I love jigsaw puzzles. A puzzle is one of the first things I thought of when I made a scrapbook layout about my favorite things. I love word puzzles and logic puzzles too, but today I want to talk specifically about this:
The 1000-piece Great American Roadtrip puzzle by TDC Games (affiliate link here and below) is as close to my perfect puzzle as I've ever seen. Obviously, the subject matter appeals to me as we close in our goal to visit all 50 states. But that's not nearly enough for me to declare this my perfect puzzle. I don't love all puzzles equally. Not even close. I don't enjoy puzzles that are too big or too small, too hard or too easy. Call me Goldilocks, but my perfect puzzle is Just Right.
So what does that mean to me? These are the characteristics of my Just Right puzzle:
- Between 500-1500 pieces. I've never actually done a puzzle with more than 2000 pieces, but I don't know that I would love doing a puzzle that large. My go-to is 1000 pieces. I'd not opposed to trying a 2000+ piece puzzle; in fact, I'd be willing to give this or this a go.
- Interlocking. I get really frustrated when I can't pick up sections of completed puzzle and move them into position.
- High-quality. By that, I mean sturdy puzzle pieces of a decent thickness that are cut cleanly, have no peeling, and fit perfectly. (Basically, the opposite of this.) Ravensburger is one of my favorite manufacturers.
- Colorful. I like puzzles with plenty of color. I worked on one of those spilled paint puzzles with my dad when I was a kid and it was torture. I don't like muted puzzles nearly as much as brightly colored ones. I hate clear acrylic puzzles.
- An interesting design with identifiable objects. I prefer putting together Charlie Brown, or a kiwi, or the state of Arizona as opposed to an abstract design or huge swaths of color.
- No false fits. When I put in a piece, I don't want to find out later that I was wrong. I want to be wrong from the get-go (or, ideally, not at all).
- Single-sided. I've done those puzzles where the design is printed on one side, then printed on the backside but rotated 90°. Those aren't fun for me.
- Minimal glare. My eyes aren't getting any younger.
The Great American Roadtrip puzzle meets all my requirements. The quality is great, it's the perfect size, and the irregular border made it challenging without being unpleasantly difficult. I usually start with the border, but that was definitely not the case with this puzzle. As you can see below, I was still missing border pieces (Oregon, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Mississippi) when the puzzle was nearly complete!
But what I love most of all is the design. I love the colors and the icons that represent each state. I love the variety of the text. I love the clues that the borders provide. And I love all the wonderful travel memories I had while completing this puzzle.