Puzzles from the Last Frontier

No matter where you go, you’re bound to find some form of puzzle, whether it’s a riddle, a mechanical puzzle, a pen-and-paper puzzle, or a strategy game. For me, that’s one of the most interesting aspects of puzzle culture: the curious wrinkles and variations on puzzles that a particular place or national identity inspires.

While on vacation in Alaska last week, I found a few examples of puzzles with a wonderful Alaskan twist, and I thought I’d share them with the PuzzleNation audience.

One of the first things I noticed is that many Alaskan museums and wildlife centers employ puzzles to teach visitors about Alaska’s diverse ecosystem.

The Alaska Sealife Center was a particular favorite of mine. Located in Seward (only a few hours from Anchorage by train or car), the Sealife Center not only incorporated games to explain different fishing techniques (and the dangers of overfishing), but the gift shop was a treasure trove of puzzle books with a decidedly educational bent.

Clueless in Alaska caught my eye with its mix of visual and classic pen-and-paper puzzles, all geared toward instilling greater understanding of the animals Alaska is famous for.

Of course, I encountered crosswords and Sudoku puzzles in the local paper, but I was on the lookout for something with a bit more local flair.

And wouldn’t you know it, I discovered the perfect souvenir at the local Fred Meyer:

An Alaska-themed Rubik’s Cube, featuring both a unique color scheme and silhouettes of bears, caribou, eagles, moose, and wolves. With the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube this year, how could I not pick this up?

But classic board game fans, don’t feel left out! Turns out, the most famous board game of all time also has its own Alaskan variant:

Alaska-Opoly! It might be hard to pronounce, but it’s overflowing with local color and style.

As a puzzle fan, spotting these little beauties made me feel right at home, even four thousand miles away.

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