The Grove at Copia and the Napa Lighted Art Festival

On Friday, we celebrated Steve's 48th birthday in beautiful downtown Napa, about 20 miles from home. We started at Copia, the ultimate foodie destination. I was there for a class last spring, but it had been many, many years since Steve had been there. 

It was Restaurant Week and we were there for dinner at The Grove. We intentionally arrived early, took our fork photos...

... checked to see what was available in the Seed Library... 


... and then strolled through the gardens. They were lush and bursting with beautiful winter vegetables, citrus, herbs, and edible flowers. 


The Grove is truly a farm-to-table restaurant. The menu is built around what is available in the garden. In fact, if you book the first dinner seating and arrive early, you can literally watch the chef exit the restaurant with a big silver bowl and harvest the food you'll be eating. It's really cool. 

Don't forget to head indoors to the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum. It's fantastic. Take some time to look at the Breitstein Collection and the Wine Hall of Fame too. 

We checked in at The Grove, where Steve was greeted with a complimentary glass of wine for his birthday. Such a nice touch. The Grove has an open kitchen, so I positioned myself where I could watch the action.


We each had the 3-course prix fixe meal, with different options. We got bread and burrata for the table and Steve did the wine pairing. The food was spectacular, with generous portions (enough that we needed a to-go box, despite having a teenage boy at the table). Almost every dish featured greens and edible flowers we'd watched the chef pick. 

It was an incredible meal. I highly recommend The Grove at Copia. 

After dinner, we walked two blocks toward downtown. That's the Napa River behind Steve and Trevor. Across the river you can see downtown, where the Napa Lighted Art Festival is taking place. 

The festival is free, outdoors, and walkable. It is a "celebration of creative arts, technology and lights, and supports innovative techniques using light and light technologies as a growing art medium." There are 12 lighted art sculptures, plus projection artwork on three downtown buildings. 


Each of the sculptures was beautiful and used interesting technology. The colors changed and shifted, giving the illusion of movement. The wave below this shark looked like real water. 

The festival would have been great with just the sculptures, but the projections were truly jaw-dropping. Pictures don't begin to capture it. The lights and the music were perfectly coordinated with the architecture to create something unlike anything I've seen before. It felt magical. 


We watched the show at the courthouse twice (it was probably 5-8 minutes long), so I was able to take more pictures the second time through. The first time I was just overwhelmed with the beauty. Here's a small sampling of the changes the building went through during the show. Imagine each design falling away, or peeling back, or opening up to reveal the next. It was all connected and intertwined. Just magical. 

If you live near Napa or will be visiting soon, I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that the Napa Lighted Art Festival is continuing nightly until February 18. The bad news is that they are no longer doing the building projections. That was just for the first 9 nights of the 5-week festival. It's still worth going though - and consider eating at The Grove or any of Napa's other top-rate restaurants first. Our family had such a good time. 


Fun Facts about United States Airports

I really enjoyed trying to figure out which metro areas in the US are the most connected to other states via nonstop flights. Today I want to look at some other interesting airport stuff I discovered along the way. Enjoy!


How many airports are there in the United States?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are 19,633 airports in the United States. Of these, 5082 are public. Of those, 503 are considered Primary airports. This means they provide scheduled passenger services and have over 10,000 passenger boardings a year. 

What are the busiest commercial airports in the United States?

In 2022, the airports with the most emplanements (the term for how many people board an aircraft) were: 
1. Atlanta Hartsfield: 45,396,001
2. Dallas-Fort Worth: 35,345,138 
3. Denver: 33,773,832 
4. Chicago O'Hare: 33,120,474
5. Los Angeles LAX: 32,326,616
6. New York JFK: 27,154,885
7. Las Vegas: 25,480,500
8. Orlando: 24,469,733
9. Miami: 23,949,892 
10. Charlotte/Douglas: 23,100,300

What are the least busy commercial airports in the United States? 

In 2022, the airports with the fewest emplanements were: 
10. Tuntutuliak, Alaska: 2,788
9. Togiak, Alaska: 2,727
8. Pilot Station, Alaska: 2,724
7. McGrath, Alaska: 2,700
6. Kongiganak, Alaska: 2,680 
5. Adak, Alaska: 2,616
4. Eek, Alaska: 2,616
3. Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska: 2,597
2. Hana, Hawaii: 2,562
1. Sand Point, Alaska: 2,552

Which state has the most airports? 

