3 Life Lessons Learned from a third-grade crush, Mr. Big and Champagne Hot Tubs

Today I bought a rib-knit, long sleeve, snap button Henely in my favorite shade of green. I have no shame in telling you how glad I am that this look is back – I look awesome in it, although that isn’t really the point. There is something comforting and a bit nostalgic about it which, lucky for you will reveal some pretty embarrassing truths from my past. Let’s just call these “Life Lessons” as the post goes on, shall we?

Life Lesson no.1

Life Lesson: Sometimes you just have to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next.

In life, you can learn pretty quickly not everything will be as great of a fit as my new henley. In third- maybe fourth- grade, I had the biggest crush on this boy named Shaun. (Shaun, if you read this please know admitting this possibly as embarrassing today as it would have been back then. I hope you find it flattering.) It was a small class, like twelve students and most of us would go continue on to high school together through graduation.

Spoiler alert: I was not the cool kid in class. Glow-up is a real thing.

I was not athletic. My name did not, and still does not, end in an “i”, “y”, or “ie”. Prior to the internet and wayyyy before snapchat, this was a very important marker of social status. My parents refused to buy me the jumbo-sized cans of hairspray so I could craft my bangs do that half-up/half-down thing or perm my obnoxiously straight hair. In my efforts to achieve cool status, I finally talked them into buying me a pair of jeans with zippers at the ankle. Still, the coolest denim in the world couldn’t repair my heart the day I sat next to Shaun on the bleachers and he said: “Could you just NOT sit by me?”  Ugh.

I was crushed. I couldn’t say anything. I just got up and walked away. I knew from the tone of his voice that it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes you just have to know to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next. Even when it hurts.

Life Lesson no. 2

Life lesson: Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads. Especially ones sung by groups like “Mr. Big”.

Fast forward to 7th grade. There was a new girl at school this year. She wore thick dark eye liner and black t-shirts of bands I’d never heard of. She was a year or two older than me and a little sarcastic but friendly. A few weeks after school started her father passed away. She didn’t know many people yet and even though I didn’t know her very well I wanted to go by and offer my condolences. My parents were very strict and I wasn’t usually allowed to visit the homes of friends without knowing their parents but they agreed to drop me off for an hour or so anyway.

The door was open when I got to her house. I walk past a group of adults to find the group of tweens /teens in the back dining room by the staircase. I didn’t really recognize anyone else. I think they were mostly cousins and friends from out of town. There was rock music playing of some of her dad’s favorites: Lynyrd Skynard, Kiss, ZZ Top, Aerosmith… none of them were familiar to me. I hadn’t been allowed to listen to any of them before… sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, you feel me?

After a little while we all sat down on the floor and someone turned the radio on. On the other side of the circle, someone started passing something. It wasn’t my vibe so I just passed it along. Whether it was the passage of time or a solid contact high, I don’t remember who was there, what we talked about, or even if we talked but I vividly remember the song that was on the radio at that moment. It shaped what I wanted from relationships for a long time (insert healthy doses of embarrassment here…deep breath *sigh*) Mr Big – Just To Be With You 

As I sat there listening to the lyrics, I remember thinking THAT was what I wanted in a relationship. That was how I wanted to be loved or wanted or whatever. I mean, clearly ” Why be alone when we can be together” is solid reasoning, right? And sooooo non-judgmental. He didn’t care that he wasn’t the first or the last… he just wanted to be the next and he came offering to make her smile. Smiling is still my favorite. In retrospect, I had a fair amount of relationship wisdom to gain. This perspective, that environment was all so new, I held onto those lyrics for a long time. I got my heart broken a fair number of times as a result. Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads, especially ones touting the moniker “Mr. Big”. If you have to tell people you are a big deal, you probably aren’t.

Life Lesson no.3

Life lesson: Keep examining your dreams. If you don’t, you might arrive only to wonder why you wanted that in the first place. Especially if that dream was a hot tub in the shape of a champagne glass.

