Escaping The USS Lexington
● By Michela May
By: Michela May Photo By: Rachel Benavides
Today, The Bend Magazine staff visited the USS Lexington to experience their escape room "Beat the Blast" and get in some quality team bonding time. As a first time escape room attendee, this was quiet nerve-wracking, to say the least. Plus, the room being aboard a floating naval ship allowed for endless set up possibilities. At one point, some of us got frantic there would be stairs and multiple levels to this unknown setup. We won't spoil it for you all. However, some of our assumptions were indeed correct.
Unlucky for me, this was the hardest escape room the rest of The Bend team had ever experienced.
Brain-bending tasks aside, I cannot describe to you how gratifying it feels when everyone is actually working together towards the same goal. We often ended up as a unified system—one reading off cipher letters, another writing them down on a dry erase board in a black expo marker, others trying to work through codes by using formulas and blueprints, or looking to uncover more items scattered throughout the room.
All seven of us were so willing to try anything. Whatever it took to get the job done - I mean, after all, there was a bomb to diffuse! We assisted where it was needed or took over tasks if someone else could not get through them. There were instances where each of us had a moment of "jeez this is so hard" and threw up our hands to give up.
There were moments of absolute relief. Like when, after we had tried 10 different combinations, a lock would finally fly open. Or, when a puzzling clue finally became clear to one of us. Then another wrench would be thrown in our path. It was a constant roller coaster of emotions consisting of highs and the feeling of being the smartest person ever and lows consisting of extreme distress when not being able to figure out some of the most obvious codes (which were not so obvious at the time, believe us).
Now in a reflecting mood, let's talk about some of our downfalls. When something new was discovered, we would all rush over to try and take a gander or solve it ourselves. That may have been where some of our mistakes resided. We would drop everything to focus on that new object and ultimately forget our own task we were currently trying to solve. But, dividing up responsibilities and keeping on task is difficult when so much is going on already. Plus, who doesn't want to be part of the excitement when someone finally opens a box to unveil its coveted contents?!
We also struggled to communicate at times, because it’s easy, as an independent adult, to get lost in concentration. Again, no spoilers here, but things got tricky.
There was a moment, about 30 minutes into our escape attempt, where I could feel our collective sighs and high strung heads deflate. What was waiting for us was enough to snap my sense of reason and stand there confused for a moment as everyone else started trying to find things all throughout the space. The sounds and lights were almost disorienting (like seriously you guys, you really feel like the entire world's fate is resting on your shoulders and you only have half an hour left to save the human race), not to mention a lot of the objects in the room - as with any escape room - are actually meant to be an aggravating nuisance and distract you from your real mission at task.
It really is true what people say about doorways. If you forget something, walk back out of the room and the thought will come back to you. My collective brain power vanished as soon as I walked through any doorway and, because of this, we missed some obvious clues because we were forced to change tactics, and the time allotted was dwindling.
There was some order, a method to our madness if you will, but the overwhelming atmosphere made us rush about from place to place with no real sense of thought behind our actions other than to connect all the dots in time to make it out alive.
Once the clock reminds you that you only have about 10 minutes left, it creates even more anxiety and daunting thoughts, because maybe, just maybe we missed something in a previous stage, something necessary or vital (we did...you probably will too). It was truly exhilarating as much as it was disorienting.
The seven of us were stuck on a massive boat, trying to decipher some incredibly intricate codes and letters, all on several machines. Some involved sounds, others symbols, images and lights, or both! How could anyone not be running around like a headless chicken while a massive nuclear warhead ticks down time?
Needless to say, the unlucky bunch of us did not accomplish our mission. We did not diffuse the bomb before the hour ran out. Defeated? Sure. But, that wasn't the point. The point was, our team took a much needed break from the defines of our office and experienced something together. We laughed, we screamed, we said a few cuss words, but more than anything we enjoyed ourselves. And, that's the whole point anyways, right?
Looking back at our experience now as I sit safely at my intern desk in our office, I have to say it was exceptionally thrilling and definitely recommend this to everyone. There is no need to play the “I don’t have skills for that” card, because I thought that of myself. It really is there to provide fun for anyone, no matter how much skill you have or may think you have. Anyone can do this, and should!
It brings out qualities you never knew about yourself, whether that’s how you process information, take charge during stress, or have a passion for solving puzzles.
There is just one tip I would offer up to everyone reading—make sure to open every drawer!