Alaska has the most airports by far, with approximately 400 airports. However, only 24 of them are Primary airports. Alaskans use air travel much more frequently than the rest of the US does. The number of enplanements in Alaska is 6.5 times the state population. Compare this to 2.4 times the U.S. population for all states.

Which state has the fewest airports?

You might assume that the smallest state, Rhode Island, would have the fewest airports. It has 6 total, of which three are Primary. But it is Delaware which has the fewest airports. There are three, none Primary. 

Which United States airports have direct flights to all inhabited continents?

As noted in a previous post, you can fly to North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceana nonstop from LAX. There are two other airports in the US with nonstop flights to six continents: O'Hare and JFK

Which United States airports have the best on-time record? 

In 2023, Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) had the best on-time record in the United States... as well as worldwide! Salt Lake City (SLC) was the second best in the US, followed by Detroit (DTW), Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), and Philadelphia (PHL). (Here are the six worst in the US in 2022.)


Did anything surprise you? Have other questions about US airports you'd like me to research? Let me know in the comments!


2024 Blogger Breakthrough Summit

Last week, I attended the all-virtual 2024 Blogger Breakthrough Summit. With more than fifty classes over five days, there was something for everyone, no matter their experience as a blogger. I've been blogging five days a week since 2011, but there is always so much more to learn. And the Blogger Breakthrough Summit was a great way to do it!

Image of the logo for the 2024 Blogger Breakthrough Summit

I ended up taking 24 classes. Most were outstanding and filled with helpful information. I took a ton of notes and am excited to start implementing new ideas. 


  • Branding Beyond the Blog (Adeyinka Obisanya)
  • Influential Strategies: How Design Impacts Your Conversions for Quality Content (Dan Rondeau)

Organization / Productivity

  • Pomodoro Powerhouse: Consistency, Content Creation, and Creativity (Sage Grayson) 
  • Taking Action in the Right Direction (Michelle Pontvert)


  • Accessible Blogging: Writing For Every Reader (Ami Hook-Ireland)
  • Creating an Accessible Experience as a Blogger (Erin Perkins)

Email and Social Media Marketing

  • Repurposing Your Blog Content for Maximum Reach (Jeanette Spencer)
  • 4 Simple Promotional Strategies to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Content (Sarah Jane Burt)
  • Creating a Well-Rounded, Value-Driven Social Media Strategy (Ashley Mason)
  • How to Write Great Emails, Even if You’re Not a Copywriter (Anna Crosby)
  • Strategies for Growing Your Email List: Beyond Opt-ins and Landing Pages (Allea Grummert)
  • Create Revenue Rewarding Quizzes (Jack Long)
  • How to Level Up Your Blog Beyond Ads (Madison Wetherill)
  • Email Marketing (Liz Wilcox)
  • Marketing - Panel

Affiliate Marketing and Pitches

  • The Dollars in Your Data: Maximizing Blog Revenue with Analytics (Sherry Smothermon–Short)
  • The Art of the Pitch: How to Land Sponsorships as a Travel Blogger (Daniella Schoeman)
  • Make Money Reviewing Products on Amazon (Liz Saunders)
  • Unlock Affiliate Marketing (Alex Okell)
  • How to Make a Ton of Money With Affiliate Marketing (Shelley Marmor)
  • Blogging Income Diversification - Panel

Legal / Business

  • Legal Disclaimers Every Blog Owner Needs To Know (Michelle Murphy)
  • Understanding the Financial Gibberish in Your Business (Clarissa Wilson)
  • Running a Blog as a Business - Panel

The two classes about accessibility were particularly valuable to me. Both were outstanding. Ami Hook-Ireland shared a really fun mnemonic as part of her presentation: 

A summary of key points for accessible blogs 

Dat Goat Earl Means Chaos

DAT: Descriptive Alt Text
GOAT: Good, Obvious Anchor Text
EARL: Everyone Appreciates Readable Language
MEANS: Mighty Easy And No Squinting
CHAOS: Clear Headings And Organized Structure

My blog is fairly accessible, but one major place for improvement is the Alt Text. I'm guilty of relying on the file name fairly often. 

