The Most Difficult States to Visit

The first time it happened was in Nebraska in 2017. I'd just told someone that we were in Nebraska as part of our goal to visit all 50 states before our son turned 18. She said, "Oh, I bet Alaska will be your 50th state! It's the hardest state to visit." She was very surprised to hear that Alaska was actually the second state Trevor visited. It happened again and again over the years. When people learned we were visiting their state on our way to seeing all 50, they guessed that Alaska would surely be last. Nope - not even close. 

From where we live in California, Alaska is one of the easiest states to visit. Not the cheapest or the fastest, but the easiest. We only have to drive 45 miles to San Francisco in order to get on a cruise ship to go to Alaska. That's exactly what we did, just after Trevor's first birthday, making Alaska his second state after California. We did the same thing for Hawaii in 2009, Trevor's fourth state. Those are colored in blue below. The states colored red are the ones we first visited by driving directly from home. I consider these 7 states to have been the easiest for us to visit. 

The next easiest group of states includes Washington, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Nebraska. We can get to each of them with a nonstop flight in 3 hours or less. 

I've mentioned many times that one of the best things about where we live is that we have three major international airports within 45 miles (San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento). Between them, we can fly nonstop to 33 different states. Also interesting to note: a nonstop flight from SFO to Alaska takes just under 5 hours, while flight time to New York is just under 7 hours. That means it's easier for us to visit Alaska by plane than to fly to New York, Washington DC, Florida, or anywhere else on the east coast. 

Of the 17 states we can't reach by a nonstop flight, some are easier to visit than others. For example, you can reach any part of Delaware within an hour after flying nonstop into one of the surrounding states, as we did in October 2017. After flying to Massachusetts, it's only a short drive to Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. We made that trip in June 2023. I'd argue that Maine, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas are the most difficult states for us as Californians to visit. Flying there means multiple flights, often to tiny airports with only a few flights a week. Driving from another state takes many hours, driving from home takes multiple days, and there are no options for sailing. Even train travel (which also takes multiple days) is not a convenient option from where we live.  

Obviously, the most difficult state to visit is going to depend 100% on where you live. I'm not surprised that someone in Nebraska, or elsewhere in the midwest, would consider Alaska the most difficult state to visit. I'm glad that isn't the case for us. I've been to Alaska on seven different trips, far more than any state besides Washington, Oregon and Nevada. Alaska is one of my very favorite states. Even if it's the most difficult state for you to visit, it's well worth the effort. Go!


Trevor at 17

 Seventeen. How?? Here is my annual "Trevor at..." layout

Trevor at 17 (affiliate link)

I am so proud to be the mom of this talented, honest, kind, trustworthy, cooperative, smart, reserved, clever, reliable, careful, calm, funny, level-headed, quiet, generous, and cautious guy. I love you, Trevor!


2000 Piece Custom Puzzle by PuzzleYou

I have a new puzzle and I'm sooo excited! This is my second custom puzzle from PuzzleYou. At 2000 pieces, it's twice as big as the one I made to celebrate visiting all 50 states. The beauty of a custom puzzle is that you can use literally any design you want. I went with a food theme this time, inspired by this scrapbook layout

I love the quality of PuzzleYou puzzles. The pieces are thick and sturdy and they interlock nicely. I'm so excited to dive in and get solving! In case you are wondering... no, there will be no attempts at speed puzzling this time. I'll be sticking to 500 piece puzzles for that. 

Here's a closer look at the image I used for this puzzle. I designed it very intentionally, in hopes of creating a beautiful puzzle with enough color and texture differentiation that it wouldn't be frustratingly difficult. Fingers crossed!

I made the whole thing with PicMonkey's stock photos and collage tool. I created a grid with 25 spaces and black lines separating each, then searched for images of my favorite foods. The foods include: chocolate mousse, pineapple, bread, eggs benedict, raspberry popsicle, rhubarb, pizza with white sauce, popcorn, caprese salad, pasta, a teriyaki rice bowl, waffles, fruity cocktails, chocolate chip cookies, conversation hearts, an ice cream cone (with chocolate chip, mint chip, and chocolate), potstickers, donuts, a cheeseburger, citrus sorbet, cheese fondue, beet salad, hot apple cider, lemon souffle, and cheese. Yum!

I placed the images randomly at first, then rearranged them so they were balanced. I maximized contrast between adjacent spaces. I placed like colors in visual triangles. I separated plates and bowls so that they were scattered evenly. Finally, I zoomed in on each image to minimize large areas of solid color. I loved designing this puzzle!

Custom puzzles make great gifts. Any puzzle fan would love to get a puzzle featuring their favorite photo, a special memory, or a collection of images of their favorite things. Go ahead and make one for yourself as well - you deserve it! The folks from PuzzleYou provided me with this puzzle AND a discount coupon for my readers. To get 15% off everything at PuzzleYou, use the code CindydeRosier15. Hurry though - it's only good until 12/17/2023. Enjoy!


Another Set of Cards from Doodlebug's 'Hello Again' Collection

Here's the next batch of cards I made with Doodlebug's 'Hello Again' collection. I love how well everything mixes and matches. This collection is absolutely fantastic for cards.  Affiliate links below. 

Despite making over 30 cards, I still have a bunch of die-cuts, tags, stickers, and sentiments left from this collection. Not bad! There's even some paper I haven't used. It's perfect for a layout I have in mind, so I'm going to do that before making any more cards from this collection. 


The Best (and Worst) State Flags

I am a big fan of the two most recently designed state flags, those of Mississippi and Utah. Both are unique and eye-catching, two crucial elements in a successful flag design. I thought it would be fun to share my opinion about all of the state flags.

Let's start by placing the flags into three groups: Top Contenders, Middle of the Road, and Bottom of the Pack. To make it into the top group, the flag has to be identifiable as it is flying, with an attractive design. Unique colors and designs (and in one case, shape) are a major plus. The design should represent the state in some way. If there's text, it should be legible.

Here are my Top Contenders:


This is the middle group. Each of them gets points for being unique and/or recognizable, but falls short in other ways. 


This is the Bottom of the Pack. Most of them are here because they are navy blue with an illegible and busy state seal on them. Alabama and Florida's flags look like international "Do Not Enter" signs. Not exactly the message their tourism bureaus are hoping to send. These flags are terrible. 


Good news though - there is legislation to try to change the state flags of Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Illinois. (And possibly others, but those are the only ones I know about.) Minnesota just released its finalists for the new state flag and there are some great designs. Any of them would be a huge improvement over the current one. 

So... naming the Worst State Flag. It's hard, as it's essentially a 10-way tie. Some of the flags are less awful than the others in this category, but they all need to be changed. If I'm forced to pick the worst of the worst, I'm going with Pennsylvania. Or Virginia. 

As for the Best State Flag, it's not easy either. There are things to like about each of the flags in my top category. These are my runners-up.  

That means that the title of Best State Flag goes to New Mexico. Their flag is simple yet meaningful, well-proportioned, instantly recognizable, and completely different than any other flag. By coincidence, New Mexico is one of my very favorite states

If you'd like to see how other people have ranked the state flags, there are many others who have done so. I'm going to link one of my favorites below. If you don't follow CGP Grey, you should. His videos are always entertaining and informative. 

What's your favorite state flag? What's your least favorite? Do you support redesigns of current state flags or are you among those who think the time and expense aren't worth it? Or perhaps you think flags should not be changed, no matter the reason? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.