travel itinerary, and an ice cream factory tour. Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll share all the details! 

Until Next Time,

Tina and Curt

Tina Deater & Curt Jackson

Tina Deater & Curt Jackson

Enthusiasts, travelers, bloggers

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.

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