As I mentioned before, we didn’t have the internet growing up. What we did have was 1-800 numbers. People were not as adverse to talking on the phone back then. I was left at home alone a lot and loved getting things in the mail. Fun fact: This is where my love of travel began. Anytime I would see a travel destination advertised I would furiously write down the number and muster my most grown up voice to call and request a free travel packet be sent to my house. This went on from age 9 until I was in high school. It was awesome. If I’m honest, I still enjoy recieving an occasional visitors packet now and again.

In the back of every travel packet would be advertising for other travel destinations. Almost every one of them would feature a heart shaped tub or or huge champagne glass filled with bubbles “Come get away to a relaxing getaway in the Poconos!”

I had no idea where in the country the Poconos actually was at the time but in my mind, this was the ultimate luxury and class to aspire to. When you could get away to spend time in a tub shaped like a champagne glass you had arrived. Well…..last year, I was invited to a workshop held in….you guessed it… THE POCONOS! Years had gone by without me remembering my dream of champagne glass hot tubs. As I was driving up to our cabin I suddenly remembered this story and shared it with my friend, Clarissa. She immediately googled and realized that the very resort I had idolized for so long was only 20 mins away. We agreed to stop by and get a tour on our way home.

What happened was a hilarious series of events that truly will need its own blog post. What I can tell you is that it was not in any capacity the luxury dream I had imagined. Let me show you with a few snapshots and hopefully you’ll understand.

If you made it to the end of this BRAVO!
It’s funny what how a little nostalgia can conjure up a lifetime full of memories and how small moments can shape us and grow us. I’ve only just shared these stories with my family yesterday. Hopefully they mean something, made you smile, or gave a little more insight to my life. It definitely did all three of those things for me.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out how we imagined, hoped or romanticized it would but that doesn’t mean it isn’t leading exactly where we ought to be.

Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas

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Six Flags Over Texas Mr Freeze

At least once a season we make a family outing to Six Flags Over Texas. This is always such a fun outing because there is something for everyone to enjoy no matter your level of adventure. We’ve been making a concentrated effort to spend time connecting with our teens this summer as much as possible. This time our whole family was invited to visit and share everything that’s new for summer 2018 at Six Flags Over Texas. As part of our experience, we were provided with tickets, flash passes, and meals so we could experience as much as possible.

There really is a TON to do at Six Flags Over Texas even if you have one or two in your group that aren’t extreme thrill-seekers. Pro-Tip: grab preferred parking and flash passes before you arrive at the park. They are an excellent value and make for an even better experience.

Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas this Summer

Our most recent visit was an exceptionally great time with our teens for a number of reasons. This visit Sebastian made a leap to try his first ever thrill ride- the brand new for 2018 Harley Quinn Spinsanity! They are growing up but definitely still include us in their fun. We enjoy every opportunity to see them grow.

Six Flags Over Texas Teens

On this day, it was obvious our teenagers had grown leaps and bounds since our last visit. Not just because all worries of qualifying for a height requirement were long removed. It was more to do with the way they walked up to the park gates with confidence, keenly aware of exactly where they wanted to go.  It’s clear they are becoming more and more independent with every passing summer.

Six Flags Over Texas Connecting with Teenagers

We saw a lot of them from the back as they walked ahead enjoying each other’s company and finding their own way. Almost like clockwork, they would come rushing back to us excited to share what they just learned, saw, or experienced. It’s so similar to when they were smaller, running ahead but turning back for a certain amount of reassurance.  I love seeing that the world is still full of wonder. Parenting will always be a good deal of experiencing the world through their eyes like everything is brand new. I imagine it will always feel like this no matter how grown up they become.

Six Flags Over Texas Selfie with the Teens

And then, he rode his first thrill ride!!

The Newest Thrill Ride at Six Flags Over Texas- HARLEY QUINN Spinsanity

What came next was a complete surprise to everyone in our group. We have always had a mix of extreme thrill seekers and easier-going personalities. Kaitlyn has always been a major thrill seeker looking for the highest and fastest, while Sebastian has always insisted “life is enough of a rollercoaster” for him. Even if he didn’t want to ride, he always walks through the line with us telling jokes. When it’s time for our group to board the ride, he passes over and waits on the other side. Most rides aren’t more than a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, this time he said he really wanted to take the ride.

