On the trail: ‘Bank robbers’ scare up a good time narrowly escaping sheriff

 

By IKE FREDREGILL

As the spooky season descends upon the Laramie Valley, people are looking high and low for a heart-pounding, albeit fun, experience.
In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to hop on the bandwagon and try something scary, something daring, something that might test my very resolve — locking myself in a room, handcuffed to my wife, Shandra.
Inside All Points West Escape Room, 1560 Snowy Range Rd., Shandra put on a cool facade as All Points West co-owner Andrea Osborne relayed the western-themed escape room rules. Andrea might not have noticed, but I could see the twinkle in my wife’s eyes as she scanned the props hoping to uncover a clue before the clock started.
“You’re not going to slow me down, are you?” Shandra asked, rolling her eyes as I puffed out my chest and pretended to be hurt by the question.
Showing us around the room, Andrea explained we were outlaws in the Wild West.
“It’s 1875, and you have robbed a train,” she said. “You’re locked in the jail house, and you have an hour to escape before the sheriff returns.”
To successfully complete the game, we needed to find a gun, a handcuff key and the door key before the timer ran out. Because of safety concerns, Andrea said the door would not actually be locked, but the handcuffs were real enough.
Before starting the clock, she handed us a two-way radio, which we could use to ask for hints. Stubbornly, I set the contraption down and told myself we wouldn’t need Andrea’s help.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After about 15 minutes without solving the first of several puzzles, my wife gave me a hard look.
“Would you just ask for a hint, already?” she asked, a smile tugging at her lips despite her terse tone.
We started at a table and stools in the center of the sparsely decorated room and worked outwards, seeking easy clues and trying to piece them together. Because the puzzle was uncluttered, we believed every object could lead us to the exit.
In large part, we were right as most of the objects interacted with each other. It wasn’t until we escaped I discovered some of our biggest triumphs were merely well-placed distractions.
“Lift your hand up a little higher,” Shandra said, fiddling with one of the clues and shaking the handcuffs binding us together. “I need both my hands.”
I complied, dropping my clue to help her. We made a good team. Shandra is a southpaw and I’m right-handed, so we cuffed our off-hands together, allowing us to work separately in close proximity. In equal turns, we dragged each other across the room, chasing our intuition and whatever revelation we’d most recently discovered.
About halfway through the game, I accidentally used too much liquid in a flotation puzzle and Shandra disapprovingly clicked her tongue at me.
“What’d you do that for?” she asked, shaking her head.
“Well,” I responded, looking frantically about for a solution. “How was I to know?”
Perhaps it was a less-than-honest fix, but I realized my writing tools were the easiest answer to the conundrum, and we were supposed to be crooks, after all.
“Aha, the pen is mightier than the sword,” I proclaimed, using my ballpoint pen to stab the floating clue until it rose within reach.
Andrea was monitoring our progress through a video camera and occasionally giving us guidance over the radio, but she didn’t chide my ingenuity, so I think the move was fair play.
We opened the puzzle’s biggest and last surprise with only a few minutes left on the clock. Burning through two more hints, we dashed through the room piecing together the remaining clues.
The handcuff key was our final objective.
Only seconds were left.
Andrea gave us a one last hint, and we were free.
“That was definitely as close to the wire as you can get,” she said, opening the door as Shandra and I gleefully celebrated. “You completed the room with five hints and no time left.”
All Points West Escape Room and Laser Tag is open Thursday-Sunday year round, and by appointment any day of the week. Call 307-460-9303 or visit the All Points West Facebook page for more information about birthday parties, business hours and pricing.

Epilogue: Married for nearly a decade, my wife and I have dived into corn mazes, explored haunted houses and romped through numerous pumpkin patches in celebration of Halloween. While I wouldn’t trade any one experience for another, fleeing the escape room together is a new favorite for our little family. With a western theme, it was easy put ourselves in the outlaws’ shoes, reliving one of Laramie’s infamous histories. All trails lead to Laramie, but escaping may take a little teamwork.

 

All Points West co-owner Andrea Osborne instructs the author and his wife to find a gun and two keys before their escape is complete. Photo by Ike Fredregill