September was birthday season, and lucky for me two celebrations included items that had been patiently waiting On The List:
- An escape room
- The new ropes course/zipline experience in North Raleigh
Did We Escape? I’ve been wanting to try an escape room for months, so we made it part of my birthday celebration and purchased a private party, which guaranteed we would know everyone in the room. I chose Raleigh Room Escapes, which touts itself as the only escape room that utilizes immersion (i.e. live actors) and psychology (more on that later), and settled on the theme option Escape From The Tramping Ground.
Raleigh Room Escapes is located in an unnoticeable office park about five minutes from downtown. The facility is small and dim and you’re greeted by a receptionist already in character. I’ll admit I had a brief what-did-I-get-my-friends-into moment during the sign in process, but I took comfort knowing my friends are good sports. I repeat, your escape room experience will be strongly enhanced if you go with people who are good sports and willing to try.
In the debriefing room we met Kenny, our lead cast member. Unfortunately his character name escapes me (ba dum chh), but he took his role seriously and did a great job. There was an initial “giggling” period to overcome in the debriefing room. In our defense, when was the last time you and your best friends had to stand and yell “yes, sir!” when your named was called? We were also asked a series of unexpected questions (more giggling) and given the background and rules of our escape. PS: The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a real location in Bear Creek, NC. Kenny was initially unimpressed with our group as we had no strategic plan, plus our aforementioned nervous giggling, but I believe he grew to love us. It was game on as soon as we were let loose in the room.
I won’t spoil it for you by giving details of what happens inside the room, but I will say the hour allotted to escape goes fast! We worked frantically the entire time and still did NOT escape. Sigh.
We walked away with the escape room bug and are eager to try another one. We also walked away with a psychological analysis of our performance in the room. I was awarded “The Mastermind,” a highly debatable topic at dinner after, but happy birthday to me.
TreeRunner Adventure Park- Glow Night
There’s a new ropes course in town and they have a glow night. Turns out Glow Night at TreeRunner Adventure Park is popular for aging adults celebrating birthdays (us) and every youth group in Raleigh. There were a lot of young teens on our particular night. It’s unclear if the large crowd was driven by Groupon or just the new way kids’ spend a Friday night. Regardless, it made the beginning processes (check-in, ground/safety tutorial) much longer and we didn’t hit our first course until one hour into our 3-hour time limit. An employee assured us this was unusual.
Everyone was required to complete a designated easy course before attempting any medium or hard courses. Easy peasy. We were feeling cocky and eager to move on.
We chose the purple course for our medium option as it’s known as the “fan favorite”. While waiting to zipline to the first element, I stared above at what I assumed was a portion of the hard course. I noticed an element that required you to spidey-scale across suspended boards containing small cutouts of shapes with no wire or rope directly underneath to help. Phew, glad I’m not on that course. Wrong! Two elements later, I faced crossing the dreaded suspended boards. So much for medium. It was my first indication that TreeRunner elements were much more challenging than what I experienced at similar ropes courses like Go Ape at Blue Jay Point Park. The purple course knocked the cockiness right out of me and also made me painfully aware of how high I was in the air. I never feared for my safety, but I desperately didn’t want to fall, or worse, have to be rescued. I completed the course without doing either and felt victorious. A personal victory is the whole point, right?
Five of us ditched our harnesses in favor of Rudinos Rooftop after completing the medium course, but here’s what I learned from my seven warrior friends who trudged on:
- There are two hard courses: black and red. Red was closed because it generates the most rescues and there was a lack of staff, so black it was. Bullet dodged if you ask me.
- Significant upper body strength is a MUST
- Expect bruises, blisters, and sore muscles the next day. Wearing gloves are recommended.
- Difficult, but fun and exciting.
Bottom line: Both the Escape Room and Glow Night presented opportunities that were super fun, challenging, and two of the best ways I’ve spent time with my friends.