Toronto Trip Days 3 & 4, Escaping the Room and the Country

This is day 3 of my family’s trip to Canada to attend the farewell concert of Debs and Errol, a geek band from Toronto. For day 1, click here.

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Errol had informed us weeks in advance that while we were in town, we were welcome to attend their church. So Sunday morning, we planned to do exactly that. We woke up with enough time to get ready and go out for breakfast. We made sure to know what time to be back, so we could follow the others to the church. We got back from breakfast with what we thought was enough time, but there was a note on the door saying they had left and containing a simple map to the church. We headed there and found a place to park.

I was expecting a huge, fancy church. I can’t explain exactly why, but it might just be my automatic impression of any church I don’t know. It was a much smaller and more modest church than I’d expected. There were even fewer people in the congregation than our church has, and it’s a small church. When we got there, though, we didn’t see Errol’s family or the Laymans, who we knew were also going to the Elumirs’ house to follow Keren to church. Errol was there, having arrived early, because he was supposed to sing with the worship team that morning. There was some question about how that would work, though, as he had lost his voice by the end of the concert the night before.

Our family found an empty pew and sat down. Not too long later, Keren appeared next to us, saying she was glad we’d found the place. Apparently, when we stopped by the house and found the note, they had still been inside, but were about to leave. Which made us feel a little better, knowing we hadn’t been as late coming back from breakfast as we’d thought.

The service was a nice one. Logan and I both enjoyed the full band they had, and that one of the priests (we assumed it was a priest, but we’re not very knowledgeable about the Anglican church), in his full robes, was playing guitar in that band. When the kids in the congregation left for their own places, both of our kids were awkward and unsure about going. Keren took them both to their respective areas, so they could be with kids their own age.

After church was over, we gathered the kids and made plans to go for pho. I had mentioned that I’d like to do that while we were in town, because it’s something of a D&E universe running theme. Errol rode with us to direct us to the restaurant, while the Laymans drove behind us. Both ‘Manda and Debs joined us at the restaurant. Lena insisted on sitting by both of them, though that’s not how it worked out at first. Partway through the meal, though, as people finished eating, there was some moving of seats. Debs came to sit with Lena for a bit then. Similar to how Lena had been attached to ‘Manda already, she just loved Debs too. And Debs thought Lena was super cute too (more than once there was talk of eating Lena up).

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Hat courtesy of Brian Layman.

After lunch, those of us who had no prior commitments or need for a nap decided to stay in the area and walk around some–see more of the city. The Laymans, Debs, and our family started out toward a park Debs said had a nice view.

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There was a really nice sledding hill at the park, prompting Brian to lay down and have his kids push him down the hill. I don’t think it worked as well as he’d hoped.

After getting back to our vehicles, my family went back to Errol’s house. We relaxed there for a short time before it was time to head out again. We had plans to do an escape room. If you do not know what that is, it’s understandable. It’s basically a real-life adventure game with clues and puzzles to solve, in order to escape a room, within a time limit. I’m not sure how long ago he started doing them, but from the first time Errol talked about doing escape rooms, my husband Logan and I have been really intrigued by the idea. There aren’t many around here; the closest is maybe 3 hours away. So as soon as we started talking about visiting Toronto, where there are apparently dozens of escape rooms, we hoped we’d have a chance to go to one. Our biggest concern was that we have a 4-year-old who couldn’t come, and visiting another country wasn’t the best scenario for finding a babysitter. Fortunately, Keren was willing to watch her, and our 12-year-old who we could have brought, but thought it would be easier on our daughter if her brother was staying with her. In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered, as she was comfortable enough there to stay without any convincing.

Errol and ‘Manda (who has also done her fair share of escape rooms) planned for us to all go to LockQuest. So Keren drove us to the nearest subway station, and we made our way to our destination. LockQuest was above another business (I think a butcher shop), so we went up some narrow stairs and through a door. Inside was another group of room-escapers. We were at least fifteen minutes early. Fortunately, they were done and left as we came in. We were offered seats after hanging our coats on hooks throughout the entry room. We were to be joined by 4 of the 6 Laymans (they planned to drop their younger kids at the Elumirs’ house too) and by Debs, so we were waiting on them. While we waited, the two guys who run LockQuest gave us each small puzzles to solve, the type where you have to move metal pieces around to get a certain piece off, or others like it. We played with those for a while, some of us doing better with them than others. Also, Errol and ‘Manda introduced themselves and told them how many escape rooms they’ve each done. The guys in charge were very impressed.

Debs arrived first, and she was joined by a friend of hers named Dana. Then the Laymans came–all 6 of them. They’d run out of time to drop off the younger kids, so they brought them along. The kids were, I believe, in the 10-13-year-old range, so they weren’t so young that they couldn’t join in. Once everyone was there, it was time to get ready. The guys in charge went through the rules and a general idea of what we were to do and what we could expect. I’ll share the info about the room from the site itself, so I don’t give too much away:

You have one hour. He has all night.

