Retired National Park Service Superintendent Ramps Up Puzzle Time During Covid-19 Pandemic

Laura Rotegard, a 30-year veteran of the National Park Service, has put together seven Xplorer Maps’ puzzles from her home in Puget Sound during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She and her husband, Bob, have a big table set up in the living room next to the fireplace and have recently pieced together the latest puzzle – Olympic National Park.

The couple thought they would work on the Olympic puzzle to learn about the new area they recently moved to after Laura retired from the National Park Service.  “We spread out, turn on public radio, chill out, and enjoy hanging,” Laura said.

Xplorer Maps’ puzzles have been flying off the shelves since the pandemic caused the stay-at-home and social distancing movement across the U.S. The coronavirus jigsaw puzzle craze seems to be happening everywhere, with sales of puzzles skyrocketing. At Ravensburger, the global market leader, sales are up 370%.

Puzzles have always been a fun and educational way of spending family time. With parents homeschooling their children during this challenging time, the demand has grown more. The fact that puzzles are screen-free and tech-free seems to be a refreshing change for families.

Laura has always enjoyed doing puzzles, but during this time, she has ramped up her puzzle time.  Over her career, she served in four National Park Service superintendencies (Grant Kohrs Ranch in Deerlodge; Albright Training Academy in Grand Canyon, Arizona; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan; and Women’s Rights National Historical Park in upstate New York. She also worked in other capacities at a number of national parks throughout the U.S.

So far, Laura has completed these Xplorer Maps’ puzzles: Alaska; Alaska’s Inside Passage; the world; the U.S.; Yellowstone; Grand Canyon; and Rocky Mountain National Park. She’s just finished Olympic National Park. She’s also bought puzzles for friends, colleagues, and neighbors as gifts.

Part of the fun of putting together her Xplorer Maps’ puzzles is that she has lived and traveled in many of those places, she said.

“Working on the puzzles reminds me of how beautiful those places are,” Laura said, adding that she had fun putting together the Rocky Mountain puzzle because she had been there before she and Bob were married and could “walk Bob through my life there and share it with him.”

“Puzzles are an amazing opportunity to experience the area with someone you love,” she said. “For me, it’s wonderful to share our experiences.”

In addition to the quality and beauty of Xplorer Maps’ puzzles, Laura said she and Bob continue to buy puzzles from the company because “we like to support a homegrown Montana company where two brothers are helping each other out.”

“Xplorer Maps strikes a balance with beautiful art along with experiential information," she said. "It blends three things: people who love the park can relive their love for it; Chris is doing amazing artwork; and Xplorer Maps works with park staff to get accurate details. To me, that’s integrity."

Laura has already framed the Montana state puzzle she completed a few years ago and says she will probably frame the Olympic puzzle to put on her wall in her new Puget Sound home. After completing a puzzle that she doesn’t plan on framing, she says she always has a bit of a struggle.

“It’s really sad to break them down.”

Photo caption: During Covid-19, Laura has put together the seven Xplorer Maps' puzzles pictured above.