The thing about puzzles is that they make the most sense looking at them backward, but can only be put together forward. Wait, maybe that's a saying about life.
The Story Behind the Object
A few years ago, I decided it would be cool to give my wife puzzles of places we have visited. Truth be told, seemed like a great fall back gift idea when birthdays and Christmas time rolled around. "Ah crap, I don't have any good ideas. Well, guess I'll just go with a puzzle she doesn't have from this place we've visited."
I probably came up with this idea sometime around our seventh or eighth year of marriage, which meant I had (and pretty much continue to have) seven or eight years of trips worth of catching up to do. What's funny is that when I came up with this idea my wife was a teacher. We'd probably taken a trip each year of marriage. Now she's a travel agent. Our travel frequency has increased since then. Not exponentially increased, but we are north of one trip per year, that's for sure.
The first puzzle we acquired was from Walt Disney World. If there's one thing that may allow me to even out my trips taken to puzzles purchased ratio, it's Disney World. We took our first trip together there in 2008 (and man, you should see the pictures - I'm like 20 pounds lighter with no gray hair) and have been back about seven times since then. I'm actually writing this from Disney. Just kidding. I got back two weeks ago. In fact, Disney is such a large part of our life that I should probably devote an entire post to that at some point later.
The next puzzle I gifted my wife was the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. That trip was a lot more fun than I would have expected. We actually went so that we could work at the Nike Women's Marathon as a part of a partnership the race had with my employer, Fleet Feet Sports. We flew in on Friday, spent a few hours merchandising the Finisher's Tent on Saturday, and then spent four or five hours working the cash registers in the tent after the race on Sunday. Since we were already on the west coast, we stuck around for a couple extra days, hitting some of the major tourist attractions. Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, the Full House house...
Actually, my favorite part of the entire trip came as we were walking around Fisherman's Wharf. There was a homeless guy (at least, I assume he was homeless) sitting on a bucket and holding up a giant palm leaf in front of himself, completely hiding his entire body. As people got just a couple of feet from him, typically staring down at their phones - darn millennials - he would lower the leaf and growl. It scared the crap out of 90% of the people that passed by. It worked, though. I think most of the startled folks gave him money, and after I took two or three videos of people having the bejeezus (beJesus?) scared out of them, I also felt obliged to toss a couple of bucks his way.
I'll say this about the San Francisco puzzle: that thing was hard as heck to put together. The outside was easy. The bridge was easy. But then it was pretty much a blue sky and dark green/black grass and hills. Every piece looked the same, especially given the crappy lighting in our living room. (One day we are going to upgrade from a fan with horrible bulbs to recess lighting, but I digress.)
As it turns out, the "puzzle collection" featuring puzzles of places we've visited that I've been referring to is pretty much just those two puzzles. Somewhere along the way someone did give us a huge box containing 11 different puzzles, one of which is Times Square (we've visited NYC) and one of which is a region of Italy that we have not been to (though we have been to Italy). But yeah...that's pretty much it.
As far as places that we've visited for which we still need to acquire puzzles, the list is somewhat lengthy. Williamsburg. Blacksburg (saw the Heels beat the Hokies on a Thursday night in Lane Stadium - really awesome). Charleston. DC. Disneyland. Jamaica. Bahamas (as part of a cruise out of Baltimore). St. Thomas/St. Maarten (as part of a cruise out of Port Canaveral). St. Thomas/Tortola (as part of a cruise out of Miami). Dallas (witnessed Carolina lose to the Longhorns in the first ever college basketball game played in Jerry World). Chicago. Houston (Marcus Paige, I'm so sorry). Phoenix (2017 National Champs, what what!!!). It's possible I'm forgetting somewhere. Having a travel agent for a wife is quite convenient. #blessed
With all that said, I believe the first puzzle I ever owned hangs framed on my wall to this day. (I know it's framed on my wall. I'm pretty sure it's the first puzzle I ever owned.) It's a UNC puzzle, so obviously it's near and dear to my heart.
Carolina Collectibles Description:
Without counting every single piece, I'm fairly confident this is a 750 piece puzzle. It's approximately 30 pieces in length and 25 pieces in height. Multiply the two together, carry the four... 750 pieces. (Yes, I'm an accountant.)
The puzzle features eight pictures of various points of interest around campus, with an interlocking NC logo in a section along the middle of the top. The upper left has an aerial photo of beautiful Kenan Stadium, while the upper right has a far less attractive picture of one of the Dean Dome entrances. The most prominent photos are of South Building and the Bell Tower. The smallest four pictures are in the middle beneath the interlocking NC and showcase Davie Poplar, Wilson Library (from an odd angle), the Old Well, and Silent Sam with a couple of streams of toilet paper draped over him. (No protesters, though.)
After assembly, my mother, being the crafty lady that she is, painted Mod Podge - or whatever similar product existed 20 years ago - across the puzzle to preserve it and stuck it in a frame, where it remains to this day, hanging on the wall of our Carolina room.
Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Serge Zwikker
Ol' Sergio arrived from the Netherlands with quite a bit of potential, mainly because he stood over seven feet tall. Despite his height, he wasn't necessarily ready for prime time, but the Carolina coaching staff worked with him to turn him into a serviceable big man that averaged 11.5 points per game his senior year. He was also a crowd favorite. Like Zwik, this puzzle was a project that even after completion wasn't insanely great but has withstood the test of time and will always be looked upon fondly.
Carolina Collectibles Rating: 4 Stars
Puzzles are timeless pastimes and the photos in this puzzle depict timeless landmarks around campus. It's not quite five star worthy, but it's fairly close.