Six Flags Over Texas Harley Quinn Spinsanity

We were shocked. The newest ride, just introduced to the park that week, Harley Quinn Spinsanity, was quite the ride to attempt for a first-ever thrill-ride.

This first-of-its-kind thrill-ride was inspired by the movement of a gyroscope and delivers unpredictable, gravity-defying flips, twists and turns. Harley Quinn Spinsanity features a unique futuristic triple box design that allows the gondola to spin around three separate axes while rotating forward, backward and sideways simultaneously at up to 70 feet in the air!

We took a video interview to capture the before and after reactions he had. The video is priceless. I have the whole thing featured on a highlight reel on our Instagram account – you can see that and all the behind-the-scenes of our summer visit here.

What if someone in our group doesn’t enjoy thrill-rides? No Problem! There is still SO much to enjoy!

A larger family always means knowing there will be a lot of preferences to accommodate for. Until this recent visit, we’ve always had to plan for how we would handle those that lived for thrill-rides and those that would rather sit it out while still maintaining an enjoyable experience for all. We’ve got a few different strategies and suggestions for this.

Here’s a list of several activities you can enjoy at Six Flags Over Texas that ensures everyone has a great time!

6 Ways to Enjoy Six Flags Over Texas Even If You Don’t Like Thrill Rides

  • Special Events- from educational events to special celebrations of the arts there is always something being showcased to look for and enjoy. For a current calendar of events at Six Flags Over Texas click here.
  • Shopping – Love shopping at the park and plan to visit a lot? Did you know there is a Season Shopping Pass?! Right now for just $19.99 this add-on to your Season Pass will give you a 20% discount on almost all in-park merchandise through the end of the 2018 season — no minimum purchase required!
  • Holiday Festivals – Depending on the season you will often find the park decorated for the holiday and full holiday spirit during Holiday in the Park- or full of spooky Spirits if you visit during Fright Fest.
  • Games – You won’t have to look far to find a game that suits your skill level. All throughout the park, you’ll find various midway games to compete in for prizes.
  • Food-  No matter what type of food is your favorite, you’ll find it at Six Flags Over Texas. In between coasters, get ready to enjoy every goodie you can imagine, from pretzels and popcorn to funnel cakes and brisket nachos. We were also pleased that the vegetarians in our group could find a healthy salad or other option at several locations at the park with no trouble.
  • Live Performances- All year long there are live performance and concerts to enjoy that will keep you singing and vibing as you stroll along. During our visit, we enjoyed a free live concert and danced for over an hour near the concert stage inside the park.

We had such a great time this visit and stayed until the very minute the park closed. On the way home, the backseat was filled with chatter of how much fun they had. The next day, I even received a couple of text messages thanking me for spending the day with them. Texting is true teen appreciation.

I want to say once again how much we appreciate Six Flags over Texas sponsoring this post. These moments of connection with our teens will last a lifetime.

Gaining Insight and Elevating Expectations | The 2019 Honda Insight

HondaJet 2019 Honda Insight

Some experiences in life take you by surprise, remind you of what’s possible and elevate your expectations. This was so not the story I was expecting to tell when I first received the invitation to drive the 2019 Honda Insight in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I expected to come back sharing a story of my fondness for thoughtful, hybrid vehicles and their makers, i.e. the 2019 Honda Insight. It’s safe to conclude it became a little bit more.

Remember when you were a kid and sort of had this underlying feeling that anything was possible or something wonderful could happen at any moment? I left Minnesota dreaming a little bigger and reminded that joy is often just waiting to be found. I hope when you are finished reading you come away a little more inspired and ready to dream a little bigger too. ( If you would like the condensed info on the 2019 Honda Insight, check out my latest article at ThrillsandWheels.com)

Arriving at Hotel Ivy

After meeting up with a new friend and my drive partner for the trip at the airport. I arrived at the Hotel Ivy, where I would be staying on this trip. Hotel Ivy features nearly 2 dozen luxury suites, a fitness club and one of the best spas in Minneapolis. The guest rooms were spacious, with comfy beds, a sitting area, and a large desk space. The limestone bathrooms were spa-like with both a glass shower and deep soaking tub. It has some very unique features and history I’ll share with you in a post of its own soon. I’d highly recommend making a reservation for a stay here if you’re planning a trip to Minneapolis anytime in the near future.