Graphic showing the do's and don't's of Alt Text

I also especially enjoyed the class about pitching as a travel blogger. It can be frustrating to hear no when I reach out to hotels, museums, tours, etc. (and even more frustrating not to hear anything at all), so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the average response rate for cold pitches via email is only 8.5%. Even from my start as a travel blogger, I've had a far better response than that. I picked up a few tips from this class, so I hope that will translate into even more yes responses in the future!

Always good advice, from Anna Crosby:

Image that says "Let go of perfectionism."

If I had to pick one class that was the most valuable for me, it would be the one from Sherry Smothermon–Short of Painless Blog Analytics. GA4 was overwhelming to me, but her simple walk-through made me finally get it. Hurray! 

I could go on and on about the many things I learned during this conference. I'm really glad I attended and will definitely be looking for it again in 2025. 


A Taste of New Orleans

For the past few years, Trevor and Logan have been making increasingly fancy desserts every time their Scout troop goes camping. They've made all sorts of things, from scratch, that one would not normally associate with A) camping; or B) teenage boys. But they outdid themselves in December. They had access to the professional kitchen in the lodge at Camp Herms, so they cooked a New Orleans-inspired dinner for the whole troop. Jambalaya. Sweet potato fries. Beignets. All from scratch. To say it was a hit is an understatement. 

A Taste of New Orleans (affiliate link)

I wasn't on the trip, so I am very grateful to Steve for taking photos. Not only of the boys, but of his bowl of jambalaya as well. And I'm doubly appreciative that Steve packed home leftovers so I could try it too. Trevor and Logan are great cooks - the food was delicious! 

Speaking of Steve, today is his birthday. The first time I celebrated his birthday with him, he was turning 27 and we'd been dating for about five months. This year, he's 48 and we've been married for 19 years. Time flies when you're having fun! Happy birthday, Steve. I love you!


Cardboard Tube Bobsled

We have to wait two more years for the next Winter Olympics, but this is as good a time as any for crafts inspired by winter sports. I challenged myself to see if I could turn a cardboard tube into a bobsled. I modeled it (loosely) on the 2022 USA bobsled design. It was definitely a challenge. Affiliate links below. 

Cardboard Tube Bobsled



Start by cutting out a triangle from one end of the cardboard tube. This is going to be the front of the bobsled. Overlap the two pieces so that they form a flat, narrow front. 

Glue this front portion closed, using a binder clip to hold it in place while the glue dries. I ended up also wrapping washi tape around the end to hold it snug while it dried. 

When the glue is dry, cut the tube to your desired length, then remove the portion where the passengers sit. 

Now it's time for painting. Use True Blue on the bobsled. Use Silver for the four runners. While you are waiting for the paint to dry, punch out white stars. When the paint is dry, glue one pony bead to each runner. Put the flag sticker on the front of the bobsled, then write USA with the paint pen. Glue the stars on each side of the bobsled. 

Finally, glue the runners to the bobsled. When the paint is dry, pick your crew. I went with Gandalf, Wyldstyle, Harry Potter, and Plain Blue with Red Hat from 1978

Harry can't see over the top. Good thing he's not steering.

I had a lot of fun making my bobsled. And obviously I had fun photographing it (other than the lack of light... all these rainy days are terrible for photos). I learned a lot about bobsleds, bobsledding, and bobsledders in the process. For example, I learned that bobsleigh and bobsled can be used interchangeably and the one that you use probably says something about where you live. I also learned more about the differences between bobsled, luge, and skeleton, as well as the Olympic history of the bobsleigh. And the history-making Tunisian bobsled team! Such a fun story. Makes me want to watch Cool Runnings again!


The Busiest, Yet Least Connected, Airports in the United States

Previously, I looked at which metro areas in the United States are the most connected to the rest of the states via nonstop flights. Chicago took top honors. You can fly nonstop to 48 of the 50 states from Chicagoland.

