Weekend in Wisconsin

With our dog finally fully trained and ready to stay with family members, Christina and I packed our bags for a whirlwind weekend trip. This kind of weekend used to be our bread and butter, but we had fallen a bit out of practice, and it was really satisfying to get back in the groove.

All in all, I’ve done about ten escape rooms / puzzle experiences in the past week. The crown jewel of my scheduling was starting an escape room in Madison, WI at 1:45 PM with another escape room scheduled 2 hours, 3 minutes away in Gurnee, IL at 4:45. In other words, finishing right on time wouldn’t allow us enough time to get to our next appointment. And I hadn’t even factored in the time it would take for orientation!

The good news is we cleared our room in Madison with over fifteen minutes to spare and got to Gurnee with a few minutes to spare.

Backtracking a little- the weekend was packed, starting with Friday. We dropped off Hans at my parents’ place and realized we had enough time for an escape room at Br8kout in Sturtevant, WI. My dad joined Christina and me as we set a new record at their “Killer Camp” game. Then Christina and I hit the road for our drive to Madison. We originally planned to grab an Insomnia Cookie on the way, but we couldn’t find any parking remotely close to the business and grudgingly went on our way. Surprise of surprises, we drove right past another cookie place called Crumbl Cookies, and I swerved into the parking lot to stock up on a variety pack of humungous cookies. My favorite was the Boston Creme Pie variety!

Day 2, we started by heading to the Wisconsin Dells to visit Wizard Quest. Originally something we tried on an absolute whim, Wizard Quest has become a favorite attraction of ours. Explore a massive 30,000 square foot labyrinth tackling various challenges, many involving uncovering incredible secret passages and unraveling clues throughout the course of a two hour experience. The labyrinth is comprised of four realms- earth, air, water, and fire, as well as a castle situated right in the middle of the four spaces.

Wizard Quest recently moved from their old location to a new facility. It was with some sadness that I bid farewell to the old location. Christina and I had been there twice, and despite finishing most of our quests on the first trip, we still uncovered some huge secrets on our second visit, including a secret passage to get into the upper chambers of the central castle. I love the amount of secrets they crammed into that place.

The new facility is even bigger than the old one was. Before starting the two hour timer for our game, we wandered the facility to get a basic idea of how to navigate the realms. It took us nearly an hour just to get the basic lay of the land. After we started the timer, we completed all sixteen of the “quests” with about ten minutes to spare. The amount of detail in the facility was incredible, and I can’t wait to dedicate a full article to describe just a little of the adventure we had.

After finishing at Wizard Quest, we grabbed some pizza at the Pizza Lab in the Dells (another favorite place we discovered on our last visit) before heading to the outlet mall of the Dells for a shopping detour. En route, we headed to Mirror Lake State Park, the home of an image that showed up in a recent puzzle hunt I worked on. I wanted a photo with the source of the image, but at the parking lot we found that the charge to park was $11, a steep price for a gimmick photo, so we passed on it.

After the mall, we played a room at Booby Trap Escape Rooms, right next to the mall. We got out with time to spare and headed back to the hotel to call it a night.

The next morning, we took our time in Madison and concluded with the 1:45 / 4:45 back to back games I mentioned earlier. After finishing up at Duke’s Farm, we snagged dinner with friends, then headed north to pick up our dog, then headed south to finally reach home. All in a good weekend!

I miss being on trips like this, in which the calendar gets packed to the minute. I’m a bit out of practice in telling the story of places like this. Even as I’m concluding my summary now, I realize there were a few restaurants and other sites we encountered that I didn’t comment on. And I was terrible with taking pictures! I almost didn’t take any at Wizard Quest until the very end when I ran back around and snagged a few.

Experiencing so many puzzles charges me up and makes me eager to tackle new challenges and endeavors. With the Chicago Escape Room Meetup waiting for its second event, I’m really excited to bring some of the joy of puzzles to others in the area!

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