Hotel Ivy

After getting unpacked and making myself at home in my room, my new friend and I were off to explore “the tunnels” of Minneapolis. These “tunnels” are really called the Minneapolis Skyway System. They connect various buildings over 80 full city blocks and 11 miles of pedestrian walkways. It’s really quite fascinating even if I did feel a little like a hamster in a cage trying to make sense of them all at first. We spent a couple of hours exploring the skyway system, getting in a count of just under 8,500 steps before dinner.

The Guthrie Theater

The Amber Room

photo credit: plsn.com

Dinner that evening and our official introduction to the 2019 Honda Insight would take place at the Guthrie Theatre. After reading the vision of the Guthrie I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring place to partner with for this occasion.

The vision of the Guthrie is this:

“to create transformative experiences that ignite the imagination, stir the heart, open the mind, and build community through the illumination of our common humanity.” 

Sold. You had me at transformative experiences and talk of community building.

The Amber Room is Solid Gold


Along the top floors is a viewing area called the Amber Room. This was our space to mingle before the event introduction. The room is made of glass that is tinted in a yellowish tone that is best described as a living Instagram filter. From this space, you can take in a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding city that is no less than breathtaking and a perfect place for gaining a new perspective. This is definitely a place I would consider making an entrance because I’m creative and fancy like that.

Honda Insight Introduction

Taking New Roads in the 2019 Honda Insight

The next morning was breakfast, presentation, and drive day. I actually look forward to the presentation portion as much as the drive time. I was always a really good student in school. The Honda team always has an exceptionally well-prepared presentation in all forms of communication- kudos to them for that.  There are usually really nice pens involved too (I love nice pens almost as much as nice flowers)

Honda Insight Presentation

It was finally time to drive. Like everything in the Honda line-up, the Insight is a great car. It doesn’t immediately make you think hybrid, no dramatic exterior or colors that give it away. I like to think of it as the Clark Kent, just waiting to save the day. It is the perfect vehicle for anyone interested in making the first transition to hybrid life.

You guys know I like nice things and behind the wheel, I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything. Driving the Honda Insight at Touring trim level carries many features I look for with larger 17-inch wheels, navigation, a power moonroof, dual-zone climate controls, leather-trimmed and heated power front seats and a large 8-inch HondaLink infotainment system all at an affordable $28,985.

In addition to features of comfort, you will also find the full range of safety and driver-assistive technology. Honda Sensing is standard on all Insight trims. It fully met my requirement of non-negotiable features at an incredibly reasonable price point. (For full details on the LX/ EX/Touring trim levels and pricing click here)

We Found a Beach!

Honda Insight New Roads

Did you know that there are beaches in Minnesota? Are there beaches in Minnesota?? Actually, I’m not really sure. This was my first time visiting. We may have crossed over into Wisconsin. We were thoroughly enjoying the drive and may have missed a turn here or there. Although we were off-course a bit, it didn’t feel like we were completely lost.  Sometimes the wrong turn is exactly where you are supposed to be.

At this point, we were definitely off course but had reached the “let’s see where this road goes” phase of our adventure.  Imagine our surprise when at the end of this beautifully shaded, curvy road was a totally empty beach! It was really like stumbling on a movie set or something. We opted not to worry about getting sand in our shoes and pulled over to explore. 

2019 Honda Insight Beach

It was super peaceful and totally unexpected. We took a few pictures and then headed out. I could have probably spent the rest of the afternoon there and been completely happy but I definitely didn’t want to miss out on what was coming next.

Honda Insight Beach 3

Living my best Top Gun life in the HondaJet

Honda Insight Friends

We headed immediately over to our lunch destination at Holman’s Table located in the Downtown St Paul Airport. We dined on the patio, enjoying our lovely meal while we waited for our scheduled flight time in the HondaJet to get an aerial view of Minneapolis—St. Paul. HondaJet is the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class.

