Located in the Houston, Texas area, we are a family of four.  Our weekends consist of playing games with our energetic little girls.  We often play table games that can accommodate all of our skill sets.  On labor day weekend, my husband and I each had our brothers in town, we put our family to the ultimate test.  We decided to challenge ourselves and bring our family game night to the next level by booking a room at Escape Now in north Houston.  This is a real-life interactive game experience.  The room we chose was called The Chocolate Factory.


“There is a lottery to win a visit to the Chocolate Factory that has been shut for many years. In 60 minutes you need to find a golden ticket, explore the factory and escape with the secret chocolate recipe.”- Escape Now


Our mission was clear and simple; find the secret recipe hidden somewhere in the factory and figure out the code to escape.  We should be out shortly with time to spare.  My family and I were up to the task!  As we stepped into our room, I noticed it wasn’t as detailed as I assumed.  I thought there would be a plethora of items covering the entire room to gather information.  This is going to be a challenge.  The girls instantly began investigating while I stood in the middle of the room, wondering where to start.  I decided it was best of me to stand back and let the others scout out the clues while I absorbed their knowledge.  Just incase I could solve the mission in my own mind,  I wanted to be ready.


We were allowed three tips from our host during our time.  He communicated his tips through a computer monitor in the room.  Our host could see everything we were doing and hear every word.  While I felt we needed more tips, our group was steadily figuring out the clues one by one.  I certainly misjudged the complexity of the puzzles. Our team-work and communication skills were pushed to the limits.  Time was running out!  The game was getting more intense.  We were thinking fast, but as our intensity grew our accuracy decreased.  A few of us raced to the door trying every four digit code we found along the way; leaving a few clues untapped.  Our girls especially, wanted to be involved in all the action.  My girls  had a few spats of conflict about which one of them would open something next.  A distraction that should be avoided when attempting a time sensitive game.  Our curious little ones did however uncover several


We were given 60 minutes to crack the codes and escape the room.  The time was up all too quickly.  Did we solve all the mind-boggling puzzles and escape?  Although, we did find the golden ticket, we did not escape.  Our host come into the room, with his bubbly “you were so close” speech.  There were only a few clues left that would have lead us to freedom.


In spite of not escaping, our family gained appreciation for each others hard work.  We each had

our moments to show off our problem-solving skills.   We left Escape Now as a stronger unit plus we noticed how smart we all felt from our contributions.  The family that play together stays together!

The Buffalo Bayou Park’s Cistern can be found below the city of Houston, Texas. My tour group met outside the Cistern entrance on Sabine Street in Houston’s downtown Theater District. In the urban oasis, two large doors in the side of a hill begged me to enter the unknown underground.

It’s noticeable going from the hustle and bustle of the Houston traffic to the silent Cistern.


The corridor in the entryway was lit by bright, thin rope lights on the perimeter of the smooth concrete walls. Once inside the expansive 87,500 square-foot area, serenity washed over me. Rows and rows of 25 foot columns from floor to ceiling covered the room. The age-old columns were perfectly placed in the vast space. I felt as if I were witnessing a long-lost ancient ruin city.


Walking around the edge of the Cistern, I couldn’t help but gaze at the strong, repetitive columns. The columns were sitting in about 6 inches of water. Although, it was quite dim in the room, the slight glow from the rope lights reflected off of the shallow waters, creating a mirror image of more columns. Playing tricks on my eyes, the Cistern appeared to double in size.


According to buffalobayou.org, “The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park is a former drinking water reservoir built in 1926 for the City of Houston. After operating for decades, an irreparable leak was discovered and after a few years, the reservoir was decommissioned in 2007. Thanks to support from The Brown Foundation, Inc., Buffalo Bayou Partnership is opening this underground, industrial relic to the public, with future plans to house temporary art installations in this unique public space.”


As the tour guide gave his brief on the Cistern’s rich history, he allowed us to raise our voices and listen for the echo. I hollered until out of breath. The blast of voices carried through the air for an unbelievably long 15 seconds. Amazed by the lingering sound, he gave us another chance to be among the pleasing acoustic environment.


Coming out of the Cistern was as if I traveled back to the present. The glowing, evening sun and the big city noises came back. If living or stopping through Houston, everyone should stop by and witness the wondermint below the surface.