From the moment you entered that apartment, something seemed off.  Now, you and the other book club members are locked inside, left with a sinister promise from your unhinged host that he’ll “be back in an hour.”

Can you sift through the pulp fiction novels, cryptic clues, and articles left behind by last week’s murdered members, to find the front door key and escape?

In Escape the Book Club Killer, you will be locked in a real apartment with up to eleven other players. You and your team must work together to communicate, exchange clues, and discover the secret to opening the front door.

Your challenge is to escape in one hour or less, before the Book Club Killer strikes again.  Pulsing with pulp and packed with puzzling props, Escape the Book Club Killer is a group experience you won’t soon forget!

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Yay, escape room comic!

 

They asked us to go around the room and share a skill we had that would be helpful if we were ever trapped in the apartment of a real serial killer. There were some normal answers and at least one absurd (“I can eat copious amounts of rice!” -Errol). My answer was that I’m so bad in high-stress situations, I’d probably just pass out, and he’d think I was already dead and leave me alone. After several reminders to go to the bathroom before we went in, it was time to start!

I’ll have to avoid details for the escape room, of course, but I will just say that it was insane, intense, a little chaotic, and tons of fun! There were definitely times that I felt I wasn’t really contributing much, and a few areas where I feel like I was a part of solving something. Given the opportunity, I would definitely do another one. As I understand it, not all of the escape rooms are done as well as LockQuest’s, but that makes it all the more awesome that our first experience was with them.

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And yes, we did escape, with maybe 5-6 minutes to spare!

Once we had escaped, we sat down in the entry room again, and talked for a while with the owners. They shared some past stories with us, and some of the characters they use to give hints. They talked about their “Overkeyer” system, which allows someone who has already done the room to bring people who haven’t back. Then the one who’s done the room can sit in the entry room and watch their friends try to solve the room via cameras, for free. If I lived in the area, I would be all over that. We talked for quite a while, which I assume was only possible because we were the last booking of the day. Then we left and got ready to head back to Errol’s house. Aware that it would probably be the last time we’d see the Laymans and Deb, I started to say goodbye to Debs. She said she (along with her friend Dana) was going back to Errol’s with us. So I instead said goodbye to the Laymans. I was then informed that they were all going back to Errol’s house for a birthday party for the Laymans’ eldest. Apparently it had been discussed, possibly even around me, and I had been oblivious.

Back at the house, the smell of chili greeted us the moment we walked into the door. Keren had made supper and kept it warm for us, as she knew we wouldn’t have supper before then. So we all crowded into the kitchen and ate. Then the brownies and ice cream came out, and more than a dozen people were around the table, whether standing or sitting, talking and laughing and just having a great time.

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Yes, it was a lot like this.

Brian had picked up on calling Lena “Leeloo.” They even went back and forth for a while (and more than once) where Lena would say she was a girl, and Brian would ask what he was, and she’d say he was a dad, maybe, or something like that. I suppose I shouldn’t include it, since I can’t remember it very well, but it was so much fun hearing her try to explain why she was Lena and he wasn’t. Lena and Debs sat on the floor in a corner of the kitchen for a while talking. I didn’t hear much of what they talked about, but I know I heard some singing (including Debs singing Errol’s part in the “Happy Emo Fun Sad Song”).

Debs was the first to leave, and Lena didn’t take it very well. They talked a bit more in the foyer before Debs actually left. Logan and I went down to the basement to check out ‘Manda’s apartment. Then we went back to the living room and talked with the Laymans for a bit longer before it was time for them to leave.

We went to bed sad that we had to leave, and yet looking forward to being home (but really, way more of the former, especially since the Laymans were staying another day). We woke up early enough the next morning to catch Errol and ‘Manda before they had to leave for work, and then we packed up our things and headed out. We took a detour over to Niagra Falls on our way home, and pulled in around 11 pm.

It was an exhausting weekend (especially for me, as I spent so much of it being anxious and awkward), but so very much fun. Logan is already planning our next trip to Toronto.

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4 thoughts on “Toronto Trip Days 3 & 4, Escaping the Room and the Country

  1. It went something like this:
    Brian: “Hi Layla!”
    Layla: “I’m Lena!”
    Brian: “I’m Lena?”
    Layla: “No, I’M Lena!”
    Brian: “That’s what I said.. ‘I’m Lena.'”
    Layla: “NO! You can’t be Lena. I’m Lena. I’m a girl.”
    Brian: “You can’t be Lena. I’m a girl?”
    Layla: “NOOO!!! I’M A GIRL!”
    Brian: “Than what am I?”
    Layla: “You’re a Dad.”
    Brian: “Oh! I’m Lena. I’m a Dad.”
    Layla: “NOOOOOoooooooooo……..!!!!”
    It was fun hanging out with Brenden too! Your kids are AWESOME.
    I pronounced it differently from Errol since the combination of Leeloo and Lena just constantly reminded me of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX5USg8_1gA

    Like

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