HondaJet Collage

When it was our time to board, I had the opportunity to sit with the pilot. Of course, I said yes! I so wish I could tell you I played it cool but the ear to ear smile could literally be seen across the tarmac.  Basically, I was living my best Goose-Maverick-Top-Gun-aviator-wearing life that day.  It was an awesome, multilayered experience that I will not forget. It is no exaggeration to tell you I can feel my entire face light up every time I think or talk about it. I will never be able to play it cool. This smile will give me away every time.

Honda Insight Friends

It really is the little things

As if the day couldn’t have gotten more magical, this happened. When I exited the building, I could swear I heard the sounds of an ice cream truck.

Guyssss…. THERE WAS AN ACTUAL ICE CREAM TRUCK WAITING OUTSIDE AFTER OUR PRIVATE JET RIDE! Was this real life?? 

I could pick any kind of ice cream I wanted. Childhood dreams becoming real.

I selected my ice cream bar and enjoyed it next to a friend sitting on the steps outside the airport in the warm breeze. In case you were wondering, I got the Strawberry Crunch Bar, obviously.

Honda Insight Ice cream

In summary

Remember in the beginning when I said: Some experiences in life take you by surprise, remind you of what’s possible and elevate your expectations?  This entire trip was a series of moments that reinforcing all of that. Living a joy-filled life is all about the sum of moments like this. They happen all the time if you look for them and expect something wonderful to happen. Here are 3 life lessons I will be taking away from this adventure :

  • Be open to adventure and don’t worry too much about taking a wrong turn. Trust your path, even if it looks a little different than everyone else’s.
  • A new perspective can make a situation look entirely different. Make sure you have looked at what you are working on from all angles. MSP looked entirely different through the yellow tint of the Amber Room than it did flying overhead in the HondaJet or even driving it at street level in the Honda Insight.
  • Remind yourself each day that anything is possible. Don’t limit yourself. The potential for your dreams really is unlimited. You never know when YOUR ice cream truck is going to be waiting outside after a private jet ride.

I want to say a HUGE thanks to Honda for making this trip possible. As is common in the industry all travel, accommodations, etc were provided for.

Become Part of the Art at Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles

Museum of Illusions Bubble BlowingI’m in Los Angeles this week for a pretty impressive global lifestyle event but it would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t share about my fun, albeit VERY impromptu visit to the Museum of Illusions last night. After dinner a couple of ladies on the trip with me extended an invite. I was feeling a bit sleepy but knowing it was near the hotel we are staying at and I am typically ALWAYS up for an adventure I decided to risk it. OMG! I am so glad I did. In just a few pictures you will see why the Museum of Illusions is such a great time. If you decide to go I highly recommend organizing a group to join you.

Museum of Illusions falling building

A visitor to the Museum of Illusions is not a passive observer but a full-fledged participant of the paintings created by the best artists. This is a place where photography is not just encouraged – it is part and parcel of the exhibition. The museum of optical illusions is intended to fill visitors’ photo albums with vivid and unusual photographs. Everyone finds something to their liking here because we tried to cover every topic of interest for the humankind. The Museum of optical illusions opens its doors for the viewers of all ages, without restrictions, and guarantees – no one will feel bored!

Museum of Illusions Space Room

Museum of Illusions Hamburger

Ready to plan your visit to the Museum of Illusions ?

Museum of Illusions front desk

Here’s what to know before you go: 

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 depending on availability. Get your tickets HERE.

FREE admission for children 5 years old and younger. Strollers permitted. $10 for Children’s tickets (6-12 years old)

No food, drinks, dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, or aliens allowed.

$20 Parking: 1724 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

30+ artworks.

Expect to spend an hour at the museum.

Photography permitted.

VIP tickets include parking, bypassing the line/individualized schedule, personal photo shooting & a special gift.

Museum is open 10AM – 12AM daily. Last Entry 11PM.

