Trapped! | No Means of Escape

by Jim and Melanie

At times, Melanie and I get ourselves into unusual situations. It has probably happened to you. You plan to do something assuming it might be fun, interesting, a novelty, etc. When you actually get to do it, you find it was a big mistake. You feel trapped and want to escape. It was a bad idea. Here are a couple of examples from our modest, but growing, list. If you have one to share, please add it in the comments.

Me: Hey, Melanie. What do you think of this idea? One of our favorite midwest bands is playing on a three-hour riverboat cruise as a fundraiser.  It’s on the Mississippi River out of Dubuque. The river there is gorgeous. The town has some interesting history. Here is a picture of the boat. It has to be a good time. What do you say? Shall we get tickets?

Dubuque Chamber of Commerce

Melanie: Sure. Sounds like fun. What could possibly go wrong? We love their music.

We got there about an hour early so we could get a good spot to listen and watch the scenery go by. The boat had two levels. The main deck at water level was enclosed with glass windows along it and 7 foot high ceilings. The upper deck had a canvas top and was open to the air. An assortment of tables, chairs, and benches were packed into both spaces. You could barely walk through.

Also packed into both spaces were a couple of hundred revelers who apparently knew each other and were well on their way, or were already drinking too much. The band was set up in the front of the main deck. We found two crooked chairs near each other and sat down as the band started to warm up. The audio system was awful coming through the tiny tinny speakers. We moved upstairs.

The boat started to depart as we got upstairs. It was just as crowded up there. The speakers piped in the music from below sounding like what you hear in the drive-through lane at the local fast food place. No good places to sit. No familiar faces. Only bleary-eyed ones. We shook our heads and tried to laugh at how we got into this situation. We were trapped for the next three hours and couldn’t do anything about it.

Slowly we managed to get to the very front of the upper deck near the rail in the corner. The sun was going down. The sky was perfectly clear. The moon was out. The air was warm in late summer. As it turned out, we had a good time anyway. It was not at all what we expected.

Melanie: While we are up here in Wisconsin, let’s go see the House On The Rock. The brochure says it is a treat with lots of interesting things to see.


Me: Sure. It isn’t far from here. Let’s plan on it tomorrow. It will probably take an hour or so to tour, and then we can be on our way home early. How could it possibly not be fun?

The scenery of south-central Wisconsin is beautiful. Frank Lloyd Wright was drawn to it. This place, originally designed by Wright, was perched on a high hill and looked attractive as we approached. We paid our several dollars each to get in. Little did we know, hidden back in the trees was a extensive maze of buildings which housed a collection of oddities and one-of-a-kind items.

Google Maps

Google Maps


It was dark inside. There were multiple levels. You were forced to go through every square foot, it seemed, in order to make your way to the exit hours later. It was like being trapped in the world’s largest junk store with barely any light. Around every corner was something even more odd and weird than before. Some of the things were ‘interesting’. That is being generous.

If you want to see some pictures, Slate has an illustrated article from May 2014. Then we have a few snippets from a review of the place by someone on Yelp. They weren’t impressed and had a lot to say.

– Have you ever fantasized about watching a carousel full of dead children go round and round as they stare out at you with hollow eyes and pale, expressionless faces?

– Would you like to to contract emphysema by journeying through a dank, moldy cavern for hours?

– Have you ever wanted to literally walk 2.5 miles through the mind of a deranged man?

Some people actually like the place as evidenced by this young fellow who calls himself Mr. GMan on YouTube. He was impressed.

We felt trapped. There seemed no way out except through doors with alarms set to go off in case they were used during a fire. Good grief…what a thought. The place would go up in flames so fast. One review I read actually said that would be the best thing that could happen to it.


Trapped for hours on a train with no working bathrooms, trapped on a bus with noisy or ill passengers, trapped in social situations or uncomfortable family relationships. We’ve been there, and we’ll bet you have, too. How have you been trapped? How did you deal with it? We’d like to hear your stories. 


5 thoughts on “Trapped! | No Means of Escape

  1. Steve Gingold

    I hate to admit it…not really, it’s just how I am…but any time Mary Beth gets me to agree to attend a party or social get together, trapped is just how I feel. I just don’t enjoy being in a group of more than two or three other people. I am terrible at small talk or even striking up a conversation with one stranger.
    When I was much younger and went to bars/nightclubs for music, I once sat down on a bench with nobody within 20 feet of me. A lovely young woman came over and sat next to me. I felt trapped (ridiculous, eh?) and said not a word. She left. I went home alone. Ah well, it all turned out for the best as I am blessed to be married to the most perfect spouse I could hope for.
    Happy Holidays, Jim and Melanie.

    1. Melanie McNeil

      Happy Holidays, Steve. I don’t mind a party usually but am more comfortable with only a few… or just Jim. 🙂 And I have been at more than one “party” at which I felt trapped! So I get your point. Congratulations on your happy marriage. Sounds like you found just the right one, despite the occasional social thing you need to do with her.

  2. shoreacres

    I did go into an IKEA store once. Never again. And I do know where I would feel trapped: in Vegas, at anything Disney, and on a cruise ship. Those are three places you never will find me. An ounce of prevention, and all that.

    1. Melanie McNeil

      Cruise ships… not gonna happen again for us, either! We did that in the mid-80s and had a dandy time, but we wouldn’t choose it now. Vegas, also not charming.

      Hope you’re having a peaceful day. Son and FFDIL were here for a while but have left for the evening. Aaaahh…. 🙂


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