Today I'd planned to focus on the least connected locations, but almost immediately I realized that's not reasonable. There are literally thousands of airports in the US, many of which don't offer commercial service. Of the ones that do offer commercial flights, you're not interested in seeing a list of 400+ municipal and regional airports in tiny towns you've never heard of that only fly to a single state. Instead, I'm going to focus on commercial airports that are the busiest in their state yet fly nonstop to a surprisingly small number of other states. 

Let's take another look at Fargo, North Dakota. I found it notable for being the only airport I've visited that shuts down security between flights. Yet Fargo (FAR) is the busiest airport in North Dakota, serving the most populated city (131,000) in the state. It has nonstop flights to only 8 states. The busiest airport in New Hampshire, Manchester (MHT), also flies to 8 states. What about tiny Rhode Island, our smallest state? The airport in Providence (PVD), which is only an hour from Boston Logan (BOS) airport, flies to a whopping 19 states! That really surprised me. 

Let's head west. Wyoming is really interesting. The most populated city is the capital, Cheyenne (CYS), with a population of 63,000. Their airport flies to exactly ONE destination (a 57-minute flight to Denver). But Cheyenne is not Wyoming's busiest airport. That honor goes to Jackson Hole (JAC), located within Grand Teton National Park and close to Yellowstone. There are nonstop flights to 10 states in the summer. 

It jumps to 12 in the winter. I would have expected the opposite - more tourists coming to the national parks in the summertime. Instead, it looks like it's Wyomingites heading to (mostly) warmer climates. (Note that Minnesota is a summer option only and Arizona and Florida are winter options only). 

Twelve seems to be a fairly common number for mid-size cities. There are nonstop flights to 12 states from Little Rock (LIT) and Boise (BOI), the capitals of Arkansas and Idaho respectively. Wichita (ICT) is the most populated city (389,000) in Kansas and has nonstop flights to 12 states as well. Same with Birmingham (BHM). It's the busiest airport in Alabama with nonstop flights to 12 states. 

When I was trying to find the most connected locations, the states that were most often missing off the list of nonstop flights were Mississippi, West Virginia, and Delaware. Let's look at those. Jackson-Medgar Evers (JAN) is the busiest airport in the state of Mississippi. We flew home from Jackson on New Year's Day 2020 (unaware that we wouldn't be flying much for the next 2 years) via Houston, because there weren't any nonstop flights to California. It definitely was a small airport, but didn't seem as small to me as Fargo. Yet it has nonstop flights to only 6 states. 

Yeager International Airport (CRW) is West Virginia's busiest airport, located in the state capital of Charleston. It has nonstop flights to 7 cities in 6 states, which include: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, and Virginia. Fun Fact: As of July 2021, the airport's full name is West Virginia International Yeager Airport. They changed the name following the completion of the U.S. Customs Building in the General Aviation portion of the airport, yet there are no commercial international flights in or out of Yeager. 

Finally, Delaware. Delaware's busiest commercial airport is Wilmington (ILG), which currently has scheduled flights to exactly one state - Florida. It makes a lot more sense to drive the 25 miles from the Wilmington airport to Philadelphia (PHL), which offers nonstop service to 36 states. Even those who live in the southermost part of Delaware are better off driving 90 miles to Philadelphia, or a little bit farther to Baltimore, than flying from their home state. 

Time to update my map!

Delawareans have the least options for flying nonstop to other states from their home state, but they are close to major airports in other states. Even though they each have nonstop flights to six states, people in many parts of Mississippi and West Virginia live farther away from a major airport. And then we're back to Fargo. It is 254 miles to Minneapolis, the closest major airport. That's not a reasonable drive just to take a nonstop flight. 

I realize that I may be alone in how much I loathe layovers. I will go far out of my way, or pay significantly more money, to fly nonstop to a destination rather than deal with a layover. In some cases, I've actually chosen my destination based on nonstop flight options. While I wish I had as many options as the Chicagoans do, I'm glad to be as well-connected as we are. Visiting all 50 states would have been a lot more challenging (or at least more time-consuming) without the many options we had to fly nonstop to other states. 

Even though it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed doing this research. I learned so much about airports and air travel in the process. So much, in fact, that I'm working on a post dedicated to some of what I learned. I expect that to run next week.