A Little Bit of Kindness Can Go A Long Way in a Kia Niro PHEV

They say little bit of kindness can go a long way.  As it turns out if you are driving a 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) you can go even further on less. Right before we shut things down for the holidays Kia Motors America invited Jillian from Hello Splendid and I to take a “Choose Your Own Adventure” road trip from L.A. to San Francisco and we had the most amazing time spreading kindness all over California together.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

As exciting as this adventurous opportunity was on its own, this would also be a very meaningful trip for the two of us to take together. Just 39 weeks prior Jillian received some very life changing news.  Before this, we had been talking about “one day soon” taking a road trip together. I’ll tell you that I leave a lot less for “one day soon” now. Our plans for the trip and so many more things would be put on hold as all concentration had to be forth to fight this new diagnosis in the months following. It felt like the world was simultaneously spinning and standing still for everyone. When we talked 36 weeks ago, it was decided as soon as it was possible we would ABSOLUTELY be taking that road trip we had talked about. It was a promise of something to hold on to, something to hope for. So much happened in the weeks that followed but on December 13 we finally were able to set out on that road trip together.

Day Made. (Ps I love you @hellosplendidblog )#thenewkia

A post shared by Lifestyle Blogger ?Alice Chase (@alicechase) on

As it is with a choose your own adventure type trip we got to choose the adventure!! We had a starting time/location, a generous budget at our disposal and an ending time/location- that was it! There were a few other teams traversing the roads with us and given the same parameters. A list of bonus points would be granted and tallied once we reached the predetermined destination. Before we arrived, Jillian and I had talked about how we would structure this adventure. One of the biggest themes we wanted to incorporate was kindness. Kindness is something we both feel strongly about making time for no matter the day or agenda. Countless times we have both given and received kindness in different forms the last year and it was the best way we could imagine to theme our trip.

kindness kit Collage

As we prepped for the trip, Jillian shopped for supplies to include in our “kindness kits” and I started planning our route. Trip planning and finding unique destinations is one of my favorite things to do. I especially enjoy catering each trip to the interests and likes of those taking it. Jillian let me keep the itineraries a secret until literally the moment we were on the road. I love surprises but I’d totally be lying if I said I didn’t have butterflies in my tummy wondering if she would like what I had chosen.

After a brief product presentation and run down on the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid, charging stations, and lunch, we had a fantastic send of from Charles Phoenix a master of road trip Americana! His energy totally set the stage for road trip excitement! We didn’t have to worry about where we would be recharging on the road as there were plenty of level 1 and 2 charging stations in between our starting point and end destination. Whether you’re at home or on the road, rest assured you’ll find a power source anywhere you can plug into the electric grid. And with Kia’s UVO eco App, you can schedule charge times at home and find public charging stations.

But first…. Target! We needed a few more supplies for a very important stop that would come later. On our way in and out of the store we made it a mission to return all the stray carts in the parking lot. It’s such a simple thing to do and costs nothing. It made at least one employee’s job easier that day and the organized side of my heart was fulfilled. Kindness mission #1 : CHECK!

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid roadtrip Target

It was time to get on the road before we hit too much of L.A. traffic. Even with the best of planning, we definitely saw our fair share of traffic but we had plenty of great conversation and music to keep us going. Every road trip needs its soundtrack and  the Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System delivered crisp sound for all our playlist favorites. The Clari-Fi™ technology restores compressed tracks for noticeable clarity. The music wasn’t fading but after a few hours on the road we were . We made one stop for coffee and hustled towards our evening resting stop. We drove over mountains and watched the sun set. When it became dark we could smell the smoke from the California fires inside the Niro. Our conversations became more serious as we thought about those who had lost so much. We traveled a bit further the smell of smoke dissipated as we entered the Danish streets of Solvang, California, a location that has since become one of my favorite locations in the U.S.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Solvang CA

We were in love with the town right away. We arrived to our hotel, The Landsby, about 7PM. The hotel staff was lovely and made a ton of recommendations for places to eat and visit during our stay. They were kind and welcomed us genuinely. We took our things to the room and were in love with every detail, from the llama artwork on the walls to the tiny lavender sachets reading “good night” placed on each of our beds. We were so enamored with every detail here. I promise to do a full post just on the Landsby itself soon.

The Landsby hotel Solvang CA

One challenge we had arriving to Solvang later in the evening was that the town begins to close down around 8-9 pm. This left us with just a few options for dining but those that were open were welcoming and warm. We walked to dinner at a location nearby our hotel thinking we might enjoy a little stroll after. When we stepped out after dinner the temperature had dropped dramatically. Instead of walking, we hopped back into our Kia Niro PHEV and toured this adorable storybook city listening to Christmas music just in awe and grateful for this time together.

