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Big Island friends travel across the country in unusual pursuit

Four Big Island friends are making — and escaping — their way across the country.

Kiana Bakken and her fiance, David Yonemura, and Tony Lapre and his husband, Danny Lapre, who live in Kailua-Kona, were ready to make their break from Escape Hilo on Tuesday afternoon — the 50th escape room the group has done in five months.

Bakken said a year ago, she and Yonemura decided to take an “epic road trip,” touring the continental United States.

The Lapres joined the journey in December, and the group did their first escape room in Glenwood Springs, Colo., on Jan. 5.

“Then we were addicted,” Bakken said.

In an escape room, groups work together to discover clues and solve puzzles to accomplish a specific goal in a set amount of time.

Tony Lapre said they joked that “we could do this in every state that we went.”

“Later on, we decided to actually do it,” Bakken continued.

The quartet has been to 37 states so far and plan to continue on their trek later this month in Oregon City, Ore.

The group chose Hilo for No. 50 because Hawaii is the 50th state “and it’s home,” said Bakken.

Danny Lapre said the group did 11 rooms in two weeks to make Escape Hilo room No. 50.

“Being addicted to something that gets you moving, makes you put your phone away, makes you communicate with each other and use your brain is a far better addiction than most,” Bakken said.

There were a lot of laughs as the group, which was joined Wednesday by other family members, spoke of their adventures.

Yonemura said he likes the challenge of the puzzle. Bakken said escape rooms provide a chance to be immersed in different scenarios.

Tony Lapre said it’s like “living out a book. I like living the stories.”

There are times when they each look at a puzzle and see it differently, he said.

But the escape room challenges haven’t affected their friendship.

“We are four people (who) live in a camper trailer across the country that have not yet wanted to maim each other and go into these intense situations … and we get through them and feel accomplished,” Danny Lapre said.

For those who are unfamiliar, Danny Lapre said escape rooms can be “as easy as you want it to be,” and many places will offer “nudges.”

They’re family-friendly and good for team-building, the group said.

Bakken offers this advice: Separate and communicate.

“You don’t want (everyone) to be bunched around one element,” she said.

Danny Lapre said escape rooms are supposed to be enjoyable.

“You’re there to experience a fun time with the people you want to be around,” he said.

“And not kill each other,” Tony Lapre finished, as the group laughed.

Ryan Neal, who co-owns Escape Hilo, which is located upstairs at 308 Kamehameha Ave. in downtown Hilo, said he was honored the business was chosen for the group’s 50th escape room.

The quartet’s escape room journey is documented on Instagram and Facebook under the handle, “Escaping Across America.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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