June 23, 2018 – After reaching as far east as West Virginia, we turned around and started the long trip home. Originally the plan was to hit some non-escape room attractions on the way home, but as it worked out, I wasn’t done with solving puzzles quite yet.
The original plan was to catch the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH on the way home, but after spending more time around West Virginia University, we took a more direct route. While possible to press onward and get to my home in Arlington Heights, IL by about 3AM, my fellow travelers and I agreed that it’d be better to stay a night near Toledo, Ohio. That opened the door for another evening activity, and sure enough, we found an escape room right along our route with an open slot at the exact right time: Escape Room Strongsville.
Arriving at Escape Room Strongsville, we were impressed by the size and aesthetic of the facility. Home to five different escape rooms, it was clear that Escape Room Strongsville had enough space to make each room a high quality experience. The area outside the escape rooms had some very unique decorations featuring masks and picture frames, reminding me of something out of the Twilight Zone.
Our room, Black & White, had a somewhat unorthodox premise. The theme can best be described as a moderately unsettling dream in which literally everything you can interact with is either black or white. Not quite scary, but to use a comparison I brought up before, it definitely evokes the opening to the Twilight Zone. All it was missing is the Rod Serling voiceover. “A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind.”
One thing that impressed me about the room was how the room begins by overwhelming you with many abstract components that you first assume must be red herrings or decor, and then as you progress you need to challenge your initial assumptions. Things that seem confusing or pointless without context may become incredibly important after finding the right clue.
Since this was our third escape room of the weekend, my dad and I were warmed up and solved the room with plenty of time to spare, escaping the black & white nightmare! There were a few moments when we maybe got lucky by having the right idea at the right time, but I’m not going to complain about good fortune.
After crashing in Toledo, OH overnight, I set out for home. It’s fun to compare this trip to my January trip to Detroit, Windsor, and Toledo. Back then, Toledo felt like an ambitious destination. This time, it was on the home stretch. Funny how that works.
On the way back home, I took the Skyway along the city of Chicago. I often take Chicago for granted, having worked downtown for a few years and completing both my undergraduate and grad degrees at the University of Chicago, but when I take a moment and step back, I remember how much I like its skyline. These may not be the most impressive skyscrapers in the world any more, but they’re still up there.
I arrived home reasonably early on Sunday, closing the book on a quick, successful adventure to nab states #32 and #33 on the year. Only 17 more to go!