Solvang CA flag

As we were driving and noticing the adorable shops and just FALLING IN LOVE with every shop and street in the city we noticed something else. There were a record number of fire trucks also parked along the road and completely filling one parking lot adjacent to our hotel. Many of the men and women helping to keep the residents and landscape secure during this time were also making Solvang their safe space for the evening. This gave us another moment of kindness inspiration.

delivering kindness kits on our roadtrip

We didn’t know exactly when or where our Kindness Kits would come into play during our trip but we knew that if you prepare the opportunity will present itself. The next morning we left a few items of support to those serving all year long.

Delivering Kindness to firemen in California

After that we were off in search of a traditional Danish breakfast. It’s funny to be a transitioning vegetarian in a Danish community- sausage or some form of meat is offered always. There were definitely options but we in search of the traditional æbleskiver.

Danish æbleskiver in Solvang

Aebleskiver are round pastries, like pancakes formed in a sphere.  In Denmark, æbleskiver are common at Christmas and over the days leading up to it. In December, they are often served with gløgg, Scandinavian mulled wine. In Norway, warm waffles have much of the same function as æbleskiver in Denmark.

Shoe store in Solvang CA

We walked by a few shops and so many that we wanted to visit. We decided at breakfast that we would scrap a few other things on the agenda in order to stay as long as possible in Solvang. We were already planning a trip back. Before we left we did a little photo shoot with our matching Dinosaur costumes because when you have a friend that has a matching costume the only question is “Will it fit in my carry on?” (more Dinosaur photos coming soon!)

dinosaur costume at the Landsby

The staff at the Landsby had been so nice to us that we made sure to leave them a handwritten note of thanks. I can’t wait for my next stay here!

Thank you notes hotel

We had several more hours of driving ahead of us so it was time to get on the road. Our next stop was one we were both very excited about. The last several months had given us plenty to catch up on and as with most road trips there were several stretches of highway for miles.

Kia Niro PHEV

Due to the route we chose to save time we didn’t have a ton of ocean front views but we waved as we drove by. Jillian lives just steps away from the ocean in CA so we were most excited about seeing parts of California that neither of us had discovered.  We definitely did make note of several places we want to stop on our next trip.

Our next stop took us to Oakland, right across the bridge from San Francisco. We both have a friend who is near and dear to our heart, Brandi from Mama Knows It All.  Even though it was moving week for her she was able to get away and meet up for a quick visit. Little did she know that we had a surprise for her too. (Remember that Target run we took ?)

Gifts for a friend

These items may seem like an unusual combination but have a meaning. Together they represent trusted friends who: travel through life with you even when the outcome is uncertain, genuinely celebrate your wins, believe in your gifting, show up at just the right times, and offer their gifts to you making life even sweeter. Simple gifts and time together, no matter how short, are treasured.

2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid

We attempted to recharge the Kia Niro PHEV while we refueled on donuts and coffee and found it so easy to locate charging stations anywhere on your route. You can check for available charging stations right from the dashboard in your car or from the Chargepoint app. We weren’t far from our next stop in San Francisco. This night we would be staying at Hotel Zeppelin.

Hotel Zeppelin The Den

Hotel Zeppelin gameroom

It wasn’t long before all the teams had arrived together at the hotel. It was such a fun reunion with all the other road trip teams who has been out traveling as well. We got to see pictures of the different roadside attractions, share stories of adventures and ways that kindness was shared. It was an amazing thing to see that although we have lots of choices in the route we take there is joy in every journey and the people who share it with you.

The next morning Clarissa, Jillian, and I loaded our suitcases back into a Kia Niro PHEV and headed out to the airport to return to our homes spread literally across the nation. We all agreed what a wonderful experience it had been and we started planning for our next trip(s) together in 2018.

Airport friends

What were some of the best trips you took this year? Any special road trips planned for 2018?

*As is common, all travel, accommodations, and budget for this trip was provided for by our host, Kia Motors America. All opinions and storytelling are the sole expression of the author.