March 20: Big Day

I really could not care less about my birthday. I can barely remember my age, so it feels strange to celebrate when it hits a milestone. In spite of that, I had an excellent time on the day that just happened to be my birthday!

Here’s the quick and dirty of how I spent my bday.

  1. Solved the “Midwest’s Largest Escape Room” – the new 75 minute Mafia Heist room at Mindtrap Escape Room. It was also my 450th escape room.
  2. Tried out axe throwing at Mindtrap.
  3. Played a bunch of challenge rooms at Mish Mash Adventures in Aurora.
  4. Attended a private theatrical showing of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

That’s on top of taking off work on March 19 to play three escape rooms back to back to back at Mindgames Rockford with my dad, which is the BEST way to spend an extra vacation day without traveling too far.

With so many highlights, I’m going to just give a few quick reactions to each.

Mindgames Rockford

Very fun rooms. The Secrets of the Pharaoh room was my favorite, with a lot of physical puzzles to interact with in a very unique space. But the other rooms were neat as well.

I was starving to death during the games; since my dad and I were planning to go out for a big lunch, I started the day with just a granola bar, which meant trouble for me when we didn’t get to the restaurant until after 4!

Mindtrap Escape Room

As promised, the room was huge. I was impressed that we were even granted walkie talkies to stay in touch throughout the game, though disappointingly, they didn’t come into play as often as I’d liked, since most of the time the full group stuck together.

Truly world-class theming, with a high number of realistic sets that honestly could have been easily subdivided into 3+ different escape rooms. Not my favorite room from a puzzle perspective (part of it may have been going with a group of 6, which made it painful when the group would periodically bottleneck on a single puzzle) but still very enjoyable.

Mindtrap Axe Throwing

After hearing so much about axe throwing, I’m glad I was finally able to try! After our first few bounced off the target, we lightened our touch and starting sinking the axes into the wood every time. I’d definitely do it again, and even consider doing it regularly, like a hardcore alternative to bowling.

Mish Mash Adventures

I ended up not counting this toward my escape room tally; it’s different enough of an activity by a good margin. There are currently 13 different “challenge rooms” in which teams need to tackle various objectives in a limited amount of time.

My favorite was “The Sewers,” in which the full team needs to use makeshift handholds and pipes to shimmy through a long maze without touching the floor. A few of us made it through, and it was satisfying getting to the end. My second favorite was “The Chapel” which plays out like the Indiana Jones scene in which Indy jumps from symbol to symbol to avoid falling into a pit.

Private Theater

Fittingly, I got to see that exact scene I just mentioned on the big screen later that evening when our group went to see Indiana Jones in a private theater.

It had been so long since I had been to a movie theater (Knives Out, I believe) that I went ahead and splurged on a $7 soft drink. The theater was eerily quiet for a Saturday, but I’m glad to see AMC finding ways to stay afloat during this challenging time.

Last Crusade was a great film to watch on the big screen. I’ve seen the movie probably a dozen times or more (we even watched the full Indiana Jones series on our honeymoon cruise using my makeshift phone projector) and seeing it on the big screen was a treat.


I have to thank all my wonderful friends and family who participated in the events of the day. It was a blast from start to finish and a lot of that was due to the people I was with. As much as I don’t care about my own bday, I do feel a little obligated now to try making everyone else’s birthdays as enjoyable as mine was!

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